Sailor Tidbits

I have a few fun tidbits about Sailor pens and ink to share.

A friend and I stopped by Anderson Pens Chicago last Friday the 15th to attend their Sailor pen event. Brian Anderson showed his collection of Sailor pens, and Scott Hammer, a Sailor sales representative, brought all the current Sailor fountain pens to look at. Even better, Scott brought inked testers so we could try Sailor’s seven different standard nibs.

We asked about the Sailor Specialty Nibs, those unusual, wonderfully creative, special nib designs that Sailor stopped producing because it were overwhelmed with orders. Good news: all indications are that like Sailor still plans to bring back the specialty nibs, though perhaps on a more limited pen lineup than before.

I also heard good news on ink.

First, Sailor’s excellent and indefatigable ink maker has apparently put together a new lineup for the US distributor — more than 100 inks in a variety of colors. Photos of the swatches looked delightful. This new line of inks will be bottled in smaller 20 ml bottles, like the Shikiori bottles, and will be sold only in brick and mortar stores.

I don’t know when the inks will be available; whether these inks will be available outside the US; or the price. The inks aren’t even named yet, or weren’t last Friday anyway.

While the brick-and-mortar store limitation may seem like a bummer to some, I think it’s nice that Sailor wants to support pen stores. I like shopping in person. A lot of those stores have online ordering anyway, like Anderson, Dromgoole’s, Fountain Pen Hospital, Pen Boutique and Vanness Pen Shop. Or maybe you’re close to a pen show.

Ink bottle news, anyone? First that I shamelessly lobbied Scott to ask Sailor USA to keep selling its current 50 ml bottles of inks like Souten and Doyou. There’s been a question about that online, because Sailor seems to have gone exclusively to the smaller 20 ml bottles in Japan (where the ink is less expensive than in the US).

Good news: it sounds like Sailor USA doesn’t plan to discontinue the 50 ml bottles — at least, not currently. I hope people will keep buying the larger bottles, so Sailor USA keeps selling those. I did my part, buying a 50 ml bottle of Sailor Oku-Yama ink. I am that unselfish.

There was more good news about ink. It seems like they are going to eliminate the plastic ink reservoir inside the 50 ml Sailor bottles. And I love this news, so much, because I hate that plastic insert so much. It’s too small for larger nibs, and it’s messy to remove it yourself. If you are someone who loves the ink reservoir, however, don’t worry: it will be sold separately as an accessory.

Now, on to pens. Finally. Sailor USA has been bringing in a lot of fun colors in the larger size pens, and seeing the entire lineup at Anderson made this trend really obvious.

Sailor’s small Professional Gear Slim pens have always been made with colorful materials. I used to buy the Pro Gear Slim pens just for that reason. But unfortunately, I find the Professional Gear Slim too small. I like the full-size Professional Gear or the 1911 Large.

Others must, too: over the last year, Sailor USA has been bringing more color to the full-size Pro Gear and 1911 Large. There have been new, North-American-exclusive, colors in both the small and large 1911 sizes. First Fresca Blue, Anchor Gray and Royal Tangerine. Then Stormy Sea, which debuted around the time of the 2018 Chicago Pen Show, also in both large and small sizes.

Those colors have all sold well in the large-size 1911s, and it sounds like there is at least another 1911 color in the pipeline for North America. (All of these are limited edition colors, in the sense that Sailor will eventually stop selling them.)

Fun fact: the 1911 is the better seller in the US, and the Professional Gear is the better seller in the Japan.

I happen to prefer the Professional Gear, so I’m happy that Sailor North America is also bringing more color to the full-size Professional Gear, albeit more slowly. First came the Sky, a clear blue, some time ago. Then came the Earth, a brown with some translucency (which I own). Just released in the past few weeks was the Ocean, a blue-green with some translucency.

Right this second, I happen to have a full-size Professional Gear, in Ocean, with a music nib, in my pen cup. That’s because Dan Smith the Nibsmith sent it to me to review. I love the Ocean color. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.

And Anderson had another special edition Professional Gear in a great color, an Anderson special edition in Slate Blue with rhodium trim.

But then I saw a clear Professional Gear with silver-colored trim that I am sorry, but I need.

Finally there was the 1911 Large in Fresca Blue, which honestly I saw multiple times at the pen show last month without caring even a little. But this time when I saw it, boom. Beautiful color.

Or maybe you love the Stormy Sea, the Royal Tangerine or the Anchor Gray. Those are also nice!

In fact, I’ve never seen Sailor put out so many appealing colors in its larger size pens, all at once. Sure, it’s been a good thing for Sailor North America, since these are selling well. But the more colorful pens they come out with, the harder it is to resist.


10 thoughts on “Sailor Tidbits

  1. Great write up on the Sailor stuff. I am a huge fan. I hope they listen about the 50ml bottles, for here anyway. (or at least let the 20ml bottle reflect a much more reasonable price!) Sailor nibs are superb, and their standard sized pens are fine. I prefer a 1911 to write with, but a Pro Gear looks very cool. I think Sailor would sell more of each, if they would come out with more colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw some Sailor pens in Shanghai earlier in the year and was disappointed by how small they were. The shop wouldn’t let me post them so I couldn’t figure out if that would make them an acceptable size. For comparison, I can use a Pilot 912 unposted, but usually post it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have average size hands for a woman, and prefer to write unposted, but they are all postable. They also make a few King of Pen size, which is huge. 🙂

      I think the full-size Professional Gear is similar in size to the Pilot 912, and the 1911 Large would also be analogous, but if you post the 912, you’d probably want to post these.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this hot news. Also it was good of you to purchase a bottle of ink 😁. I am yet to own a Pro Gear but seeing the range in a brick and mortar store would probably tip me over the edge.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. An interesting read – thank you. I’ve been mulling over buying the Pro Gear Ocean and had almost convinced myself that I need it. Then I read a couple of items that suggested the colour was less appealing in real life, raising some doubt about the merits of the purchase. 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Really?! I love the color of the Ocean in real life! Everyone I’ve shown it to likes it, too. But I haven’t seen those photos, so I can’t comment on the comparison of photos to reality. I’ll just say that my life is almost too real lately, ugh, and I think it’s a very appealing color. 😀

      It is an unusual color, though. It’s hard to describe, and *very* hard to accurately convey in photos. It’s probably a teal, but it’s not garish like teal can be (sorry, teal fans). 😇 But it’s definitely not turquoise — too green for that. And it’s not a blue, nor a standard green. It’s not going to be a certain crowd-pleaser, like the Lamy Safari Aquamarine, which is a cheery, cyan blue-leaning turquoise.

      It’s a blue-green, more green than blue, but its value is on the darker side, which is the key. If you go to the Wikipedia entry for “blue-green,” it most resembles the color called “Ming,” on my screen.

      I always say that the blue-green range is difficult, because just a dab of too much blue or green will take something from great to hate for me. So I’d recommend seeing it in person if you’re not sure. Or order from someone that would let you return it unused, if you open the box and hate it on sight, and don’t have my address to send it to me. 😁

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That’s a lot of news, even for a Sailor fan like myself. It must have taken you a month to store up the energy for that blog post!

    Now, the addendum: how about more mixed-color pens? I find the uni-color designs awfully boring and some of the LEs out of Japan have had really neat contrasting finials, etc. I say they MUST DO IT!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love it. The Sailor Kanreki, which is in my Top Ten of my own pens, is multi-colored and was available as far as I know from Sailor USA. Though I showed my own to the Sailor rep — and he wasn’t familiar with it. So maybe not any more?

      There are also the rather showy ones that are in multi-colored bands of pink and blue, respectively — those are definitely in the regular line and available on the full-size Professional Gear. Sailor Millecolore. Not for me, but definitely not boring. 😁

      I mean, I was willing to be obnoxious with Scott, but not my usual super-obnoxious, so I didn’t lobby for the clear sparkly ones with contrasting finials that you see on eBay from Japan in the Professional Gear Slim. In any case, those are crazy expensive in the small size, so I wouldn’t pay even more for the bigger size anyway.

      I think the key is that Sailor has been very conservative in the color-lineup for the larger size pens, saving all that creativity for the Professional Gear Slim — but I think at least in the US, we like the bigger size pens *and* we like the wild colors and materials. It seems to me that Sailor USA understands that, and that’s how they’ve been moving. Which is great!

      But I don’t think we can expect Sailor in Japan to change its entire approach on the drop of a dime — the people who make the decisions are going to be very cautious and deliberate, because they want a healthy and profitable company. And they only have limited resources — it’s not like they are a Silicon Valley “unicorn” with cash to burn. I suspect, though, that as with the inks, Sailor in Japan will realize that this is more than a short-term phenomenon, and represents a change in at least the US market.

      Liked by 1 person

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