大阪、日本 OSAKA, JAPAN
Discover the brand of the legendary Mr. Kato Kiyoshi, affectionately nicknamed in the industry as “the father of pens”
Mr. Kato began producing pens at age 19, after his father, also a pen maker, passed away shortly before WWII.
We are told Mr Kato kept a large quantity of celluloid rods buried in his back garden; when the war was over, he dug these out and established his own pen company, eponymously named the Kato Seisakusho Company.
A UNIQUE KNOW-HOW THAT HAS BEEN PASSED ON SINCE 1920 IN OSAKA
Here are the last vestiges of a once booming industry of pen makers in Osaka, producing hand-turned celluloid pens from the 1920s onwards.
Even though you can see some callipers on his tool bench, when we watched him make a pen from scratch he did not use these as he could just tell if the pen had reached the perfect silhouette with a combination of a well trained eye, muscle memory and by feeling the weight of the celluloid or acetate.
He even carves the threading into each component by eye so sections of the pen perfectly screw together – it is fair to say Mr.Ohnishi has put over 10,000 hours in to master this skill!
As the tools cut through the celluloid the individual colours in the material come alive and once polished look like the inside of a precious gemstone. Finally, the individual components are assembled to reveal the finished product! The Onishi fountain pen is equipped with a German Fine Schmidt nib, smooth and suitable for everyday writing.
Indeed celluloid, one of the earliest thermoplastics, is becoming an extinct base material for pen making – regretfully as it has beautiful density, shine, weight and of course features the most vibrant and sometimes psychedelic patterns. Today, it is used only in a handful of industries including luxury spectacle making. The production of celluloid in Japan has nearly now entirely stopped; Mr Ohnishi, who succeeded Mr Kato after his passing at the age of 85 in 2010, continued to work using materials in limited supply.
Unfortunately, due to the end of production of celluloid in Japan, acetate cellulose has had to step in as a replacement for the obsolete material. The result is not unlike celluloid, and possesses the feel of an antique from a bygone era with tremendous nostalgic appeal.
コレクション THE COLLECTION
From tortoise shell to sakura, camo and marble, discover the whole collection on our website
Do you ever think about the amount of work that goes into making a single pen?
Each Onishi Seisakusho pen is hand-turned by the man, the myth, the legend: Mr. Onishi himself.
He was the apprentice of Mr. Kato, the “father of pens,” and when Mr. Kato sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 85, Mr. Onishi inherited the company.
He has continued to produce writing instruments using the same materials and uses the skills inherited from Mr. Kato in the spirit of Mr. Kato’s mantra: “Make an economical pen for people who want it.
Although the Onishi range is not cheap, compared to the Japanese Urushi lacquer decorative pens, it is very affordable!
THE LEGENDARY FOUNTAIN PEN
THE MASTER KIYOSHI KATO
The many colourful stories about his escapades selling pens around the globe and in particular in the Middle East – including anecdotes of camel-riding and bribing jail officers with Japanese fountain pens – would have us believe Mr Kato was as talented a salesman as he was a master pen maker!
During the 80s onwards, as one of the few remaining expert celluloid hand-turners, he was called upon by luxury pen brands such as Visconti to produce small runs of celluloid special editions.