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Sailor: A History

Sailor: A History

Ross Adams |

Sailor's history starts in 1911 by Mr Sakata and his brother. They founded the 'Sakata-Manufactory' to produce solid gold nibs. By 1917 the factory relocated to the nearby town of Hamadacho and the company soon changed it's name to 'Sailor Pen Sakata Manufactory Co., Ltd'. Here is where the company then began manufacturing pens in large volumes.

1926 saw Imperial Prince Hirohito visit the factory. The visit was a boost to encourage the industry and was a huge honour for a small company with just 300 employees and only established 15 years earlier. The visit worked and did wonders for the company. They gained significant credibility worldwide.

Sailor launched the first Japanese made ballpoint pen in 1948 after two years in production. Ball pens soon became very popular in Japan. Another invention came a year later in 1949. Sailor invented their plastic injection machine and were able to start mass producing Japan's first plastic fountain pens. Before this they were made from ebonite and celluloid. This was a milestone event in the Japanese stationery industry.

Another great boost for the company was the invention of Japan's first ink cartridges in 1954, these were released in 1958.

Notable releases from Sailor:

1963 - Mini type fountain pen released. They became a fashion piece of the time being able to clip to shirt pockets.

Sailor Mini Type Fountain Pen

Sailor mini type fountain pen

1969 - World's first fountain pen with a 21 carat nib. More than one million pieces were sold.

1972 - Fude pen (brush pen) went on sale, being the first in the world. Sailor applied the traditional Japanese calligraphy pen style into an everyday writing instrument.

1973 - Sailor won first place for quality in a competition led by Japan Consumers' Association. The publicity from this competition was great for the company.

1976 - Sailor released the 'Candy' series aimed at the younger generation. This was to combat the decline in fountain pen sales that many companies were experiencing at this time. Their strategy worked and they saw 4 million pieces sold in 4 years. 'Chalana' the slimmest pen in the world was released at the same time, also selling in large quantities.

Sailor Chalana Slimmest Fountain Pen
World's slimmest fountain pen, Chalana

1981 - Sailor's 1911 Profit fountain pen was released. It was crafted with 70 years of previous experience and know how to create a genuine quality pen.

Sailor 1911 Profit Fountain Pen

Sailor 1911 fountain pen

2008 - Leaders from each country were gifted a Koransha-made Arita-yaki fountain pen at the G8 summit held in Japan. It took two years to develop and make the Arita-yaki fountain pens.