Vintage Japanese Advertising Ink Blotters
Here are eight vintage Japanese advertising ink blotters which have never been used. These blotters are extremely rare, especially in their new condition. They have all been sold, but I will keep this web page here so you can see what they looked like.
Most of these are from before or during World War 2, which can be determined by the direction of the characters. After the war, Japan was forced to print characters from left to right just like western characters. Before this, Japanese characters read from right to left.
Since fountain pens are a western invention, old Japanese fountain pen advertisements typically used Roman characters in combination with Japanese characters, resulting in a confusing layout where Japanese characters went right to left and Roman letters went left to right!
The first two blotters are from the legendary S.S.S. pen company in Japan (called "SAN ESU" in Japanese). SSS stands for "Sun, Sea, Star." Before World War II, the top three fountain pen companies in Japan were Pilot (Namiki), Swan and SAN-ESU. The SAN-ESU company was making pens before Pilot, and was a giant in the Japanese pen world until it ceased operations in the 1950s.
The other blotters are from the Well Pen Fountain Pen Company which was founded in the 1920's as the Onuki Pen Company before it changed its name to Well. This company was unique among the many Japanese pen companies at the time because it manufactured all its own parts. Many Japanese fountain pens from that era looked exactly alike, and you really couldn't tell them apart without reading the company names, but Well pens were different. The company finally shut down in the 50's soon after the death of its founder. Among the dozens of Japanese fountain pen companies at the time, the Well Pen company was one of the more prominent fountain pen companies before world war 2. Among its several claims to fame was the Well diamond tipped pen that used a special ink called diamond ink. These were supposed to be smoother than iridium tipped gold pens.
Blotters with horizontal Japanese text will have "left to right" and/or "right to left" in the description. English translations are in gray, and are free translations of the thought behind the phrases rather than word-for-word translations which often result in strange English. Many of the Japanese words and terms on these blotters are now obsolete, and do not appear appear in current dictionaries.
Click on any image to see a magnified image.