The Naginata Tobi or Specialty Nibs from Sailor was originally crafted from the founding of Sailor in 1911. The manual handcrafting process gave way to mechanized production after WWII.
Around 1991, the manual crafting of specialty nibs came back due to demand. The nib crafting techniques inherited by Koyama Gunichi and Nagahara Nobuyoshi were used to create new specialty nibs. These were the nibs created:
- 1974-1975: Naginata Fude De Mannen
- 1998: Naginata Concord
- 1996: Cross Point, Cross Concord, Cross Music, Naginata Emperor
- Unknown: King Eagle, King Cobra
All the information above were found in the little booklet that came with the 2020 Sailor Cross Concord I purchased recently.
These are the only four Sailor Specialty Nibs that I have, namely Fude De Mannen, Cross Emperor, Cross Music Emperor, Cross Concord.
Sailor Specialty Nib fountain pen production continued until December 2015 which it stopped. Production resumed again towards the end of 2018, and with the new pens came new designs and a significantly increase in price of around US $100 - $150. The older pens used to sell at around US $500, more or less depending on the design.
The Sailor Cross Emperor I bought in 2015 was US $515, Sailor Cross Music was $560, Sailor Fude De Mannen was $518, and my most recent purchase the Sailor Cross Concord was US $604. All prices are not inclusive of tax. The pens cost more with tax.
The pen designs from 2018 feature a new cap ring cap that has embossed gold-coloured letters against black. You can feel the protruding letters as you run your hand against them. The pre-2016 designs are engraved gold-on-gold.
2018 design cap ring has the words "SAILOR JAPAN 1911 SPECIAL NIB" while the pre-2016 design has "SAILOR JAPAN FOUNDED 1911".
There are also limited edition bodies that go with the Sailor Specialty Nibs too. I've got a matte body (left) with a cap ring design without the black ring.
The words "SAILOR" is directly below the pen clip with the new design. For the pre-2016 designs, there's no particular alignment.
The gold colour seems to be less yellow with the 2018 designs.
This is the 2018 design on the nib.
This is the older design that's on the Sailor Naginata Fude De Mannen. If it's a cross slit pen, the parallel line design will run on to the top of the second nib.
The section for the 2018 design now features a noticeably smaller screw-on end. It still fits the Sailor ink convertor though.
And there's this extra screw-on thread inset in the body.
With the 2018 design, you won't be able to use the section with other pen bodies. The familiar torpedo-shape body is available in many different colours. Say you want to use the 2018 section with a coloured body and cap, now you no longer have that option.
I like the new cap ring but I don't like the new interior of the body.
Are Sailor Specialty Nibs worth buying
No other fountain pen companies make the selection of specialty nibs that Sailor makes.
I was at a fountain pen shop the other day and was shown a nib that's quite similar to the Sailor Cross Point, except smaller in size. That pen was even more expensive than the Sailor fountain pen. I can't remember the brand of that pen. But that's just one design. Sailor has a much larger variety of Specialty Nibs.
Due to the limited quantities that the Sailor Specialty Nibs are made and sold, they hold their value incredibly well. In this regard, you can say these pens are worth buying.
These are sold very quickly whenever they become available and the best chance to get them is to reserve one with a fountain pen shop. Many of the Specialty Nib pens I bought in 2015 were bought on eBay. Nowadays you don't even see any listing of such nibs on eBay. And when you go online to look at listings from fountain pen shops, the names of the pens are almost always accompanied by "Sold" or "No longer in stock".
Whether they are worth the money is difficult to answer because people buy luxury or expensive pens for different reasons.
When I want to buy a fountain pen, I always look for nibs that are unusual. EF, F, M, B and stub nibs are common nibs. If I want buy those common nibs, I can get fountain pens that cost less than US $100. Shown above is a Sailor H-M nib with duo-tone colours. That fountain pen is more expensive compare to other fountain pens but because the lines it provides are consistent width, it's nothing special to me.
If you have one of those Sailor Specialty Nibs from 2015 or older, you can most certainly sell them at a profit nowadays because those are no longer being made, not in the older design anyway.
The rarest of the Sailor Specialty NIbs would definitely be the King Eagle and King Cobra, and the Emperor versions of those two pens. Just the sight of seeing these pens being listed as available is special.
Photos from Elephant-coral.com
The Emperor version refers extra gold tab that sits above the nib that provides for even better ink flow.
That gold tab is glossy and easy to scratch. It's also soft so it requires more care when handling. That gold tab also covers the design beneath, and overall makes it more difficult to clean the pen thoroughly because you can't just wipe the ink away. A thorough cleaning will involve soaking the nib and section completely into fountain pen or nib cleaning liquid.
If you don't have the budget for the special nibs, you can actually go with the much cheaper Sailor Zoom nib which also offers variation of lines.
There's also the Sailor Music nib which is made for calligraphy. Music nibs are very common.