PenInHand: June, 2017

Japanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s

by Jim Mamoulides, June 30, 2017

PenHeroJapanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s

Click the image above to see a full screen slideshow

We've done a lot of pen hunting in Maine, and on one of our trips we visited a roadside antique shop that happened to have a number of Japanese eyedropper pens for sale. At the time, I was completely unfamiliar with Japanese pens, but we bought all of them because they looked interesting. One of the pens was this enormous cigar shape jumbo pen, measuring about 6 3/8 inches long with the cap on and about an inch across at the cap lip.

PenHeroJapanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s

A simple eyedropper pen fills by unscrewing the nib section from the barrel and dripping ink directly into the barrel using an eyedropper, thus the name. Many Japanese eyedropper pens use a shut off valve system based on an Onoto design. In pens with that design, there is a knob (or blind cap) at the end of the barrel that unscrews. The knob is attached to a long rod inside the barrel. When the knob is screwed flush with the barrel, the rod blocks the back of the feed, preventing ink flow. To write, the knob must be unscrewed slightly, retracting the rod from the back of the feed and allowing ink flow.

PenHeroJapanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s

Identification guide and features:

This type of Japanese jumbo pen appears to have been intended as a lower cost pen, mostly made in plain black, with no manufacturer's imprint, plain gold plated trim and cheap gold plated steel nibs. Examples exist with their boxes, labeled "Jumbo Pen" and "Made in Japan" in English, indicating they were for export or for sale to Americans in Japan as souvenirs. They came complete with eyedropper. I've observed two principal types, cigar shape and flat top, though I've now seen a few variations. These are unlike the high quality ebonite pens made by high end pen companies offered with quality nibs and some with elaborate maki-e artwork. This guide is for this type of common black cigar shape jumbo pen. Some examples were imported to the US in the 1930s with a selling price of 99 cents.

  • Black ebonite cap and barrel
  • Gold plated trim
  • Cap unscrews
  • Gold plated large stainless steel nib
  • Unknown number of nib grades
  • About 6 3/8 inches long with the cap on and 7 5/8 inches with the cap posted on the end of the barrel
  • About an inch wide at the cap band
  • Eyedropper filler with safety shut off
  • Boxed pens will include eyedropper


Jumbo is the right word to describe this pen. A standard size fountain pen could fit inside the cap and barrel like a Russian matryoshka nesting doll. Everything about the pen says cheap, but well made. The clip may be sprung, but it is a large heavy design that should have stood up well over time if not abused. The cap and section threading is very smooth and works as if new. The cap band is a tight fit. The plating was cheap and is coming off.

PenHeroJapanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s shown with a standard size Well eyedropper pen

The gold plated nib is huge and the right proportion to the pen. The section is well designed and flares out, a nice touch. The nib does not have a JIS number, so the pen may date from as early as the 1930s to the early 1950s. The only marking on the nib is the stamping PERFECT POINT DIADEUM.

Unfortunately, the blind cap on this pen apparently was sealed closed. I am guessing it may be that the seal started leaking and glue or shellac was the solution, not knowing how to replace the seal. I decided not to fill the pen and instead tried it as a dip pen. It wrote surprisingly well. The nib is nail stiff, smooth, reasonably wet, and sings a little when writing. The pen is so large that there really is no point in posting it, so I found the best writing not posting the cap on the end of the barrel.

PenHeroJapanese Cigar Shape Jumbo eyedropper pen c1930s-1950s

Having played around with the pen now over several days, my impression is that it would be a great pen for the Incredible Hulk. It's fun, but way too big. The fit and finish were a pleasant surprise and the pen was fun to play with. I now wish I had a mint one to try out as an eyedropper filler! Searching prices of sold and offered pens tells me that these are not particularly valuable pens, but sell for their novelty value.


Filling Systems: Overview of How They Work and How to Fill Them, by Richard Binder, © 2016

Fountain Pens of Japan by Andreas Lambrou and Masamichi Sunami, © 2012 Andreas Lambrou Publishers, Epping, Essex, United Kingdom

High Class Nine Fountain Pen, Komura Pen Manufacturing Company catalog, Osaka, Japan, undated, c1930s



Comments on this article may be sent to the author, Jim Mamoulides Bibliography

Pen Clubs


PenHero on Social Media

Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram

Pen Forums

Facebook Twitter