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Thread: Manupropria Shibui

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    Default Manupropria Shibui

    This is my first foray into the exciting and rarified world of urushi pens. It seems to me that the most financially invested collectors of fountain pens either gravitate towards beautifully handcrafted urushi pens or highly desirable vintage models. Naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

    Towards the end of May, Manupropria announced a Pentecost sale with substantial reductions on recommended retail pricing. This pen (the Shibui) caught my eye due to the apparent uninterrupted profile from barrel finial to section end, much like an Oldwin Art Deco or ASA Nauka. The sale price for the pen with an 18k gold nib was $620 compared to a recommended retail price of $1,700. This was far more than I had ever spent on a pen before, but I recognised and appreciated the many hours of labour and the high degree of skill which are required to create an urushi pen. Moreover, I purchased this pen to commemorate the birth of my first, and likely only, daughter. This pen would be a memento of this special time for my family, and would be passed on to my daughter, hopefully to be treasured after I am gone.

    Capture.JPG

    Manupropria agreed to grind the 18k nib to a fine cursive italic for no additional charge. The pen was dispatched in early June from Switzerland, and arrived in Canada on 25 June, with no import duties, customs charges, or additional taxes to pay.

    The cardboard box was filled with newspaper and the pen itself was contained in a charming pen case made, as I understand it, from paper and urush lacquer with a beautiful negoro pattern.

    IMG_20210716_1053541.jpg

    The negoro urushi finish on the pen is beautifully executed and the lacquer application is uniformly smooth. It is a joy to hold this pen knowing the effort involved in achieving this finish. The threads between the barrel and section, and those between the section and cap, appear to be well tooled.

    The pen arrived with a Schmidt K6 converter, although I do not believe the section is threaded for a screw-in converter. As can be seen in the photos, the converter is almost entirely hidden within the long section.

    IMG_20210716_1054244.jpg

    Upon further inspection, I noticed that the nib collar was cracked, but I did not attempt to remove it for fear of damaging it further.

    IMG_20210626_2324198.jpg

    I also noticed that there was a disparity in size between the barrel and section so that the join/seam where the two meet is not smooth or flush, leaving a small but noticeable step.

    IMG_20210626_2345572_crop.jpg

    I emailed Manupropria to enquire about the cracked nib collar and the step between the barrel and section on 26 June. I followed up by email three more times, and tried to reach out to Manupropria both on FPN and FPG. To date, I have had no acknowledgment or response, let alone any attempt at resolution. I am left with a beautifully finished pen which arrived broken.

    I would rate this pen highly as a desk ornament, but as it arrived with a broken nib collar and the maker appears unwilling to engage in discussion about repair or replacement, I would not recommend it as a fountain pen. Regrettably, as of the date of posting, I would rate Manupropria’s customer service even lower.

    Manupropria? I say, caveat emptor.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Thank you for sharing and for the pics

    Ghosting a buyer who has quality/usability concerns is absolutely unacceptable! Especially at that kind of money!
    Twsbi Ecos cost $35 and their rep will get back to you in only a couple of days and the problem is usually resolved in less than a week! So for a pen to cost 17 times as much and for the seller to ghost you? un-fricken-acceptable.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    This is the most appalling level of arrogance and disrespect. I would love to give the benefit of the doubt in these times, but I know he's been posting on social media so is unlikely to be ill or unavailable.

    I hope he's both embarrassed and ashamed of himself.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    This is the most appalling level of arrogance and disrespect. I would love to give the benefit of the doubt in these times, but I know he's been posting on social media so is unlikely to be ill or unavailable.

    I hope he's both embarrassed and ashamed of himself.
    Unfortunately, since it's been as long as it has been, he is unlikely to be either :/

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    I'm curious: how does the pen write? Or have you not been able to ink it up because of the cracked nib unit?

    I'm similarly staggered at Martin's unresponsiveness. AFAICT, your product has a default two year warranty under Swiss law, unless Manupropria issued, and you explictly agreed, to T&C that modify this*. I would consider lodging a complaint with the Swiss Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau.

    * Looking at his site, I see nothing that does sugest he has modified his terms and conditions.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    I'm curious: how does the pen write? Or have you not been able to ink it up because of the cracked nib unit?

    I'm similarly staggered at Martin's unresponsiveness. AFAICT, your product has a default two year warranty under Swiss law, unless Manupropria issued, and you explictly agreed, to T&C that modify this*. I would consider lodging a complaint with the Swiss Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau.

    * Looking at his site, I see nothing that does sugest he has modified his terms and conditions.
    interesting idea... I wonder though if it still applies since the buyer is not in Switzerland...

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    FWIW, a couple of days ago I sent a Facebook message to Martin. We had corresponded just a bit when he first started showing pens on FPG, and I wanted to be certain he was aware of the situation in a public* sense. I was not asked to do this but felt - possibly - a back-channel note on a different medium might initiate some action. Apparently, I was mistaken.

    This really is a sorry situation, but I will say that the units for holding a nib, with a collar and feed, can be sourced a few places for not much money, and that pen can be made whole. I still hope that something works out and BP will be able to enjoy this instrument.

    *By public I'm referring to the threads here on FPG; my communication with him was private and will remain so.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; July 16th, 2021 at 05:31 PM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Quote Originally Posted by INeedAFinancialAdvisor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    I'm curious: how does the pen write? Or have you not been able to ink it up because of the cracked nib unit?

    I'm similarly staggered at Martin's unresponsiveness. AFAICT, your product has a default two year warranty under Swiss law, unless Manupropria issued, and you explictly agreed, to T&C that modify this*. I would consider lodging a complaint with the Swiss Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau.

    * Looking at his site, I see nothing that does sugest he has modified his terms and conditions.
    interesting idea... I wonder though if it still applies since the buyer is not in Switzerland...
    It does; it is the trader that must comply with the law, or face sanctions.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    I am really sorry and surprised to read of this situation - sorry for BayesianPrior having to face this disappointment, and surprised to hear that Martin has not made this right or even responded.

    I have two of Martin's pens and the transactions including all communications were speedy and fine. But those were purchased some time ago and obviously something has changed. My first thought was that maybe he is ill, but he has posted sale ads and apparently Mizgeorge has seen him posting on social media. What a shame! I wish BP the very best in getting the issue resolved to his satisfaction.

    There seems to be a fair amount of this poor service going around. I have my own issues with Andy Lambrou, to whom I paid a very significant amount of money for a pen to be made. That was now more than two years ago and Andy has not delivered the pen, has committed but missed a couple of promises, now can't give me a date of expected delivery, has steadfastly and repeatedly refused to refund my money, and usually doesn't even respond to my emails. It has left such a bad taste I sold all six of my LB5's and have promised myself I will never buy another of Andy's pens. I suppose small claims court may be the next option, although I do have hopes of seeing Andy at a show and getting this rectified without the need for legal action.

    I'm sorry I don't have any great ideas for BP, but Jon Szanto's comments that it is not a terribly difficult repair may be of help. There are probably a number of qualified pen people who can do this work at minimal cost. It shouldn't have to be that way, but it may at least salvage the issue and lead to a workable pen.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Regardless of this incident, congratulations on your baby girl, the more important of your two anticipated arrivals.

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Lloyd; July 17th, 2021 at 03:56 AM.
    M: I came here for a good argument.
    A: No you didn't; no, you came here for an argument.
    M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
    A: It can be.
    M: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
    A: No it isn't.
    M: Yes it is! It's not just contradiction.
    A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
    M: Yes, but that's not just saying 'No it isn't.'
    A: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Yes, the situation is don't beautiful and not ethical! Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don't know who is Manupropria and who is Martin, but if I had the courage to spend $650 on a FP with Urushi it would be Nakaya, Pilot or Wancher.

    Now, regarding to the problem if the seller ignores you, and you don't want or cannot settle the issue in court. I am sure that Martin can't make nibs himself, but buys them from well-known manufacturers(Bock, JoWo, Shmidt) - this means that a cracked collar is universal and you can buy it as a cheaper nib unit(maybe with steel nib) for replasement. Regarding the mismatch between the body and section, this is also not a terrible problem. If the lacquer is applied qualitatively according to Japanese technology (multi-layer), then it can be enought polished for smooth. A good craftsman(pen master) will do this so that the pen is not lost yet. I wish you solve these problems and enjoy the pen and growing up of your daughter!

    ps: I would help you, but I am very far away, it is better to find a master locally. Ask Stephen for advice, maybe he can help you, he is also in Canada (https://www.sbrebrown.com/).
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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    I had a similar experience with ManuPropria recently, as in second half of june, but it was handled and solved quickly and satisfactory.

    My choice was the Bô Take Aka Negoro Nuri Bamboo with the gold jowo #6 ground to a straight oblique. I had frequent email correspondence with Martin over this choice as I had a mixed experience with a steel jowo #6 crisp italic before - that simply is not a nib for me I guess. Martin therefore was aware of my anxiety regarding an oblique nib.

    Like BP’s story, the pen arrived well packaged, and I like the pen very much, more than I expected actually. Right size, weight, grip, balance, and its looks - it is a beautiful addition to my little urushi universe.

    However.

    The nib was a disaster, a calamity, a nightmare. Did not write, scratchy, dry to the point of bone dry, simply did not write. Literally.

    So I wrote to Martin immediately, and he answered immediately, and we agreed on a nib exchange: i sent back the jowo unit, emailed him the track&trace code, and the next day, thus before he actually received my shipment, meaning he trusted me and took a small risk, he send me the replacement, a normal moderately wet gold M.

    After he received my package he wrote me his surprise that an unfinished and unpolished nib was sent to me in the first place. I found this ever so slightly weird as he mentioned before that in that week he shipped off 12 pens…not such a high number that would justify such a QC issue…

    But, hey, he solved my complaint, swiftly and completely, to my full satisfaction, and I am left a happy customer. As I can’t see why he would make exceptions in his modus operandi regarding quality problems and customer complaints, there may be still hope for BP…

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Thanks to everyone who has offered their moral support or encouragement, both here and on FPN. I would like nothing more than to post a follow-up message describing a happy resolution.

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    I'm curious: how does the pen write? Or have you not been able to ink it up because of the cracked nib unit?

    I'm similarly staggered at Martin's unresponsiveness. AFAICT, your product has a default two year warranty under Swiss law, unless Manupropria issued, and you explictly agreed, to T&C that modify this*. I would consider lodging a complaint with the Swiss Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau.

    * Looking at his site, I see nothing that does sugest he has modified his terms and conditions.
    I dip tested the pen and it wrote adequately. There was line variation, the edges were not too sharp, and there was a fair amount of feedback.

    Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the FCAB. I certainly hope this situation doesn't require formal submissions to a regulatory body. Do you know what recourse the FCAB offers, apart from the threat of a financial sanction against the vendor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
    Regardless of this incident, congratulations on your baby girl, the more important of your two anticipated arrivals.
    Thank you Lloyd - and you are absolutely right. I wonder if my focus on her is providing me with a new perspective on 'don't sweat the small stuff.' Or maybe I just don't have enough time in the day to worry about fountain pens anymore!

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_Lensky View Post
    Yes, the situation is don't beautiful and not ethical! Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don't know who is Manupropria and who is Martin, but if I had the courage to spend $650 on a FP with Urushi it would be Nakaya, Pilot or Wancher.

    Now, regarding to the problem if the seller ignores you, and you don't want or cannot settle the issue in court. I am sure that Martin can't make nibs himself, but buys them from well-known manufacturers(Bock, JoWo, Shmidt) - this means that a cracked collar is universal and you can buy it as a cheaper nib unit(maybe with steel nib) for replasement. Regarding the mismatch between the body and section, this is also not a terrible problem. If the lacquer is applied qualitatively according to Japanese technology (multi-layer), then it can be enought polished for smooth. A good craftsman(pen master) will do this so that the pen is not lost yet. I wish you solve these problems and enjoy the pen and growing up of your daughter!

    ps: I would help you, but I am very far away, it is better to find a master locally. Ask Stephen for advice, maybe he can help you, he is also in Canada (https://www.sbrebrown.com/).
    Thank you for your suggestions, Andrew. The nib housing should be a simple fix (I believe the nib is Jowo - in any case I am sure it is not Bock), which makes the lack of contact about a resolution all the more frustrating.

    And thank you also for your very kind offer to smooth the step. I am not sure I am brave enough to go down that road yet, and in any case certainly not until I have exhausted every possible avenue with Manupropria.

    But goodness me, I had no idea Stephen Brown was in Canada - let alone 90 minutes away from me! I may just have to reach out to him.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Quote Originally Posted by BayesianPrior View Post
    But goodness me, I had no idea Stephen Brown was in Canada - let alone 90 minutes away from me! I may just have to reach out to him.
    The world is full of wonders! Looking forward to solving your problems!
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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Quote Originally Posted by BayesianPrior View Post
    Thanks to everyone who has offered their moral support or encouragement, both here and on FPN. I would like nothing more than to post a follow-up message describing a happy resolution.



    I dip tested the pen and it wrote adequately. There was line variation, the edges were not too sharp, and there was a fair amount of feedback.

    Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the FCAB. I certainly hope this situation doesn't require formal submissions to a regulatory body. Do you know what recourse the FCAB offers, apart from the threat of a financial sanction against the vendor?
    I haven't looked into it; mainly because their website is almost completely useless. If it were me, I'd consult a time zone map and ring them. Public servants are always more motivated by direct contact. Good luck.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    As a side note, there was a period of time recently where many Jowo nib units were cracking, causing some vendors to send back batches and get new ones. It has been a while since I read about this but it shouldn't be considered something this penmaker caused, yet it is still on them to make right the situation. As always, hoping for a positive outcome whichever way you choose to pursue it.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    I just don’t see why not. He solved my problem quickly and completely. Less than a mont ago. OK, it was a mere jowo nib unit swap, but still. Why would this case be different?

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    Update (of sorts):

    26 July: email from Martin saying he had been away on vacation, was getting caught up on what he had missed, but would respond to my concerns by tomorrow (i.e. 27 July).
    8 August: nothing further to date

    This is particularly aggravating since I am now aware that he has known of my concerns for two weeks (whereas previously he had deniability, as he was ostensibly away on vacation) and yet has provided no substantive attempt at a resolution.

    It's one thing to go on holiday for a month without an out-of-office or auto-reply.

    It's quite another to know that a customer has been disappointed for four weeks without any contact, and then deciding to ignore it for a further two!

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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    I feel for you, I really do.
    Last edited by Andrew_Lensky; August 8th, 2021 at 11:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Manupropria Shibui

    It will be interesting to see whether he has the gall to post another For Sale thread here after this debacle. My sense is that, without a grand gesture like a full refund to BP, his reputation here is toast.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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