Russian Phoenix Lacquer Art Pens Workshop in Elephant & Coral

Phoenix Lacquer Art Pens Came To Singapore Pen Shop!

On 24 May 2015, Ms. Tatjiana from Pakleh and Ms. Inna Kaufman representing Phoenix Lacquer Art Pens, made a special appearance in Elephant & Coral Singapore to showcase this iconic Imperial Russian Lacquer  art on fountain pens.

Many themes were painted on the fountain pens including Tsar Nikolai, ballerina, lions, legendary figurines like dragons, phoenix and Egyptians Pharaohs are painted on magnum size pens with such great beauty.  Audiences are also shown the intricate procedure of fine art painting on the paints which took each artist a month to finish each piece of masterpiece.

Visit Elephant & Coral at 333A Orchard Road, #03-03 Mandarin Gallery Singapore to view a full collection of these Russian Lacquer Pens to see and be enchanted by the splendor of Russia’s imperialistic past.  You can email us for more information at sales@elephant-coral.com

The Mysterious Da Vinci Code behind Vintage Namiki Pen – Autumn Grass – HAGI 萩

Vintage Namiki Pen – Autumn Grass alias Hagi

Vintage Pilot Fountain Pen Empeor Autumn Grass c. 1980s
Vintage Namiki Fountain Pen – Pilot Emperor size pen Autumn Grass c. 1980s

For experienced collectors of Namiki pen or Pilot Makie pens, most have seen this Emperor size Namiki pen, Autumn Grass alias Hagi 萩.  It existed as early as 1980s in Pilot design and then later in mid 90s as Namiki Autumn Grass.

Close up of trimmings
Close up of trimmings

The vibrant gold nashiji (named after the famous Japanese pear-like gold dust) application on this design is characteristic of an artist who had been with the esteemed Namiki Pilot Kokokai 國光會 (the design studio which produces all these beauties) for more than three decades – Mr. Hyakusen Murata 村田百川.  His unique style of makie in gold dust is found in many sought-after ever green classics like Yukari Double Gold Fish Kingyo, Kisshomon 吉祥文 and this pen 萩 Hagi Autumn Grass.

The highlight of this article focuses on an interesting aspect which even many experienced collectors may not know about it ; the secret codes on the pen.

It’s an interesting aspect of collecting Vintage Namiki pen and to unravel mysteries that few noticed.  Of course, this comes few and far between because it requires some observation and Sherlock Holmes intuition and curiosity.

There are actually 3 kanji characters embedded among the Autumn Grass theme. When most fortunate collectors who have this pen in their hands, they are naturally attracted by the AAA Grade golden mellow nashiji and taka makie art illustrated on the grass petals first.  Although It is not at all colourful like most beautiful makie pens, the skillful execution of makie lacquer art illustrates the highest lacquer art expertise from the artist.

Naturally, we are mesmerised by the aesthetics of the makie work so much so that we may actually miss the secret coded kanji characters weaved into the drawing itself.

Secret Kanji 1 on cap
Secret Kanji 1 on cap

In this magnified images, for the first time, you will see the detail of the characters revealed.  Literally, they are “城 “, “野”, “宮”.  It reads as “Shirono Miya” if taken as a continuous string of words.

Secret kanji characters on barrel
Secret kanji characters on barrel

I have also noticed in the early years “宮”on the cap but have certainly not seen “城 “and “野” – Shirono (both on the barrel).  Could it be a place? Or an artist’s name who creates the line drawing of the theme? It may well not exist on all Hagi pens and each could be different.

The Pilot Emperor Hagi Autumn Grass reminded me of a very special limited edition of 50 pens made by Namiki in Autumn 2002 – Namiki Zao Wou Ki 赵无极. The late artist (13 February 1920 – 9 April 2013) was residing in Paris then. Original paintings of the late Zao Wou Ki are selling today for millions of euros.

Apparently, the yellow striations on the roiro background came from his painting 1.4.66.  All his paintings are supposed to have his characteristic signature embedded in the painting.  However, till today, I am still not able to unravel the million Euro artist’s signature on Zao Wou Ki pen and so I remain only good to be a specialist with this humble instrument, a fountain pen.

Legendary Zao Wou Ki 赵无极 13 February 1920 – 9 April 2013
Legendary Zao Wou Ki 赵无极 13 February 1920 – 9 April 2013

You are most welcome to visit Elephant & Coral Singapore to view these Vintage Namiki Pen collection whenever you are in Singapore. It is our pleasure to share these wonderful stories and discoveries with all our customers and pen enthusiasts.

Is there really a Namiki fountain pen that has 12 oriental zodiac on just one fountain pen?

Whenever one is thinking of oriental zodiac fountain pens, one is thinking of 12 different animals and hence 12 different fountain pens with each pen representing one animal.

Zodiac Fountain Pen by Namiki
Namiki Zodiac Foutain Pen – Dog

    There is a chronology on the order of oriental zodiac starting from Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and last of it, the Piggy, representing the 12 year cycle.

 (Ref:  http://holidays.slides.kaboose.com/118-animals-of-the-chinese-zodiac)

In the history of Namiki, 2 versions of zodiac fountain pens were made in the past and present.  The original version was made of ebonite and decorated with taka maki-e (high relief lacquer and some jim-maki-e (gold dust lacquering), more light weight, flat top and bottom. (see above)

Legendary artists who had made these earlier  fountain pens include

¨ Kyusai Yoshida 吉田久斋 (Pig, Rabbit, Ram)

¨ Hyakusen Murata 村田百川(Rooster,Snake, Ox)

¨ Masaru Hayashi 林胜(Dog, Monkey, Horse,Tiger)

¨  Yasunori Sakamoto 坂本康则(Dragon, Rat).
This collection was discontinued since 2007-2008 and replaced by a newer edition of zodiac  collection made of metallic brass (kintai);  heavier and a little more expensive.

Incidentally, we have come across one such fountain pen that changed the way we looked at individual Namiki Zodiac fountain pen vis-à-vis seeing one large Emperor Namiki fountain pen that has all the 12 legendary animals together.    It was like a myth and a dream!

Rare Namiki Zodiac Fountain Pen
Rare Namiki Zodiac Fountain Pen with 12 Animals in one fountain pen

The Myth that was not a Dream

Some questions occurred in our minds:

1. Is it ever possible to even have one fountain pen that has all 12 animals on one pen itself  without compromising the beauty and harmony of the pen?

2.  Did Namiki ever make such a pen?

Namiki Zodiac Fountain Pen with Tiger & Monkey
Cap – Motif of Tiger & Monkey

Fortunately, our concerns were unfounded.

The first sight of this Namiki Emperor size fountain pen made by Hyakusen Murata in his earlier years, brought  about the joy of  ecstasy.  Our faces brightened up when we laid the pen on this table.

Barrel showing Snake, Rabbit, Ram & Piggy partially hidden
Barrel shows Snake, Rabbit, Ram & partially hidden Pig

It had all the signs of craft skills from Master Hyakusen Murata ; his subtleness, skillful display of jim-maki-e (a trademark of his skills in using kimpun) and skillful conceptualization.  Pen was made with kinji background, taka maki-e, rankaku and kimpun maki-e.

Close up of Dragon, Tiger & Dog
Cap showing Dragon, Tiger & Dog
Barrel showing Ox, Horse & Rooster
Fountain Pen Barrel showing motif of Ox, Horse & Rooster

 Even if we are not the ultimate proud owner of one of this very rare pen in this world; the glimpse of it brings us back to childhood and that smile that makes our days ahead cheery and meaningful.