Extraordinary Namiki Pen – Namiki Gold Fish Pen (Kingyo)
Appreciating a Gold Fish pen by Namiki is not complete without knowing a bit of history of what Gold Fish meant to the Japanese.
The Japanese enjoy looking at these fishes and usually keep them in a large glass gold fish bowl. The first pure breed of Gold Fish was imported from China at the beginning of the 16th century, different species were imported during the Edo Period(1603-1867), and keeping kingyo for enjoyment became widespread. Until the 1960s, Gold Fish sellers flourished in Tokyo, carrying around kingyo-filled buckets suspended from a shoulder carrying pole.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.