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.

The Heritage of Namiki Pens – Like Father Like Son

Namiki 4 Treasures Limited Edition Pink Sakura, Namiki Goose & Pink, Namiki Dancing Beauty and Namiki Sailing Boat
Namiki 4 Treasures Limited Edition Pink Sakura, Namiki Goose & Pink, Namiki Dancing Beauty and Namiki Sailing Boat

In the sequence preceding year 2001, a special collection of Namiki pens were made by Namiki. These are the Namiki  Pink Sakura, the Namiki Goose & Pink,  Namiki Dancing Beauty and Portuguese Tradeship (alias Sailing Boat).

The edition sizes were 62, 83, 75 and 73 pieces respectively with  the last matching numbered set being 62.  It was not easy to have all the 4 pieces to be in matching set as it took, literally, 3 years to have all the various pieces made and delivered to customers due to the immaculate detail in the making of these pens.  Many customers have forgotten about their order and from hind sight, it appears that the wait is all worth the while now as there are very few sets of four that are in matching numbers.

A quick reference to the book The Fountain Pens of The World revealed an interesting evidence that all these pens were actually a reproduction of prototypes made in the early years

  • Pink Sakura – reproduction of Vest Type, Raden Aogai-Pearl c. 1926
  • Goose & Pink – reproduction of a prototype c. 1968
  • Dancing Beauty – reproduction of Hagoromo c. 1926
  • Sailing Boat – reproduction of Portuguese Tradeship by Ritsuzan c. 1931

They are all absolutely fabulous masterpieces that are not available now except in the Pilot / Namiki museum archive.

P-1

Namiki Pink Sakura - Masterpiece of Kyusai Yoshida
Namiki Pink Sakura – Masterpiece of Kyusai Yoshida   吉田久齋

 

The reproduction of Namiki Pink Sakura was the most outstanding as it was made by then the Chief Kokokai 國光會Artist- Master Kyusai Yoshida (吉田久齋).  Appreciating the pen as one rotates the pen in the hand, it is as if you are looking at the glitter of a kaleidoscope. Pearls and aogai shells cut in the shapes of hearts to form the outline of sakura were seen as if it was in the floating world.

P-2

Namiki Goose & Pink by Seki Chida 正樹
Namiki Goose & Pink by Seki Chida 正樹

On a roiro background, the Namiki Goose & Pink revealed the simple pleasure of seeing a cute gander looking smart and right facing the world.   The outstanding creation of the goose using silver on its breast revealing details of the layers of feathers and the high relief taka maki-e lacquer on its torso is a pleasure to feel and touch.

It was the lowest priced pens then and was the first to be sold out.  Nevertheless, you can find the original prototype Goose & Pink in Elephant & Coral Singapore, from which the limited edition 83 pieces Goose & Pink, were modelled and reproduced around 2001.

Reference:

a.    A Heritage of Maki-e Pens – The Briggs Collection (Book is available for sale at Elephant & Coral – click here )

b.   Fountain Pens of The World by Andreas Lambrou.

Prototype Pilot #4 Goose & Pink LF c. 1960s.  Extremely rare  & collectible. AAA grade condition
Prototype Pilot #4 Goose & Pink LF c. 1960s. Extremely rare & collectible. AAA grade condition

P-3

Namiki Dancing Beauty - Seki Chida 正樹
Namiki Dancing Beauty – Seki Chida 正樹

To many collectors, there are various reasons why certain pens appeal to them. Specifically, when comes to colour, green is not the colour many will cast their eyes on it.  Green is usually deeper in colour when comes to maki-e (so far, I have not seen lime green lacquer).  It is not the first preference for many users or collectors because it doesn’t stand out.

In the case of the Namiki Dancing Beauty, I have always advocate it as the ugly duckling that turns into a beautiful swan; if only one knows and sees beyond what this pen means in the future.  The resemblance of this pen to an antique 1926 design is no coincidence but shows the high level of appreciation of art during the golden age of fountain pens.

The slender figure of the dancer under the aogai inlaid cherry blossom tree has an intricate illustration of aogai pearl shells,taka maki-e high relief lacquer  and detail exhibit of the beauty of the clad kimono.  On close scrutiny, the green lacquer is not just pure green but sprinkles of aogai shells are visible within the lacquer.

Green lacquer is not only rare in many maki-e but also precious.  Essentially, because many did not like it on first sight; few are being collected or in the hands of users.  Isn’t this a perfect excuse to collect it?  Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder….

P-4

The only Jumbo 50 Emperor size pen made by Namiki among the collection.  Namiki Portuguese Tradeship (alias Namiki Sailing Boat) illustrated a huge majestic ship in the ports of the Bugafu government.

Namiki Sailing Boat (alias Portuguese Tradeship) 真人
Namiki Sailing Boat (alias Portuguese Tradeship) 真人

With the maru pun gold dust sprinkled lightly on the entire pen and togidashi maki-e to give it the archaic look, the artist attempted to create a hybrid of the East and West cultures to appeal to foreigners.

Today, more than a decade now, a full set of these 4 matching numbered pens are rare and precious due to many reasons.  It’s intrinsic value of beauty and art is undeniably the most interesting by Namiki in its attempt to bring back beauty of fine writing instruments during the Golden Ages of Fountain Pens during the 1920s and 30s.

All pens viewed on this blog are available and you are most welcomed to enquire on its availability from Elephant & Coral Singapore.  Contact: sales@elephant-coral.com or +65-6736-1322

Beyond Vermillion Red : Pilot Limited Edition Pen – 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon Noburi Ryu

Pilot Limited Edition Pen – 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon

Pilot Dragon Pen
Pilot Limited Edition Pen celebrating 95th Anniversary of Pilot Pen.

Negoro Ware was the most popular lacquer ware during the Muromachi period of Japan (1392 – 1573). The name Negoro was derived from the original place of manufacture at the Negoro temple in Kii Province, Japan during the 14th century.

Unknown to many collectors of maki-e pens, the Pilot 95th Anniversary Noburi Ryu is the like of Negoro ware which is greatly prized for their appearance of antiquity.   When the time the black layer becomes visible in patches through the vermillion layer, it exhibits this simple, yet powerful complexion that makes them precious and admired.

Negoro ware and Pilot 95th anniversary Noburi Ryu Rising Dragon Vermillion Red
See the gradual wearing of vermillion red in Negoro ware and imagine how the Pilot 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon over time

The first look on the this maki-e Pilot Dragon Pen would gave it a miss because many thought that the dragon looks whimsical and does not bear the ferocity of most Dragons in the Pilot Limited Edition Pen that were made in the past or recent times.

Pilot 95th anniversary - Emperor rising_dragon FACE - Lumix-H

Essentially, it is the trained eye that can recognize immediately the existence and appreciation of this vermillion red that would turn to antiquity over time.  As the red lacquer wears away gradually and irregularly with use, producing the effect of natural aging for which these pieces becomes highly appreciated and sought after. Continue reading Beyond Vermillion Red : Pilot Limited Edition Pen – 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon Noburi Ryu

About Courage & Wisdom – Mr. Nagahara Nobuyoshi 長原宣義 Retirement Take Nuri Pen by Sailor LE 600 勇退纪念竹塗万年笔

Nagahara Retirement Pen
Long hail Mr. Nagahara for your fabulous nibs

Retirement from a career can be a distant consideration for many but with the greying population in many countries, retirement is indeed a genuine social issue.

For pen lovers, the soul and spirit of Sailor pen lies in its fabulous nibs, especially those that are made by Mr. Nagahara Nobuyoshi 長原宣義.

Sailor Nagahara Nobuyoshi Retirement take nuri Full Half Display
Sailor Nagahara Retirement Pen in Full & Half Display

Mr. Nagahara  was born in 1947 in Japan.  He is known to many as the god of nibs because of his unceasing effort in creating and improving how the Sailor pen nibs write.  After relentlessly working with Sailor, this year 2012, Mr. Nagahara decided finally to retire after making nibs for Sailor for so many years.

Gold Foil Kimpaku Packaging of Sailor Nagahara Retirement Pen
Gold Foil Kimpaku Packaging of Sailor Nagahara Retirement Pen

The thought about Mr. Nagahara retiring is like a shock and disappointment to many nib connoisseur.  I am sure for Mr. Nagahara, it is a milestone for himself as a nib master as well as an important decision for him.

In the description of his retirement within the packaging, it says 勇退纪念.  Literally, to commemorate one’s retirement at the peak.

How many of us do or have the courage to retire when one is at his prime?  It takes a lot of courage and consideration besides the physically capability of oneself to still continue to work when our body says otherwise?

A salute to Mr. Nagahara for his many years of making these fabulous nibs that makes a fountain pen so pleasurable to use and write.  Indeed, to retire from the peak of one’s career requires a lot of courage and wisdom.

The Black & White World of Panda Fountain Pens

The Black & White World of Panda Fountain Pens

Pandas are lovely creatures that make you laugh when you see their clumsy ways. Giant pandas were declared a protected endangered species by the WWF (World WildLife Fund) because of its dwindling numbers.

Namiki Panda fountain pen, Sailor Panda fountain pen
Endangered Species protected by The WWF

But what does panda has to do with a fountain pen? Well, Panda was one of the most whimsical motifs chosen to grace a limited edition of 700 pieces Namiki “Endangered Species fountain pen” way back in autumn 1997.

Panda limited edition fountain pen produced in 1997
Namiki Panda Limited edition fountain pen

In those days, no one took The Panda seriously. When the first endangered species was made, The White Tiger, collectors were gearing up for some hot-blooded creatures for its next limited edition. When the Panda was first featured in its debut, it was more a laugh of its soft good nature soft nature and it is even harder to take a Panda pen seriously. Obviously, it did not chalked up good fast sales like its predecessor.

14 years today, the Giant Pandas remained as an endangered species, so is the Panda fountain pen. We can even see Kung Fu Panda in the cinemas too!

Quite similar to the Namiki Panda limited edition fountain pen
The Sailor Panda fountain pen

The Panda is a symbol of China, its emergence in the world stage as a major sovereign power is also seen in the rarity of even finding these fountain pens too.

Sailor Panda fountain pen barrel

 

Just like any siblings, the Sailor Panda fountain pen captures the playfulness of the panda in its natural habitat

The Giant Pandas resided in its natural habitat in Wolong ( 卧龙) meaning “Sleeping Dragon” in Sichuan province, China. As the legend of the Black & White unfolded just as the emergence of this great ancient civilization flexed its soft power, the Panda pen remained as the pen that one has to take it more seriously…..