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.

Graf Von Faber Castell Snakewood Pen Limited Edition – SG50 Golden Jubilee Set

SG50 Flag Singapore
SG50 Flag Singapore

For 50 years since 1965, Singapore strived to become a world class developed country.  Few countries are known or can claimed the crown glory of Singapore’s  miraculous development to its World Class developed status within such a short time.  But, Singapore did it.

Faber Castell Snake Wood Limited Edition SG50
Faber Castell Snakewood Pen – Limited Edition SG50

Celebrating the fruits of labour, Faber Castell Germany honours this extraordinary event of Singapore’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee with an extraordinary SG50 Golden Jubilee pen set called The Faber Castell SG50 Golden Jubilee Snake Wood Limited Edition made of precious wood – Snake Wood.

Faber Castell Snake Wood Rollerball SG50
Faber Castell Snakewood Pen – Rollerball SG50

What is so extraordinary about this Faber Castell Snakewood Pen set for the Golden Jubilee?  You will be surprised by the thoughts that went into the development of this Faber Castell Snakewood  Golden Jubilee Limited edition when I revealed the process.

Graf Von Faber Castell Snake Wood Ball pen Limited edition
Graf Von Faber Castell Snakewood pen – Ball pen Limited edition

Capturing the success of 1996 launch of Graf Von Faber Castell Snakewood pen then, many users and pen aficionados have acquired the exquisite taste of using and collecting the Snake Wood pen which is bigger in size than the current SG50 Faber Castell Snakewood Pen. Today, that same pen goes for around US$3,000 if one can still get it.  It was ordinary then but it is not now; just like Singapore.

Graf von Faber Castell Snake Wood Limited Edition 0.7 Mechanical Pencil
Graf von Faber Castell Snakewood Pen – Limited Edition 0.7 Mechanical Pencil

The new Faber Castell Snakewood SG50 Limited Edition pens comprised of 1761 pieces of each design of fountain pens, roller ball, ball pens and 0.7 mechanical pencils.

Graf Von Faber Castell Snake Wood Pen Engraving on the ends
Graf Von Faber Castell Snake Wood Pen Engraving on the ends

The choice of Latin American Snake wood is also chosen for Graf Von Faber Castell Snake Wood Limited edition pen sets is for special reasons.  In the Chinese Zodiac signs, the snake is the year 1965, the year of independence of Republic of Singapore.  The honour of choosing the snake wood to produce the pen is an excellent choice for every good reasons.

Graf von Faber Castell Snake wood SG50 Limited edition set presentation
Graf von Faber Castell Snakewood Pen – SG50 Limited edition set presentation

There is a twist here; there are however only 50 sets worldwide made differently. The first 50 serial numbers of matching snake wood fountain pen, snake wood rollerball, snake wood ball pen and snake wood 0.7 mechanical pencils will be sold as a Golden Jubilee set.  It’s getting emotional here because only these 50 sets are going to be engraved with numbers eg. 33 of 50 etc up till serial number 50.  All else are without serial numbers but with a certificate stating that it is one of the combination of the 1761 (the year of Faber Castell establishment). One more thing! Only these 50 Golden Jubilee quad sets are packed in 1 single luxurious box that other pens are singly packed.  What a day and what a luxurious presentation worthwhile to sing praises for the many years of labour this small nation has gone through.  Let’s take a look at these Graf Von Faber Castell Snake wood pens in perspective again.

Limited edition Faber Castell Snake Wood pen 2015
Limited edition Faber Castell Snakewood pen 2015

The natural platina of snake wood makes the use of the pen more pleasant as each day one holds and uses the pen day in and day out.  The extraordinary craftmanship of German precision technology in the Faber Castell Snake Wood Limited edition 2015 pen is unbeatable in all aspect of its thought process and its eventual birth.  Just like Singapore, it is precise, it’s advance and it’s smooth. Visit Graf Von Faber Castell shop in Singapore  Elephant & Coral at 333A Orchard Road, #03-03 Mandarin Gallery to clinch this extraordinary Faber Castell 2015 Snake Wood SG50 Golden Jubilee Limited edition pens to mark a special milestone for the extraordinary…… Call +65-67361322 or email at sales@elephant-coral.com Shipping Worldwide www.elephant-coral.com

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

Dunhill Namiki ~ The Enchanting Story of Singapore between London and Tokyo

Dunhill Namiki And Singapore

Dunhill Namiki was introduced to the world because of the need to bring Japanese made Namiki fountain pens to the international market when the sales agreement was signed between Alfred Dunhill and Namiki Pen Manufacture Japan in 1920s.  The agreement to sell Namiki Pens under the name Dunhill Namiki was the biggest breakthrough for Namiki in its brand history.

How did Singapore come into play in the pivotal role as the conduit for the East & West culture?  An interesting box containing an antique Dunhill Namiki pen reveals how important was Singapore being instrumental in bringing this wonderful love story together.

Dunhill Namiki History
Dunhill Namiki Pens was already selling in Singapore since the 1920s. Amazing !

History is a mirror to the past and has  always repeat itself in different forms.  The modern history of Namiki pens cannot be complete without mentioning this island state Singapore.  It was in Singapore in 1998 that the first shop in shop of Namiki was set up in Elephant & Coral (www.elephant-coral.com) Continue reading Dunhill Namiki ~ The Enchanting Story of Singapore between London and Tokyo