16) Do You See The Beauty of Namiki Pen?
It is interesting to see Namiki Pen in a different light from the little things that Pilot Japan paid meticulous attention to create everything aesthetically beautiful on a Namiki Pen.
Click on the image or from this link to see some of the rare Yukari size Namiki Pens that Pilot had created to see the creative minds behind Kokokai, the design studio of Pilot Japan:
15) The Mysterious Da Vinci Code Behind Namiki Pilot Emperor Autumn Grass – Hagi
Click on image or link to read more….
14) Beyond Vermillion Red : Pilot 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon Noburi Ryu
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.
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 Pilot 95th Rising Dragon Nobori Ryu would gave it a miss because many thought that the dragon looks whimsical and does not bear the ferocity of most dragon pens that were made in the past or recent times.
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.
The good news is that when many pen collectors find the Pilot Rising Dragon – Noburi Ryu looks “simple” that is when the prized pieces are just in front of your door steps. To miss buying a good pen, when you can actually own it now, may well be missing an elephant by a mile when you are so close.
18kt Solid Gold Nib of Pilot 95th Anniversary Rising Dragon Noburi Ryu
The appreciation of maki-e pens is not purely about the maki-e techniques alone. It is important to know how the rich heritage of Japanese lacquer that spans over hundreds of years have taught us on the art, history and depth of Japanese maki-e.
13)The Rising Dragon 昇り龍- Pilot 95th Anniversary Pen Collection
Pilot 95th Anniversary Pens 2013
The Rising Dragon 昇り龍
As we wait anxiously for Pilot 95th Anniversary pens, The Rising Dragon 昇り龍 , to be launched to commemorate its heritage and to feature the beautiful pens they had made. Let us take a retrospective look on some of the Pilot Anniversary pens made in the past to mark Pilot’s milestone.
The vision and the courage of two pioneers, Mr. Ryosuki Namiki and Mr. Masao Wada in 1918 to make original Japanese pen models and designs inspired them to make pens that are characteristically Japanese.
Many of us are reminded of unique design of pens made by Pilot ranging from the Vanishing Points, Silvern range etched with uniquely Japanese icons like Mount Fuji, Miku (Chrysanthemum), Ryu (Dragon) and many other interesting designs.
The aspiration to be the best pen makers spurred the company to create world renown Maki-e series which are all so sough after by collectors worldwide.
In 1983, the year when Pilot was established for 65 years, a commemorative 65th Pilot Anniversary Limited Edition pens (Pilot 65) were made in a new balanced shape (round top round bottom) and shaped to look like the 1930s model.
Pilot 65th Anniversary Pen was made in 1983 to mark its milestone. 6,500 pieces were made
The entire pen has engine turned patterns with the number 65 engraved on a decorative cap band. 6500 pieces were made. Some smaller quantities were also made in maroon and blue black.
It was decided to have a commemorative edition to be made every other 5 years and on auspicious years.
Since then, another Pilot Anniversary 70th Anniversary Limited Edition was made in 1988 of a vest typed fountain pen with gold plated clip and 14 carat gold nib and ball ended clip. The barrel is graced
with the words “PILOT 70” and the edition number out of 7,777 pieces.
Pilot 70th Anniversary pen – 7,777 pieces made
In 1993, to trace its roots back to days of the 1930s of hard rubber, the Pilot 75th Anniversary pens were made with over sized black lacquered hard rubber. The pen clip has a characteristically Kikuza style and only 7500 pens were made.
The premium range of Maki-e pens has always been the soul and darling of Pilot. In 1998, recognizing the demand for high quality maki-e pens and being the auspicious Pilot 80th Anniversary occasion, three models of premium quality Maki-e pens were made – Bugaku (LE68) 舞樂, Soushi-e (LE65) 草紙 and Kaiawase (LE55) 貝合せ
Pilot 80th Anniversary Bugaku 舞樂 – 68 pieces made
By then, individual master maki-e artist like Kyusai Yoshida, Yasunori Sakamoto and Masaru Hayashi came to prominence with their superior skills in making these maki-e pens.
Pilot 80th Anniversary Soushi-e 草紙 – only 65 pieces made.
The trio collection had dazzled the eyes of international pen connoisseurs. As collectors scrambled to try to collect matching numbers trio set; they were already gone with the wind.
Pilot 80th Anniversary Kaiawase 貝合せ. 55 pieces made
They are now all so rare that even individual pieces are hard to come by.
At the same time, one black and one vermillion Yukari Royal size urushi limited edition fountain pens of 1918 pieces were launched , Shijin 四神
Pilot 80th Anniversary Black and Red Shijin 四神 1,918 pieces made.
Taking a breather from the high demand of high quality maki-e pen, Pilot 85th Anniversary collection featuring the Hiten 飛天 Collection is a modest one because in 3 years time, the auspicious 88th Anniversary is a more interesting time to launch an interesting collection.
Pilot 85th Anniversary Hiten 飛天
In the Fall of 2006, Pilot launched its Pilot 88th Anniversary in two collection – the special edition is a vest type pen called the Nioh 仁王 LE880 made of jim maki-e and taka maki-e. The premium Pilot 88th Anniversary edition, Shishi-komanu, is made with taka maki-e, jim maki-e in an edition size of 88 pieces.
Pilot 88th Anniversary Shishi-Komainu & Nioh
Again, the success is unstoppable and in 2008, Pilot 90th Anniversary is celebrated with an extremely interesting maki-e collection called the Toki Raden (LE900) 朱鷺螺鈿 and the premium edition, Toki (90)朱鷺. The former is a simple vest type with a silver ibis inlaid at the cap band by hyomon and decorated with raden. However, the beauty of the premium Toki is dazzling with kinji, rankaku, taka maki-e, raden and shishi-ai taka maki-e.
Pilot 90th Anniversary Toki LE90 and Toki Raden LE 400
It’s the time of the year in 2013 that Pilot is launching it’s Pilot 95th Anniversary pens. The special edition will only be a 400 pieces edition with a dragon 龍 on the cap band and hyomon to decorate it. While the premium edition, 95 pieces, is the best we have ever seen, The Rising Dragon 昇り龍! The poise and energy of The Rising Dragon featuring Pilot 95th Anniversary is an auspicious omen of Pilot’s success for the past 95 years as well as the years to come.
This is the most amazing pen made by Pilot for its 95th Anniversary – Nobori Ryu or The Rising Dragon
Congratulations to Pilot 95th Anniversary Pen Collection !
12) Dunhill Namiki ~ The Enchanting Story of Singapore between London and Tokyo
The need to bring Namiki fountain pens to the international market came as no surprise with the signing of sales agreement with Alfred Dunhill in the era of 1920s to sell Namiki Pens under the name Dunhill Namiki. 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.
Singapore was already selling Dunhill Namiki pens 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)
Namiki Shop in Shop was first set up in 1998 to feature the full image of Namiki pens to the world.
Two special commemorative pens were made specially for Elephant & Coral in 2005 to commemorate its anniversary. The Seki Shun 惜春 meaning “Pinning For Spring” is a testimony to the significance of Pilot – Namiki ‘s appreciation for this Singapore pen shop’s effort. Only 50 pieces in black and vermillion colour Yukari Royal (a wonderful size) each are made with a grand lacquered box to contain these pens. The nib has an unusal crescent moon and five stars which is part of the island state’s emblem. It is not known if Pilot has ever make any pens for a pen company outside of Japan but this is sure making this pen – Seki Shun , not only rare but a true collectible of all times.
This is one of the rarest maki-e pens made by Pilot for a foreign company – in fact, never for foreign companies.
These are truly gems among fountain pen collectors who are always seeking something unusual, especially, if it is from the world’s number one lacquer pen maker Namiki or Pilot.
To celebrate one of the most interesting pens that was ever made for modern Japanese 中古 maki-e pens, itis the Dunhill Namiki Hannya. The Hannya was handcrafted by Master Kyusai Yoshida 吉田久齋 maki-e master, Chief Designer of Namiki Pen company. (吉田久斋)
Dunhill Namiki Hannya is made by 吉田久斋
An interesting interpretation of the various signs and symbols of the Dunhill Namiki Hannya revealed more essence and thought behind the making of this extraordinary Dunhill Namiki pen.
The Dunhill Namiki Hannya is truly an extraordinary maki-e pen.
The Hannya Mask (on barrel)
In the Japanese traditional Kabuki theatre plays, the Hannya mask depicts a woman in anguish and full of jealousy. It appears to be demonic and dangerous when viewed straight ahead but when tilted slightly down, the face of the mask appears to be tormented; displaying the extreme complexity of human emotions.
Hannya masks appear in various skin tones: a white or gold mask indicates a woman of aristocratic status.
The Drum – Tsuzumi (on cap)
The Maple Leaf – Momiji 紅葉(on cap turban)
The deep sense of appreciating nature, especially, the red autumn maple leaves is an ancient tradition of “hunting” for the glimpse of visiting scenic areas where leaves have turned vermillion during the autumn seasons. The practice is called Momijigari 紅葉狩. A tradition that originates from the Heian era as a cultural pursuit.
Hexagonal patterns on the cap symbolize Serpents to convey scales.
The more one knows about the Form and Substance of Japanese pens, the stronger is the urge to acquire only the finest Namiki or Dunhill Namiki pens. Further more, Namiki Dunhill do not make any more pens since 2011 and hence, the Hannya is sure going to be very sought after.
Singapore, the small island state is small but it is always pivotal in the world stage for these extraordinary pen brand – Namiki and Pilot or Dunhill Namiki.
11) How Did Namiki Conceptualize Using DragonFly And Lotus On 2013 Namiki Limited Edition Fountain Pen?
Full view of Namiki Dragonfly & Lotus fountain pen – alias Kachimushi
Inside the quiet corners of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the large lotus pond at the Symphony Lake never fails to attract my attention. As I watched the dragonflies frolic among the lotus flowers, it reminded me of how brilliant Namiki conceptualize 2013 Limited Edition fountain pen – Namiki Kachimushi << 勝虫>> alias Namiki DragonFly & Lotus Fountain Pen.
< 勝虫 > in Japanese, literally means “Victory Bug”. What is so special of such an insect DragonFly that triggers this trivial pursuit of pen collectors worldwide? Let me take this opportunity to illustrate the brilliance of Namiki that differentiates it from all Japanese fountain pen manufacturer.
Brilliant mother of pearl inlaid at the wings of the dragonfly.
The traditional use of the dragonfly among many Japanese art & crafts are evident in its ancient helmets, swords, armors, kimonos, lacquerwares to illustrate bravery and courage. The tradition came from a tale that dates back to Emperor Yuryaku (雄略天皇) who was the 21st Imperial ruler of Japan. Literally, the dragonfly was observed to have saved the emperor from being bitten by a horsefly – we laughed at it but yet, the dragonfly became a hero! How does it do that? It went straight to the prey and snap it steadfastly with 90 % accuracy on all its prey (documented truth). Forget about the lions and sharks, they have 25% chance of catching their prey.
A refreshing lotus lies in wait for the victor.
Namiki illustrates the dragonfly in high relief maki-e 高蒔絵 and enhances the transparent wings with high quality mother of pearl. Noticed that even the dragonfly veins are visible too and that requires highly skilled artisan like Kokokai maki-e master , Mr. Masahiro Yamada, to give it the pinkish luster.
It would have been a chrysanthemum flower to adore the Namiki Dragonfly fountain pen but why a Lotus?
In the Far East, the lotus is associated with purity, chaste and good fortune. It is a symbol used prevalently in buddhism as the Goddess of Mercy <Kannon 観音 > rested on it to represent its mercy and purity.
As the lotus lies in wait to welcome its hero, artisan Mr. Masahiro Yamada presents the lotus leaves in green lacquer and high relief taka maki-e and burnish lacquering technique togidashi maki-e. Looks like the typical time when lotus blooms in the month of May.
A reminder of the dragonfly at the section
Emerging as the next generation of Kokokai artisan, Mr. Masahiro Yamada demonstrated his talents with his presentation of the dragonfly in the most visible location – the pen section – to remind the user regularly of the courage and its unwavering determination to capture its objective. Brilliantly executed in jim-maki, nashiji and taka maki-e.You can see his emergence from the signature – it’s calligraphy! Shogo, one of the most decorated artisan of yester years, remained as my favourite with his beautiful calligraphy.
Signature of Master artisan Mr. Masahiro Yamada
The packaging of the Namiki Dragonfly & Lotus is with a Kisotsuishu lacquer lid with ripples of water on the background to mimic the ripples created by the frolic of the dragonfly approach of the lotus on water. Usually found in the Yamanaka nuri, this is a modern yet captivates the essence of this beautiful and classical art piece.
The box surface is lacquered with the lotus on water
The lid cover with Kisotsuishu nuri on it to mimic ripples of water
The overall presentation is elegant with a bottle ink that has the dragonfly maki-e on the cap.
Even the cap is maki-e with the Kachimushi
The choice of a dragonfly and the lotus is just the perfect set up to welcome Namiki / Pilot 95th Anniversary this year which we are quietly awaiting this Fall.
Only 150 pieces are available
10) Montegrappa Brain Pen and President Obama State Union Address About Brain Research
Many have said that the 21st Century is The Century of The Brain. Hence, Montegrappa celebrates its 100th Anniversary with this commemorative edition – The Montegrappa Brain Pen.
Discover The New Century with Montegrappa Brain Pen
Today, many of us are using computer correspondence on emails, mobile technology from Ipads and Iphones. Many words are digital rather than hand written using our brain and the pen.
Montegrappa Brain pen – an extension of our emotional responses
Archivst Howard Besser has cited “The default position of paper is persistence if not interrupted; the default condition of electronic signals is interrruption, if not periodically renewed.”
According to a classic paper, Ëffects of Mode of Writing on Emotional Narratives,” the experience and expression of emotion is facilitated by handwriting but not by typing. It was also found that writing by longhand wrote more words, spent more time writing and reported significantly more disclosure than those in the typing condition.
The sea-horse motif on The Montegrapa Brain pen illustrates the hippocampus which is a major component of the human brain and other vertebrates. It belongs to the limbic systems and plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term to long term memory and navigation.
Put simply, handwritten communications are more self-revealing and intimate. Even US President Barack Obama, an avid pen user, has captured the intimacy and emotional appeal of using pens. In an interview, he told The Washington Post that he prefers responding to personal correspondence by sending handwritten letters rather than emails because they are more “thoughtful” and more “intimate”.
Montegrappa Brain pen with brain scan
Many a times, we have always hear people scrambling to find their handwritten journal but we do not hear about somebody crawling around up in their attic, looking for an old computer? Essentially, any optically-etched media such as CD-ROMs, last only 5 to 15 years before they degrade. The emotional attachment of handwriting on paper shows that “connectedness” and even mentally recreate the circumstances when one made an entry in the written journal but not with electronic media.
Using a pen to write by hand is actually seeing one’s brain expression in the intimate form of handwriting which leads to information retention because the brain is using the additional channels of touch and proprioception, in addition to seeing what one is writing. (Brain-Eye-Hand co-ordination).
President Obama, in his State of The Union Address cited brain research as an example of how the government should “invest in the best ideas.”
“Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar,” he said. “Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. They’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.”
Cross section of the brain based on an ancient illustration
Montegrappa Brain 18ct Gold overlay made up of neurons with pocket clip representing the the spinal cord.
Honouring The Century of The Brain – The Montegrappa Brain Pen ! Of course
9) Namiki Chinkin 沉金－
Telling Stories of A Thousand Lines And Dots – A Tribute To the Late Shouji Michikami of Namiki
Chinkin 沉金 is a commonly used traditional Japanese maki-e art form whereby thousands of lines and dots were carved onto a hard surface and then hand filled with gold powder to highlight the patterns on it. As a layman, I had tried my hands on carving a single straight line focusing my strength on a sharp pointed cutting tool but only a scratch appeared.
To make it even harder, the dots (den buri) and lines (sen buri) are to be created to present an overall image to reveal a masterpiece. (see image below)
That was what happened in 2003 when Namiki first showed the Chinkin collection to us. The Emperor Chinkin Dragon captivated my eyes among the rest of the collection, namely the Hawk, Owl and Squirrel. The works were done by Mr. Shouji Michikami.
Chinkin Collection became an instant hit with the world of pen collectors that drove Namiki to launch the successful Pheasant & Sakura Limited Edition in 2006, a 99 pieces limited edition. The success was met with an avalanche of orders and it rested on the shoulders of one man – the late Mr. Shouji Michikami. Watch this video on YOUTUBE:
The craftsman was swamped with so much order and he fell sick. The orders took anything from 2 years to 4 years to deliver while the world waited.
In 2010, we hear the departure of Mr. Shouji Michikami. We have only his works to remember this craftsman who had bravely soldiered on to create these beautiful Chinkin Collection for us in our hands.
I had created this short video to pay a tribute to this craftsman whom we know little about but we can remember his wonderful works. Some information may not be very accurate but to a certain extent shows our thoughts.
Enquiries on Chinkin Dragon, Chinkin Owl, Chinkin Hawk, Chinkin Squirrel to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.elephant-coral.com website. Telephone: +65-6736-1322
8) Reincarnation of The Pilot Buddhist Scripture Hanashinkyo 《般若心经》 – It’s Past & Future
The Buddhist Scripture, alias Hannashinkyo 《般若心经》is one of the most unusual fountain pen collection ever made by Pilot in the 1970s. ·The kanji characters are the direct extraction of the Heart Sutra.
A rare image of Pilot Hanashinkyo Buddhist Scripture Sutra c. 1970s
Two Hannashinkyo, Buddhist Scripture designs were made in 1980s of which one is made of red coloured urushi and the other of black urushi on kintai metallic base. ·The kanji characters of the Sutra are painstakingly chased from the back of the metal such that the characters protrude from the flat surface. ·The skills of the artisan are evident as the characters remained clear and crisp after being chased from the metallic surface. ·The surface of each characters are gilded to give a beautiful contrast.
Close up view of the chased kanji characters
Hence, we have the black lacquered background against gilded Sutra and the red lacquered background against the gilded Sutra. · Both designs are fitted with finger nail nibs and comes in fine only.
Close up of the red urushi against the vermeil kanji characters
Incidentally, among the two fountain pen designs, the red version is definitely rarer and more collectible even though the black version is generally pleasing to the eyes and for general usage.
Only the red version comes in a special packaging of which there is a complete description of the Sutra in Kanji·
These 2 fountain pens are highly collectible because of the rarity and also it can be given as a special gift to someone who likes Buddhist culture and likes peace.
Breaking news! July 2012 – Pilot will be launching a similar version but with differences to the clip and method of making the characters. Pens available from end September 2012.
Coming arrival for late December 2012/early 2013
Noticed that the clip is just a metallic clip and not lacquered.
2012-2013 The New Pilot Buddhist Scripture Hanashinkyo
Pilot Buddhist Scripture in black uruship 2012/13 edition
Nevertheless, the new Pilot Hanashinkyo is still one of the most interesting pens that we will be expecting in the year 2012/13. Call Elephant & Coral at +65-6736-1322 or email email@example.com on availability and pre-booking.
Dragons are mythical creatures that have enchanted Asians, especially the Chinese, for thousands of years. In the new year 2012, lets talk about Dragon pens in its many forms as we inaugurate and welcome The Dragon Year 辰 or 龙.
In ancient times, Dragons are liken to the ruling emperors and the emperor is also called “the son of the dragon” – 《天子》. It was deliberate to give the utmost sovereign power to the emperor who rule over the thousands of peasants. Even the costumes with dragon motif were wore only by emperors and all others who were found to have the dragon motif on the costumes were punishable by death.
To make it meaningful, let me start simply by choosing a Hero Chinese Dragon pen as illustrated in this picture. For collectors who are familiar with the Montblanc Imperial Dragon, this is quite similar. There will be more surprises as you continue to read on this article.
Chinese liken themselves to the descendents of the dragons 《龙的传人》. For this reason, Chinese’s love for dragons flows in the blood and the dragon will not be out of fashion because it symbolizes power, wisdom, energy and nobleness.
The Montegrappa Silver Dragon is one of the best dragon pens ever made with a dragon filigree. The dragon has all the right poise, 5 claws symbolizing royalty and the aural of a “serious dragon”
An old brand, Astoria Germany made an incredible Dragon clip pen, very similar, in fact, identical to the Montblanc Imperial Dragon as illustrate in the following picture:
In this picture, you will see mirror image of an identical Zodiac Dragon except that the right hand piece is an extremely rare zodiac dragon which was given to long service staff of Namiki after 30 years! Imagine this is what one gets after years of service; I think it is more precious than gold.
The Namiki Cumulus Dragon shown above is an entry level dragon for enthusiasts who likes a Namiki pen and just wanted a dragon pen to write with.
My all time favourites and the ultimate of dragon pens ever made include the Dragon face Wind and Thunder God as illustrated in the following pictures:
The fearsome looks of the dragon face wind and thunder gods appeared to be in a combative mode that creates the aural of power and its destructive nature.
For the patient readers, this is the eye candy:
An excellent condition Dunhill Namiki Thunder God & Dragon c. 1920s sold in Bonhams ,May 2000.
And for all ye faithful, let’s all welcome the new year 2012 with this awesome Dunhill Namiki pen collection “ Battle of The Mighty Dragons” by master artist Shogo c. 1920s.
May we wish all our customers, friends around the world with good health, a brighter year ahead. Watch how the dragon face expression as it soars to the tumultuous sky with its strength and mighty courage and the tarma in its claws………
Who is Gonroku Matsuda?
Why is he such an interesting person in the world of Japanese maki-e fountain pens in relation to Namiki Fountain pens?
For many who collect Japanese maki-e lacquer pens, namely Namiki fountain pens, the name is synonymous to a legend who brings the soul of Japanese lacquer to a humble and simple instrument – A fountain pen. It is the late Mr. Gonroku Matsuda who first applied a traditional art form of maki-e onto a cylindrical surface,like a fountain pen, during his short stint in the Namiki Factory between 1925~1926. The late artist had an impressive list of honours under his name.
The following is a summary extract of Gonroku Matsuda’s life, works and honours:
1. 1896 – Born on April 20 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Ken
2. 1903 – Began studying maki-e with his elder brother Kosaku
3. 1914 – Graduated from the Ishikawa Prefectural Industrial School and began study at the lacquer department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts
4. 1919 – Graduated from Tokyo School of Fine Arts
5. 1924 – Displayed for the first time in the 11th Noten Exhibition and won second prize
6. 1926 – Began works on lacquerware at the Namiki Factory
7. 1927 – Resigned from Namiki and remained as an advisor to the firm. He became an assistant professor at Tokyo School of Fine arts and participated in the 8th Teiten Exhibition and subsequently exhibited every year.
8. 1928 – Made lacquer interior decorations for two Japanese ships.
9. 1929 – Received honorable mention in the 10th Teiten Exhibition.
10. 1930 – Nominated to the Imperial Art Academy
11. 1947 – Became a member of the Imperial Art Academy
12. 1955 – Designated holder of an important intangible cultural property (maki-e).
13. 1962 – Became chairman of the Japan Crafts Association
14. Published a book entitled Urushi no Hanashi (The Tale of Lacquer)
15. 1974- Awarded a Second class order of the Sacred Treasure
16. 1976 – Awarded an Order of Cultural Merit
17. 1978 – Held a one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo A distinguished artist who had dedicated his entire life to the traditional art of Japanese lacquer.
He was a dedicated person in the preservation and protection of old works of art and to education in traditional crafts. His works are by no means limited to lacquer but he had earned the profound respect of many of his countrymen as one of the most important figures in the history of Japanese maki-e lacquer art.
After briefly turning his hand to the production of export lacquerware at the Namiki Factory, at the age of thirty one, he returned to the Tokyo School of Fine Arts to begin teaching that lasted until he was sixty seven. After retirement, he began putting to use his accumulated knowledge and skill in creating strongly original lacquer vessels.
He and others who share his belief in the necessity of revitalizing traditions in modern terms formed the Japan Crafts Association in 1955. Gonroku Matsuda remains active till his eighties. A decorated, distinguished artist who had created a legacy of collectors worldwide who were so much enchanted by his dedication and development in Japanese maki-e lacquer works on a fountain pen.
Hanami (花見) is a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. Every year when comes April or May, the craze in Japan is to monitor the stages of how , where and when Sakura cherry blossoms bloomed all over Japan.
It is almost like watching life at various stages of growth and the climax occurs when families and friends meet under the cherry blossom trees all over Japan to enjoy the beauty of the Sakura which lasted only a week or two.
In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called Yozakura (夜桜) literally means Night Sakura).
Cherry Blossoms are illustrated in many art forms in the traditional art of lacquerworks — maki-e. One of the most interesting works is a pen made by Namiki in Spring 2003 called “The Dancing Beauty”
The unusual green lacquer colour itself is already extraordinary because close to 80% of global lacquer pens or items are usually either black or red lacquer. For good reasons, pens that are made in green, blue and yellow lacquer are extremely rare and hard to find.
In the following pictures, you can find unusual traces of abalone shells within the green lacquer itself. Hence, it is not just pure green lacquer but a very high grade of green urushi mixed with blue abalone shells in it!
A closer look at the maki-e works marvels anyone as you can see the intricacies of how the sakuras are inlaid with abalone shells (see in picture with blue iridescence). This technique is called raden. As you rotate the pen, blue light shimmers and reflects light as if it is trying to please you and make you happy.
The gold coloured Sakuras are inlaid with gold flakes by a technique called Hyomon.
There is another feature in The Dancing Beauty (also called Hagoromo) that makes it extraordinary. Very few Japanese pens are made with human figurines on it. Many Japanese themes are mountains, sceneries, birds and flowers—seldom human figurines.
A courtesan was shown dressed beautifully in kimono with tiny sakura motifs on it. When we think of Hanami (花見), it is as if we are brought back in time with the courtesan dancing under the cherry blossom tree once again.
Fortunately, the sakura can last more than 2 weeks on this pen.
It just takes a keen eye to recognise that this pen holds more in value than what meets the eye.
Like the Sakura, it blooms but never bear fruits. It uses all its energy when it is blooming, even if it is just only that 2 weeks, to show the full beauty of nature and to gain our attention as we sees it through the eyes of the floating world …..
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.·
····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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
·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.
In the vague memory of pens being produced·of jade material, there was a pen made by Montblanc around year 2000 of an Imperial Jade Dragon.· Only that ·the cap·was ·made of jade while the barrel·was made of precious resins.
For some good reasons, I think the Jade pen from Graf Von Faber Castell·is going to be the best pen to collect and buy·for the following reasons:
Rare Pen Collection
Kane Bounty Collection
When I first saw Kane Bounty on PenWorld, he came across to me as a Canadian celebrity with deep set shinning eyes and profound features. Least to expect, behind such a handsome face lies a creative mind who did one of the most stunning filigree onto a black urushi emperor pen.
It was the Spider filigree which he used white gold overlayed onto the jumbo 50 emperor pens which attracted my full attention.
Due to the high precision and meticulous work required from him, any order of pens from Kane took months to deliver. It was tormenting for the many collectors who likes the pens as well as the person who is going to make it.
On a chance occasion, Kane spoke to Elephant & Coral about his Rare Pen Collection. He had an extraordinary collection 43 different designs made with filigree overlaid onto Pelikan, Parker, Namiki, Montblanc and other brands’ pen. Somehow, it was like manicuring the garden of your neighbor using your own gardening tools. Nevertheless, it creates one of the most stunning collection of filigree pens we had ever seen. Price was agreed that he wanted to sell this Rare Pen Collection to Elephant & Coral. [Read more…]