08 November 2013


Most of what could be said about today’s pen was already said. But yet, it triggers some reflections on pens and their roles nowadays.

Maki-e does not make the pen, I have often heard in Japan. Or any other decoration, I am quick to add. A pen, in essence, is a system to control the dynamics of the ink in its way between an ink deposit and the nib tip through the feed. And the rest is accessory. Beautiful at times, but accessory. And maybe we should state the obvious—the decoration does not make the pen to write any better.

Therefore, decorative techniques, even if used on pens, do not truly belong to books on pens. Maki-e and lacquer techniques, to name just two handy examples, were developed well before they were applied to fountain pens in the twentieth century.

And so this pen was described in the past. Summarily said, it is an eyedropper with shut-off valve; implements a size-50 nib of 14 K gold; and was made by Pilot in the late 1980s.

This decoration is a form of Tsugaru-nuri--maki-e from Aomori (part of the old Tsugaru province). Its particular form is called kara-nuri, ao-age. Ao-age means that green color is the main dye used in this pattern.

The engraving on the nib reads "14 KARAT GOLD / "PILOT" / REGISTERED / PATENT OFFICE / -(50)-".

And only now we can speak about the decoration. It is an abstract form of maki-e called kara-nuri, originally from Aomori, the northernmost province in the biggest of the Japanese islands. This technique consists in applying several layers of different-colored lacquer with an uneven spatula. The thickness of those layers is not constant and when the surface is polished, after a long drying time, the different colors show up in this capricious pattern. Additionally, the pen shows some small pieces of shells pasted in the lacquer (raden technique).

The feed is also lacquered.

The final result is fairly psychedelic, albeit not unpleasant to the eye. The pen is imposing due mostly to its sheer size and this abstract decoration does not distract our attention as more figurative decoration would.

This pen was made in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It is still labeled as Pilot instead of Namiki. The nib is engraved with the brand name and an indication of the gold purity.

These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 173 mm
Length open: 158 mm
Length posted: 213 mm
Diameter: 20 mm
Weight (dry): 49.3 g
Ink deposit: 4.5 ml

Sailor pocket pen, 18 K nib – Daiso Red (cartridge)

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, November 6th, 2013
etiquetas: Pilot

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