23 May 2016

Romeo's Maki-e

Itoya is a well-known stationery shop in Tokyo. I have mentioned it a number of time on these texts, not always in praising terms. However, its K.Itoya building in Ginza (Tokyo) is still one of the places of reference for any fountain pen aficionado.

But Itoya is more than just a shop. Itoya, founded in 1904, started producing its own pens in 1914 under brand names Mighty and Romeo. Over the years, these brands have had ups and downs in terms of production, and as of today only Romeo seems to be active in the market.

The Romeo catalog of pens includes three models with maki-e decoration. Pen-wise, all three are the same, and were manufactured by Platinum. Therefore, nibs and feeds and ink-deposits –cartridges and converters— are those made by Platinum. And more in particular, they are those made for the 3776 line of fountain pens. But for these pens only the medium (M) nib was available.

The three current Romeo pens with maki-e decoration.

But then comes the decoration with maki-e techniques. Three are the motifs: Dragon (Ryû, 龍), Trout (Ayu, 鮎), and Snake (Hebi, 蛇). The first news by Itoya, back in 2012, spoke of the first two as limited editions of 50 units each. These pens do not come cheap: JPY 200,000 for the Dragon, JPY 180,000 for the Trout, and JPY 230,000 for the Snake (taxes not included).

The Dragon (Ryû, 龍). JPY 200,000, plus tax.

The Snake (Hebi, 蛇). JPY 230,000, plus tax.

The Trout (Ayu, 鮎). JPY 180,000, plus tax.

These are the dimensions of the model Trout:

Length closed: 145 mm
Length open: 127 mm
Length posted: 174 mm
Diameter: 13 mm
Weight: 32.6 g (inked)
Ink deposit: 1.1 ml (cartridge) / 0.6 ml (converter)

No major variations should be expected on the other two pens.

The nib is made of 14 K gold. It is, in essence, a Platinum 3776 nib with a different decoration. You can choose any nib point as long as it is a medium.

The insides of the pen clearly reveal the Platinum origin.

The Trout decoration was crafted by Masayuki Hariya (針谷祐之), an artisan from Ishikawa prefecture (1954). He is a certified traditional craftsman skilled in the Yamanaka maki-e style, and has received a number of awards for his work.

Close-up of one of the dragonflies painted on the cap.

The craftsman's signature simply reads "Masayuki" (祐之).

But is this pen any better than a Platinum Century 3776? Maki-e-decorated pens play, in actual terms, a different sport.

My thanks to Mr. Shige.

Sailor 21K full size – Montblanc Racing Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 23th, 2016
etiquetas: maki-e, Platinum, Itoya

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