Like Sailor, Pilot began making pens in Japan in the early part of the 20th century. Founder Ryosuki Namiki started out in 1915 producing gold nibs, but by 1918 his Namiki Manufacturing Company, Ltd. was churning out writing instruments—Pilot was its first brand.

In 1924 the company stopped focusing solely on pen production and expanded its repertoire to include lacquering and hand-painted pens, called Maki’e. The designs, which are known for their longevity and stubborn refusal to fade, ranged from quiet garden scenes to depictions of samurai soldiers and dragons. The exquisite detail put into every pen makes these some of the priciest collectible pens in the world.

The richly lacquered bodies of these early Pilot pens set them apart from their competitors and by the late 1920s, Pilot pens were being sold around the world. In 1930, Namiki signed a marketing deal with Alfred Dunhill, a British pen distributor. Subsequent vintage pens made between 1930 and 1940 and marketed by Dunhill are referred to as Dunhill-Namiki pens. Like its Pilot predecessors, the Maki’e pens are the most collectible Dunhill-Namikis, whether the nibs are in sizes from 1 to 6, 20, or even 50.

Dunhill-Namiki also made a small number of celluloid pens, which are extremely rare—some collectors don’t even know they exist. Then, in 1938, the company became known as the Pilot Pen Corporation, and Pilot continues to control Namiki to this day.

With the outbreak of World War II, Japan and the United Kingdom became belligerents, and Dunhill-Namiki halted pen production. After the war, in 1961, ballpoints entered the Pilot product line, but Pilot did not forsake its fountain-pen roots—its Cap-less fountain pen from 1964 featured a retractable nib.

Today, Pilot produces rollerball pens, needlepoint pens, and mechanical pencils, with Namiki as a subsidiary that produces high-end writing instruments. It has even reestablished its relationship with Dunhill, releasing a limited-edition set of Dunhill-Namikis in 1996.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Ernesto Soler's extensive homage to one of the most popular pens ever produced, the Parker "51," introduced in 1941… [read review or visit site]

Jim Mamoulides' vintage and modern pen-cyclopedia. Start at the main gallery, featuring detailed articles (with pho… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Pilot 18k Le Vanishing Point Fountain Capless Purple Pilot 18k Le Vanishing Point Fountain Capless OrangeNamiki 14k Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing Point PilotPilot 14k Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing Point 70'sPilot 14k Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing Point 60'sPilot 14k Justus 95 Fountain Pen Mib Flexible NibNamiki (pilot) Falcon Soft Extra-fine (se) Fountain PenNew Pilot Namiki Capless Decimo Rhodium Purple 18k Fine Nib Fountain PenSesenta 18k Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing Point DecimoPilot 18k Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing Point BrownPilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen With Sfm Flexible NibPilot 18k Le Vanishing Point Fountain Capless Ice GreenPilot Namiki Vanishing Point Capless Fountain Pen Black Medium Nib Pilot Murex Steel Integral Nib Fountain Pen, Fine NibSesenta Capless Fountain Pen Vanishing PointPilot Black Stripe Myu - Nos - Rare M NibNew Pilot Namiki Heritage 91 Black Fine Rhodium 14ct Nib Fountain Pen Fkvh1mr-bfPilot 18k-wg Cutsom Fountain Pen1960's Rare Pilot CaplessPilot Fountain Pen Vintage Silver Black Cross-hatch Model 18k Cartridge Free FpNew Pilot Namiki Capless Decimo Rhodium Blue18k Medium Nib Fountain PenPilot Namiki Vintage Fountain Pen Black Gold Trim Cartridge Free 14k Japan FpPilot (namiki) Japanese Fp Mr-500ss "murex" F-nib 1979 N.o.s / Stainless SteelPilot (namiki) Japanese Fp Myu Family "volex" With Converter F-nib 1978 NosPilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen With A Rare Music NibPilot Namiki Vintage Fountain Pen Black Stainless-steel Cartridge Free Japan Fp Pilot (namiki)japanese Fountain Pen "lady" Ls-350ls-dr Fine-nib 18k 1970s N.o.sFree Shipping Rare! Unused Pilot(namiki) Custom74 Anniver Fountain Pen 14kt 90s 18kt Soft Elite Mini Pilot Fountain Pen 1970s VintagePilot (namiki) Japanese Fp "custom" Black Stripe With Converter F-nib 1974 NosPilot Elite 95s Pocket Fountain Pen Black - Solid 14k Medium Nib - Brand NewLot 5 Japanese Pens Pilot 4 Frixion Balls Mitusbushi Uni Jetstream 4 Spera InksPilot Fountain Pen Vintage Sky Blue Silver Trim 14k Cartridge Free Namiki JapanPilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Medium 14kt Gold Nib *violet*Pilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Blue Pens (5 Pens) Free Shipping12 Pcs Pilot Bp-s-f 0.5mm Fine Ball Point Pen Black Ink NewPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Black Pens (5 Pens) Free Shipping