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 Namiki "murex" Excellent Fountain Pen & New Converter Stainless-steel FpMyu 701 Pilot Fountain Pen-nib-f 1972s-japan Vintage NosPilot Excellent "myu" Fountain Pen & New Converter Stainless-steel Namiki JapanVintage Pilot Capless - Vanishing Point - 1965 New!Pilot Capless 1964. Pilot 1977s Vintage Fountain Pen 18k 750 Black Silver Cross-hatch Model NamikiPilot Vanishing Point Raden Fountain Pen -medium NibNew Pilot Namiki Custom Heritage 91 Black Extra Fine 14k Fountain Pen Free ShipRare Used Black Striped Pilot Myu Pocket Fountain Pen Pilot Hi-tec-c Coleto Limited 4-pen Barrel/sanrio Hello Kitty/ribbon*clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Edition, Green ***3 Days Auction***1990 Pilot Makie - Sakura Fubuki - Incredible!!!Pilot Elite 95s Ef 14k Gold Nib With Rhodia NotepadPilot Namiki Young Rex Fountain Pen M Nib Black Body Gold Trim Fountain Pen*clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Edition, Rosa ***3 Days Auction***Pilot Capless Mat Black Gold NibPilot Fountain Pen Cartridge Free Vintage Black Gold Trim Made In Japan NamikiPilot Green Marble Fountain PenPilot Namiki Vintage Fountain Pen Black Gold Trim Cartridge Free Made In JapanVintage Pilot 1+1 Multipen ,chrome Finish Metal,made In JapanPilot €Pilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Blue Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingPilot Custom 74 Black Resin & Gold Trim, 14k Gold Nib Size: F, Fountain PenPilot Vintage Lever Filler Pen, Vintage Flex 14k NibPilot Gold Filigree Fountain PenPilot (namiki) Japanese Fp "lady Lily" Fine Nib 14k 1970s N.o.s Beautiful!Pilot Metropolitan Matte Copper Gold Ct Fountain Pen - Solid Brass Metal - BoxedLot Of Fountain Pens, Pencils And Ballpoints - Pilot Esterbrook Parker ScriptPilot Plaisir Fountain Pen, Fine Black Nib--smooth And Dependable! Grandee Pilot Two Color Pen From JapanPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Black Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingVintage Pilot Fountain Pen Xf Point Metal Body JapanVintage Pilot Fountain Pen,m-medium Gold Plated Nib,made In Japan