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”)

Parker51.com

Parker51.com

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]

Penhero.com

Penhero.com

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    

Very Rare Pilot Namiki Custom 823 Transparent Piston Filler 14kt Fountain Pen Rare" Pilot Namiki "silvern First Model Fountain Pen Sterling Silver Cross-hatchRare Gorgeous Limited Edition Pilot 88th Anniversary " Nioh "Pilot Vintage Murex Fountain Pen & Box Stainless-steel Converter Namiki Japan FpRare" Pilot Namiki Silvern Fountain Pen Sterling Silver 18k Japan Crane Nib:efPilot Namiki Near Mint Myu Fountain Pen & Box Stainless-steel Converter VintageNamiki Pilot Vanishing Point Black Faceted Retractable Fountain Pen 14k585 B NibNamiki Pilot Gun Metal Gray W/ Rhodium Vanishing Point Fountain Pen 18k 60533Mint Pilot/namiki Nioh 88th Anniversary Maki-e Limited Edition 880 Fountain PenNamiki (pilot) Falcon Soft Extra-fine (se) Fountain PenNew Pilot Namiki Urushi Makie Flying Crane 14ct Fine Nib Fountain Pen Free ShipPilot Capless Fountain PenRare Fabulous Fountain Pen Namiki Japanese Tradition Nippon Art " Courtesan "Pilot Fountain Pen - Vanishing Point ~ Gun Metal Gray - MediumPilot Near Mint Custom 74 Fountain Pen & Leather Case Black Gold Trim 14k JapanNew Pilot Fountain Pen Burgundy Gold Trim 18k 750 Cartridge Free Namiki JapanRare Fabulous Fountain Pen Namiki Japanese Tradition Nippon Art " Vidro "Beautiful Vintage Red Marbled Japanese Pilot Fountain Pen !!Pilot Namiki Justus 95 Adjust Fine Nib Stripe Fountain Pen Fast Free ShipVintage Pilot Fountain Pen Xf Point 14k Gold Nib JapanPilot G-2 Retractable Gel Pens, 0.7 Mm Fine Point Clear Barrels, Blue 12 Pack G2New Pilot Namiki Urushi Makie Grapes 14ct Medium Nib Fountain Pen Free ShipLot 5 Japanese Pens Pilot 4 Frixion Balls Mitusbushi Uni Jetstream 4 Spera InksPentel Vicuna Smoothest 4-color 0.5mm Multi Pen Made In JapanFree Shipping Rare! Unused Pilot(namiki) Custom74 Anniver Fountain Pen 14kt 90s Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen Vintage Burgundy Gold Trim Cartridge Free Japan FpPilot Frixion Erasable Retractable 3color 0.5mm Multi Pen Made In JapanPilot Fountain Pen Cool 1980s Lacquer On MetalPilot Frixion Erasable Retractable 3color 0.5mm Multi Pen Made In Japan12 Pcs Pilot Bx-v5 Hi-tecpoint 0.5mm Roller Ball Pen Pure Liquid Blue Ink NewPilot Frixion Erasable Retractable 3color 0.5mm Multi Pen Made In JapanPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Blue Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Black Pens (5 Pens) Free Shipping