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 Vanishing Point Fountain Pen ~ Burgundy FacetedPilot Namiki 1977's Excellent Fountain Pen 18k W-gold Black Cross-hatch Japan New Old Stock Pilot Bamboo Fountain Pen Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen In Black & GoldMyu 701 Pilot Fountain Pen-nib-f 1974s-japan VintagePilot Murex Fountain Pen Nib-m With New Converter Nr Japan[312-1]Vintage Black Pilot Namiki Bamboo Fountain Pen14k Gold Fine Nib With BoxPilot Namiki Falcon Fountain Pen Fp Flexible Sm Nib Black NrPilot Elite 18k-750 Black & Gold Fountain Pen Made In Japan[277-1]Pilot Custom 74 14k Ef Fountain Pen Black With Con-70 ConverterLever Filler Operates Pilot Fountain Pen 1950s VintageNamiki Dunhill Pilot Not A Kind Of But Nice Vintage Maki E Pen New Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Medium Nib No Reserve CaplessPilot Birdie Fountain Pen Slim Body Silver & Black Vintage Japan[297-7]Rare" Excellent Vintage Platinum Fountain Pen 14k-wg Silver Black Stripe FpPilot "custom" Vintage Fountain Pen Silver Black Stripe Namiki FpPilot Fountain Pen 14kt Fine 1981s Vintage Near Mint1991 Pilot Maki-e Crane Barrel 14k Medium Nib With Converter In Box Sample Pilot Silver & Light Blue Fountain Pen Excellent Made In Japan [277-3]*clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Edition, Rosa ***3 Days Auction***White Leather 18kt Pilot Fountain Pen 1960s Vintage N/mintPilot Namiki Grance Marble-design Dark Blue & Gold Fp 14k Excellent[321-1]Pilot Vintage Purple Metallic Fountain Pen Gold Trim 585 Cartridge Free NamikiPilot Fountain Pen F Ecrino From JapanPilot Fountain Pen Nib-f Paris Roissy [297-6]Pilot Gold & Black Fp 14k 585 Cartridge Free Japan[326-4]Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen W/ Full Bottle Of Noodlers Red-black InkSuper 22kagm Pilot Fountain Pen 14kt Manifold 1960s Vintage Near MintPilot Lot Of 2 14k 585 Fountain Pen Made In Japan F513Judd's New Old Stock Green Pilot Fountain Pen W/broad NibPilot Namiki Japan Fountain Pen Vintage Black Gold Trim Cartridge Free FpVintage Lot Of Ink Dip Pens, 1 Pilot Fountain Pen And 42 Assorted Vintage Nibs Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen 14kt 1992s Vintage N/mintPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Black Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingPilot Fountain Pen - Fl-50-y - "f" Nib - Yellow - SetLot Fo 4 Fountain Pen & Ballpoint Pen From Japan F515Namiki Pilot Axiom Ball Point PenPilot Near Mint Fountain Pen Solid Black Gold Trim Namiki Made In Japan FpPilot Namiki14k Nib Vanishing Point Carbonesque Kasuri Capless Fountain Pen Pilot Namiki Capless 14k Nib Fountain Pen Yellow Vanishing Point Nib As It Is1980ies Pilot Custom Ballpoint Pen In Black & Gold / Nos From Sample CaseBox 12 Pens Pilot Black Fine Point G2 07 Retractable Rolling Ball Gel InkPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Blue Pens (5 Pens) Free Shipping