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    

Rare! Pilot Namiki Myu Fountain Pen Japan Cartridge Free [162]Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen ~ Matte Black Ultra Rare!! 1960's Pilot Namiki "capless" Fountain Pen Vintage JapanPilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Blue, Fine NibRare Pilot - Namiki Capless Blue / Gold Trim Vanishing Point Fountain Pen FpPilot Excellent Fountain Pen 18k Black Gold Trim Namiki Cartridge Free Japan FpPilot E-200 14k Soft Nib Fountain Pen Black & Gold Cartridge Free[217-3]Rare Namiki Vanishing Point Pen With Retirement CertificateVintage Pilot Elite 18k-750 Fp Black&gold Made In Japan[217-5]Pilot Namiki Custom 743 Black Color 14k Rose Gold Falcon Nib Fountain PenPilot Fountain Pen18kt Elite Mini Pilot Fountain Pen 1960s VintagePilot (namiki) Vintage Capless / Vanishing Point Made In 1964 14k Fine NibPilot Namiki Excellent Vintage Fountain Pen Silver Blak 585 Made In Japan FpPilot Vanishing Point, Dark Red With Silver Accents, Fine Nib, Plus Con-50 Plus4 Assorted Pilot Fountain Pens W/ 14k And 18k Solid GoldVintage Pilot Elite Script 18k Fp White&rose Red Japan[172-2]Pilot (namiki) Fp F-nib 14k "l-100v" With Converter (con-w) 1960s Slightly UsedPilot E-200 14k Script Fountain Pen White & Black [217-1]Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen With Fine Nib Amber With Bottle Of Black Pilot InkPilot Namiki Excellent Ocean Blue Fountain Pen Gold Trim Cartridge Free Japan*clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Ed., Red, Last Pen! ***3 Days Auction***Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen, Silver, Medium NibPilot Namiki Makie Commemorative Pen "housouge" 200 Made Never UsedPilot Hi-tec-c Coleto Limited 4-pen Barrel/sanrio Hello Kitty/heart*clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Edition, Rosa ***3 Days Auction****clearance Sale* Pilot Capless Limited Edition, Green ***3 Days Auction***Pilot 78g ( Old Edition ) Fountain Pen Fine Steel Nib Made In Japan Dark Green/ Pilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Blue Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingPilot G2 0.38mm Retractable Black Pens (5 Pens) Free ShippingPilot Elite Cross Hatched Pattern Cap 18k Fine Nib With Mechanical Pencil In Box