“I have tried hundreds of pens, but none come close to the Namiki Emperor Vermillion”
Those who set out on the journey of finding the biggest and most grand fountain pen, the options have long remained unchanged; Montblanc 149, Pelikan M1000, an Oversize Visconti or perhaps a Sailor King of Pen.
What if you want to go one step further?
This narrows the options down rather drastically to just one pen; the stunning Namiki Emperor Vermillion.
Today we will talk to Mitsu about the most special pen in his collection.
A Natural Progression
The customer base for the Namiki Emperor is lovers of large fountain pens. This is exactly why Mitsu first gravitated to the mammoth Namiki.
” I like pens which most people refer to as ‘oversize’ pens. People consider MB 149, M1000 or Visconti Homo Sapiens as oversize pens, but I consider them average sized pens.”
“My favourite brand has long been Namiki. I like the feel of smooth lacquer that they use over wood or ebonite. I also like the nib to have some softness, which most Namiki nibs have.”
Buying the Namiki Emperor Vermillion
The aforementioned ‘oversize’ pens represent the pinnacle for many collectors, however, Mitsu had his eyes set firmly on the Namiki Emperor Vermillion for some time.
“First time I saw an Emperor was back when I was still a student in 2011. It was a 95th anniversary Nobori-Ryu Ascending Dragon. I was impressed with the size and the maki-e work done on it and wanted to buy one. That was quickly gone as it was a limited edition of 95 pieces. I liked the plain Vermillion Emperor just as much, so I settled on one of those.”
Obviously, this isn’t the type of pen you can buy from your local stationery store or even speciality retailer. If you live outside of Japan, the options for buying this pen are very limited.
“The process of buying a Namiki varies depending upon the place you buy it from. If you step into Itoya or Maruzen, you’ll be able to walk out of the store within 15-minutes with a Namiki in hand (at least a normal non maki-e one).
As I can’t easily get to those stores, I bought mine from ‘Tokyo Pen Shop Quill’ since I really like how the owner tunes and adjusts flow on all nibs. If you buy it from ‘Tokyo Pen Shop Quill’, you will have to wait for a week until it is ordered from Namiki and ready to be handed over to you. It’s a small shop so they cannot keep an inventory of such pens.”
Writing Experience and Ink
Given the huge size of the pen’s body and no. 50 size nib, I was curious to hear how it performed when pen comes to paper.
“The pen seems unwieldy at first, but as soon as you pick it up and start writing with it, you notice that despite being so big and heavy (46gms capped), it is very well balanced, which makes it easier to use. Combined with its 6ml ink capacity, it’s a great pen for longer writing sessions.”
“The nib has some inherent softness due to its size (it’s the biggest in-production nib at the moment along with Danitrio Yokozuna nib) and the nib gets softer the more you write with it. So it gets better with time and use. The nib is extremely smooth with no feedback whatsoever. The lacquer darkens over time from bright Vermillion to deep red.”
“As a general rule, I only use Sailor and Pilot inks in it. Namiki tests all its pens with Pilot inks and after they pass the test, they are handed over for selling. So it’s better to use the type of inks in daily use which are similar to the inks it has been tested with (alkaline with good flow). I have found that Montblanc ink (which is usually drier compared to Japanese inks) won’t work too well in it.”
An everyday writer?
Its size (173mm capped) makes it hard to carry around in a pocket, but if you carry your pens in a pen wrap then it should be fine. I mainly use it as a desk pen, something that it excels at. All my major writing is done at home only, and at work it’s [sadly] barely 3-4 bullet points a day.
What pen is next?
Once you have found and purchased a ‘grail pen’, it can sometimes leave you wondering about what could possibly be next. As Mitsu tells us, he has a couple of exciting pens in mind for his next purchase and one very special pen on the way!
“Right now, I have a Tortoiseshell Hakase on order which is scheduled to be delivered in January 2018. After that, if I like the Hakase, I may buy another one. I am also looking at a maki-e Namiki Emperor to compliment the Vermillion.”
We hope you enjoyed this edition of ‘Pens of the People’. If you have, or know of any weird and wonderful pens that you’d love to share, feel free to contact us