Sailor is a fountain pen and ink company that specialises more in fountain pens than inks. Their inks are gorgeous and smooth and have shimmering sheen, but they really focus on their pens, and in particular, their nibs.
We stock only a few of their pens regularly – the Reglus, the Pro Gear Slim and the Pro Gear – but we do special orders for people who already know what they want. We had a customer who is a collector of a lot of higher-end European fountain pens, and who has recently discovered Japanese fountain pens as well.
He special ordered a Sailor Maki-e Butterfly fountain pen, and I am honoured that he allowed me to “help” him choose his pen (…he actually already knew exactly what he wanted, and we happened to agree). Maki-e pens can be found on pens from a few Japanese companies, including Sailor and Platinum, and these pens are often sought-after because of how elegant and intricate maki-e designs on the barrel.
He also allowed me to try out the pen first! It was both very exciting and a little scary, since it would be just my luck to suffer some sort of muscle spasm and fall off my chair and break the nib of a maki-e pen that I’m supposed to be trying out.
The maki-e pens come in a beautiful wooden box. The lid and box fit together snugly without a hinge, but just having it made out of wood is such a beautiful, natural touch.
Of course you get the converter, two cartridges and some instructions, and you also get a little yellow polishing cloth. The pen is in a plastic sleeve, and it’s a little hard to see, but the pen is held in the cloth of the box by these little arms – two at the cap, and two at the base of the barrel. It’s like the pen is nestled in the ocean waves, like a …sailor?? Or maybe I’m reading too much into it the packaging…
The SAILOR JAPAN FOUNDED 1911 is written around the band, as with many other Sailor pens.
Maki-e is the type of finish on the barrel – it’s a Japanese style of artwork that involves sprinkling different powdered metals (like gold, mother of pearl, copper) onto the barrel to create the stunning and intricate designs – in this case the butterflies – and layers and layers of lacquer. Different sheens and reflective gems and textures are made with different metals and applications. It’s a little tough to really get a good sense of Maki-e from pictures, since you need the light to catch along the metals.
You can see the different types of metals used to create the top and bottom butterflies on the barrel of the pen, and when you’re holding it, you can feel the lacquer work and gems in your hand.
Because of the highly detailed and artistic nature of this, Japanese artists study and train for years to become masters, and often times it’s an artistry passed down along family lines. It has a rich and lengthy history in Japanese culture, and this type of artwork was often found on objects for Japanese nobility or royalty. The Maki-e is all hand applied, making these pens highly valuable.
The nib is 21K gold, and in this case, F: springy and smooth and beautiful. I often write with steel nibs or “everyday use” nibs all the time. We have test pens in store for people to try out and write with and while I love my Lamy and my TWSBI and even my Jinhaos, a Sailor nib is really something else. You have to try it first hand to feel the difference it makes.
If you’d like any more information on special orders, please let me know! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have decided on your model and nib size, I can give you some information on pricing and timelines on how long it will take to come in, depending on where it’s coming from. We do special orders on everything from these beautiful Sailor maki-e fountain pens to TWSBI Vac700s, to Noodler’s inks or Rhodia paper.