Platinum Squirrel and Grape Maki-e Fountain Pen


Three companies dominate Japanese fountain pen making, all established in the 1910's and 1920’s, and all motivated by their common desire to develop a superior Japanese counterpart to their Western competitors such as Waterman and Parker. Ironically, the latter companies have lost their once top dog positions in the 'fountain pen world', while Sailor, Pilot and Platinum today represent the Holy Trinity of excellence in writing utensils. The main and defining reason for this accolade is the fact that all three companies supervise their production from beginning to end within their very own factories. No subcontracting ensures total quality control, and private ownership protects their original vision and enthusiasm for pen making. 

Urushi lacquer (or maki-e) first used in Japan around 300BC, is a symbol for status, prosperity and discerning taste. It is therefore unsurprising that Sailor, Platinum and Pilot/ Namiki sought to apply this quintessentially Japanese technique to pen making early on during the 1920s. Beyond its aesthetic merit, the urushi lacquer acts as a protective casing as it is acid free, alkaline free and resistant to both heat and water. Maki-e comprises a broad range of techniques but translates essentially to 'sprinkled picture'. The choice of subject matter, through symbolism and allegory, reveals the individual expression of the maki-e artist as well as hinting to a feeling, personality and individual circumstances of the pen owner.

In this instance, the subject matter of a squirrel and grapes is a popular theme that has appeared throughout East Asian art and culture since the 13th Century. The squirrel stores its food in its mouth which is representative of storing treasure for the future; as such the animal symbolises good fortune and abundance. The meaning, however, is twofold: the grape or budoh also translates literally to mean the ‘Martial Path’ or ‘Way of War’, making the design very popular with Samurai. The maki-e craftsman is Ko-en, with an autograph on the barrel.

Back to pens - aesthetics aside, Platinum maintains its poll position for nib quality and this pen is no exception. We wholly recommend this beautiful implement as a gift or for any pen lover's collection. 

Nib profile
This 18k gold Broad nib is our recommended nib width for the best flow and smoothness, as Platinum nibs run quite hard and dry. We have opted for this more generous nib as it is better suited to a Western hand.

Body material: 
Hand applied urushi lacquer with maki-e inlay and abalone accents
Nib size: Broad
Nib material: 18k gold
Cap type: Threaded screw-on cap
Cartridge type: 
Takes Platinum cartridges which can be found here and is sold with a refillable converter cartridge in the barrel for use with bottled ink.
Dimensions: 14cm capped, 12cm uncapped
Included: presentation box, converter cartridge

Made in Japan