As anticipated, Pelikan kicks off the month of October with a new Maki-e release, this one titled Japanese Umbrella. This is actually the second Maki-e pen to debut in 2019 with Five Lucky Bats having been launched this past summer. These ultra-detailed and labor intensive pieces have been a show case of the marriage between German engineering and Japanese artistry. The prior four themed models have included the Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), Peacock (2018), and Five Lucky Bats (2019). Pelikan has this to say about their new Maki-e model;
“The umbrella was introduced from China to Japan during the Heian period (AD 794-1185). The traditional Japanese umbrella is made of natural material such as Japanese paper, bamboo, and wood. Thirty to seventy bamboo bones are used to open and fairly spread the umbrella made of Japanese paper. On the fountain pen, there are four Japanese umbrellas drawn in Taka-Maki-e, using techniques such as raden and kirikane. Rain is expressed using many narrow pieces of mother of pearl.”
As has been the case with many of the prior releases, this one will again be built off of the M1000 chassis. Japanese Umbrella will likely start shipping later this month or early next but beware. This limited edition will command a hefty price and many vendors will see only limited availability due to the number of pieces available. I wouldn’t wait too long if you have the means and the desire to add this one to your flock.
Japanese Umbrella employs the Taka-Maki-e approach, one of three major techniques in Maki-e craftsmanship that is characterized by a raised design. It was developed in the Muromachi period (1336–1573) and involves building up a design above the surface through a mixture of metal powder, lacquer, and charcoal or clay dust. For this model, four Japanese Umbrellas adorn the pen and, like previous releases, are embellished with elements of raden (finely ground abalone embedded onto lacquer-coated surfaces) and kirikane (gold leaf cut into shapes). Fine pieces of mother of pearl run along the length of the cap and barrel in order to simulate rain. There are also some floral elements to round out the design. Each fountain pen includes a limited edition number and the artist’s signature hand painted using Maki-e techniques. Like the Five Lucky Bats, Japanese Umbrella will be released worldwide in an edition totaling just 123 pieces.
The pen will come equipped with the standard 18C-750 two-tone gold nib found on the M1000 models and will only be available for purchase in a medium width. The trim includes Pelikan’s usual beak clip, two cap bands, two trim rings at the piston knob, and a single trim ring at the section all of which are gold plated. The cap top features the company’s one chick logo done in a style to match the rest of the pen. Finally, there is what appears to be a dark green ink view window included behind the section. As is usually the case, the pen will come packaged in a traditional gift box made of paulownia wood. These will not be cheaply had and I would anticipate prices in the $3200 to $4000 neighborhood depending on where you purchase. If that’s too rich for you, fret not as I expect at least two more releases from Hannover before year’s end. Personally, I still like the Dragonfly and the Five Lucky Bats the best when looking over the past several Maki-e models. What do you think of Japanese Umbrella? How does it stack up to some of the others and will you be adding one to your flock?