News: Maki-e Kingfisher Limited Edition

Pelikan Maki-e Kingfisher Fountain PenThere has been a dearth of new releases from Pelikan during the first half of 202o which is likely a reflection of the turbulent times that we find ourselves in.  If pre-release rumors are to be believed, the second half of the year promises to be much more exciting.   That run gets kicked off today with Pelikan’s announcement of the forthcoming Maki-e release, Kingfisher.  This newest model further flushes out the company’s Maki-e portfolio, adding to last year’s Five Lucky Bats and Japanese Umbrella.  Pelikan describes the Kingfisher as, “a masterpiece that combines the craftsmanship of Pelikan Germany coupled with superior Japanese traditional Maki-e painting techniques.”  The accompanying literature describes the newest Maki-e fountain pen thusly;

“Kingfisher is a small bird that lives near the waterside.  The kingfisher has a long, dagger-like beak.  The plumage of most kingfishers is bright, with green and blue being the most common colors.  In Japanese, it is also called jade or blue gemstone because of its bright colors.  On the fountain pen, two beautiful Kingfishers are vividly painted on the background of burning red autumn leaves.  The motive fantastically expresses a colorful scene in the autumn of Japan.”

The Kingfisher is built off the M1000 chassis, consistent with most of their past Maki-e releases.  Given the timing of the announcement, you can expect this model to be available next month.  While there is no word yet on pricing, you should expect this ultra-limited edition to command a king’s ransom.   This one is reported to be limited to just 123 pieces worldwide.


Pelikan Maki-e Kingfisher Fountain Pen

A close-up of the detail on the Kingfisher’s cap


The kingfisher is a colorful small to medium sized bird with most species located in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Oceania.  The Maki-e Kingfisher skillfully captures the bird’s likeness and liveliness in great detail.  The cap and barrel each depict a bird interspersed with a background of bright autumn foliage.  The technical details aren’t yet available, but I can discern elements of raden (finely ground abalone embedded onto lacquer-coated surfaces) and kirikane (gold leaf cut into shapes) employed to good effect within the design.  Each fountain pen includes a limited edition number and the artist’s signature hand painted using Maki-e techniques.  The run of just 123 pieces mirrors what we saw with past releases like the Five Lucky Bats and Japanese Umbrella.

Pelikan Maki-e Kingfisher Fountain Pen


The Kingfisher will sport Pelikan’s standard 18C-750 two-tone gold nib in a medium width though any M1000 nib can be swapped in after the fact.  Complimenting the large nib is Pelikan’s standard Souverän trim package.   That includes a 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 background for the single chick logo on the cap top is styled to match the pen’s motif.  The ink view window on this one again appears to be done in a dark green tint.  Based on past releases, I would expect the pen to come packaged in a traditional Japanese gift box made of paulownia wood.  While pricing is not yet reported, it’s a safe bet to expect retail to run anywhere between $3300 and $4000 but fret not, cheaper releases are on the way.  My personal take on this one is that the Kingfisher is one of the nicest Maki-e releases that we’ve seen in some time, and that’s saying something.  I would love to bring this one home to roost but even my flock has its limits.  What do you think of the Kingfisher fountain pen?  Which Maki-e release has been your favorite over the past few years and will this one be joining your flock?

Pelikan Maki-e Kingfisher Fountain Pen

Front and back views of the Maki-e Kingfisher


Pelikan Maki-e Releases 2016-Present

Maki-e M1000s, left to right: Spring & Autumn (2016), Dragonfly (2017), Peacock (2018), Five Lucky Bats (2019), Japanese Umbrella (2019), and Kingfisher (2020)


18 responses

  1. The new Maki-e does indeed look like a beautiful pen, and you seem to be correct, it will command more of a ransom than a price. My favorite dealer listed it for pre-order today at 3900€ (including 16% VAT—temporarily reduced from 19% as an economic incentive)


  2. What a beautiful work of art! A pity it will be absolutely beyond my means…

    However, I note the good news that if “pre-release rumors are to be believed, the second half of the year promises to be much more exciting”. I wonder if we are going to get exciting new M800s and M600s?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A new Pelikan Maki-e is always exciting. I must confess however that I feel the artist has not done a stellar job on depicting the King fisher. The colours are not complete (some distinct white is missing in the pluimage), the way the birds beak is connected to the body is wrong and the eye is very strange with the gold ring around it. Also the beak should be more straight. And most of all, the beak of a Kingfisher is not yellow/gold, but dark. So the gold should have been in the background. There is also not much variation in the foliage, a bit of green would have made a more lively and natural picture.
    My favorite Maki-e so far is the Japanese Umbrella 2019.


    • I agree that an exact likeness of the kingfisher it is not. That said, this is a piece of art as much as it is a functional pen and as a work of art, some artistic license should be allowed. The kingfisher family consists of 114 different species. Some of those have bright orange beaks and many you wouldn’t even recognize as members of the family. I think the artists captures much of the essence of the kingfisher, if not the exact likeness. I also like that they depicted the bird on the cap in a dive as the kingfisher is a master of the dive, one of their more outstanding characteristics (in general). Still, that is why it’s nice to have the variability. The Japanese Umbrella is nice and I can certainly see how it appeals though to me the Dragonfly, Five Lucky Bats, and Kingfisher are the most appealing over the past few years. Thanks for sharing your opinion.


  4. This has immediately become my grail pen. Too bad it’s not even close to affordable. 😦 Kingfishers have a very special place in my heard, and goodness, this work is gorgeous. I love the mix of the autumn (my favourite season) leaves and the kingfisher.


    • I think that is what gets me the most about this release too. I love the autumn foliage (my favorite season as well) which makes for a wonderful environment for the kingfisher.


  5. I have to confess that this really appeals to me, along with the Peacock and Japanese Umbrella, which is probably my favourite. Sadly, a bit out of my pricerange, however, one can dream about such beautiful pieces of art.


    • Thankfully we remain free to dream. I hope that it looks as good in person as it does in photos. I was let down by the Maki-e Fireworks which I loved but was underwhelming when actually seen in person.


  6. This is one of the most beautiful Pelikan Maki-e pens – It is of the caliber of Cranes and Mount Fuji and Genji. It is a miniature version of Dunhill Namiki Kingfisher at fraction of the price. Kudos to Pelikan. Not just a contender but a sure shot for the Penworld award.


    • You mentioned two great Pelikan models from the past there, ones that I’ve never encountered in person. Exquisite art pieces. The Dunhill Namiki is no slouch but doesn’t grab me the way that this one does. If the Kingfisher is of the same caliber as the pens you mentioned when seen in real life, it’s going be a contender indeed.


      • The way dealers have committed most of the pens alloyed to them tells me they will be one the pens sold out in a very brief period.
        Incidentally, to me the numerous Uno among all Pelikan maki-e pens is Dragon & Phoenix.


        • I agree that these are not going to hang around. Not surprising given the small production run. Dragon & Phoenix is a real treat to behold but, for me, I think number one might be Sea World. I like how the colors pop whereas the Dragon is a bit more one note (though a beautiful note indeed).


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