Friday, August 14, 2015

Zôhiko

There is a relatively new guy –albeit old as well— in town. Zôhiko is indeed a old company as it was founded in 1661 in Kyoto. Its original business was ivory –the in the name actually means elephant—, but with the second generation of owners the market expanded to include maki-e and related techniques and the ivory section ended up disappearing.

But only recently Zôhiko included fountain pens in its catalog of luxury goods. This happened in 2008 by means of an association with the French craftsman Michel Audiard.

More recently, around 2012, a new series of fountain pens were produced. These pens were the initiative of fountain pen entrepreneur Mr. Katayama and Zôhiko, and involved a group of unique Japanese craftsmen.


Raden, on the front, and maki-e.

Body and feed were made by Mr. Momose Yasuaki—an old, now retired, lathe master well known and respected in the Japanese scene. He was also in charge of the filling system, Japanese eyedropper (i. e. with shut-off valve), which is one of his fields of mastery.

Nibs, made of 18 K gold, carry the monogram KMK (with the first K inverted), meaning Katayama-Makino-Kubo. This is a brand name registered by Mr. Katayama. However, these Zôhiko nibs were manufactured by jeweler Mr. Tsukii Masao.


The 18 K gold nib made by Mr Tsukii Masao. Note the monogram KMK engraved on the nib.


The feed is also imprinted with the initials KMK, the registered brand by Mr Katayama.

The final assembly of the pen was made by nibmeister Kubo Kohei, well know for the readers of these Chronicles.

The maki-e decoration, finally, was commissioned to Mr Yamamoto Munori, a Zôhiko regular “in-house” craftsman.


The results of the good work of Mr. Yamamoto Munori.

The final result is an outstanding collection of maki-e decorated pens. But they do not come cheap or in large numbers. Of the raden-decorated unit, only three were made at a cost of JPY 1.200.000. Of the rest, between 4 and 6 units of each were produced. Their price is JPY 600.000, save for the unit with spiral motifs, whose price is JPY 800.000.


JPY 800.000.


Some of the pieces carry a signature, but it simply says Zôhiko.

Now, are they good pens? How do they write? The fact that a jeweler and not a nibmeister crafted the nibs is an unsettling and worrisome detail… But maybe the question is a different one: would anyone ink any of them?


Pilot Custom 823 – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Nakano, August 13-14th, 2015
etiquetas: Zôhiko, nibmeister Kubo Kohei, Momose Yasuaki, maki-e

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you aren't going to put ink in it, it's not a pen, it's a toy.

I'd love to know how the nib performed though.

Bruno Taut said...

Collectors have plenty of toys, then.

Thanks for passing by and commenting, Mr. Anonymous.

BT

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