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Namiki Emperor Vermilion Review

namiki emperor vermillion review urushi

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#1 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 20:48

Hello fellow pen enthusiasts,
  So far I have seen just one review on the internet for this pen and I strongly felt it merited another look. The comments about it being a baseball bat are, though funny and mostly in good humor, about as appropriate as saying Babe Ruth's bat was but a twig to be burned with the chaff. This pen is spectacular, and not just because of it's size. Yes, it sports the #50 nib, which if I understand correctly is the largest production nib around. Yes, its Mount Fuji engraving on the nib is breathtaking to behold, and it also writes smooth as butter.  But, seldom have I had a pen where what's outside the cap rivals what is under the cap. This pen is vermilion red urushi.  This is not just a "big red pen." This is not a "red injection molded plastic pen." This is a work of art--specifically, the technique is called Roiro Urushi. I suggest searching out youtube and other video or Japanese print sources to admire this technique as a Westerner's written explanation would not do this work justice. In short, this pen begins as a black ebonite barrel and, after countless hours of applying, burnishing, smoothing, and finely polishing the red-pigmented urushi, this whole process is repeating ad neuseam with clear urushi lacquer  coats--that is, if my rudimentary understanding is not misinformed. This pen is dazzling to the eye and to the touch. I have red pens. This is not just a red pen. 
 
     Below are as many photos as FPN size limitations will allow me to post. Pictures truly are worth 1,000 words. The only pic missing due to size limits is the first picture I took that showed the boring outer box (cardboard). Nothing really missed there...
     I don't want to take away from the photos with endless text. But I will offer these words as first impressions and by way of explanation on a few matters: 1) I liked the simple wood box with the elegant and soft purple tie-strings. Very elegant and very Japanese... 2) I knew the pen was big. When I opened the box I smiled because it was even bigger than I expected--in a good way. The simple elegance of this pen is unmatched. I have chosen the ringless version, but one can get this pen with gold bands around the barrel. 3) Comparison pens left to right are: Namiki Emperor, MB149, Yard O Led Grand Viceroy, and the Pelikan M1000--all very large pens. 4) The red feed is awesome. That is all on that subject. 10 out of 10. 5) There is a brilliantly crafted velvet-ish lining to the cap so if one posts the cap (WHY WOULD ANYONE POST THIS PEN?) it will not scratch the urushi barrel. 6) In the photos I challenge you to find the place where the end cap unscrews from the barrel. This craftsmanship is un-improvable. 7) Once you locate the invisible end-cap, one needs only to hold the pen vertical and unscrew it apx. 1.5 turns to let the ink gush out into the feed. 8) Yes, this is an eyedropper. It should be called eyedroppers as I literally gave up filling it after 4 full droppers. Please see the up close photo of the inside of the section to see how this comes together to form an impressive, leakproof seal. 9) One complaint. In the final pen-photo I posted a picture showing the threads. You can see a small hint of black there where the vermilion urushi was either not applied perfectly or where, perhaps by the unavoidable friction-nature of how threads function, the urushi is rubbed off right out of the box. I'm slightly unhappy about that and submit this as a charge to Namiki to look into that problem if it happens more than on my pen. However, I am so happy with this pen that my enjoyment is not reduced even a little by this minuscule problem. 10) Shout out to Chatterly Luxuries for a good price. 
This is a beautiful pen and I recommend it highly. 
   
Did anyone actually read the writing sample? :)
  

Conclusion/Scores:
Appearance & Design: 8. Small deduction for the black-thread issue. Stunning with a truly "blind" cap--no visible slits on the barrel. Threads do not hurt to use. I personally think it's a 10, but recognize there is not detailed makie-e work, etc. It's the best single color pen I have ever seen. It is not the most beautiful pen I have ever seen. 
Construction/Quality: 9.5 for the thread issue. There is no perfect pen and they can't all be high scores. But so far there is no squeaking or weak-fitting parts and urushi coverage is stunning. Clip works well. Rare and ingenious felt-lining inside cap for posting (which no one would ever use--but it is there).


Weight & Dimensions: 10 or 6.5  6.8" capped length. 0.7" diameter, and a weight of 46.6 grams un-inked. 6ml of ink capacity. The reason for this high rating is that this is an incredibly big pen for those who like that sort of thing. It is not too heavy or too light in the hand and is just-right for people with medium or large sized hands. Clearly, this pen scores a 2 or worse if the subjective criteria is, "how this pen fits small hands." If you hate big pens, this one is terrible. If you want a true rating on the weight and dimensions of this big pen from a big pen lover, it's a 10. For long writing (over 5 pages) I must drop this pen to a 6.5. It's more than a signature pen, trust me, but a 5 page letter may get ridiculous and crampy. 

Nib/feed:    10. I realize all the high ratings. This pen is that good. Zero scratch. Nib flow is unhampered with any amount of speed writing or even scribbling. No "tapping" to get things moving after opening up the eyedropper end cap each use.  The nib is also a little springy, too, because it is gold and huge. If you want flex pen performance, buy a flex pen. This is a wet writer but not out of control. My 10 rating is based on smoothness, flow performance, and superb performance right out of the box. I have many pens and none of them have performed like this right out of the box. 

Filling system/Maintenance: 8  Friends, I intend to review more pens with lower ratings, I promise. But this one is sweet. The eyedropper filling system is awesome. I wanted to give this a 10 but decided for the sake of some credibility to say something critical. The fact that this holds 6ml of ink is baller. The fact that it takes over 5 pipets full of ink is slow. So, my feeble attempt at a criticism is that this pen should come with a bigger and more efficient pipet. I cannot fault the huge ink capacity. Love it. I will circle back and adjust the score if maintenance becomes an issue. 

Cost and Value: 7  There are plenty of worse pens out there priced much higher. And yes, it is a work of art. But at its retail price this pen is a bit pricey. If you can get a good deal and appreciate large urushi pens, the value is a 10. If you pay full retail, you will love this pen; however, you will have a lot of money into it. Value is in the eye of the beholder I guess. 

Conclusion: 8.46 total score.

Regrets:         0

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Edited by Ebonite And Ivory, 23 August 2016 - 18:40.

I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


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#2 da vinci

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 21:18

Nice concise review and great pictures :thumbup:

#3 Mulrich

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 21:30

I don't have experience with eyedroppers so I was surprised to see an end cap on this pen. What purpose does a blind cap serve with an eyedropper? I always thought an eyedropper was just a barrel that connected to a feed. 



#4 zaddick

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 21:36

Enjoy your new pen. They are really impressive in many ways, and I 100% recommend Bryant as a source for the pens.

One point, because I am persnickety (or pernickety for our English friends who like to spell things incorrectly), this pen and the black version are not considered emperor pens. That name is reserved for the maki-e pens of the same size. This is simply the "lacquer vermillion no. 50" pen. This is how they are listed on the Namiki site. I realize I am just tilting at windmills, but I am not home during the day in order to tell kids to get off my lawn so I gotta rant somewhere about something no one cares about. :)

You also made the "right" choice to get a pen without cap bands.

Edited by zaddick, 22 August 2016 - 21:40.


#5 zaddick

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 21:39

I don't have experience with eyedroppers so I was surprised to see an end cap on this pen. What purpose does a blind cap serve with an eyedropper? I always thought an eyedropper was just a barrel that connected to a feed. 


Japanese eye dropper pens have a stopper at the end of a long rod that rus thr length of the barrel. When closed it prevents ink from reaching the feed. Unscrew the blind cap to back the "plug" away and let ink through.

#6 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 22:00

I appreciate the kind words Donor Pen. Modern Vintage, this is a good question. I should clarify and really provide another photo when all the ink is out of the pen. The pen is indeed filled by removing the section from the barrel. However, the "blind cap" you mentioned is actually just a way to keep the pen from bleeding out I think. There is a seal in this pen that keeps ink from always flowing into the nib/feed. That seal is actually a plug. When the end cap is turned back the plug actually pulls back and allows the ink to flow through to the nib. That was the ink isn't always "on." Great for traveling on planes! :)


I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


#7 Raif79

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 00:12

You lucky dog! I've had a hard on for one for a while now. I'm so close to pulling the trigger. It's monstrously large. My biggest pen right now is the WE Decoband oversize. It feels right in my giant hands. I'm wondering if this would feel like what people with small hands feel about the MB 149. I must have one of these big red beasts!

#8 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 00:57

I have a WE decoband. It's def bigger than that. I like the thickness and overall feel of the deco. I have medium to medium large sized hands. Def not small. And certainly not big. Consider that when looking at my pics of this pen. Hope this helps. Both great pens. Decoband is wonderful in the hand, unless you have small hands.

I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


#9 Barkingpig

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:57

                                          Thank you for your review & sharing a picture of a truly beautiful & impressive pen, THAT red feed says it ALL!



#10 flipper_gv

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 05:05

I have a WE decoband. It's def bigger than that. I like the thickness and overall feel of the deco. I have medium to medium large sized hands. Def not small. And certainly not big. Consider that when looking at my pics of this pen. Hope this helps. Both great pens. Decoband is wonderful in the hand, unless you have small hands.

 

I'm surprised to hear the Decoband is actually bigger than the Emperor.

Great review, it's always nice to see more pictures of such an elusive pen.



#11 zaddick

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 08:30

 
I'm surprised to hear the Decoband is actually bigger than the Emperor.


The new WE Decoband is not larger or thicker, though I think it may weigh a bit more when empty.

#12 fountainpagan

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 08:58

Great review. Thank you.

 

Beautiful pen. That red feed finishes it perfectly.

 

Enjoy!!


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#13 jmccarty3

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 11:55

I'm lucky to have one of these, as well as a vermilion Yukari Royale and a vermilion Custom 845. It's fun to line them up and read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to them. :D

 

I do lust after a real Emperor, the Goldfish.


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#14 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 13:43

The new WE Decoband is not larger or thicker, though I think it may weigh a bit more when empty.

I think I was misread earlier or misunderstood or perhaps I was ambiguous (always possible lol). The WE Decoband is in no was larger than this pen. I was trying to assert the opposite. I will weigh them both and provide a comparison. I probably will not use calipers unless there is an outcry for this. :) 


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#15 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 13:45

Enjoy your new pen. They are really impressive in many ways, and I 100% recommend Bryant as a source for the pens.

One point, because I am persnickety (or pernickety for our English friends who like to spell things incorrectly), this pen and the black version are not considered emperor pens. That name is reserved for the maki-e pens of the same size. This is simply the "lacquer vermillion no. 50" pen. This is how they are listed on the Namiki site. I realize I am just tilting at windmills, but I am not home during the day in order to tell kids to get off my lawn so I gotta rant somewhere about something no one cares about. :)

You also made the "right" choice to get a pen without cap bands.

I love precision! However, in this case, I want to make sure precision gives way to accessibility for people unfamiliar with this great pen. The average joe out there calls this the emperor, including John M at nibs.com. I agree though about the distinction on the DaniTrio Website. See: http://nibs.com/Nami...orVermilion.htm    


I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


#16 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 13:47

THat

 

... It's fun to line them up and read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to them. :D

 

 

That's hilarious. And totally understandable.  


I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


#17 Gloucesterman

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 19:55

Beautiful pen. Nice review.

Absolutely love your writing sample -

Yea! Go DOG!!!


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#18 Tootles

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 20:39

Hmm, if nothing else this review has helped me to make a decision and further narrow down my choices of expensive pens that I may buy.  That is to say the Namiki will not be on the list.  The pictures of the pen in hand show it to be far too big for me, almost like holding a chunky crayon as a kid.   I wouldn't mind seeing the urushi finish though. :)

 

Great review - gave information leading to a decision.  What more can one ask?



#19 Ebonite And Ivory

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 23:33

...the Namiki will not be on the list.  The pictures of the pen in hand show it to be far too big for me, almost like holding a chunky crayon as a kid.   I wouldn't mind seeing the urushi finish though. :)
 
Great review - gave information leading to a decision.  What more can one ask?[/quote]

Thanks for your words. I agree that it's huge. If the finish were not spectacular it might be a joke of a pen, a crayon in your words. However, the full, deep, red urushi finish really is that special. In person, in good lighting, it does not in any way look like red plastic. The blind cap can't even be seen on the barrel when closed so it's well crafted. I'd like to see the pen stay on your interest list, but if you want a more practical pen/one you can pocket and fit snugly in your fingertips, this is not the pen for you. Glad I could help!!

I am happy to meet you. Please message me if you have any questions or want to be pen friends. 

 


#20 Tootles

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 23:52

Sorry, I loved your review and I have no intention of raining on your parade, but the purpose of reviews for me is help make decisions.  I looked at this Namiki (via the internet only of course) after rejecting a similarly finished Nakaya.  The Nakaya was rejected for slightly different aesthetic and practical reasons. 

 

Problem is that I like the concept of urushi lacquer - though naturally I have never seen it in the flesh. It my be a goalless quest for me I suppose.

 

Enjoy the Emperor!







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