Sailor has been coming onto the scene in a big way of late. While so far, they seem to be gaining the most attention from their innovative new nibs, they do have quite a history of fine Maki-e pens, in several different models, and a myriad of designs. When Chuck Swisher wanted an exclusive limited edition Maki-e pen to offer his customers, the choice of Sailor wasn't too difficult.
The Sailor Panda Maki-e is done on one of their slim pens, with a neat semi-hooded nib. While maybe not as "traditional" a design as the larger pens they make, it's a much more "user friendly" pen. This pen easily fits into a pocket, and the shape and size are almost identical to one of the most popular pens ever made, the Parker 75. In other words, this is a pen designed to be carried and written with, not just set up behind glass and looked at!
Writing should be no problem, I have yet to come across a "bad" Sailor fountain pen. Doesn't mean that they aren't out there, but they must be pretty scarce, judging from what I've heard. Sailor as a company seems to take their pens very seriously. That may sound silly to say, since after all they're a company in business to make pens, but once you've tried enough modern pens, you might not find it such an out of place thing to mention!
In any case, Sailor pens are generally very good when it comes to the putting of ink on paper. This pen looks to be no exception.
Obviously, we couldn't load this one up and write with it, we only had it for a brief stay on it's way to a happy customer, but I have tried this design before, and found it to be a pleasant pen to use. A bit small for my hand, but still with enough weight to feel substantial, despite it's slim design.
The nib is in 18K, and has a nice smooth feel, with a bit of flex to it. This pen is a cartridge converter design, and while I can't speak to the ink flow characteristics of this exact sample, the plain version of this design I tried a while ago had very nice ink flow, putting down an even, slightly wet line. I have yet to find a "bad" Sailor nib, and this one was no exception to the trend.
It's marked as a Medium nib, but looks to run fine, as with many Japanese pens. I'd bet it will put down a fairly thin medium, or a wide fine line, depending upon the ink flow.
The Maki-e is first class, they did a very nice job on this design. The Pandas are rendered on both the cap and the barrel, along with leaves and bamboo plants. The lacquer finish is even and polished to a high gloss. This is an example of what I would call "middle of the road" Maki-e. It's detailed and ornate, and uses moderate amounts of gold dust in the design. It's attractive, and even "fancy", without being too much of a good thing.
This should make for a good usable Maki-e piece, and great choice whether you are already a serious collector of Maki-e, you are looking to become one, or even if you just want a good daily user, a bit out of the ordinary, and with some class and style to it. It's also perfect if you just happen to really like Pandas.
copyright 2002 William Riepl