Namiki released the Emperor “Polar Bear” in 2009 to mark the setting up of a refuge for the Polar Bear in the Arctic. It was released in a small edition of just 99 pens; this pen is number 95/99. The retail price was $14,000.
The pen was created by the artist Seiki Chida and his signature is seen on the lower end of the barrel. The pen is filled with texture, both visual and tactile. It has a wealth of images using multiple maki-e techniques. The ice flows are raised above the surface of the cap and seem to float off into the distance, an abstract of transparency and hard-edged form. The ice flow incorporates two different Maki-e techniques, togidashi-maki-e (burnished Maki-e) and taka-maki-e (raised Maki-e). Togidashi-maki-e is a method in which silver and gilded patterns are dried, recoated with Urushi, and finally burnished to a high sheen using charcoal. This style of Maki-e dates to the 7th century. The Taka-maki-e method, on the other hand, is applied on patterns in raised relief and dates to the 12th century. Notice how the light reflects off both the raised and burnished surface of the ice as well as the forms at the bottom of the barrel. This is one of the most labor- intensive methods used in the production of Maki-e pens.
To create the vision of the artic north, the artist used a palette of blue, white, silver, gold, and red. Hand-painted and speckled pigments are used, as well as gold and silver dust embedded in the Urushi lacquer.
The top of the cap is also adorned with tiny pieces of raden (abalone shell flakes), which refract different colors depending upon the angle from which the light strikes. The image of the parent-child Polar Bears on the pen body is achieved using Taka (Raised) Maki-e technique. The sea ice around the Polar Bears is created by Shishiai-Togidashi (Burnished-raised) Maki-e technique. The pen cap features the image of an Aurora using Togidashi (Burnished) Maki-e technique. On the top of the cap, the image of the Plough, which is a group of seven prominent stars of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, is decorated using Hira (Flat) Maki-e technique.
The emperor pen is an eyedropper-filled pen and comes with the Namiki eyedropper. The pen holds a huge amount of ink and comes with a limited edition ink bottle. The big #50 nib is 18K gold with rhodium accents, a medium point.
The pen is displayed in a wood case through a sand-blasted glass top through images of sea-ice.
Condition: Mint, never inked, complete with the display case and documents.
Price: $8330, £5950, €6785 including shipping.
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