"Following Japanese practice, objects found in this book have been referred to as a "craft" for over fifty years and have only recently been reinterpreted as "works of art". Some of the artists who created these masterpieces also labored on lacquering other projects for Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
Through this book we hope to share the brilliant work completed by these artists while they worked at The Pilot Pen Co. Ltd.
When the President of Pilot, Akira Tsuneto, first heard about this book, a letter was sent to the authors warning them that this undertaking was similar to researching a complicated thesis on Roman history. There were severe limitations to uncovering the past.
No more than 1,500 of the top quality lacquered pens, and fewer other complementary objects, were created between the years 1925 and 1937. Of those, perhaps 200 pens and several dozen other lacquered objects have survived intact. These are contained in the corporate museums of Pilot in Hiratsuka, Japan; at Alfred Dunhill Limited in London, England; and in known major collections in countries around the world.
The signatures on these objects are signed in Chinese characters (kanji). This reveals an art name, which is a name in itself but does not include any family name. this can be transcribed into English or Romanized as it is more correctly called. But the characters that make up an art name can often be read in a number of different ways which causes endless problems. However, only with the correct reading of an art name, along with the artist's kao (a personal monogram) can Pilot employees begin to research the maker's identity. To complicate matters, many unique company records of both Pilot and Alfred Dunhill were destroyed in the Second World War.
To add yet another challenge, many of these precious works of art were custom orders, and a number of the pens were unsigned prototypes created by a master, or signed in outer presentation boxes which have not survived.
With a great deal of patient assistance from many people it was possible to locate and photograph samples of the greatest Pilot lacquer artists, including rare works from Gonroku Matsuda, Takeshi Okada, Kasui Yokoto, Shogo Genjirou, Shoetsu Enomoto, Seisoh Katsuta and Ritsuzen Yamazaki. With generous support of major collectors and both Pilot and Alfred Dunhill it was possible to begin the two-year journey to discover who created these gems, how they were made and why they "worked" as objects of art.
Given the scope of this book, the challenges it posed, we would like to thank both companies for opening their archives so generously to help reconstruct this fascinating story. The authors welcome any new information on the events of three generations ago to help correct any errors or omissions for a future edition."