One of my all-time favorite pens is the Namiki Vanishing Point. The convenience of a retractable point, not to mention the fantastic looks, make this my go-to pen whenever it’s inked up. It also has some sentimental meaning for me. Let’s take a closer look at this pen from my collection, the Namiki Vanishing Point.
A Brief Vanishing Point History
Pilot made its first Capless fountain pen in 1963. This model, after a variety of revisions and improvements, became the Vanishing Point. While most people have heard of the Pilot Vanishing Point (or VP), it was branded as Namiki for most of the 1990s. During that time it was still made by Pilot and had Pilot nibs. I feel like when people refer to a “Namiki” VP, they are referring to the faceted models, as I’m pretty sure all Namiki VPs were faceted. Although there were some earlier Pilot-branded models that had the famous faceted barrels of the Namiki-branded pens, they aren’t nearly as common. I don’t profess to being a VP expert, but Carmen Rivera has an extensive knowledge of them and her website has a production timeline if you’re interested.
My history with this pen started around the year 2000. I was in college and just getting into fountain pen shopping on eBay. I came across a listing for a green Namiki VP and it was love at first sight. When I bought it, it was easily my most expensive fountain pen that I owned. While that added to its mystique, actually using it is what sealed the deal for me. What a fantastic pen! Unfortunately, I sold it years later during a pen purge. It wasn’t until around 2017 that I bought another one at a pen show and fell in love all over again!
The Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen
Now that you have a little bit of history and know that the Namiki VP is essentially the same thing as a Pilot VP, let me tell you all about why I love these pens. First off, have you seen them? The streamlined clip and faceted barrel of the Namiki VP just check all of the right boxes for me. I also really like the limited and somewhat muted color options. In addition to black, they came in dark green, burgundy, navy blue and matte black/stealth versions. Also, they have silver trim which is a strong preference of mine.
Looks aside, the clicking mechanism is not only convenient, but is also very satisfying. There is a nice amount of resistance, making it feel like something important is about to happen every time I click out the nib. It is also truly convenient. Having a fountain pen that I don’t have to worry about capping every time I’m not using it is just so dang nice.
With all of that being said, I do have a strong preference for the Namiki version. I’ve used the newer Pilot VPs and, while they have the same functionality and are great pens, I don’t like them as much. The larger diameter, heavier weight, redesigned clip and general feel of the barrel just don’t appeal to me as much. I have nothing against them… I just love my Namikis.
So how does it write? As you’d probably expect, it writes great. The 14k gold nib gives it a slightly soft writing experience. While there is zero flex or line variation, it is very smooth and far from hard. I wonder if this is partly due to the nib being retractable? Maybe there’s just a tiny bit of give in the mechanism that softens the writing feel a little bit? Whatever the reason, they are very nice to use.
While I have two with Medium nibs, I was lucky enough to find one with a Broad nib, which I adore. More often than not you’ll find Medium and Fine nibs. The newer VPs also come with stubs if that’s more your style. The nice thing is that the Namiki VPs can use modern Pilot VP replacement nibs, so there’s always the option to upgrade or swap nibs if needed.Of course, for people who have never used one before, there’s the concern of the nib drying out. It’s hard to imagine that the pen would create a seal that’s good enough to prevent hard starting. Fortunately, that’s something the engineers at Pilot figured out long ago. As long as there’s ink in the pen, I’ve never had an issue with my VP not writing immediately.
Some people may think of the Vanishing Point as a gimmicky fountain pen, but it is so much more. Designed for convenience, it is like no other pen out there. With reliable operation, good looks and a great writing experience, there’s a reason why Vanishing Points are so popular. While the newer VPs are solid pens, if you ever get a chance to try out the Namiki version I encourage you to do so. There’s just something about them that’s special. While they may not come in all of the flashy colors that the newer Pilot versions do, they are true classics and are perfect just the way they are.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like the other posts in this series:
I’ve been interested in purchasing one of these pens for a while now. Thank you for this review. Very well written and you’ve sold me on the pen. That being said, I do have one suggestion; unless it was on purpose, your pictures could really benefit by focus-stacking in Photoshop and then auto-blending. I know bokeh is all the rage right now and if that was your intended effect you succeeded very well. However, I would prefer to see all areas of the pen in focus with the interested area taking up more of the picture to draw the viewer’s eye. I hope I have not offended you with my criticism. It is only meant in a positive way. Your site is much appreciated and I never purchase paper without referring first to your guide.
I hope you’re able to find one and love it, Kevin! No offense taken on the suggestion. I typically try to highlight a specific part of the pen by using a shallow depth of field. Also, I’m somewhat lazy when it comes to my setups and don’t want to focus stack unless I absolutely have to. 🙂
Mine arrived Friday. I am even more excited to try it out. I got a medium nib but wish I could have found it with a CM nib. Thanks for the review
Fantastic! Hope you love it!
I have two Pilot vanishing point pens: one matte dark blue with black trim and an extra-fine nib (I use a purple ink cartridge), the other with a grey barrel and a fine nib (I use blue-black ink). I love them, and when I need a pen quickly, I grab one of them because I know they will always function. BUT, I used to have an earlier version of the Namiki vanishing point in matte black with the faceted barrel and somehow misplaced it. I am desperately searching for one like it. Any leads…send ’em this way! Thanks.
Sorry to hear you’ve lost such a wonderful pen, Tom. I hope you’re able to track it down! At least you have a few others to hold you over.
Heh John. Another interesting post, and for me, great to know the originals are a slightly more slim. Unfortunately (for my wallet), now I want one!
“It’s hard to imagine that the pen would create a seal that’s good enough to prevent hard starting” as you stated. Heh wait….that’s me. I’m the person who has always had that exact thought. Thanks for expressing and debunking this concern. Credible to know your multiple experiences have been very good.
Thanks for the thoughts, Rich. I hope you are able to pick one up someday.
I have one of these, but managed it is need of repair. The spring which holds the interior lid closed gave out. Anyone know of a reputable repair place? (I purchased another, to use. The technology behind this is just fascinating!)
Sorry to hear it! I don’t know of anyone who specializes in VP repair, but I’d image most repair shops would be able to do it with how popular the pens are.
Hi! Do you have any suggestions similar to Life writing paper? I am looking for a cream paper for letter writing. I love Life, but the lines are too wide and the paper is quite small. Is there anything similar to it that you would suggest? Thank you so much!
Hi Scarlet. Have you tried the Life L B5 writing paper? It’s larger than the A5, although it still has 10mm line spacing. You might also try the Midori letter pad. It’s B5, has two paper colors and no lines, so you can use a guidesheet for whatever spacing you’d prefer: https://yosekastationery.com/products/kirei-tegami-fountain-pen-friendly-letter-pad?_pos=1&_sid=ca7e7784b&_ss=r
Great review. My awareness of the Vanishing Point goes way back, but my eventual ownership of one dates back to when I was knee-deep in Lamy-land: at the time, I had a Lamy 2000 and Lamy Persona as my Main Axe pens, and deeply anticipating the release of their Dialog 3 retractable. When it was available at a shop during a pen show, I gave it a try, and discovered why its release had been repeatedly delayed: given the complexity of its construction, quality control was a big issue…the example I tried out had a rather loose nib, which didn’t instill confidence, especially at its then-current asking price. On a whim, I asked to try a Vanishing Point for comparison: consider my mind blown. In short order, not only did I end up with a VP (matte black, current Pilot edition), I ultimately ditched the 2000 and Persona for a pair of Pilot Custom 823s, leading to the trio of pens I use today.
Thank you, Barrett. That’s a great story and a good example of why it’s so nice to be able to try out a pen in person before purchasing. How fortunate that you thought to try a Vanishing Point and found it to be your new pen!
Great pictures and just the information I was looking for. When I worked at a pen store several years ago, the modern Pilot version was the go-to pen for the staff. I remember one customer coming in with the older Namiki version in a striking mustard yellow that enchanted me. I found the streamlined clip much more appealing.
I’ve enjoyed a modern one for several years but decided to actively look for an older one. After almost a year of keeping an eye out, I found a black one (exactly like the one you have pictured) at the Dallas Pen Show last weekend. It came home with me and works great.
Thanks again for your article.
Craig, I’m glad to hear you finally found an older VP to call your own! While the newer pens are great, there’s just something about the older versions that the new ones can’t compare to. I hope your new pen serves you well. Happy writing!
I first discovered about the PVP in 1997 from my favourite local pen shop in Singapore. I was travelling to some countries which took me about three months. I filled two PVP pens and was surprised to discover that they lasted me more than three months of daily writing. It gave me great joy to use the Pilot Vanishing Point pens in my favourite green and royal blue colours. I gave away the two pens as gifts to two of my favourite friends – one a century old bookbinder. The founder is long gone but his son was delighted to behold one. Another is a director of a local museum. They both wrote to me a long letter written with my gift to thank me for this beautiful fountain pen. The local fountain pen dealer, Mr Wong of Fook Hing passed on in his ripe old age on the 31st of December last year. He was among the pioneers to start a shop selling fountain pens.
It sounds like you have a very long and close history with this pen. I hope you have since replaced the pens that you gave away as gifts and are again enjoying writing with a Vanishing Point!