Alfred Dunhill ‘Namiki’ enamel lighter, 1930s
Price Code: SOLD
‘Namiki’ table lighter in ‘Giant’ table size, with chrome-plated hardware, with a glossy black lacquer background, with an image of a birdhouse set high on a branch to the front, and a jellyfish with red coral to the reverse. Marked Dunhill, Made in England, with patent number 390107 to the base, and artist’s signature in red. English, circa 1930s.
Height: 10 cm
Length: 8 cm
Notes: The decoration to the bodies of these table lighters is created using the very skilled lacquer technique known as maki-e (translated as ‘sprinkled picture’). This method of decoration started in Japan in the Heian period (794–1185 AD), where layers of wet lacquer are dusted with precious metal powders to create patterns or images, often using very delicate, fine brushes. The lacquer dries before another layer of powder and lacquer is applied, and so on, until the desired depth of detail and shine is reached. The Namiki factory, a name synonymous with this style of decoration, was founded in Tokyo and resurrected this ancient technique, as a means of decorating their patented lacquered fountain pens.
In the 1920s, Clement Court, the manager of the Alfred Dunhill boutique in Paris, was so captivated by this delicate and clearly luxurious technique, he sought to obtain the worldwide distribution rights to Namiki and their skill in the maki-e technique, leading to the creation of the ‘Dunhill-Namiki’ fountain pen, the most sought after and valuable fountain pen in the world. These Dunhill ‘Giant’ table lighters are extremely scarce – indeed we have never owned an example before – and are from a renowned collection that we were fortunate enough to acquire recently.
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