(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
My favorite creature on earth, next to kitties, is the dragonfly. Every summer I go on yard safaris, taking photographs of the insects that inhabit our yard. When I find a dragonfly, I feel like I have discovered gold. Nothing makes me happier than capturing dragonflies on camera.
Dragonflies are sky lions–carnivores who zip through the air like gravity doesn't matter. Not only are they incredibly beautiful, but they rid the air of pests.
I adore dragonflies, so when I saw that Classic Fountain Pens (nibs.com) had a Nakaya Portable Cigar Spiketails (Dragonfly) fountain pen in the preowned section, I went nuts. At $1,300 (used–yes, used), this was not a pen I could just buy outright. I knew I would have to part with some amazing pens in order to afford the Nakaya.
I chose to sacrifice two pens to buy my grail: an uninked Montblanc Oscar Wilde and an Omas Paragon Arco (old style). Parting with the Oscar Wilde wasn't too hard since I had never inked the pen and I hadn't bonded with it.
The Paragon was more difficult. It's such a unique and beautiful pen and I loved the nib. But, at the time, Omas hadn't gone out of business and I wasn't too attached to the Arco. Silly me.
So, I posted both pens on the classifieds at Fountain Pen Network and Fountain Pen Geeks and crossed my fingers. It took about a month to sell both pens (and I had to do several price reductions), but eventually I had enough money to buy the Dragonfly with a nib grind to boot.
What makes the Nakaya Spiketails so unique is that it is a hand-painted acrylic fountain pen. Unlike most Nakaya pens which are completely opaque, the Dragonfly is partially transparent with raised painted designs covered in semi-transparent red (Shu) Urushi lacquer.
The dragonfly wings and some of the swamp grasses are coated in gold dust and semi-transparent Urushi. In sunlight, the effect is absolutely magical.
The dragonfly design is genius, with the dragonfly's body curving gracefully along the pen and its wings encircling the cap.
The dragonfly is amazingly detailed.
The bottom of the pen portrays the swamp grasses that are the habitat of the dragonfly.
My pen came with a BB single-tone 14K nib. I had nibs.com grind the nib down to a medium italic. It writes beautifully, though I will say this isn't the smoothest nib I've received from them. I could send it back for more work, but I'm afraid this is one pen I just can't let out of my sight.
I realize some people don't understand grail pens, especially ones this expensive. "Why would you ever spend that much money on a pen?" I can't offer a reasonable explanation, because grail pens aren't reasonable. A grail pen is a pen you desire because it means something special to you. You can't justify this with logic. Ultimately, the reason one buys any grail pen is intensely personal. For me, a pen representing one of my favorite creatures on earth is meaningful to me. Also, this isn't just a pen I write with, it is a piece of exquisite art.