Fine Writing Instruments

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Once again, you tossed your ballpoint pen into the trash bin. Surely there is something worth keeping out there. Well, there is. Fine writing instruments have been around for centuries and only get more luxurious with time. Luxury pens range from a few hundred dollars to an astounding $730,000-plus!

What on earth could make a pen worth that much? Materials, craftsmanship and rarity. It’s that simple. When you toss in a few diamonds, a little enamel or lacquer and meticulous craftsmanship, the dollar signs will trigger a seismic shudder in your wallet.

Major designers such as Cartier, Dior, Bulgari, Swarovski and Hermès have their own line of pens. Then there are those who devote themselves to making pens, such as Montblanc™, Montegrappa and David Oscarson. Cross, Parker and Waterman offer more modest pens for the discerning.
Where does one start if cost is no object? There are several things to keep in mind. Most people prefer to use their pens, and their individual tastes in weight, girth, length, nibs, balance, comfort and hand must be considered, especially if the owner actually plans to use the pen to exercise their fine penmanship. Many devotees of fine writing instruments never use them! They are collectors who simply purchase the beautiful pens for their own pleasure.

The elements of weight, length, girth (how round or slim), balance and hand contribute to the way a pen feels in your hand as you get ready to write. Is the pen comfortable for you? Pen owners must consider the nib they want. Do you like a fine line or a broad stroke or something in between when you write? The nibs are made of different materials for beauty and durability. High quality nibs can cost up to $2,000 and more for finely plated rhodium and gold.

The type of ink is also important. Will you be signing documents, such as checks, with the pen? Then you will need a black ink that can’t be bleached. Gel pens are the choice of many, since gel ink is indelible, waterproof and light fast.

But it’s the beauty of the pen that attracts most connoisseurs. Montblanc has been making fine pens since the 1900s. Their pens are exquisite and synonymous with fine craftsmanship. The pens were renamed after Mont Blanc in 1909. In 1913, the iconic white star became the recognized logo and trademark of the pen. The legendary Meisterstück was launched in 1924. Ever since, the pen has been synonymous with fine writing instruments. In 1924, the height of Mont Blanc, 4810 feet, was engraved on the nib of the pen. Today the company produces many different series of pens for its customers. One of the most beautiful is the Grace Kelly collection. The ivory-colored pen has a pink topaz on the clip and the cone is a mother-of-pearl cabochon.

The Montegrappa company of Italy is another famous pen maker. They began production in 1912 and still use the same historic building today on the banks of the River Brenta in Bassano del Grappa. One of their most famous pens is the Dragon pen, issued in 1995 only in yellow gold with white diamonds and rose gold with black diamonds. The dragon’s eyes are set with rubies.

David Oscarson’s pens are works of art combining the art of guilloche engraving with a centuries-old technique of fusing glass and metal oxides to create a hard enamel surface. The plant and floral elements in seven translucent enamel colors on the Carl Linnaeus pens are a tribute to the patience of the artisans, who are required to undergo a five-year apprenticeship in order to ensure each piece achieves the highest quality standards of the company.

Ancient techniques and materials are beautiful, but many companies are experimenting with newer designs and more modern materials. Omas created the 50th anniversary Lamborghini pen in titanium. The hexagonal-shaped pen is made completely of titanium. The titanium, the streamlined shape and the carbon fiber composite used on the automobile knob are a tribute to the innovations of both companies.
Another innovative design is Porsche Design’s P’3110 Black Tec Flex fountain pen. The barrel is made of a finely woven stainless steel that flexes when the user activates or retracts the ball pen. It’s made with a rhodium-plated 18k white gold nib and the stainless steel threads are coated to resist scratches.

As for the $730,000+ pen, it’s by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels. The Mystery Masterpiece was created in 2006 to herald both companies’ centenary years. The pen was presented in three unique designs, featuring diamonds and emeralds, diamonds and sapphires, and diamonds and rubies. And it’s not even the most expensive writing instrument ever made. That distinction belongs to Tibaldi’s Fulgor Nocturnus, Latin for “Night Glow,” a one-of-a-kind pen that sold for a staggering $7.5 million dollars U.S. in a charity auction in Shanghai. HLM

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