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What to look for
As we know from so many great tales, the phrase "Once upon a time" signals the unfolding of something special and new.
Fine pens have their own fairy-tale beginnings too. Their story began in the year 1884, when the American, Lewis Edson Waterman, filed a patent for the modern fountain pen.
By bringing portability to writing, fountain pens quickly became symbols of empowerment and status following Waterman’s invention: first in the United States, then in Europe and Asia.
Their ability to inspire and impress has remained ever since. Over the years, the value of pens has been transformed by owners’ obsessions, and by ever-increasing levels of sophistication in design and engineering.
Hallmarks of quality
Whether you are seeking a pen as a personal indulgence or as a gift, there are a myriad of options to choose from. So what are the important things to look for in a high-calibre writing instrument? What traits do the best luxury pens share? Here are a few points to take into consideration when looking for a prestige or luxury writing instrument.
First, you need to consider the type of pen you want to own. Although it is possible to find luxury ballpoint pens, fountain pens are recognised as possessing the highest levels of symbolic and material value.
Fitted with a metal nib – often made of solid gold – and made with a high degree of mechanical precision, fountain pens are generally regarded as the reference level of luxury writing.
Prices for prestige pens begin at around €100-200. In this price bracket, it is possible to find excellent writing companions, but this is merely a starting point. In the realm of limited editions and designs made from silver and gold, prices can run into the tens of thousands. Montegrappa luxury fountain pens are handcrafted in Italy, using precious materials and jeweller-calibre craftsmanship to realise true works of art.
The materials used in a writing instrument’s construction are a major determinant of its value. Prestige pen casings are typically made from high-quality acrylics – prepared in industrial moulds. Look closely and you can find handcrafted models, shaped from tactile compounds like artisanal resin, or legacy materials like ebonite and celluloid. Within the luxury segment, celluloid and silver are sought-after for their glitz, while more adventurous buyers often look for unconventional materials like carbon, titanium, stone and exotic woods.
Set your own style
Exclusivity has always been synonymous with luxury. But even at high prices, true exclusivity is seldom assured. For those looking for a truly singular pen, a handful of makers offer bespoke and custom writing instruments.
A digital configurator created by Montegrappa makes it possible to design one-of-a-kind luxury pens online: each tailored to individual customers’ ideas and tastes. Writing instruments are tools that channel our souls, which is all the more reason to use a pen that reflects and resonates with your own.
Perfect ink flow
Naturally, the writing experience a luxury pen offers is a huge part of its appeal.
A fountain pen’s performance can vary greatly depending on the quality of its nib, on how it regulates ink flow, as well as writing angle and pressure.
To ensure their products live up to their promise, high-quality fountain pen manufacturers pay close attention to how every pen is calibrated.
This process – also known as “nib tuning” – is aimed at ensuring a comfortable, rewarding writing experience.
Thanks to this procedure, luxury fountain pens can offer decades of outstanding performance –a perfect complement to their often stunning, timeless appearance.
Find your line
The more precious the material a nib is made of, the smoother the writing experience will be. The most exclusive nibs are made with extraordinary levels of craftsmanship – another factor that has a large bearing on a fountain pen’s value.
As a fountain pen nib transforms from a metal blank to a fully finished product, it must pass through many steps. Superior manufacturers hand-test the quality of their nibs at every stage of production.
Regular writing nibs offer smoother handwriting for experienced and less experienced writers alike. Narrower nib grades such as F (fine) or EF (extra fine) are more responsive to writing pressure – and offer more writing variability. Medium-grade nibs are generally recommended for those using a fountain pen for the first time.
Beyond their immaculately crafted nibs, the very best luxury fountain pens offer many details to savour. Their silhouette, balance and high-value materials are the result of expertise accumulated over generations. Meanwhile, ornamentations, detailing and engineering provide modern flourishes that aim to stir the passions of aficionados and connoisseurs.
Luxury writing instruments are much more than objects that occupy a salon or study desk. Top-tier pens employ levels of artistry comparable with fine jewellery, but they must also be engineered to live up to high functional demands. No wonder then, that many admire them as trophies and status symbols. Auctions of fountain pens attract enthusiasts and collectors, and often showcase pieces to rival royal collections.
In the highest reaches of the luxury segment, bespoke pens are detailed with hand-painting and burin-engraving – unquestionably the pinnacle of artisanal accomplishment. Created over hundreds of hours, many of the private commissions made by Montegrappa Atelier are miniature works of art. Surely there can be few more emphatic expressions of a love for writing than Italian luxury pens as exquisite as these.
It is in this realisation that the secret of all luxury writing instruments is revealed: a desire to lend sincerity and authenticity to the words we write. Behind every luxury pen is a story of meticulous work, patience, and a talent for transforming prestige materials into a beautiful machine capable of bring our innermost thoughts to life.
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