Tracing the best luxury fountain pens ever made
Many are awed and amazed by some of the world’s most complex and expensive ink-based writing implements. Some are crafted by hand and in collections so small that they number the single digits. What are we speaking of? They are none other than fountain pens. But just how far back do they date?
There is evidence that Leonardo DaVinci may have invented the fountain pen. His works include drawings of what appears to be a reservoir pen. Also, his handwriting is of consistent contrast throughout, unlike quills of the time that faded. The recreated model gives evidence that Leonardo might have something to do with the very first fountain pen.
The modern fountain pen gradually came into being from the 1850’s to 1880’s. The first major American manufacturer down to this day is the highly successful Waterman Pen company.
Starting in the 1960’s, fountain pens took a backseat to ballpoint pens. But there’s still a demand for fine fountain pens-and people willing to pay top dollar for them. We’re rounding up a list of the top 10; some of the following pens go for seven figures and beyond!
1. Conway Stewart Westminster Teal Pen
The enamel coated pen is teal colored with oak leaf engravings. Called “Westminster” because it borrows its design from the very palace itself, the diamond-shaped recess mimics the palace detail and the oak leaves are a symbol of England. The pen bases its design on the work of architect Augustus Pugin, who himself devised the architecture of Westminster Palace. In fact, every feature of this pen re-creates the various elements from the structure of the palace and is pasted together in a flowing motif. The teal color of the enamel is given a striking contrast to emphasize the relief and add depth. This is referred to as “Basse Taille” enameling. The barrel and cap are crafted from solid sterling silver and finally, this pen from the British “Conway Stewart” company pays tribute to a grand landmark of English history with a price tag of $1,800.
2. Graf Von Faber Castell
The Pernambul by Graf Von Faber-Castell. The barrel of the pen is carved from Pernambuco sandalwood and the pen itself even comes in a sandalwood box. Natural differences occurring in the tree fiber means that no two of these pens are exactly alike. It features an 18-karat gold nib with a fine, smooth iridium tip; it writes completely as smooth as butter. The entire pen is manufactured by hand, from the satin feel of the wood to the solid platinum metal. Pernambuco timber is also used for the production of violin bows, it is known to be a very hard and durable wood. Priced at $ 2,000, it’s well worth it.
3. Ten Past Ten – The 1010 Chrono “Caran d’Ache”
Designed and developed by the Maison Caran d’Ache in Geneva, this pen pays tribute to the Swiss watchmaking culture. It symbolizes ten minutes past ten; it is little known that the hands of a watch are usually positioned that way in photographs, hence the name. The engraved wheel gears symbolize the inner workings of traditional clocks. It usually takes more than a year to assemble this pen because of the difficulty in obtaining the parts, such as at the head, a Top Wesselton 0.11 carat diamond. The skeleton is made transparent with sapphire crystal. The skill required for such craftsmanship is also scarce, that is why there were only ten ever created. It sells on the market for $19,000.
4. Diamante by Aurora
Only one of these a year is created by the Italian Aurora Pen company. This “Diamante” pen is 30 carats of De Beers diamond encrusted on a solid platinum barrel. It is one of the world’s most expensive at over one million dollars. It has an 18-carat solid gold nib and can be personalized with a signature or portrait. It is the only 30-carat diamond pen in the world, you can even have it personalized. For the elite of the elite, this is priced at a whopping $1.4 million.
5. Mystery Masterpiece
This pen was a collaboration between two of the finest craftsmen, Van Cleef and Montblanc. Only about 9 were ever made in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald variations. This was made to celebrate the centennial of both companies. The selling price is $730,000 for each!
6. Fifth Avenue by S.T Dupont
S.T Dupont was founded more than 140 years ago as a luxury manufacturer long connected to the royal families and the aristocracy. It has been dedicated to innovation and that has enabled the company to thrive for a century and a half. American aristocrats living on Park Avenue commisioned the design of this lacquer-coated pen in the 1930’s and 40’s. Less than 2,000 were created, and it sells apiece for $2,400.
7. The Four Seasons Pen
Only 33 were ever created, they come in four colors symbolizing what else but the four seasons of the year. That’s green for Spring, red for Summer, brown for Fall and grey for Winter. As with almost all the pens on this list, it is 18-carat gold. If you can find one anywhere, the starting bid is $36,000.
8. David Oscarson Pens
This comprises not a single pen, but an entire series in an expensive line. Each pen has three layers of ornamentation and colored with hard enamel. Each pen is crafted from gilded silver. The price tag is $4,900.
9. OMAS Limited Edition Pens
Omas uses it’s limited edition pens to commemorate historic events and notable places. They are manually crafted with rare materials in a complex process. Armando Simoni, the namesake, often said: “A pen must make writing pleasurable.” In 1925, he established the “Officina Meccanica Armando Simoni” or OMAS, a workshop in Bologna. Since 1925, each pen is devised and handcrafted in this workshop
10. Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen
Finally topping up our list as the most expensive to own and to create is the “Montblanc Boehme Royal”. Inspired by Johannes Kepler, as a mathematician and astronomer, the pen is covered in sapphires and diamonds. That is meant to replicate the sparkling stars of a night sky. The pen is topped with a 6.2-carat diamond, surrounding that gemstone are three white-golden rings symbolizing Kepler’s famed three laws of planetary motion. The Platinum plated nib is engraved with the Ophiuchus constellation which Kepler wrote about in his publication “De Stella Nova”, The New Star. With 5,294 sapphires and 570 diamonds, the price is $1,500,000. It can only be bought at a Montblanc boutique, not online.