Back in the days when the quill was replaced with a fountain pen, many took it upon themselves to enhance the technology. Some failed, others gave up, and a handful have made a mark such that their brands have continued to reign since over 100 years.
One would imagine that the ongoing advancement of digitalisation means a slow exit for writing instruments. However, premium stationery brands, such as the listed seven, tell a different tale. These pens — fountain, roller ball and ballpoint — are much more than their functional ability; they come with an interesting history, owning a part of which is a symbol of status and style.
In 1846, Cross’ journey began with manufacturing silver and gold casings for wooden pencils, and progressed to producing fountain pens. In 1945, when the ballpoint technology was made available to the public, Cross preferred to better the quality before releasing its version on the market in 1953.
Tech3+ multipurpose pen is a futuristic line of versatile writing instruments introduced only recently. A gentle twist to the body replaces the ballpoint nib with a red editor. Twist again to access the pencil, and again to go back to the ballpoint. The other end of the product works as a stylus to help navigate any touchscreen devise. It also includes an eraser underneath the screw-off top. It’s as good as carrying an office in your pocket, and can be personalised with engraving on a 23-karat gold and platinum plate.
Price: US$125/₹8,412; cross.com
LAPIS BARD ENGLISH
Time-honoured craftsmanship for lasting quality forms the core principle of Lapis Bard English. It prides itself on being in touch with its roots, saying it is a “true embodiment of a mannerism that is as English as gents in bowler hats carrying black brollies (umbrellas)”. Its modern-day writing instrument illustrates this fact.
Classic Oxford Fountain Pen is a homage to English tradition and the “legendary Oxford checks”. The body is encased in precious resin and has a 14-karat solid gold nib and palladium trim. It is a classic in every sense, right down to the age-old threaded cap. It can’t get any more British than this.
More than 100 years ago, it came into being as Simplo Filler Pen Company with a futuristic vision for fountain pens. Confident in every way, the brand was marketed as “manufacturers of high-class gold fountain pens”. It was at a card party when a relative of one of the founders compared these pens to the highest European peak — Mont Blanc. Thus the name stuck. Over time the brand has been synonymous with luxury products for men.
StarWalker World Time Fountain Pen is one such product designed for the corporate traveller. The body bears the world map, which, on twisting the cone, reveals the local time at different cities. Cleverly crafted, its 18-karat ruthenium-coated gold nib is also engraved with the world map.
Price: on request; montblanc.com
The company was started in 1912 in Bassa del Grappa, Italy, as a “manufacturer of gold nibs and fountain pens”. It has been known as ELMO for most part of its existence. In 2001 it was acquired by Richemont Group, backed by Cartier and then Montblanc. The Aquila family took over Montegrappa in 2009. The relationship between the two goes back to the early 20th century when Leopoldo Tullio Aquila used to commission the manufacturing of his pens to ELMO in 1938.
Extra Otto is a play on the number eight, which is considered lucky for Montegrappa, and its octagonal shape highlights the geometric excellence for which the brand is known. The instrument is available as a fountain pen and a roller ball pen that resonates the history of its brilliance.
Price: from €1,090/₹80,808; montegrappa.com
During the late 19th century, pens lived a short life, and ink leakage was a common problem. The Parker Pen Company was founded on the hankering for a “reliable” pen by a part-time salesman, George Safford Parker, in Wisconsin, USA. By 1889, he succeeded in finding a solution to ink leaks, and five years later he patented the Lucky Curve technology that employs a capillary action to return ink to its reservoir, thus reducing its spillage by a great extent.
Duofold from 1921 is the most iconic model by Parker, and was the most expensive at the time, inspired by “culture and travel”. Each of the fountain pens is hand crafted from one solid block of hand- cast acrylic. Roller ball, ballpoint and pencil versions are also available.
Price: on request; parkerpen.com
In 1913, Walter Sheaffer set up shop in the back room of his jewellery store in Iowa where he manufactured pen-filling apparatus. Over the years Sheaffer became more prominently known for his pens, and the jewellery business took a back seat. The brand got a big boost when the then US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes used a Sheaffer to sign the formation of the United Nations. It’s been synonymous with sophistication and reliability much before that though.
A good example is the Taranis, named after the Celtic God of Thunder as an expression of its “aerodynamic power and sleek style”. The ballpoint, roller ball and fountain pens under this collection are built from a cleverly engineered blend of resin and metal for comfort and durability.
Price: on request; sheaffer.com
Simon Tissot Dupont launched ST Dupont in 1872 as a luxury brand. A workshop in Rue Dieu in Paris crafted personalised travel trunks for the elite society. By 1934, the clientele comprised of royalty, screen icons and mostly anyone who was “important”. Dupont’s motto was: “Make it more beautiful. Make it expensive. Make it innovative.” It was on the request of Jackie Kennedy Onassis that the brand gave birth to a pen. It has excelled in this field too.
One such coveted collection, Line d’Atelier reimagines iconic designs, for its roller and fountain pens, in natural lacquer to create colours that offset yellow gold.
Price: on request; st-dupont.com