The Sailor Ganesha, a limited edition fountain pen that costs Rs 195,000. Only 108 pieces were made and each is signed by their master craftsman, Isana Kobayashi

Signature luxury: How to build a collection of the finest writing pens

Montblanc, Sailor, Lamy or Sheaffer: the instrument should be good enough to be passed on as a family heirloom

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

Statesmen, writers, tycoons sign with luxury pens when marking they have made history. They are not the pens in the junk drawer to jot down your grocery list. These pens are used to sign important papers and ink special deals. Writers, authors, lawyers, CEOs and anyone who is a connoisseur of the written word or plain fashion, may be a key taker of hi end pens. When you purchase a high-quality luxury pen, you are often purchasing a family heirloom, a collectible item, a commemorative item, or an item that brings additional purpose and meaning to your writing. 

“I use my Montblanc every time I have to sign important papers. However much of your day is lived electronically and online, there is still nothing quite like the look and feel of a hand-crafted luxury pen to add a touch of elegance and authority to your everyday interactions,” said Gurugram-based entrepreneur Aditya Kashyap.

A luxury pen’s value is shaped by quality, rarity and brand. There are gold or platinum pens set with precious gemstones. Skeleton pens are sought-after for their design in which the barrel and cap are “skeletonized” by paring them to their essentials.

Pen power

In the last three years, demand for luxury pens has grown. Montblanc, Sailor, Lamy and Sheaffer are bestselling pens at William Penn, which provides luxury writing instruments and accessories.

“Our customers can be put into three distinct categories. While customers looking for great gifting options constitute the biggest category, we also cater to a growing number of pen aficionados who know everything about luxury writing instruments and are looking to add to their private collections. The third category consists of young customers who are exploring fine writing instruments, perhaps, for the first time. They are mostly aided by social media in this discovery,” said a spokesperson of William Penn.

A luxury pen can cost a couple of thousand to a few lakh rupees. The Sailor Ganesha, a limited edition fountain pen that costs Rs 195,000, is a bestseller. Sailor pens with 21 carat gold nibs and costing more than Rs 25,000 are doing good business too.

The Lapis Bard Set Avon Fountain Pen (14K Fine)—it honours William Shakespeare—is paired with a Mayfair pen pouch and a 50 ml bottle of premium fountain pen ink from Lapis Bard’s cocktail-themed ink line. It costs Rs 27,500.

The Rs 19,750 Cross Townsend rollerball pen, Black PVD Micro Knurl, is inspired by 1930s Art Deco design. American presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have used Cross pens to sign major legislations.

The Sheaffer Prelude Collection is valued for its comfort; its mid-size profile and smooth finish make it appealing for easy writing.

The Noblia Limited Edition Lakshmi gold fountain pen—named after the Hindu goddess of wealth—has some 138 pieces on sale. Its inner barrel has high-quality lacquer and the outer is plated with rhodium. The pen features a solid stainless steel nib with gold plating.

The Pelikan Souverän M1000 Fountain Pen (18K Medium)—green and black with gold trims—is the largest and heaviest luxury fountain pen in the Souverän collection.

The Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 Medium Fountain Pen is made with deep black, precious resin, and features platinum-coated details. It is surmounted by a white star emblem and has a handcrafted Au750 gold nib.

The best luxury pens are often limited editions.

Just 88 Pineider Arman Blue Trilogy pens were made–each of aged and stone-washed marine bronze with rose gold trim.

The write trend in India

Cross and Sheaffer pens priced at Rs 2,820-36,215 and Rs 1,000-5,000 are bestsellers in India; so is the Lamy Safari Collection in the range of Rs 2,000-3,000. In pens priced above Rs 20,000, Montblanc’s range does well. Cross is known for its excellent quality ballpoint pens.

“If you write small-size letters and writing is fast, then it’s better to go for ballpoint pens or roller balls. In case you are fond of writing regularly, then fountain pen is best wherein you have nib sizes available as fine, medium and broad as per you handwriting. Also there are calligraphy pens available for cursive writing,” said Ravi Kashyap, business head at Pens World, a Chennai-based online store.

“For beginners, Lamy Safari is a good pen to start writing with fountain pens starting at Rs 2,400 and Sheaffer VFM is good as a ballpoint pen,” he said.

Begin your search for the apt luxury pen by considering what you want from your ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

The ultimate luxury is the fountain pen, which has a metal nib usually made of gold and contains an internal ink supply system. “A fountain pen that feels just right in your hand also becomes an extension of that hand to facilitate personal expression. Most of my pens have been gifts that I’ve treasured and maintained. In a throwaway society where everything has become disposable, a fountain pen is a symbol and a throwback to a time when something that was meticulously made with care,” said Sudhanshu Singh, a lawyer practising in Delhi.

Ballpoint pens’ twist or click-top action is good for quick writing. Rollerball pens are smoother on the page and use disposable refills like ballpoints do.

Another factor to consider in choosing a luxury pen is the material used for the cap and barrel. The true sign of a high-end luxury pen is its use of hand-worked materials such as ebonite hard rubber, celluloid, precious woods, or metals such as titanium and sterling silver.

Examine the finish and trim of a luxury pen. While coloured resins and paint-based lacquers remain popular in affordable writing instruments, hand-applied finish with natural Urushi lacquer has become the standard for most Japanese luxury pens. Some models by European companies such as Pelikan as well use the same standard.

A metal trim shapes the value and aesthetics of a pen. Gold or rhodium plating is regular and some luxury pens will use solid sterling silver or even solid gold for the clip and banding.

In a world where typing on keypads is the default to communicate, research shows that writing by hand helps people remember better and learn more. As the British novelist Graham Greene said, “My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.”

Source: Business Standard

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