The golden age of fountain pens started in the roaring 1920’s when pens became works of art and treasured status symbols. Nowadays few people even walk around with a pen. Nevertheless, there is still an active market for fine writing instruments – and buyers willing to pay premium prices for them. Celebrities such as Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey, Rosario Dawson, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg all appreciate the pleasure of a putting ink to quality paper with a well-crafted pen.
We are not talking about garden variety pens you can buy from your local department store or stationery shop. The asking price for some of the world’s finest pens cracks seven figures. Consider that fact the next time you scrawl your signature with a discount store special or the pen you managed to swipe from your colleague’s desk.
Of course, the chances of successfully filching one of the gems listed below lie somewhere between slim and none. Just ask Mauricio Aguirre-Orcutt, who was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison in 2006 for stealing pricey fountain pens from various victims. But do not despair; several of the writing instruments included below (listed in no particular order) are actually for sale – if the price is write.
1) Conway Stewart Westminster Teal Pen — $1,800
This beauty is crusted in teal colored enamel and styled with Gothic engraving on the barrel and cap. And if the design seems oh-so-veddy-British, it’s because the pen also features tiny oak leaves, a symbol of jolly olde England. You can choose between convenient ball points or old-school fountain pens – either edition will set you back a cool $1,800 bucks. Pocket change for a high-roller like you, right?
2) Graf von Faber-Castel Pen — $2,000
With a name like Graf von Faber-Caster, you just knew that there was gold involved with these pens. The nib is hand formed in 18-carat gold. The barrel is carved from aromatic sandalwood. The pen is presented in a wooden case, a brochure for the lucky purchaser or recipient, and a tidy $2,000 price tag.
3) The Caran d’Ache “1010″ Fountain Pen — $19,000
The inspiration for the name is simple: 10 minutes after 10 o’clock. This pen has the works. It is crafted from rhodium-plated silver and features a clip that resembles a wristwatch. This limited edition model was created to honor the world-renowned Swiss watch making industry. Just to ensure that no one misses the intended tribute, the pen also features replicas of watch movements on the barrel that include rubies and a sapphire dome. A mere $19,000 will make it yours.
4) Diamante by Aurora — $1.28 Million
A pen so exclusive that only one is created every year, the Diamante is encrusted with more than 30 carats of, well, diamonds on a solid platinum barrel. It’s also topped with an even larger diamond and has a nib of 18-carat gold. The discerning purchaser can also have the pen emblazoned with the family coat of arms, a signature or a portrait. There is no set price for the pen, but the best estimate is $1.28 million.
5) Mystery Masterpiece by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels — $730,000
The collaboration behind the creation of the Mystery Masterpiece required more than a year and a half of efforts by skilled artisans and was available with 30 carats of encrusted gems in your choice of three variations: rubies, sapphires or emeralds. Each edition also featured more than 800 diamond accents. Only three units of each variation were ever made, and the selling price was an eye-popping $730,000 for each pen.
6) Fifth Avenue Rollerball and Fountain Pens — $2,400
S.T. Dupont created fewer than 2,000 of these handsome lacquer-coated brown and taupe writing instruments. Both the rollerball and fountain pen editions of these pens also feature a gold and silver overlay and a striking globe design. Be prepared to drop $2,400 if you want one for yourself.
7) The Four Seasons Pen — $36,000
This 18-carat gold fountain pens change color to reflect the changes in seasons: green for spring, red for summer, brown for fall and gray for winter. There were only 33 units of this model ever created. Each pen carried a $36,000 original asking price. The cost would be higher now – if you can locate one for sale.
8) David Oscarson Pens — $4,900
These designer fountain pens feature whimsical circular designs, but there is nothing playful about the price tag, which runs as high as $4,900 for the Pierrot White Fountain pen. Each pen includes three levels of guilloche and five hard enamel colors. Each pen is finished with a background crafted from rhodium vermeil.
9) OMAS Limited Edition Pens — $16,500
These handsome fountain pens feature a recreation of the monument erected by Lysicrates on the cap and a replica of the Laocoon sculpture on the barrel. The clip is cleverly incorporated into the overall votive motif of the monument. These limited edition pens also feature a set of genuine diamonds and a staggering $16,500 price tag.
10) La Dona Menagerie Fountain Pen — $4,000
These handcrafted writing instruments are part of the Cartier line, inspired by 1940s Mexican cinema star Maria Felix, who has was considered the Latina equivalent to Marilyn Monroe. Felix requested a gold crocodile necklace from Cartier, who used a similar pattern to create a limited line of pens crafted with a crocodile head design. The original asking price for the La Dona Menagerie Fountain pen was $4,000, a relative bargain considering only 888 individually numbered units were ever made.
11) Grayson Tighe Limited Edition Fountain and Rollerball Pens — $24,000
These custom crafted executive rollerball pens are proof positive that luxury writing instruments are not limited to fountain pens. The nib for each pen is crafted in Germany from 18-carat yellow gold. The pen is engraved with two Acanthus leaf which is two toned with rhodium and iridium. The advanced refill system allows for a full year of writing on a single fill. Prices range from $22,000 to $24,000 for each of these fine writing instruments.
12) Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen — $57,000
If you revel in gold, the Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen was made especially for you. Available in 18-carat white gold or luxurious black, the Ripple is encrusted with diamonds and finished with an 18-carat gold nib. At $57,000 each, the Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain pen is literally worth its weight in gold.
13) Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain Pen — $42,000
This striking black resin pen boasts an innovative Power Filler filling system which Visconti invented specially for its pens. The Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition Visconti Fountain pen is fashioned with 18-carat gold and diamonds and sells for a $42,000.
14) La Modernista Diamond Pen — $265,000
Another offering from Caran d’Ache of Switzerland, the La Modernista Diamond Pen was created in 1999 to honor architect Antonio Gaudi, who died in 1926. Crafted of solid silver components coated in rhodium, La Modernista has an 18-carat gold nib, also coated in rhodium. Encrusted with 5,072 Wesselton diamonds weighing 20 carats and 96 rubies weighing 32 carats, La Modernista required six months of labor by master jeweler Robert Perron. This masterpiece was sold for $265,000 by Harrods in London in 2001 to a very lucky anonymous buyer.
15) Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi — $8 Million
Florentine pen maker Tibaldi specializes in proportion, design, and excellent technical execution. Based on the Divine Proportion of Phi, the ratio between the cap and the visible portion of the barrel of the Fulgor Nocturnus equals exactly 1.618 when the pen is closed. This gorgeous writing instrument is encrusted with 945 black diamonds with 123 rubies around the rim. Don’t look for the Fulgor Nocturnus in any store; only one was ever made – and it sold for $8 million at a charity auction in Shanghai.
16) Heaven Gold Pen by Anita Tan — $995,510
Designed by a woman for women, the Heaven Gold Pen draws its inspiration from the changing alignment of the planets. Its design includes 161 brilliantly colored diamonds circling a 43-carat Tsavorite gemstone estimated to be more than 2 billion years old. The $995,510 asking price for the Heaven Gold Pen is hardly heavenly.
17) Caran d’Ache Gothica Pen — $406,450
Another offering from Caran d’Ache, the Gotica pen, was first unveiled in China. Celebrating Gothic art and architecture, the Gotica is crafted with six rhodium coated solid silver faces, each decorated with Gothic elements such as fleurs-de-lis and rosettes. The Gotica is also encrusted with 892 diamonds weighing 7.1 carats; the rosettes feature 72 rubies and 72 emeralds. The asking price of 3.28 million Yuan, or $406,453 puts the Gotica far out of reach for all but the very elite of China.
18) Prince Rainier III Limited Edition 81 Pen — $256,000
How limited, you might ask? Only 81 individual units of the Prince Rainier III Limited Edition 81 Pen have ever been made. Each pen is crafted with 18-carat white gold and encrusted with 996 diamonds and 96 rubies, but the inner workings of the pen are still visible. There are 19 rubies attached to the clip ring and the 18-carat gold nib also features two rubies. The original price was 200,000 Euros each, or $256,010 – but the current value is undoubtedly much higher – if you can track one down.
19) Limited Edition Boehme Papillion Pen by Montblanc — $230,410
Another limited edition, the Boehme Papillion Pen is available in white, yellow or rose-colored gold, and encrusted with more than 1,400 diamonds and sapphires that reach the internal spring mechanism. Butterflies grace the cap and body while the distinctive Montblanc diamond is featured at the top. Each Papillion is priced at 180,000 Euros, which translates to $230,410 for well-heeled American buyers.
20) Alchemy HRH Fountain Pen by Visconti — $57,000
These candy apple red pens feature dramatic dragon ornamentation in gold and silver vermeil and encrusted with 4-carat diamonds and rubies. The distinctive Alchemy HRH Fountain pen also features dual gold nibs and ink reservoirs. Affording the $57,000 price tag for the Alchemy HRH Fountain Pen would require real magic for ordinary folk.
21) Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen — $1.5 Million
Another offering from the Boehme line from Montblanc, the Royal features an 18-carat gold, platinum plated retractable nib. The barrel and cap are crafted from 18-carat white gold and encrusted with more than 1,430 diamonds. The distinctive Montblanc star logo consists of 18 diamonds and 18-carat white gold rings. A paramount cut diamond highlights the clip. The $1,500,000 asking price places the Boehme Royal Pen among the most elite writing instruments.
22) Perrier-Jouët Anniversary Edition pen by Omas — $134,700
A collaboration between Champagne maker Perrier and Omas, each limited edition Anniversary pen is handcrafted in green resin, to reflect the color of Champagne bottles. The bicentennial logo matches the Art Nouveau flower featured on Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Époque bottles. The Anniversary Edition pen also features an 18-carat gold nib engraved with the bicentennial logo. An exclusive lot of 20 pens were crafted of pink gold and available by special order. The original asking price of $134,700 each has likely been eclipsed. Only 1,811 units of the Anniversary Edition pen were ever created.
23) Samurai Prestige Lighter and Pen Set by S.T. Dupont — $66,000
The second offering from S.T. Dupont, the lighter and fountain pen matched set was designed to honor feudal Japan’s military nobility. Both the pen and the lighter are crafted from solid rose gold encrusted with white diamonds, textured black leather and silk ribbon accents. Only 20 sets were created, priced at $66,000 each.
24) Titanic-DNA Fountain Pens by Romain Jerome — $5,000
The Titanic-DNA Fountain Pen was created by a cooperative effort between Jean-Pierre and Benjamin Lepine and Romain-Jerome CEO Yvan Arpa. Each of the 88 units in this very limited edition lot includes materials reclaimed from the doomed vessel, along with palladium, brass, gold and stainless steel from the Harland and Wolff shipyards – the same shipyards where Titanic was built. A recent eBay auction featured a Titanic-DNA pen and received a single $5,000 bid.
25) CREW 60TH White Gold Fountain Pens by Tibaldi — $43,000
Legendary automobile maker Bentley commissioned its own handcrafted pens in collaboration with Italian pen maker Tibaldi. The barrel of CREW 60TH is designed to match the Bentley dashboard precisely. The tip is 18-carat yellow gold, covered with rhodium and ruthenium. The cap and barrel of the pen are knurled to provide a comfortable writing grip. The transparent window alerts the writer to ink levels, and the clip features Tibaldi’s signature. The asking price is $43,000 with a limited edition of 40 solid white gold pens offered for a somewhat higher price tag.