Pen Pals

April 1999

Precious Metals:News

Pen Pals

Fine pens are back among computer-weary consumers who yearn for old-fashioned, low-tech charm

'I'll make thee glorious by my pen," wrote James Graham, the marquess of Montrose, in the 17th century. Though today's scribe might be tempted to say, "I'll make thee glorious by my laptop," chances are he'd still be fascinated with old-fashioned writing instruments for those moments when the computer just won't do.

Fine writing instruments, especially collectible editions, are a product category on the grow as interest in collectibles rises among baby boomers entering their peak collecting (and earning) years. Perhaps the charms of old-fashioned pens, just like the current popularity of mechanical and pocket watches, also appeal to consumers weary of an electronics-saturated world.

Pen Statements
A pen can make a powerful statement, especially for jewelry-deprived men, says Charles B. Cohen of Charles B. Cohen & Associates, the exclusive U.S. agent for Geneva-based Robergé. "A very fine writing instrument is one of the few items a man can use to reflect his taste and success," he says. "It makes a statement in much the same way a very expensive watch does.

"In addition, a pen is used every day and handled repeatedly, thus, it's a constant reminder of the maker of the pen and the store where it was bought."

Cohen suggests one way to stir excitement about exquisite writing implements is to use them in your store. When customers sign credit card receipts or other documents, offer them a fine pen to use. They won't forget it, says Cohen.

Also remember pens aren't just for men. Businesswomen are becoming increasingly aware of the signal a fine pen sends to important clients and colleagues.

In addition, suggest pens to customers who collect fine watches because they often have similar interests, says Cohen.

Pen Collectors
Selling fine pens as collectors' items is a strategy used by many fine pen makers, including Montblanc and Montegrappa. Montblanc offers two limited-edition series each year, says spokeswoman Carrie Phillips. Montblanc's collector pens have significantly increased in value since the company began making them in 1992, says Phillips.

Pens for All Occasions
"Pens offer an excellent alternative for the 'occasion' shopper," says Elizabeth Fish, manager for The Reminiscence Collections Inc., Hohokus, NJ, exclusive U.S. distributor for Montegrappa. "People in need of a graduation, wedding, birthday or anniversary gift often want something different, but still of exceptional quality and beauty. Fine pens offer that alternative."

Don't forget lower-priced pens for younger customers. A.T. Cross Co., a leading U.S. manufacturer of writing implements for 150 years, offers a variety of pens at lower prices. So does Colibri, based in Providence, RI.

Avant Garde Pens
Internationally known watch designer Jorg Hysek recently introduced a line of pens for more avant garde clients. They feature sleek, sophisticated designs that emphasize not only the look of the instrument, but its tactile quality. In other words, they are designed to be fun to hold. "My pens are sexy, almost sensual to feel," says Hysek.

Montblanc's Friedrich II pen in 18k gold, which retails for $2,100, is part of a limited-edition collection celebrating patrons of the arts.
Montblanc, Nike Communications, New York City; (212) 529-3400.


Jorg Hysek's Carbon Pen was created using a hand-operated weaving loom. Hysek controls the weaves of the carbon and resin so the finish of each carbon fiber pen is unique. Suggested retail, $395.
Jorg Hysek, Chronotime Inc., Livingston, NJ; (973) 994-2422.

Robergé Lady Orbite Pens are lacquered in pink, green, ivory or black accented with gold or palladium. Suggested retail starts at $650.
Robergé, Charles B. Cohen & Associates, New York City; (212) 974-8160.



Colibri's Celluloid series offers four writing instruments using celluloid, called the best possible material for pen manufacture. Its elasticity makes it virtually indestructible. Suggested retail, $39.95.
Colibri, Providence, RI; (800) 556-7354, fax (401) 943-4230.


 Montegrappa's Tertio Millennio Adveniente limited edition celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Christ. It retails for $1,950 in sterling, $9,000 in 18k gold. Its design incorporates three metalworking techniques: enameling, die casting and low-relief engraving.
Montegrappa, The Reminiscence Collections Inc., Hohokus, NJ; (201) 612-0151.


A.T. Cross's Pinnacle Bordeaux collection features metallic flake sealed in layers of lacquer and includes decorative bands and appointments finished with a 5-micron coat of 22k goldplate. Suggested retail, $300.
A.T. Cross, Lincoln, RI; (401) 333-1200.

Pens on Parade

A renewed public appreciation for fine writing instruments explains why Cartier is touring its collection of historic writing instruments for the second year. The tour begins this month and will visit 15 cities through August. The 28-piece collection features elaborately designed pens and pencils, inkwells and card cases crafted with precious metals and decorated using multilayered lacquer (a Cartier trademark) and gemstones. Traveling with the collection will be Cartier's current limited-edition writing instruments.
Cartier's circa 1930 silver pen features a swivel watch at the end and a cigarette lighter in the center. It's part of a tour of Cartier writing instruments traveling across the U.S. through August.
Cartier, New York City; (212) 446-3559.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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