Best of the Best 2005: Pens

  • Graf von Faber-Castell's Pen of the Year 2004.
  • David Oscarson's Pierrot.
  • Grayson Tighe's Steel Crystal.
  • Loiminchay's Snow pen.
<< Back to Robb Report, June 2005
  • Elizabeth Doerr, Nancy Olson

Montblanc Bohème Royal
The Bohème Royal pen by Montblanc is anything but bohemian. This $150,000 made-to-order writing instrument incorporates a number of modern design elements without overlooking the classic European crafts that long have been associated with the brand. One such discipline is nib grinding, an art that is completed in-house at the German manufacture. The Bohème Royal’s retractable nib is made of 18-karat gold for optimum flexibility, and it is plated in platinum to match the pen’s white metal construction. The width of the nib also can be customized to suit the writer’s preference.

The Bohème Royal’s shapely barrel lends itself well to the setting of brilliant-cut diamonds—1,430 stones totaling 15 carats, set in modern, curvaceous patterns. Montblanc’s master setter, Roland Vogt, places each stone so precisely that you can barely feel the settings when gripping the pen. The Bohème Royal’s platinum clip tapers into a half-carat paramount-cut diamond, and the trademark Montblanc star on the top of the cap is composed of seven diamonds. While its instrument may be extravagant, Montblanc did not overlook practicality: A user-friendly ink cartridge system affords the fluid feel of a fountain pen with the convenience of cartridges. —Elizabeth Doerr


Montblanc, 800.995.4810,

Amber Waves
For the Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004, the company collaborated with the master workshop that has spent the last 21 years renovating Peter the Great’s Amber Room at the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg. Naturally, the design of last year’s special edition incorporates the semiprecious stone amber. Workshop director Boris Igdalov oversaw the development of these $2,500 pens, each of which is unique because the stones exhibit particular color variations and inclusions, endowing every barrel with its own character. —Elizabeth Doerr



Graf von Faber-Castell, 216.643.4660,

Send in the Clowns
The love affair between Pierrot and Pierrette, two clowns made famous by the commedia dell’arte and French pantomime, was the basis for the David Oscarson Pierrot and Pierrettepen duo. The colorful, modernist-looking pens are available in rollerball or fountain pen models in black or white, with each variation limited to 88 pieces. The design represents a challenging technical feat because it combines three levels of Art Deco–style guilloche engraving with five colors of translucent hard enamel that accent the opalescent white or opaque black hard enamel barrels. The fountain pens, which are priced at $4,900, are filled by cartridge, converter, or eyedropper, and each is set with three diamonds: one in the cap crown, one at the bottom of the barrel, and one in the clip. —Nancy Olson


David Oscarson, 636.458.4345,

Nerves of Steel
The Grayson Tighe Steel Crystalpen was, says the wunderkind penmaker, his “first experiment with engine turning,” referring to the engraving technique that involves cutting patterns into a rotating metal surface with a stationary tool. The Steel Crystal, which balances the look of traditional cut crystal with the sturdiness and cool tactility of steel, boldly exhibits different engraving styles: a sunburst pattern on the barrel and clip, fluted lines on the cap, and a cable motif on the gripping section. The fountain pen, priced at $1,400, is cartridge- or converter-filled and bears an 18-karat gold custom nib. But what makes Tighe’s pens truly distinctive is that he makes, finishes, and assembles each piece of every pen. —Nancy Olson


Grayson Tighe, 905.892.2734,

Let it Snow
The Loiminchay Snowpen features gleaming black urushi lacquer embellished with the Japanese art of rankaku, or eggshell inlay, which creates the effect of falling snow against a night sky. The traditional method of rankaku involves embedding bits of chicken or quail eggshells in wet lacquer that is derived from the sap of the Asian urushi tree. The shell mosaic is then completely covered with another coat of lacquer, only to be exposed again by the lacquer’s partial removal during the multistep polishing process. The Snow pen is available with a black, white, purple, or green jade clip, or with clips made of sterling silver or pink gold. The company produced only 76 of these piston-filled fountain pens, which are priced at $6,800. —Nancy Olson 


Loiminchay, 212.941.7488,

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