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.
10 – 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.
9 – 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.
8 – 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.
7 – 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.
6 – 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.
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.
4 – 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.
3 – Diamante by Aurora : $1.28 Millions
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.
2 – Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen : $1.5 Millions
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.
1 – Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi : $8 Millions
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.