Bonhams will blow a raspberry at the
BlackBerry era with an auction Thursday of deluxe fountain pens
expected to fetch as much as $649,020.
The 410 lots in the New York sale include a Dunhill-Namiki
fountain pen laced with gold dust and mother-of-pearl and tagged
to sell for as much as $30,000. There’s also a Montblanc
“Magical Black Widow,’’ featuring a weblike white-gold overlay,
a filigree spider with black diamonds on the clip and a target
price of $24,000. It’s from an edition of 88, of which the first
sold for $33,500 at Bonhams last year.
A limited-edition Krone fountain pen made from sterling silver and pink stingray, and surmounted by pink diamonds on the cap. The pen is estimated to sell for $8,000 to $10,000 at Bonhams in New York on Aug. 19. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg
A Montblanc "Magical Black Widow" fountain pen from an edition of 88. The pen sold for fetched $20,740. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg
An artist-signed vintage Dunhill-Namiki fountain pen. The Japanese lacquer gold and black pen is estimated to sell for $15,000 to $30,000, at Bonhams in New York on Aug. 19. With an Asian landscape scene depicting Lake Biwa, the pen is among the sale's highlights. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg
A Dunhill-Namiki Motorities Maki-e limited edition fountain pen. The pen is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. Source: Bonham's via Bloomberg
Pens are “a kind of jewelry for the successful man,’’ says
Martin Gammon, the auctioneer’s director of business development
who is overseeing the sale. A Bonhams pen sale in June raised
“The pen market is stable, which is not bad, the economy
being what it is,’’ says Ed Fingerman, director of operations at
Manhattan’s Fountain Pen Hospital, where pens have been repaired
and sold since 1946. Buyers include Bill Cosby and Tom Hanks.
Some aficionados buy and sell for profit. A sterling silver
Montblanc pen inspired by Florentine art patron Lorenzo de
Medici retailed for about $1,200 when it was produced, and now
trades around $7,000-$9,000, Gammon says.
The Bonhams auction is drawn from a pair of private
collections. One seller, U.S. businessman Michael A. Tucci,
acquired pens for 20 years, never using them, according to
Bonhams. The second collection hails from a California
entrepreneur who has dubbed his trove “Clavius’’ yet declines
to be identified by name himself.
The auction includes pens produced during the past two
decades -- a field known as “modern limited editions” -- by
high-end makers including Cross, Grayson Tighe, Dupont, Parker
and Visconti. These editions began as the supply of pens from
the vintage era, loosely defined as pre-1980, began to dry up,
according to Fingerman.
Materials can be weird, like mammoth ivory, meteorite and
stingray, and no theme is too glitzy, arcane and corny. There
are pens named after or inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Mickey Mouse
and Moses and the Ten Commandments. Others are decorated with
tennis rackets, alligators and maps.
A Krone homage to the Apollo 11 lunar landing includes a
silvery mottled moonscape, a piece of foil from the mission and
a letter from astronaut Buzz Aldrin attesting to the foil’s
authenticity. It’s expected to sell for $1,000-$1,500.
Buyers include “captains-of-industry types who come in
through watch collecting,’’ Gammon says. There are also new
collectors in Asia and the Middle East, as well as the usual
old-guard buyers drawn from the ranks of doctors, lawyers and
‘Little Works of Art’
Die-hard collectors might acquire two of a variety -- one
to use and another to store, says Fingerman. A pen without the
proper box and papers can lose as much as 50 percent of its
Besides investment appeal, pens are “little works of
art,’’ Fingerman says, reflecting the design sensibility of a
particular era. And in a world succumbing to e-mail, texting and
Twitter, pens have a retro appeal, he says, “harkening back to
a more tranquil time.’’
To contact the reporter on the story:
Lindsay Pollock in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;
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