Because fine pens have become a status symbol for men and women, upscale writing instruments are making a big comeback. Sales have more than doubled in the past five years, according to Terry Wiederlight, owner of the Fountain Pen Hospital (10 Warren St., NYC 10007; 800-253-7367; www.fountainpenhospital.com). “It’s become very trendy among celebrities and professionals such as lawyers and doctors to use higher-end fountain pens,” he says. In fact, one of his biggest customers is Bill Cosby, who is now the store’s spokesperson.
But which brands should you choose? Wiederlight cites the following:
Montblanc: $100 to $5,000 plus
Most brands, like Montblanc (800-388-4810), will offer various lines of pens, ranging from high-end to lower-priced models. Prices are based on style and finish. Although Wiederlight says the inner workings of a lower-priced Montblanc are equal to those of higher-end models, body styles are remarkably different. Higher-priced pens, in general, tend to be limited editions, and are expected to become collectors’ items.
Montblanc lines are usually considered the most exclusive. However, OMAS, Aurora, and Montegrappa also offer great craftsmanship at a somewhat less pricey high end. In addition, Sheaffer, Parker, Cross, and Waterman offer good to superior value at moderate prices. Expect to pay at least $25 for a reliable instrument.
(“Pen For Men”)
For the true aficionado, a vintage fountain pen like Sheaffer’s PFM (800-FINE-PEN; www.sheaffer.com) from 1959 adds a classic touch of distinction. But expect to pay prices com- parable to those for new pens and limit your use, since old pens can be fra-gile and spare parts scarce. The antiquated design (they tend to leak) and rareness of many antique fountain pens make them best suited for a collector’s showcase. Although PFMs are no longer manufactured, you can still purchase them from independent retailers. They are considered basic classic pens and are a good place to begin if you want to start a collection.
Limited edition or theme pens
Limited edition or theme pens have special appeal for pen lovers. The Mandela 80 Collection by OMAS (617-426-3607; www.omas.net) commemorates Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday. There are four styles in that series: Birth of Royalty, Struggle, New Nation, and Africa. Each of these styles can be purchased in sterling silver for $1,600 or in gold for $5,800. There are also 80 platinum and diamond versions of the Birth of Royalty model selling for $15,000 each.
Another limited edition is Krone’s Abraham Lincoln Pen (847-215-0011). Each of the 1,008 sterling silver pens, which cost $1,650 apiece, contains a bit of Lincoln’s DNA obtained from strands of his hair.
On the cutting edge of technology are Jorg Hysek’s (800-608-7583; www.hysek.com) carbon fiber creations and Maclaren’s titanium bodied 600 model (800-747-6734; www.mclarenpens.com). It takes longer to create the body of a pen out of carbon fiber or titanium rather than plastic, so it’s quite costly and you’ll pay the price.
Whatever its make, you want the pen you use to make the right impression. As Wiederlight puts it: “If you’re signing a big contract, don’t pull out a stick pen.” You have