A fountain pen is the perfect combination of tradition and beauty. Although the refinements in ballpoint pen production has gradually ensured its dominance over the fountain pen for casual use, the fountain pen still has its devoted users. Today, fountain pens are often treated as luxury goods and sometimes as status symbols by collectors. But interestingly, reports show that fountain pen sales have been steadily risig over the last decade – a fact that shows that it is more than just an item for collectors nowadays.
One of the most iconic maker of fountain pens is the italian company Montegrappa, known for their luxurious set of pens in limited editions. Montegrappa was founded under the slogan “Manifattura pennini d’oro e penne stilografiche” (“Maker of gold nibs and fountain pens”) in 1912. Its products are still manufactured in the original factory on the river Brenta, in Bassano del Grappa—near Vicenza, in the North-East of Italy.
During the First World War Bassano was a centre of military operations. Among the many soldiers who used the company’s pens (Elmo at that time) for their correspondence were two celebrated 20th-century writers, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, who had both volunteered for service as ambulance drivers.
The company was at its high point in the 1930s. It was a period when the fountain pen became widespread and the products of the House of Bassano met the taste of the public with their sober design, the variety of their colours and materials (among the first to use celluloid and galalith), the operation of their technical solutions, and the originality and precision of their manufacturing techniques.
Montegrappa’s limited editions are conceived to provide their discerning owners with a taste of Italy, to feel the presence of the great masters who passionately breathed life into their works and made them immortal.
Among the limited edition series produced by Montegrappa is a Collection named Mightier Than the Sword, joining the Cult and Icon collections in honouring individuals of great cultural impact and influence. As the name implies, by glorifying the pen and the written word, the candidate is a special person who has enriched and enhanced life by contributing to mankind through philosophy, politics, the arts and other fields.
Prominent among the subjects of the Mightier Than the Sword Collection are writers, politicians, national heroes and other notables. The first “family” that was released in this new series was The Hemingway Pens. Ernest Hemingway was one of the most innovative and influential writers, reporter and novelists of the 20th century and, as mentioned, wrote with Montegrappa pens.
About Ernest Hemingway
Born at the very end of the 19th century, Ernest Miller Hemingway (21 July 1899 – 2 July 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer and journalist who would define writing in the first half of the 20th century. With a terse, economical and understated style, he indelibly influenced the fiction writers who would follow in his wake. As if his magnificent prose was not enough, Hemingway also exemplified the writer who lived life to the fullest.
Having written so powerfully on the themes of love, war, wilderness and loss, Hemingway’s legacy to American literature is his style. After his reputation was established with the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), he remained a major figure in the literary world through works that included Death in the Afternoon (1932), Green Hills of Africa (1935), To Have and Have Not (1937), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and Across the River and Into the Trees (1950).
Of particular significance in the history of Montegrappa is Hemingway having spent time during World War I in Bassano del Grappa at Villa Cà Erizzo, next to the pen manufactory. One of his greatest works, A Farewell to Arms (1929), was inspired by his relationship with a nurse during his time in Veneto and many of the descriptions of the area draw inspiration from the views of Bassano. Set during the Italian campaign, it is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army.
In 1953, Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Old Man and the Sea, which was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to their awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954. Of that novel, he said that it was “the best I can write ever for all of my life.”
Yet another postscript has been added recently to this remarkable man’s life. Following the 13 November 2015 terrorist incident in Paris, the deadliest attack it had seen since World War II, Hemingway’s posthumously-published memoirs of life in the city, A Moveable Feast, became a bestseller in France. Bookstore sales of the volume surged, and copies of the book became a common fixture among the flowers and candles in makeshift memorials created by Parisians across the city to honour victims of the attacks.
The Hemingway Pens
The Hemingway Collection is divided into four “chapters”: “The Soldier”, “The Writer”(above), “The Fisherman” and “The Traveller”. Each of these chapters of his life is embodied in a pen, offered in the three types, including fountain pen, roller and ballpoint. In keeping with the accoutrements of the era, the packaging itself has been inspired by the notebooks used by reporters during the First World War.
Each model in the four topics is a limited edition of 100 examples, totaling 300 pens for each subject. All pens in the series will be produced in celluloid with sterling silver trim. In addition to the silver editions, 10 examples of each of the three pen types, in each of the four chapters, are trimmed with 18k gold.
Celluloid colors were chosen to create the mood for each model: Bamboo Black for The Soldier, Turtle Brown for The Writer, Mediterranean Blue for The Fisherman and Charcoal Black for The Traveller. The trims are produced in diamond-cut Sterling Silver, personalized with Hemingway’s signature and the Montegrappa logo around the cap.
Embellishing the pocket clip, cap and barrel ends are symbols defined by the subject of the pen. For The Soldier, the barrel end shows Bassano’s bridge, military symbols and the Red Cross Ambulance. The Writer prominently features a typewriter. The Fisherman bears the symbol of the marlin, also one of Hemingway’s signatures. The Traveller is adorned with airplanes, maps, sea lighthouses and exotic palms. All invoke the spirit of the writer who single-handedly transformed modern writing.