Unique Writing Instruments Bring New World Auction Records


Offered on President’s Day, and timed to coincide with the annual Los Angeles International Pen Show, the auction brought more than $715,000 and featured examples from several of the major Montblanc categories including rarely seen pens, several of which have not been available in the secondary market before this offering. During the highly anticipated sale, seven world auction records were set with over ten of the writing instruments selling for over $20,000. 

According to Dr. Martin Gammon, Director of Business Development, “It was a very dynamic sale, which reflected strength in the market for exceptional and unique writing instruments. The auction, undoubtedly one of the largest and most complete offerings of modern Montblanc writing instruments to be publicly offered in recent years, established a benchmark for the prestigious manufacturer at auction. Bonhams & Butterfields is pleased to add several new auction records for contemporary writing instruments to the firm’s existing list.” 

Highlighting the auction was the Fortune Number 88 limited edition fountain pen. In many cultures the number 8 has magical or religious significance. Its shape is a symbol of the infinite, but nowhere does it have such strong meaning as Asia, where it is associated with good fortune. The Fortune Number 88 boasts an unusual clear body encased in red gold latticework design of interlocking “8” shape. Eight rings circle the cap and cone, while the clip is decorated with a diamond studded number “8”. Estimated to bring $4,000-6,000, the highly sought after pen sold for $25,620 and established a new world auction record.

Montblanc pays tribute to Asian culture with the diamond encrusted Axis Mundi limited edition 101 fountain pen (est. $15,000-25,000, sold for $23,790 – a new world auction record). The white gold skeleton of this pen echoes the form of the famous structure, which is said to express a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet.

Also offered was one of the most desired after Montblanc pens ever produced, the Magical Black Widow Skeleton limited edition 88 fountain Pen (est. $18,000 – 24,000, sold for $23,180). Encased by a web of white gold, the instrument featured a filigree spider studded with black diamonds on the clip. In some countries, the spider is seen as a symbol of luck, and, in honor of the lucky spider, whose figure 8 shaped body symbolizes infinity, Montblanc produced only 88 of these beautiful pens.

In honor of President’s Day, the sale also featured several examples of Presidential pens. Inspired by the world leaders and their iconic residences, these pens have been painstakingly created from a variety of resin and precious materials designed to evoke the spirit of freedom.

From the America’s Signature Series the Thomas Jefferson fountain pen is constructed in an unusual octagonal shape in homage to his Virginia home, Monticello (est. $21,000-24,000, sold for $21,960- a new world auction record). Inspired by third President of the United States, the instrument is decorated with solid gold rings as well as petrified wood inlays that represent Jefferson’s commitment to nature and Monticello.

Additional Presidential themed fountain pens on offer during the February auction included a George Washington Limited Edition America’s Signatures for Freedom Series Fountain Pen (est. $18,000-24,000, sold for $23,180- a new world auction record) and a limited edition White House 43. Made from blue transparent precious resin and striped with white gold columns evoking the exterior of the White House, the instrument is adorned with an eagle and bears the Presidential seal (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $23,180- a new world auction record).

Also popular with collectors was the Diego Rivera limited edition 70 fountain pen (est. $12,000-18,000, sold for $21,960- a new world auction record). Rivera was a master of the mural and world-famous for his revolutionary politics and his revival of Mexican fresco art. Montblanc celebrates his legacy with a pen crafted from white gold with a partial black lacquer finish in Aztec design. The unusual red-orange translucent cap is overlaid with a white gold windowpane with elaborate Mexican etchings and a black sapphire set in the clip. 

In celebration of one of the most charismatic actors of all time, Greta Garbo, Montblanc has created a pen “Dedicated to the women with the power to believe in their visions.” Diamond studded to honor the star; the example is crafted from solid yellow gold with mother-of-pearl inlay striping the cap (est. $14,000-16,000, sold for $21,350 – a new world auction record).

Auctions of Fine Writing Instruments continue at Bonhams in August 2010. Timed to coincide with Collectible Fountain Show in Washington D.C., one of the largest pen events in the world, the sale will be held on the East Coast at Bonhams New York.


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