A Pen By Any Other Name: Montblanc’s Writers Edition William Shakespeare
by Nancy Olson
If you’ve kept tabs on Montblanc’s annual Writers Edition limited edition pen collections you’ll know that such literary luminaries as Leo Tolstoy, William Faulkner, and Franz Kafka have been honored since 1992 when the Writers Edition made its debut.
William Shakespeare was obviously absent, in my opinion. But in an insightful move Montblanc chose this year, the 400th anniversary of his death (or what the company delicately calls the “anniversary of his life’s achievements”), to honor him with a pen.
As is usual with Montblanc’s Writers Editions, the pen pays visual homage to the object of its affection in a variety of ways. In this case, the Writers Edition William Shakespeare’s black and white color combination was designed to recall the flags that were raised above the famous Globe Theater depending on the genre of the play being staged: white denoted comedy and black was the signal for tragedy.
The black cap of the pen, in further tribute to this performance space, is in an octagonal shape – a first for Montblanc – reminiscent of the theater’s eight-sided interior configuration.
Apparently the cap design required an uneasy pairing of tasks: keeping its multiple edges crisp and defined, while achieving a high polish on the resin.
This technological and manufacturing feat was realized at the hands of the Montblanc artisans at the Hamburg atelier, where the pen was conceived and produced.
The cap crown is shaped like the ringed roof of the Globe theater, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, and it features the famous Montblanc emblem at its center.
The golden ring at the clip’s gripping point is supposed to remind us of the earring Shakespeare wore on his left ear in the well-known “Chandos” portrait created in the early 1600s.
Finally, a golden rendering of Shakespeare’s signature sweeps across one of the cap’s facets.
The white resin barrel of the pen is engraved with a feather-like pattern that represents the quill Shakespeare used to pen his works, and a wide golden ring just below is embossed with symbols of seven of his most famous plays.
A rose and dagger stand for Romeo and Juliet, a skull for Hamlet, two chess pieces for King Lear, a crest for Henry V, a crown for Macbeth, a swirling cloud for The Tempest, and a laurel wreath for Julius Caesar. The barrel culminates in tapering black resin.
Even the 18-karat gold nib of the fountain pen is a canvas, this time for a rendering of the exterior of the Globe. And in addition to the fountain pen, a rollerball and ballpoint are also available. A limited number of sets, which also include a mechanical pencil, are being offered.
A very limited version of the Writers Edition William Shakespeare is being introduced concurrently: the William Shakespeare Limited Edition 1597 comprises 1,597 fountain pens, in reference to the year The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was first published.
This lacquer and guilloche pen also features various reminders of Shakespeare’s long career. The collection includes matching cufflinks in yellow gold PVD or stainless steel.
For more information, please visit www.montblanc.com/writers-edition-william-shakespeare-special-edi.
Edition: fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint
Nib: 18-karat gold
Cap and barrel: resin
Limitation: fountain pen 8,700 pieces; rollerball 7,000 pieces; ballpoint 9,000 pieces; set with fountain pen, ballpoint, rollerball and mechanical pencil 1,300 pieces
Price: fountain pen $935; rollerball $785; ballpoint $730