As the world gradually reopens for travel, Montblanc’s newly introduced Around the World in 80 Days accessories collection seems that much more meaningful. Not only is it a notable assemblage of pens, leather, accessories, and a limited series Summit Lite smartwatch, it is also symbolic of a sense of adventure that has been acutely missing from our lives during the pandemic months.
About Nancy Olson
I am the resident pen expert for Quill & Pad: I literally put the “quill” in the name. I began my path with a fascination of the lever filler and the nib of my father’s gold-nibbed Sheaffer fountain pen, and though I never dared put ink in it I knew the pen was something special and deeply connected to my family’s history.
From that day forward, my writing has focused on collectible vintage writing instruments, modern pens, visits of major and independent pen manufactories worldwide and a fascination with handmade and hand-finished products as well as the artisans who create them. And then I stumbled on to watches.
Entries by Nancy Olson
Commemorative limited edition writing instruments can sometimes be overdone in Nancy Olson’s opinion, with well-meaning designers aiming to include just about every known detail referencing the person, place, or event celebrated. Montblanc’s Tribute to the Great Wall of China High Artistry pens are simply about the story: the ancient art of calligraphy, the Ming Dynasty, and the legendary Silk Road.
Nancy Olson highlights two fountain pens celebrating the Chinese Year of the Ox in 2021: Caran d’Ache’s Year of the Ox shows off the brand’s technical expertise in engraving and use of Chinese lacquer, while Montblanc’s Legend of Zodiacs: Celebrating the Year of the Ox is hand-engraved with engaging representations of an ox with corncobs.
Breguet writing instruments round out the Swiss brand’s elegant offerings with a style and grace similar to its timepieces, with many of the pens unabashedly borrowing stylistic attributes from the watch iconography. These writing instruments nestle into three collections: Tradition, Classique, and Reine de Naples, all in parallel with the watch collections of the same names. And they are a win in Nancy Olson’s book!
The Montblanc 2020 High Artistry Heritage Egyptomania Limited Edition writing instruments use the treasures and traditions of Egypt as inspiration, and in a new twist each pen is encased in an octagonal “sarcophagus.” A special mechanism opens and closes the bejeweled receptacle, which is as functional as it is decorative and most unusual in the world of luxury pens.
David Oscarson’s use of guilloche and fired enamel to create the exquisite designs on his pens is his well-established hallmark, and over two decades he has brought compelling and often thought-provoking topics to pictorial life with clarity and artistic flair. His latest collection features sea turtles all the way down, providing us with just a whiff of the bygone summer.
Graf von Faber-Castell’s new Bentley Limited Edition Barnato, the most recent addition to its Bentley pen collection that debuted in 2018, is an homage to Woolf Barnato, who was one of the legendary “Bentley Boys.” Nancy Olson has the lowdown on this pen world high point.
Thrill of the chase. Intellectual satisfaction. Investment. There are nearly as many reasons for collecting things as there are things to collect. But when it comes to watches and writing instruments, a variety of shared motivations, perhaps catalyzed by the obvious common characteristics of the objects themselves, make them conspicuous crossovers for collectors.
Nancy Olson highlights three newly introduced pens to get you started on a tasteful journey toward a new normal. They offer a broad range of prices, styles and modes, and she thinks that any, or all, will add real pleasure to the already pleasant experience of writing a card, note, journal, or letter by hand.
Here are five notable and (relatively) affordable timepieces that Nancy Olson hopes to experience firsthand soon and is pleased to highlight here for your pleasure.