On Pen Stores #1 Montblanc Madison Avenue

Post No. 2: New York, NY


Montblanc is one of the most premium and storied pen brands in all of history. Started in 1906 by a Berlin Banker and a Hamburg Engineer, it quickly rose to prominence in the fountain pen world following the release of its Meisterstrück pens in 1924. Today, Montblanc remain of the premiere pen and lifestyle brands in the world. They have also begun yearly limited edition pens, with collectors named after famous writers, characters, and patrons of the arts.

Owing to their success in clothing, accessories, and pen, Montblanc is also one of the few companies which hold their own boutiques in various metropolises the world over. Recently, I had the chance to go to a Montblanc Boutique in midtown Manhattan and try some of their more high-end pens, and it was a wonderful experience.

Earlier this year, Montblanc released the Peggy Guggenheim Patron of the Arts Collection. Mrs. Guggenheim, for whom the collection is named, was the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, was the patron for various famous modernists painters, such as Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock.

The Collection includes three limited (numbered editions). The most prestigious of the limited editions is the Peggy Guggenheim Patron of the Arts 81, a pen manufactured of 18k gold, limited to 81 pieces, the age at which Peggy Guggenheim died in 1979. The pen features gold arches spread over a Venetian Glass barrel in the style of the gates of the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice, Italy as built by the prolific bohemian sculptor, Claire Falkenstein. The cap of the pen features a zebra skeleton pattern, and a lion’s head adorning the clip, alluding to the Lion of St. Mark—the symbol of Venice. Again, the Venetian theme is echoed in the blind cap, which resembles the gondola mooring polls throughout the city. The cap bands and section feature insignia from her museum, whilst the finial features the Montblanc Star set in marble. The 18k 4810 nib also has Guggenheim’s exuberant glasses etched into it. The price is roughly $36,000 although they were all sold directly after release.

The second limited edition is the Peggy Guggenheim Patron of the Arts 888, limited to 888 pieces. The pen itself features a reflective ruthenium body and cap with a red art-deco inspired pattern. The cap band itself features ten lion-heads with ruby eyes once again alluding to the Lions of St. Mark; the finial and the blind cap are similar to those of the 81, featuring a red spiral pattern, with diamonds encrusted into the top, as well as the Montblanc Star set in white marble, and the section contains the same insignia of her collection. The 18k 4810 nib features paw prints, alluding the dogs Guggenheim had until her death. The price is undisclosed. I was able to handle the pen in-store (albeit with special gloves), but even through the fabric I could feel the weight and quality of the pen, even without ever touching the nib to the page.

The third pen is the Peggy Guggenheim Patron of the Arts 4810, limited to 4,810 pens. This edition’s cap and barrel is manufactured of a black lacquer platinum coat on top of what I assume to be stainless steel or brass. Decorating the body and cap is the same pattern featured in the 888 edition, except for the color, which is silver instead of red. The lions adorn the cap band, like the 888, except in a platinum finish. They also adorn the base of the finial, below the classic Montblanc star. The blind cap also features the red swirl pattern, reminiscent of Venice, while the paw print etchings on the 4810 nib echo the 888, except in silver instead of rose gold.

Unlike the more expensive two, I was also allowed to test-write the 4810, and it was beyond anything I had ever written with before. The heft of the pen alluded to its quality whilst the medium nib glided effortlessly over the page leaving a wet line of grey ink behind it. It was a truly wonderful experience, and the staff, especially Jimmy Kwok, were very attentive and knowledgeable about the pen and the brand as a whole.

After I had put the pen away, they also let me sample all of Montblanc’s nibs and inks. The EF, F, and M nibs were all simple, yet elegant tipped nibs, whilst the B and BB were ground to a stubby point, roughly a 1.1 and a 1.3. Montblanc is also one of the last pen companies to offer oblique nibs as a stock option, and the OM, OB, and OBB had great line variation, yet had no edginess or scratching to speak of, as if the pen was gliding on glass. The store also had large brass models of the nibs, to show what they looked like up-close and how they wrote. The store was brilliant, and if anyone is traveling or lives in Manhattan, I highly recommend a visit. 

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing (I promise not to spam your inbox).

On Pen Stores #1 Two Hands Paperie

Post No. 1: Boulder, CO


This past summer, I found myself in Boulder, Colorado while driving up to Rocky Mountain National Park. After Lee's Art shop in NYC closed in May, (which had been my #1 store for a while), I felt as if I needed to look around for stores wherever I traveled, and luckily, there was one in Boulder: the Two Hands Paperie. 

Although the primary business of the store is paper, as is made obvious by the name, they also have a very fine collection of fountain pens (they carry almost all standard Lamy, Pilot, Visconti, and Faber-Castell pens, as well as a few other brands sprinkled throughout), and inks (Visconti, J Herbin (both normal and 1670), and Private Reserve).

Not only was their collection beautiful, but like almost every fountain pen store I’ve been to, the staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to help. They let me test at least ten pens (some worth more than $1,000 although they knew that I was not going to purchase one. They also allowed me to swap out nibs on some lesser expensive pens so that I could get the feeling for different widths and pen types.

After I had spent a good half hour looking at their various pens and inks, I also took a look at their brilliant paper supply. Their stock ranged from several fountain pen friendly notebooks like Rhodia and Apica to wrapping paper and home-made stock. All of these papers were expertly crafted and felt beautiful in the hand. They also had a supply of J Herbin sealing wax as well as pictographic and letter seals.

The store was an absolute wonderland for a fountain pen collector and I couldn’t walk away without buying anything, so I ended up buying a bottle of J Herbin Bleu Ocean ink (which cost the recommended retail price and was not upsold a penny). I cannot recommend visiting this store enough to anyone driving through Boulder, and it’s even worth a trip if you’re nearby—there are a couple great coffee shops across the street as well. 

If you liked this post, and want to subscribe, please click here (I promise not to spam your inbox)