Pen World recently published the winners of its eighteenth annual Readers' Choice Awards, as voted by the magazine's readership. For the uninitiated, Pen World has been a publication devoted to writing instruments for over twenty years, covering all aspects of writing culture - new pens, vintage pens, papers, inks, accessories and so on. Whilst we don't stock any of them at Pen Heaven
HQ, we thought you might be interested in the winners as they're more akin to jewellery or works of art than every day writing instruments.
Pen of the Year
The most prestigious accolade of the awards went to David Oscarson (a three-time winner of the awards, no less) for his Harlequin pen. The pen's design is based on the classic commedia dell'arte
clown-type characters popularised in French and Italian plays. The pen's manufacturing process required some painstaking precision, where Oscarson combined lustrous guilloché (hand-crafted from 18k gold and 925 sterling silver) with hard-fired enamel, whilst production was limited to 88 pieces in fountain and rollerball editions across five different colour ranges. Track one down whilst you still can!
Most Incredible Value
Recipient in the most incredible value award was the Pilot Prera
; produced by the Japanese stationery giant. Widely renowned for its style, comfort, writing experience and most importantly in this case, its excellent price. This pen is ideal for both fountain pen novices and experienced aficionados.
Most Creative Use of Materials
Making its Reader's Choice Awards debut this year was the Taccia Savanna
, produced by Itoya of America. This highly distinctive pen is crafted from sustainable buffalo horn whilst each one is hand-carved and individually polished resulting in a totally unique writing instrument. The collection is available in fountain, ballpoint and rollerball editions.
Best Metal Mastery
Winner in this category was the RR2
. This ultra-rare and highly exclusive collaboration between Conway Stewart & Metalwrite is limited to 18 units and given its $2250 price tag, it's easy to understand why. Its barrel, cap and clip is crafted entirely from 92.5% sterling silver whilst the guilloché pattern which adorns it is incredible: clips of 1.5mm sheets of Argentium are cut, hand-engraved and bent into shape. You'll need a fair amount of strength to write with it, however as it weights a considerable 87 grammes!
Best Brand Icon
The winner in this category is one of the best-performing brands in Pen World's Readers' Choice Award
history, earning no less than fourteen wins and as a result needs little introduction. Who else other than Mont Blanc
, the German stalwart of the writing instrument world with its (somewhat fittingly) Tribute to Mont Blanc
. The cap head contains an emblem of polished snow quartz which pays homage to the six-glaciered summit of Western Europe's largest mountain. The body is comprised of snow-white laquer, an 18k rhodium-plated nib and platinum fittings. The platinum front is engraved with the heights and names of each summit which make up the Western Alps.
Best Maki-e Pen
At this point, you're probably wondering what on earth 'Maki-e' might mean. It is a Japanese term which literally translates as 'sprinkled picture' - gold or silver powder is sprinkled onto Japanese Laquer then these exceptionally talented artists use a combination of soft brushes and bamboo tubes to create extremely intricate artworks. (You'll find a selection of our own Maki-e pens here
Taking home the prize was the Golden Rose
, manufactured by Namiki of Japan (trivia: Namiki is the Pilot Pen Company founder's surname
, the parent company). With only 150 units available worldwide, it was produced using gold powder in a burnish/raising technique combined with mother-of-pearl, a Taka
(raised) Maki-e technique to accentuate the rose flowers and the leaves are intentionally cracked using Warigai.
The 18 carat gold nib is rhodium-plated.
Best Vintage-inspired Pen
Running away in the vintage-inspired category was Omas' Arte Italiana Celluloid collection
. This range was designed in tribute to a pen originally by the company's founder, Armando Simoni, who first devised a twelve-faceted pen model back in 1930. The 21st century edition however is made with modern materials and a modern finish. The design resembles a twelve-sided Doric column whilst the celluloid requires a painstaking 100 day process just to cure!
The winner in this category was the first of two American-themed pens to take home an award, in this case a tribute to the Declaration of Independence
. Created by Visconti, the Florence-based luxury pen brand has an enviable reputation for producing limited edition themed writing instruments; with one of its most recent projects being a fountain pen commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The Declaration of Independence pens are available in fountain or rollerball models, both of which have the entire text of the declaration adorning its natural resin body. The cap of the pen is engraved with the American symbol of freedom; the bald eagle and the trimmings of the pen are made from 92.5% sterling silver.
Best Contemporary Style
, the luxury goods maker from Geneva, Switzerland took the prize for contemporary style with its RNX.316 pen
. If you're wondering about the name, the RNX simply stands for R
agonal, with the rounded body supposedly serving as a reminder of its origins which combines comfort with performance, the n representing the alliance of innovation and expertise and the x representing the hexagonal element which complements the form. All ghastly marketing hyperbole aside, the pen is stunning to look at but the general consensus in online reviews suggest the pen is archetypal of form and function, but I'll let you make up your own minds on that.
Best Cultural Theme
This category actually had two winners with the result being too close to call. The first of which is the Aurora America,
a widely anticipated sequel in its Continents of the World Series. As you might expect, the hand-turned resin barrel is adorned with red, white and blue swirls whilst the fittings are made of highly polished chrome. The central enamel band is embellished with cultural icons of the Americas such as a Native American headdress, a pioneer's wagon, a cactus, the American Eagle, drawings from the Nacza Lines of Peru of a condor and a spider.
The second recipient was the Loulav, created by Oldwin.
Oldwin is a relatively obscure brand based in Paris, founded by Boris Mora in 1930 who moved to France from Russia to pursue his passion for jewellery. Now run by his son Andre, the Loulav pays homage to the Sukkot Jewish Feast of Tabernacles which occurs in the Hebrew month of Tishri
. The dome cap symbolises the kippah whilst the blue enamel centre ring represents the Star of David. The waxed clip is made from solid bronze with rhodium and plating, it possesses an 18 carat gold nib and is numbered to just 15 pieces worldwide.
Most Distinctive Daily Write
Now this is an unusual pen! The Model 33 Abditus by Franklin-Christoph
was the clear winner in this category. This pen is particularly unique as the barrel is completely hidden inside the cap (Abditus is 'hidden' in Latin, by the way). The pen is carefully assembled from solid bars of acrylic and is available with a choice of 18 carat gold or steel nibs. And I really, really want one.
Best Interpretation of a Theme
In the final category came Visconti's second win of the awards for its new Van Gogh Impressionist Collection, which recreates colours from Fou-Rou's
selected works. The collection's design was achieved using a technique known as Press Moulding which produces exquisite colours of great depth and translucency, both of which differ on each final pen (making each one unique, in that respect). Available in fountain, roller and eco-roller all packaged in a correspondingly-themed box.
And there we have it until 2012! Are you fortunate to own any of these highly sought after writing instruments? We'd love to hear from you, simply submit any comments you have in the box below.