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Pens: Portrait in Exclusivity

Nancy Olson

Customization has long been in Montegrappa’s repertoire, but Italy’s oldest penmaker has redrawn the parameters of personalization with its new Portrait collection.

Each $19,500 Portrait pen begins as a blank canvas. The 18-karat pink or white gold barrel is etched with a neutral diamond pattern that frames a prominent oval area left open for an engraved image of the client’s choosing. Working from a photograph or drawing, one of the company’s artisans will reproduce the image with vivid detail—a process that takes two months from the time the pen is commissioned to its delivery in a solid walnut presentation case. Space on the pen’s cap is also reserved for a dedication, monogram, or other personalized statement.
 
Montegrappa’s master engravers are well schooled in the increasingly rare discipline of burin engraving, which medieval goldsmiths introduced in the 1400s. Using a steel tool called a burin, the engravers etch intricate lines into the metal at varying depths, producing exquisite and exacting detail on the pen’s diminutive surface. Upon completing his engraving, the artist signs the barrel. “There is no [serial] number,” notes Montegrappa CEO Sergio De Bon, drawing a contrast to collectible limited editions. “Numbering it would have no meaning, because the number could only be 1.”
 
The Portrait pen is an elaborate extension of the customization service that has long been available at the Montegrappa manufactory in picturesque Bassano del Grappa near Vicenza. By selecting from a variety of styles and materials—gold, silver, celluloid, or resin accented with a range of precious and semiprecious gems—clients can commission small quantities of custom pens.
 
After viewing Montegrappa’s recent Ferrari collection, Formula One racecar driver Michael Schumacher had the company’s designers produce an exclusive collection for him. His design incorporates his initials “MS” as a decorative element rendered in metal fretwork on the body and cap. The die-cast pocket clip depicts a miniature F/1 racecar.
 
Montegrappa also offers the opportunity to personalize existing models from its regular collections. Engravings on the cap rings or barrels of names, monograms, dates, or corporate logos can commemorate people or events. Montegrappa can embellish pocket clips with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, or with semiprecious stones such as onyx, garnet, or lapis lazuli.
 
Recently, the company collaborated with perfumer Laura Tonatto, who previously has worked with L’Oréal and Giorgio Armani, to develop a range of scented inks. Montegrappa claims the inks will enhance the sensory experience of writing, but they also are ideal for composing the type of personal correspondences that in an earlier era would have been spritzed with perfume.

Montegrappa, 866.854.1674, www.montegrappa1912.com

Photo by Rod Foster
Photo courtesy of TRG-AMR North America
Photo by Darin Schnabel
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