San Francisco — Bonhams successful Fine Writings Instruments auction, June 11 in San Francisco, saw two pens tie for the top earning spot, each achieving $43,750. One was a sealed Montblanc John Lennon 18K Solid White Gold Skeleton Fountain Pen, created in tribute to the late legendary musician, and limited to 70 examples. The pen features the word "Imagine" encircling the barrel in honour of Lennon's solo hit, with translucent blue precious resin showing beneath the overlay, in reference to his trademark blue glasses, and the pocket clip (inspired by his guitar) is set with a blue sapphire. The other was a rare artist's proof Montegrappa Eternal Bird 18K Solid Yellow Gold & Fountain Pen & Inkwell, created in 2005. The pen features a heavy, elaborately hand-finished 18K solid yellow gold phoenix overlay, set with 244 brilliant-cut diamonds (about 3.2 carats), and with rubies set in the phoenix's eyes. The pen is accompanied by an 18K solid yellow gold and Madagascar crystal rock inkwell.
The next two top-selling pens in the auction also achieved the same amount, $37,500 each. A Montblanc Charlie Chaplin Skeleton Fountain Pen, paying tribute to one of the greatest figures of 20th century cinema, was one of them. Limited to 88 examples, the pen's design features intricate cog-wheels in 18 karat solid white gold, suggesting the machines and machinations featured in Chaplin's most celebrated film, Modern Times. Details of the pen's design recalls different aspects of his persona: the barrel and cone suggest his baggy trousers, the captop is based upon his bowler hat and the solid gold clip resembles his cane. Its medium 18 karat rhodium-plated gold nib is engraved with Chaplin's iconic accoutrements. The other was a Montblanc Sir Winston Churchill Fountain Pen. Limited to 53 examples, the pen features an 18 karat pink gold barrel inlaid with black and brown lacquer bands, a captop ringed with 53 diamonds, a mother-of-pearl captop star and a "V for Victory" clip. Its 18 karat gold nib is engraved with Churchill's portrait.
These pens, along with many others, were highly sought after, with competitive bidding felt in the auction room during the sale. Ivan Briggs, Specialist of Fine Writing Instruments at Bonhams in San Francisco, commented of the auction, "Fine limited Montblanc and Montegrappa pens continue to dominate the market. Collectors are looking for exceptional designs, pens limited to under 100 examples, and pens made of gold, platinum, and set with precious gems. Vintage Dunhill-Namiki maki-e pens are also highly sought after, particularly examples signed by master artisans. The market for these pens promises to remain robust."
A particularly noteworthy pen in the sale was the Montegrappa: The Dragon 2010 Bruce Lee 18K Yellow Gold Fountain Pen, limited to 88 examples, honouring one of the greatest icons of the 20th century, which sold for $31,250. It features cinnamon-veined red celluloid, a solid 18K yellow gold dragon overlay, ruby eyes, a Yin-Yang cap-top emblem, and a medium 18K gold nib, engraved with a silhouette of Bruce Lee.
Additional highlights of the auction included the Dupont: Taj Mahal Five-Piece Limited Edition 25 Pen & Lighter Set, in platinum with mother-of-pearl inlays, pearlized Chinese lacquer and alpinite, comprising the Gatsby lighter, Ligne 2 lighter, Jeroboam table lighter, Olympio fountain pen and Olympio ballpoint, sold for $19,375; the Montblanc: Meisterstuck 149 LeGrand Solid Platinum Fountain Pen, sealed and featuring the solid 950 platinum fountain pen with 18K gold trim, sold for $11,250; and the Montblanc: Otto von Bismarck Limited Edition 71 Fountain Pen, honouring the great Prussian statesman who created a unified Germany, in solid 18K white gold, with motifs found in Bismarck's dress uniform and coat of arms, and an 18K rhodium-plated gold nib with engraving of the Prussian imperial eagle, sold for $10,000. Also of note in the auction were two separately-lotted editions (12 of 233 and 209 of 233) of one of Montblanc's most sought-after pens, the Skeleton 333 Limited Edition Fountain Pen, featuring a platinum-plated brick lattice over clear precious resin, a mother-of-pearl captop star and an 18 karat rhodium-plated gold nib, sold for $13,750 and $8,750, respectively.
The next auction of Fine Writing Instruments at Bonhams is scheduled to take place December 16, 2013 in San Francisco. Please visit www.bonhams.com for more information.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com