San Francisco – Bonhams, the third largest international fine art auction house, held an auction of Fine Writing Instruments on June 11 in San Francisco, led by an artist's proof Montegrappa Dragon Mediterranean Blue Celluloid and 18K Yellow Gold with Blue Sapphires Fountain Pen that achieved $43,750.
The pen, produced in 2005 in observance of the 10th anniversary of the original Montegrappa Dragon pen, is the only one of its kind, and its appearance in this sale marks its public debut. It features marbled blue celluloid, an 18K solid yellow gold dragon overlay, 590 blue sapphires and four rubies for eyes, and a fine 18K two-tone gold nib. The quality of craftsmanship is extraordinary, making it one of the finest fountain pens of modern times.
Another highly notable pen in the sale was a Montblanc John Lennon 18K Solid White Gold Skeleton Limited Edition 70 Fountain Pen that sold for $40,000. The pen features an 18K solid white gold skeleton overlay, with the word "Imagine" encircling the barrel in honour of Lennon's greatest solo hit. Translucent blue precious resin shows beneath the overlay in reference to Lennon's trademark blue glasses. The clip, inspired by Lennon's guitar, is set with a blue sapphire. It features a medium 18K gold nib, engraved with Lennon's self-portrait.
An additional noteworthy Montblanc was the premiere example of a Gaius Maecenas 18K Solid White Gold & Diamonds Special Limited Edition 20 Skeleton Fountain Pen, which realised $17,500. The pen, numbered one, was created to mark the 20th anniversary of Montblanc's Patron of Art series, and it honours the first recorded patron in the history of art and culture. It features an 18K solid white gold cap and endpiece, trimmed with 18K yellow gold, and is set with dozens of brilliant-cut white diamonds. It has a dark grey barrel hewn from fine marble, with a mother-of-pearl captop star. Its skeleton cap is engraved with ode to Maecenas by Horace, and its endpiece is set with a replica Roman coin. It features a fine 18K gold nib with a laurel wreath motif.
Namiki pens also received strong response in the sale. A Sakura Maki-e Limited Edition 62 Fountain Pen brought $23,750. The pen, dated 2000, features multiple levels of raden (mother-of-pearl) painstakingly embedded in layers of urushi lacquer, and was signed by maki-e master Kyusai Yoshida. Another example, a Zao Wou-Ki Emperor Maki-e Limited Edition 50 Fountain Pen, achieved $18,750. The pen was created in 2002 by Chinese-born artist Zao Wou-Ki who was commissioned by Namiki to create a pen for them. Trained in Beaux Arts in China and in France, Zao incorporated calligraphy and traditional ideograms to create a design that Namiki craftsmen then reproduced onto this pen.
Ivan Briggs, Director of the Fine Writing Instruments Department at Bonhams in San Francisco remarked, "As great Namikis become increasingly scarce on the secondary market, collector interest has soared to great heights for outstanding examples, with very competitive bidding driving auction prices to record levels."
He added, "Fine Namiki pens can take master artisans months to create, and the intricacies of the artistic process gives collectors a vast and rewarding field for connoisseurship, making them akin, in a sense, to fine paintings or fine wines. The passionate response that Namiki pens elicit is unrivalled in the pen world, and I'm pleased to have brought these wonderful examples to auction."
Rounding out the sale, a Pelikan Genji Maki-e Limited Edition 60 Fountain Pen Set by Musyu brought $27,500.The set was inspired by Japan's oldest novel, "The Tale of Genji." The pens, hand-crafted in togidashi and takamaki-e techniques, are based upon the novel's protagonist and his wife. The first depicts the aristocratic Hikaru Genji and he second portrays his wife, Aoi no Ue, surrounded by vines, clouds and incense. Both are signed by maki-e master Musyu.
To view more results from the sale, please visit www.bonhams.com/auctions/21534/.
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