Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Top European Pen Makers Currently at Pen Boutique

Top European Pen Makers Carried by Pen Boutique

    In this blog we will be taking a closer look at all brands with a European background that are carried at Pen Boutique, there may be a few familiar names but hopefully some that you don't know so well too. I think that I am going to focus more on brands that are manufactured in Europe, preferably by themselves and those companies who do not outsource the manufacturing process. I won't be putting this list in any particular order but will just be going with the order that they pop in my head so without further ado, lets take a look at one of the most recognizable brands not only for European manufacturers but one of the most recognizable brands in pens period.


    Everyone, whether you are into pens or not, has heard the name Montblanc. It's one of those brands that has ascended the binds of being "just a brand" and is now a deep rooted Icon in not only the pen world but also in what it means to be a luxury brand. Montblanc has been around since 1906 with their Meisterstuck line being launched in 1924, they quickly rose to international acclaim due to the quality of their writing instruments. In the more recent years of the brands history they have come up with collections that pay homage to people the brand deems important whether it is historically important authors or people that have pushed for the development of the arts in different points of time. They also do their research when doing one of these dedication pens which makes them feel very well done and thought out as opposed to just throwing something together to cash in on someone else's success. A few great examples of Montblanc's mastery of the writing instrument can be seen below.

Patron of Art Homage to Moctezuma 888- This model was the POA for the year 2020 and is one of the most out of the box looking pens in Montblanc's modern history. This particular model has beautiful enamel detailing on the cap and barrel with a mother of pearl Montblanc star, with this pen being a more limited 888 model you get all this extra detailing but at an elevated price. This particular model can be purchased from Pen Boutique's website at the price of $9100.

Patron of Art Homage to Hadrian 4810- This model was the POA for 2019 and was dedicated to the emperor Hadrian and this pen, while not quite as extreme as the Moctezuma, is still home to an abundance of rich and decadent decoration. The barrel and cap are made from basaltic lava stone that gives the pen a very interesting feel, the pen is also quite hefty thanks to not only the lava but the excess of metal that's engraved with decorative detailing reminiscent of ancient rome. This Patron of Art series pen can be purchased at the Pen Boutique website for the price of $3135.

Marlene Dietrich Dedication pen 1901- Originally launched in 2007, this special edition is a very rare find and is made from the most luxurious materials including solid sterling silver, VVS grade diamonds, mother of pearl and of course a gold nib. This pen uses Montblanc's smallest nib which accentuates the "feminine" shape of the pen as described by Montblanc. The fine guilloche work on the cap and barrel both meant to accentuate the shape of the pen and add an interesting tactile feel. This very rare collectors piece can be purchased from the Pen Boutique website for the price of $4,900.


    The Pelikan brand is not only one for fine writing instruments but carries a variety of different office items and art supplies with the most famous being water color palettes. The brand began in 1838 when chemist Carl Hornemann founded an ink and color factory in Hanover, Germany. The brand was successful from its very beginning and just 4 years after its start it was expanded so that production could happen on a larger scale in a bigger area. 1863 was really when the brand became known as Pelikan because this was the same year that they employed Günther Wagner under the position of chemist and plant manager. Günther actually took over the company just 8 years after joining it and when he did he registered his family's emblem as the brands logo, hence the pelicans on their pens. In 1878 the Pelikan logo was trademarked and remains one of Germany's oldest trademarks to date. Throughout the companies earlier history they found great success in their India ink which dethroned the competing brands of the time and their 4001 line was and still is massively popular. The brand has since grown into what I think of as the "Big Four" in contemporary fountain pen production, those four being Pelikan, Montblanc, Sailor and Visconti. A few great examples of Pelikan's classics can be seen in their Souverän line and those can be seen in the pictures below. 

M1000 Green Stripe- At the top of the Souverän line we have the M1000 which is the only Pelikan model that has their large 8 sized nib and this is one of the most fantastic nibs that can be seen on a flagship model from any brand. The green striping on the pen is also one of the most classic looking pen designs thanks to the rich history that the Pelikan name holds, it also acts as an ink window with is a pretty convenient piece of design. Thanks to the large barrel and piston filling mechanism this pen can also hold a ton of ink to keep up with the large nib. The M1000 can be purchased from the Pen Boutique website in the green stripe or solid black color for the price of $832. 

M805 Blue Dunes- This is one of Pelikan's limited edition colors that they make on their souverän silhouettes sometimes and this one is on the 2nd largest model called the 805 which has silver trim and a nib close to the #6 size. This pen is also a piston filler but is suited for people who don't prefer oversized pens and the color is also a very welcome addition that elevates the cool factor of this pen just a little! The Blue Dunes M805 can be purchased from the Pen Boutique website for $574 but act fast because it has been discontinued and we only have a very limited amount left.

M600 Tortoiseshell Red- One of the more recent special editions is the Tortoiseshell red which came out in 2020 and is featured on the third largest Souverän silhouette but this model is really eye catching. The M600 Tortoiseshell is also an homage to an older model that has become a bit of a legend in recent pen collecting and that model was the M800 tortoiseshell but instead of doing a direct copy with this model they jazzed it up a little with red accenting on the section and cap this is also an homage to the 101n which is a much older model. This stunning special edition can be purchased from the Pen Boutique website for the price of $480 but act fast because this is also a limited edition model that will be going away in the near future!


    The brand Visconti was founded in 1988 in Florence Italy and their Italian heritage shines through in the products they make to this day. Founded by Luigi Poli and Dante Del Vecchio, two avid fountain pen collectors at the time, the brand has had collectors and enthusiast in mind from the very start. All of Visconti’s pens and writing instruments are designed in a 15th century Florentine villa that shows the brands dedication to the past masters of Italian artwork. We have quite a wide variety of Visconti pens that are really a marvel to behold so let's take a closer look at some models in the pictures below.

Medici il Magnifico (Lapis Lazuli)- One of the most luxurious looking and feeling Visconti pens is the il Magnifico which has a barrel made of solid Lapis Lazuli stone that is then carved out to make the faceted shape of the barrel. The Vermeil detailing on the piston knob, section and cap also adds a considerable weight to the pen which makes it feel more substantial in the hand. This pen is also a vacuum filler which means you get a rather large ink capacity and don't have to re-fill the pen as often which can make it feel more useful and convenient over pens with small capacities. The il Magnifico is made from quality materials and comes at a quality price, it can be purchased from the Pen Boutique website at the price of $2,360 but act fast because this pen was a very limited production.

Homo Sapiens Blue Lagoon- My personal favorite from Visconti is the Blue Lagoon that they released in 2019 to be part of their annual Homo Sapiens special edition model, this pen is just gorgeous and is on the body of the brands flagship and most recognizable pen. This is a partial demonstrator and vacuum filler which allows for you to keep an eye on your ink level so that you are never caught out with a dry pen. The trim bands on this pen are sterling silver and its this that really reminded me of Tiffanys which is why I purchased my own, the combo of the light blue and sterling silver was just an unbeatable combo for me. This is a limited edition of 888 pieces so grab yours from our Pen Boutique website for the price of $956.
Opera Master Savanna- The most recent limited edition from Visconti is this beautiful new Opera Master that is inspired by the African Savanna and beautiful stretches of landscape. This is the oversized version of the Opera and lives up to its name, the metal section also makes it feel very balanced and well proportioned despite the large size. This is a similar deal to the Blue Lagoon because this model is a special edition and dedicated to a piece of nature so there will only be a couple of these and they are moving fast. You can get yours from the Pen Boutique website for the price of $968, there are only 888 pieces being made so get yours before you can't anymore!

Graf von Faber-Castell

   Faber Castell is a very interesting brand for a multitude of reasons, the first being that it is the oldest brand in America. They were the fifth name on the first record of brands in the United 
States and the first 4 brands ahead having been dissolved made Faber-Castell the oldest brand in the US. The Company was originally known as A.W. Faber and was run under this name for over 100 years, eventually a daughter inherited the company and was made to keep her name as to keep with the brand. She ended up marrying a count with the last name Castell and they decided to hyphenate their last name which later transferred to the brand. The brand is originally German and started manufacturing pencils in 1761, flash forward to today, the brand is in its 9th generation and has grown to manufacture a multitude of writing products at every price point. Below you can see a couple great examples of the brands mastery of working with unique and natural materials.

Classic Snakewood LE- The brand's classic line is perhaps one of my favorites because it takes things back to basics in a way that also elevates the materials used to create a beautiful luxury wiring instrument. Given the brand's history of pencil making and working with wood, they are the only ones that I trust to really honor the rare wood seen in their pens, the finishing is precise and everything feels perfect on the pen. Given the slim profile it also looks quite posh when in a suit pocket which is why I recommend this pen quite a bit to executives looking to make a statement and stand out among the sea of star caps seen at the executive pen level. This particular model seen in snakewood is actually limited and is going rather fast so I would act quickly if this wood catches your eye. The snakewood can be purchased from our website for the price of $775, while your there you should check out the many other wood types of the Classic that we have online!

Pen of the Year 2008- Every year GVFC puts their creativity to work to create a pen that showcases what the brand can do and pushes the limits of what a pen can be made of, the 2008 model exceeds this expectation by far. The POTY is a commanding sized pen in the hand and is not light either which gives it a very sturdy feel, every time I pick one up I feel like I need to sign some important document because its what I picture the top top top executives having on their desks (although who knows if that's true). In this model the artisans at GVFC painstakingly arranged Indian Satinwood in a herringbone parquet design and then finished it with their eye on the end product being jaw dropping. A citrine stone can be seen on the end cap as well which unscrews to reveal the piston knob. This is the quintessential oversized writing instrument in my opinion and can be purchased from our website for the price of $3,000, I would also keep an eye out for their other POTY models while on our website if I were you. ;)

Aurora- For close to a century, the name of Aurora Pens has been synonymous with high quality, exquisite taste, and fine Italian craftsmanship. Originating from Turin, Italy, each Aurora Pen is influenced by the renowned culture, artistic legacy, and design characteristic of the Italian tradition. Aurora limited edition pens are unique works of art modeled after the ancient traditions of the famous Italian goldsmiths and silversmiths. One of the only manufacturers to craft their own nibs, Aurora fountain pens feature fixed points - a reference for future generations of writing masters. Some of their masterfully finished writing instruments can be seen below.

Optima Giada LE- When I think of Aurora my mind immediately snaps to the Optima simply because it is such a unique and eye catching piece of design. While being on the smaller side, the section has a lip towards the nib that locks your hand into place which makes the pen almost a part of your hand, making the writing experience very comfortable. You could also post the pen if you deem it still to small for your hand, another great part of the design is that it comes out in thickness a bit right around the top of the ink window which gives a good amount of pen to hold onto. Aurora's nibs are also fantastic as they are all manufactured in house with a custom cut ebonite feed to go with it so you can rest assured knowing that ink flow is not going to be a problem. The Giada is a special edition that is made in a beautiful jade colored resin that can be seen on other pens like the Wahl Eversharp Decoband in Jade. This special edition can be purchased on our website for the price of $715.50 but while your there make sure to check out all the other unique colors available.

88 Blue Mamba- A couple of years ago Aurora released their 88 model in what they called the "Black Mamba" which featured a black resin and black coated nib, the body and cap had a guilloche pattern to evoke the feeling of snakeskin. The pen was such a hit that they decided to release another for the year of 2021 that is essentially the same pen but in this nice blue color hence the name "Blue Mamba". The 88 is a similar model to the optima but has a slightly longer silhouette thanks to the rounded ends which also gives it a more traditional cigar shape. The matte coating on the trims and nib are something that also seem to be exclusive to this new mamba line because I've only seen them on this and the black model and it adds to the overall tactile feel. The Blue Mamba can be pre-ordered from our website for the price of $716 and is expected to release sometime later this month.

Honorable Mentions

Diplomat Aero-  Diplomat has been making pens since 1922 and pride themselves on all diplomat writing instruments being manufactured in Germany. The Diplomat brand has had an interesting journey to get to where it is now and is only just recently picking up more and more traction in the U.S. market. Originally a small German brand, diplomat was purchased by its French CEO and is now being distributed by Yafa brands. The design of the Aero is one that is instantly eye catching and is inspired by the shape of a Zeppelin with its thin ends and plump center. It also has a propellor logo on the finial which is a nice little touch to really evoke the inspiration of the aircraft. This interesting pen and many more from the brand can be purchased on our website, the Aero will run you about $180 for base models and a little more for special editions.
Otto Hutt Design 7- Founded in 1920 by Karl Hutt, the brand was originally focused on making Sterling Silver writing instruments which still rings true today, he only had 20 employees in the beginning but this didn't stop the growth of the brand. By 1962 the brand had eclipsed their old manufacturing plant and decided to move into a bigger facility in Pforzheim, Germany which it's where the pens are still being produced to this day. When Karl could no longer run the company his son, Otto, became the head and the brand still bears his name to remind of the family beginnings of the business. In 2006 the brand was relaunched under the new owners and is now being run by Marco Frei. Similar to some aspects of Lamy's design philosophy, Karl Hutt was an adamant follower of the Bauhaus school of design and decided to make pens that stood on their own with respect to quality of writing and function first but also looked timeless and unique. The Design 7 is the brand's flagship and can be purchased from our website for the price of $796, check out the other OH models we have too!

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