Saturday, March 17, 2007

His nibs

What a brilliantly titled article!

"If the masters of industry or politics were to sit down to sign some big merger deal or trade treaty, only to pull out a yellow Bic, a sense of the inappropriate might strike even the most ardent fan of disposable pens. In distinct contrast to the kind of pen found by the box-load in office stationery cupboards, the Montblanc Meisterstück, one of the largest fountain pens on the market, is often referred to as the Power Pen, given its use for signing important documents by various leaders.

Part of the appeal of the fountain pen is that it is symbolic – and enduringly so. Other pens may be much less expensive, lighter, require less maintenance and would be less sorely missed if lost (if missed at all). But the reason to buy and use a fountain pen is more psychological than practical. The fountain pen, which has seen sales growth of 18 per cent from 2001 to 2005, embodies a desirable degree of ceremony and prestige that lesser pens forego.

“I use a pencil at work because I make too many mistakes, a ballpen for checking finances but a fountain pen when I need to sign anything personal or of importance,” says Mark Ivory, director of sales for pen brand Cross.

The image of the fountain pen as temperamental, fragile and prone to spills no longer holds true. Technology has led to more free-flowing inks and less likelihood of blockage or leakage, with new materials meaning the modern fountain pen is able to operate, for instance, in the pressurised cabin of an aircraft.

“Getting out of a plane with a big blue spot on your shirt is not good for the reputation of the brand – or the man,” says Wolff Heinrichsdorff, chief executive of Montblanc. Indeed, he is happy to point out that the brand’s “new” Rouge et Noir – a pen designed in 1908 and reissued as an exact replica to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary last year – is likely to leave your fingers inky. But it is a testament to the fountain pen’s popularity that the industry’s steady flow of limited editions is snapped up by a healthy collectors’ market."

Click on the title link to read the entire article in the Financial Times of London

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Nib also means something very small
    and Nibs happens to be the name a famous cat in Nibs goes to London.