Should Montegrappa Nero Uno be seen as one of the expensive pens ?

expensive pens

Montegrappa Nero Uno, one of the expensive pens ?

Montegrappa is today certainly a brand that stands for luxury and grand style.

expensive pens

It was the first Italian manufacturer of fountain pens and writing instruments. The brand itself is discreet and can be compared to a brand like Bottega Veneto, a far more discrete fashion brand than Gucci. Montegrappa will not splash the first pages of a fashion magazine with advertisements. It is luckily for us not a loud brand. The fountain pens themselves are quite the opposite of the brand. Some models of Montegrappa can be truly opulent and even ostentatious. But this heritage pen of Montegrappa I have selected is not. Let me present the Nero Una Linea.

Nero Uno does not shout like expensive pens

The Nero Uno pen is simply sumptuous and because of its modernist, architectural look, it does not feel peacocky. But before I dive into the pen, this company is has a rich heritage and some great stories. You just have to know where the Nero Uno pen comes from.

Montegrappa, home of expensive pens

The company was founded in 1912 (yes, it is a centennial old) along the river Brenta, in a town called Bassano Del Grappa, in North-Eastern Italy.

They are still working in the same historical building today. In those days the craftsmanship and the artisans were the reason of their success. Montegrappa was called “Manifattura pennini d’oro e penne stilografiche”, the manufacturer of gold nibs and fountain pens. And the gold today still is very present. These heritage fountain pens come close to jewellery in this company and therefor can be expensive pens.Off course the fine Italian design, this supreme craftsmanship and the quality of their materials perspire through their fountain pens. No wonder their expensive pens are « often to be found in the possession of Royalty, heads of state and celebrities of sport, stage and screen », as their website mentions correctly. Bassano Del Grappa held a strategic military position and many soldiers wrote letters home with Montegrappa (at the time called Elmo) fountain pens. Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, volunteer ambulance drivers at the front, and also acting as war correspondents wrote evocative communiqués with Montegrappa pens. Pictures of John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway below.

expensive pens

(image from unknown photographer, Wikimedia Commons)

expensive pens

(from unknown author, Wikipedia Commons)

Montegrappa pens have witnessed key moments in last century. Off course the Italian leaders including Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini used Montegrappa pens. Russian leaders seem to have a bond with Montegrappa. Boris Yeltsin gave his Dragon pen to Vladimir Putin on 2nd January 2000, and with this pen he symbolically handed over his power to him. Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev signs all official documents with the Montegrappa Extra 1930. Other leaders owning a Montegrappa are Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, His Holiness John Paul II, His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand and His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

Montegrappa is quite known for their fondness of limited editions, and they actively commemorate events, locales and individuals. Some examples are the dashy town St Moritz, imposing America’s Cup, the majestic opera house La Fenice in Venice, Formula One Legend Ayrton Senna.

expensive pens

(image of St. Moritz, Vierergespann, from Bundesarchiv, 1931, Wikimedia Commons).

An image of the town Saint Moritz… I believe there presence is a little bit more than a marketing stunt. Some of these heritage, and yes expensive  pens are like some watches. Not all brands can pull it off. On top of that, they seem to hold some kind of gravitas. Great racing driver Jean Alessi and actor, writer and director Sylvester Stallone have even become shareholders and board members.

If this all seems to stuffy or ritzy then know that the simple celebrities like Antonio Banderas, Al Pacino, Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt, Stirling Moss, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Naomi Campbell, Paulo Coelho all have either their special edition and are admirative owners of Montegrappa’s.

Here is a picture of violinist Yehudi Menuhin and author Paulo Coelho, captured at the Annual Meeting 1999 of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.

expensive pens

(image from World Economic Forum, Wikimedia Commons)

Very recently, in 2000, Montegrappa was acquired by the Richemont Group, a holding of luxury goods. It seems to have been a short and turbulent period because between 2001-2005, the brand fell under Cartier management eventually being controlled by Montblanc. And then in 2009, the Aquila family reacquired Montegrappa. It is now back in Italian hands where Italian heritage most certainly belongs. Friends and family know that Italy has a very special place in my heart, just like Italian brands and products…

expensive pensBack to this particular, heritage pen

expensive pens

The Nero Uno pen is an 8 sided octagonal fountain pen and is etched with soft lines. The black is a magnificent dark matte resin. It comes with red gold or platinum. All finishes are superb like this end of the cap with the Montegrappa logo or the round 1912 medallion at the end of the barrel. The gold is 18 carat finish either in a red gold or a white gold, depending on the Nero Uno Linea version. The pen is a bit longer (141mm) than most, so it probably is handier for most to write without the cap.

The nib is 18 carat solid gold and is simply perfection. Expensive pens most of the time have gold nibs. It characterizes them most of the time. Wet and smooth, always functional from the very first time of writing. The nibs of the Nero Una pens come in all classic formats, extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M) and broad (B), but all seem a bit fine and longer than a classic nib and makes it a bit sleek.

It can write with cartridge and converter and the converter is supplied standard. The filling mechanism is ebonite. I love that. And for the more practical people amongst us, know it has a two year warranty.

A century of skilled craftsmanship all enrolled in a grand and very stylish black and gold specimen. This a beauty, true and distinctive. And yes, it is one of the expensive pens, but knowing all that, I feel it is justified.

You can find more information, reviews and the price of a specimen of these (not so) expensive pens, here.

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