Private fine pen collection leads New York Auction

NEW YORK – Bonhams New York’s eagerly awaited sale of Fine Writing instruments on June 17 drew the attention of collectors everywhere. Featuring many pens from Montblanc in addition to a number of Namiki pens, the 130-lot sale was marked by strong performances throughout.

Of great interest was a Montblanc Johannes Gutenberg limited edition 42 fountain pen, dedicated to the inventor of modern printing. Deriving its number from the 42-line layout of Gutenberg’s bible and presented in a lacquer wooden box with all original packaging and papers, the lot brought $18,910.

A limited edition Brandenburger Tor ‘89 fountain pen by Montblanc also performed strongly. Its top and bottom decorated with diamonds, its nib bearing the goddess Victory, and featuring the “quadriga” or chariot of Victory on the cap, the pen realized $18,300.

A limited edition Montblanc Georges Pompidou fountain pen attracted bidders as well. The skeleton pen’s overlaid white gold lattice echoes the architecture of Paris’ Centre Pompidou and its 18-karat gold rhodium plated nib is engraved with an image of Pompidou himself. Accented with several rings of small diamonds and a brilliant sapphire, the piece fetched $17,690.

Also commanding a top price was the Montblanc Arena di Verona limited edition 49 fountain pen. Formed from solid white gold with panels of inlaid wood, it is a tribute to the ancient Roman arena, now an opera house and mirrors its columns and arches. With a ring of diamonds circling the base of the grip and an 18 karat gold rhodium plated nib engraved with an image of Verdi, the pen drew $16,470.

Other Montblancs bringing notable results were a Sakura Precious Version fountain pen – number four of only eight pens in the world – which achieved $16,470 and a Qing Dynasty Precious Version limited edition 88 fountain pen, which brought $15,860.

Namiki pens also lured bidders, with a number outperforming expectations.

namiki fountain penGreatly exceeding estimates was a Namiki Thunder-God vs. Wind-God Emperor limited edition maki-e fountain pen (shown at left). Taken from traditional Japanese art as represented in screens and other ornamentation, the elemental Buddhist dieties Vajrapani and Vayu, vie with one another on cap and barrel of this pen. Touching off a bidding war the lot more than doubled its estimate of $5,000 to $6,000 with a final price of $14,030.

A Pilot Namiki 80th Anniversary ‘Mayabi Soushi-e’ limited edition maki-e fountain pen brought a strong price. One of a series of three pens that feature themes from the medieval Hei-an period and uses several maki-e techniques to create an exquisitely wrought picture book, the pen realized $11,590.

Another Namiki to surpass estimate was the Shishi Komainu 88th Anniversary maki-e limited edition fountain pen. Gracing the pen is a mythical lion (shishi) and dog (komainu), guardians of Buddhist shrines, all richly interpreted in gold dust with raden highlights in the heavens. Following a round of aggressive bidding the lot fetched $10,370 against an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000.

Also exciting collectors was the White Tiger of Asia maki-e limited edition fountain pen. A symbol of serene strength and power in Eastern astrology, the White Tiger is also a supernatural figure. Featuring a crouched tiger against a bright red bamboo plant and presented with the limited edition White Tiger ink bottle (not often found) bidders pushed this lot past its estimate of $6,000 to $8,000 for an ultimate price of $10,065.

The catalog is online at in the weeks following the sale. For more information call 415-503-3255 or ?

      You might also enjoy:

      •  Montblanc Sale of the Century sees new record
Feature Article: Vintage pens and writing equipment
Art Markets: Artful Eternal Peace
Care for Your Paper
Signatures on celebrity checks more prized than cash


Great books, CDs, price guides & more

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Interact with other antique collectors in Antique Trader’s online forum

Browse hundreds of FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE email newsletter

For more columns and features for antique dealers, restorers and collectors, get your own subscription to Antique Trader magazine