Tag Archives: limited editions

Window Shopping

The great thing about Montblanc boutiques is that none are ever the same, not really. I mean, they all sell MB pens and watches and portfolios and stuff, but there are still subtle differences to distinguish each store.

Such as which LE pens are on display. Inevitably, the latest and greatest models will always be under a spotlight, but depending on local supply and demand, other LEs will be happily playing second fiddle on the side. And like all larger-than-life figures, nothing beats seeing the real thing in the flesh.

Today, for example, I saw my first L’Aubrac. The grenadilla wood looks a lot lighter than the pictures on the MB website—and the pen itself, a lot fatter. On the bright side, this allowed better contrast to show between the different-colored wood grain—very pretty. On the other hand, the texture and colors seemed to overwhelm the silver dots in the cap, which looked as if they were tiny stars drowning in an endless chocolate sky. But to each her own.

There were also two 2013 PoA pens on display—the Ludovico Sfoza/Duke of Milan ones, in both the blue and black editions. Black looked grayer than I expected; blue, less turquoise and darker, like concentrated Sailor Sky High. Pretty pens but also a bit too glossy for my tastes (I’m a maki-e, tree-sap kinda pen gal).

Grace de Monaco seems to be in every MB boutique I see, probably since she’s one of the newer Diva lines—which are, incidentally, quite pretty, slim little things. If only they weren’t cartridge fillers, sigh.

There was a MB 149 in the center back display with a nib that could eat all of mine for breakfast and then some (yes, even my #6 on the Danitrio—what a monster!). There’s a saying about princes born with silver spoons on their tongues—I’d say gold MB nibs would fit as well.

The 2013 WE Balzac was there too, the lighting making its thick gray (dare I say Pelikan-esque?) stripes even thicker than usual. I really liked this pen in the promotional shots until I saw one myself. It had an interesting shape, nice lovely Gothic lettering on the nib (shame my initials aren’t HB), and a cute story for the cap band design (inspired by a walking stick! Aww…).

But sadly, it doesn’t appeal to me in real life. The stripes look too…flat and gray, somehow, and the turquoise stones on the cap too small, and—oh, if only the barrel was semi-transparent so it could do that cool glimmering stained-glass window effect you get with ink windows! I suppose my tastes are too girly for it.

Anyways, the star of the moment was the new 2014 Great Characters Leonardo da Vinci pen. I really like the little wheel on the clip, and the cool see-through wrap-around window atop the cap, and the wing design they have on the nib and barrel. It’s a bit too silver for me (I’m a gold trimmings girl, through an through), but I appreciate style and da Vinci’s got it in spades. Totally steampunk!

You can read about its specifics on the official MB website here, but here are some phone photos of the display itself.

I admit, I took it so I could read the text in the booklet later. I devour descriptions like whoa.

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Right, in case it’s blurry, I’ll rewrite the stuff below:

“Leonardo spent almost 30 years investigating the question of how a living creature can propel itself through the air under its own power. In his attempts to reveal the secret, he analysed the aerodynamics of the wings both of birds and bats. He consolidated his findings in many individual drawings and in one general study of bird flight. They are the starting point for the development of his spectacular flying machine–and now also the inspiration for numerous design details of the Limited Edition Leonardo. The engraving on the forepart of the writing instrument shows the study of a wing Leonardo sketched for a flying device on page 74 of one of his most famous notebooks–known today as “Paris Manuscript B”.”

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“This page number served as the inspiration for the Limited Edition 74.

The finely engraved depiction of a bat adorning the handcrafted 750 gold nib is based on a drawing from Leonardo’s study of bird flight.”

& the small gray text: “The page number “74”, inscribed by hand in the top right corner, is the reason the drawing became known as “Wing study fol. 74r” in the literature.”

Yeah, window shopping’s pretty fun and this post was pure piffle fluff filler. Just another day in the life of a fountain pen lover.

Personal Penny #1: A Dusty Memory of Seoul

Once in the lower levels of Lotte World in Seoul, Korea, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a little pen store nestled next to the underground parking lot and a convenience store. Pen Cafe, it called itself, a tiny space smaller than a typical American garage, stuffed to the brim with pens.

Website here: http://pencafe.co.kr/

The display cases outside Pen Cafe in Seoul, Korea.

What a wonderful place. There were three “salesmen” inside—Korean men in glasses and business suits—and no customers. I didn’t speak any Korean, nor did I look the part of a typical pen-buying customer. If anything, I probably looked like a little lost schoolgirl who’d wandered into the place by accident. Their glances reflected as much, as they mostly ignored me.

But I didn’t care. Just being able to see the pens was enough. And there were so many of them—even exotic versions and limited editions of pens I’d never seen online before. So glorious! I spent precious minutes pouring over each pen in the display case, moving methodically from left to right. I was too timid to take pictures of the pens themselves—it seemed rude—but I did manage to snag a shot of a glass Parker display case with a giant Aurora nib on top.

Parker display case. Aurora nib unit. When you’re a pen lover, the more the merrier, I say.

I asked for some prices of their inks—Iroshizuku, Montblanc (of which they had the LE Winter Forest in a bottle!). The salesman took out a giant calculator, typed in the price in Won, and converted it to USD for my benefit. It was all full retail price, so I was disappointed and decided not to buy anything. They were still looking at me as if I were in the wrong place. I knew I should have brought my pens with me that day…

Eventually, I wandered outside to check out their displays…and was pleasantly surprised to see some LE on sale, like this Parker Duofold here.

I do believe this was my first time see a real LE fountain pen in person. (Montblancs don’t count—there are so many MB boutiques that their limited editions are something of a “norm” to me now…)

I wonder how old this ink must be by now…

Still, upon closer inspection, I couldn’t help but notice how dusty the pens were. Day by day, they must have sat in these display cases, watching the people go by, probably being ignored most of the time, maybe only earning the occasional glance or two from a random passerby…

“Mom, can I get this panda pen for my birthday?” “Oh sweetie, we can find one of those at the dollar store.”

So many layers of dust…so many forgotten years spent waiting and waiting….so many words left unwritten…

Did the pens hold their breath as the people passed by? Did they try to look sharp for the holidays, in hopes of attracting more eyes? Did they ever despair of getting a good polish once in a while?

Waterman Serenite Maki-e Phoenix

The Waterman Serenite really caught my eye—-so elegant and poised despite being incased in its plexiglass cage. I asked if I could have it taken out to look at. Just to see the phoenix design from different angles. I wouldn’t even try to touch it.

The salesman were adamant in shaking their heads. One even raised his eyebrows at the audacity of my suggestion.

Very well, then. I asked—tentatively, I admit—for a price quote.

The pen was so neglected that none of them knew off the top of their heads. They had to bring up the store website and look for the pen in their inventory listings. The result? Something ridiculous—a price that was easily twice or three times of those still on the market today. Not that there were many left, as Waterman only made 120 of these pens.

Number 58 of 120 pens made in the world.

There was nothing else I could do. I sighed internally and left the shop, leaving the salespeople discussing whatever topics they had on hand.

Walking back to the display case, I expressed regrets to my imprisoned princess. Raising a hand, I touched the glass in a vain attempt to wipe off the dust coating her slender frame.

How I wished I could have given the phoenix her rightful wings and restore her place in the skies…