Magazine article The Middle East

Pens of Distinction

Magazine article The Middle East

Pens of Distinction

Article excerpt


A QUALITY PEN IS AS DEPENDABLE AS A GOOD FRIEND. Whether self-acquired or received as a gift, good pens become treasured possessions. Looked after, cared for and kept safe, a quality pen is always there for you.

Around 4000 BC, man scratched the surface of a moist clay tablet with bronze or a bone tool. Around 3000 BC, the Egyptians developed hieroglyphics. For writing on papyrus scrolls, scribes used thin reed brushes or reed pens. Later on the first pen--writing instrument--was the quill pen dipped into dark paint.

Then there arose a need to lengthen the time between dips, eliminate splatter, eliminate smearing and improve pen handling. It was in the early 1800s that the first designs for pens that could hold their own ink were patented. In 1884, L.E. Waterman, a New York City insurance salesman, designed the first workable fountain pen; the fountain pen was to become the predominant writing instrument for the next sixty years. Four fountain-pen manufacturers dominated the market: Parker, Sheaffer, Waterman and Wahl-Eversharp. In 1938, two Hungarians Laszlo Biro and George Biro invented the Biro. The new-formed Eterpen Company in Argentina commercialised the Biro pen. The press hailed the success of this writing tool because it could write for a year without refilling. The highly popular modern version of Laszlo Biro's pen, the BIC Cristal, has a daily worldwide sales figure of 14,000,000 pieces. Biro is still the generic name used for the ballpoint pen in most of the world.

Fountain pens sell today as a classic writing instrument and the original pens have become very hot collectibles. Despite the advent of the increasingly paperless work and domestic environments, the market for writing instruments is expected to reach $18.3 billion in 2011. The growth in the developed market is expected to be driven by technical innovations and creative marketing. Bespoke pens are very popular at the high end of the market, as are limited editions and special tribute pens; the newest will be showcased in the Middle East at the Paperworld exhibition, to be held in Dubai, 7-9 March 2011.

Expensive upmarket pens attract a lot of interest in the region and since its inception in 2005, the Premier Middle East Watches, Jewellery & Pens Awards has become a regular feature at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre. The Awards have steadily grown in terms of nominations and votes received. In 2010, Pelikan Middle East & Africa (PMEA) took part for the first time and presented three premium fountain pens, which are all available exclusively in limited editions: Maki-e Seaworld in the Best Arts & Craftsmanship category, Fire in the Best Theme category and Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which won in the Best Historical Icon category.

Unique pens

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon premium writing implement is dedicated to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is the fifth writing instrument in the series, which includes the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Pyramids of Giza. The fountain pen features an extravagant cap, which depicts the structure of the historical gardens. Flower motifs are engraved on the gold-plated surface. The barrel is elaborately lacquered in dark green, while the fountain pen's front part and end piece have fine gold plating. The Hanging Gardens series is strictly limited: Pelikan has produced just 410 and each costs 2,950 [euro].

Pens are also launched as tributes, such as the Gandhi pen, launched by Montblanc: the Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 241 and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Edition 3000 pay homage to Gandhi for his role in freeing India. The Limited Edition 241 features an 18-cat gold nib with rhodium plating, hand engraved with a depiction of the 60-year-old Gandhi setting off on the Salt March of July 1930. …

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