Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Profitable Penmanship Company Is Making Worthy Pens That Are Marketed as Real Jewels

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Profitable Penmanship Company Is Making Worthy Pens That Are Marketed as Real Jewels

Article excerpt

A$3,400 fountain pen? Who would buy it?

The short answer is: lots of people. Patrick H. Pinkston already has sold two-thirds of his initial limited edition of 3,000 pens.

Proper marketing is essential. "We are positioning these pens as jewelry. And we have been very successful in getting the pens into high-end jewelers," said Pinkston, president and chief executive officer of the Renaissance Pen Co. "It is made with a tremendous amount of craftsmanship. . . . It's easily the most expensive fountain pen ever made - unless you want to use pure gold and put diamonds on it," Pinkston said in an interview at his office in west St. Louis County. "From a craftsmanship point of view there is nothing like it. "We really have no competitors," Pinkston said. "There are people that produce limited edition collectable (pens). But the people who are in the market for those pens are wealthy enough that it is not a question of buying A or B. They will buy both A and B. They like the creativity that is out there." Pinkston had owned and operated a health-care company in Las Vegas, Nev., Horizon Health Inc. "But I hated Las Vegas," Pinkston said. "So I sold the company and moved back to St. Louis, which is my home town." Getting into fountain pens seems like a radical business shift. But, Pinkston said, "It's not really that big of a change. It's all in the marketing. I wanted a new business, but I wanted one that could grow much larger." Initially, Pinkston looked into high-priced watches. "You wouldn't believe the market for high-end watches. You have more than 50 companies that sell watches valued at more than $5,000 each. They are all very successful, even though they make mechanical watches that don't keep as good time as a Timex." But it's craftsmanship and beauty that make watches and pens valuable to people, Pinkston said. Pinkston noted that Mont Blanc is highly successful selling plastic body pens for $100 to $400 dollars. So, he wondered, why not sell a pen with even greater value? He said he made an initial investment of about $1 million of his own money. Pinkston currently has three basic pen styles. "We have blue, red and green enameled pens," said Pinkston. The blue pen sells for $2,400 and red and green for $3,400. The design is based on late 19th-century Faberge eggs. Carl Peter Faberge was a goldsmith and jeweler in St. Petersburg, Russia, who crafted beautiful and expensive jewelry for sale to the Czarist royal families and Russian nobility. Pinkston's Renaissance pen line has the licensed name of Michel Perchin, who headed the Faberge workshop from 1885 to 1903. Eight different German and French firms provide the parts and mill work for the pens. …

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