Pen World v32.4

PenWorld

Pen World v32.4

The Journal of Writing Culture

Renaissance:

Italy’s Visconti

honors Leonardo da Vinci

trip of a lifetime:

Platinum at 100

remover of obstacles:

David Oscarson’s

Ganesha series

Cento Italia:

Aurora’s jubilee

JUNE 2019

$6.95US $7.95CAN

06

0 74851 08282 9


JUNE

Volume 32, Number 4

ON OUR COVER: Visconti Da Vinci Machina

limited edition fountain pen in rose gold.

Background image: Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci.

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Visconti’s “Penaissance”

The Italian pen company has a new CEO

and a slew of new writing instruments, but

its Renaissance values remain the same.

pockets lined in Platinum

The continued history of Japanese pocket

pens, Platinum-style.

to everything, Turin, Turin, Turin

Italy’s Aurora Pen Company celebrates 100

years.

trip of a lifetime

A select few U.S. vendors experienced the

100th anniversary of Japan’s Platinum Pen

Company in person.

hot enamel and Hinduism

David Oscarson honors friendship and

spirituality in the new Lord Ganesha series.

a ballpoint did that?!

Tai Taeoalii’s art is emotional, detailed, and

provocative—and it’s done with disposable

ballpoints.

a yen for rolls

Not sushi rolls, but fabric pen rolls by Yen

Yen Siu of Yenderings.

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departments

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view

Par Avion

mail

our readers, noted

date

mark your calendars

now

new pens and accessories

show

summer is the time

news

Conklin, Blank Slate, Roses Without

Thorns

shop

Fahrney’s at 90

network

classified advertising

source

brand contact information

how to…

…make wax seals

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view

Par Avion

BY NICKY PESSAROFF

In one of my first memories, I am four years old sitting at the

kitchen table with my mother, reading an airmail letter from

Aunt Vickie.

She wasn’t my real aunt; she was the rabbi’s wife at my

cantor-father’s synagogue. Aunt Vickie and Uncle Rabbi (as my

sister and I called him) were a generation older than my parents

and played the role of our adoptive grandparents. They

spent each summer in Israel, and Aunt Vickie regularly wrote

me letters.

I remember the thin paper marked “Par Avion,” so different

from the rough construction paper that is ubiquitous to childhood.

But more than anything, I remember her unique messages.

They were written for a child, full of illustrations and easyto-follow

language. A typical first sentence might have said: “We

got on an El Al airplane and headed to Israel!” But Aunt Vickie

added flair: “El Al” written in both English and Hebrew, and next

to the word “airplane,” a simple illustrative drawing. My mother

read the letters aloud to me, underscoring the words with her

fingers. In my brain, the synapses formed: “A-I-R-P-L-A-N-E”

makes the sound that connotes “airplane.”

I credit my early reading proficiency to two things: my

mother carefully underscoring the words she read me, and

those wonderful letters from my Aunt Vickie—the paper and

the process.

I saw the same technique work on my step-son. When he

was only weeks old, my wife would read book after book to

him, always following the words with her finger. When I met

them both, my now-son was turning five years old, and he

could read every billboard in town. By the time he was eight,

he was reading at a college level.

Now, I’m not one of those people who believes that technology

is ruining our children. If I had the money, I would have

purchased a car with those screens set into the bucket seats. I’m

sure my parents would have done the same if the technology

existed when I was a kid in the 1980s.

Still, I was lucky. I learned to lose myself in books, to

annotate my thoughts in the margins, to highlight passages I

wished to revisit. When I was grounded (a rare occurrence, of

course), I had no problems losing myself in Judy Bloom books.

These days, I still read every morning—not PDFs, but actual,

printed books. Then I get to work, my writer’s brain already

buzzing from the synapses that (I hope) are still forming.

Today, specialists are learning that the process of reading on

paper and writing notes by hand helps our memory retention in

marked ways.

Duh.

Aunt Vickie didn’t need a study to know how to teach me to

read. My mother didn’t need “Hooked on Phonics” to understand

the import of reinforcing the written material with the sound it

makes. My wife didn’t need Montessori to tell her that reading

aloud together makes for abler students.

The letters Aunt Vickie wrote me are long gone, and Aunt

Vickie herself passed away more than two decades ago from an

unexpected heart attack, but I still remember her clearly. And

what I remember the most about her—beyond her delicious

cooking, her lovely voice, her fierce hugs—are those wonderful

letters, sent to me from across the Atlantic Ocean, filled with

love, more instructional than school.

An email just can’t do that.

editor@penworld.com

Find it first at

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2019 Shake Pen of the Year features a custom holder in the

shape of a Porsche 911 sports car in glossy stainless steel.

Famous for its innovative ‘shake’ technology, the pen

is ready to write with a flick of the wrist.

NEW!

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Pen of the Year

Limited, numbered edition of 911 pieces worldwide

To Order Call: 1-800-624-PENS • Shop Online: www.FahrneysPens.com

Visit our Retail Store: 1317 F St. NW, Washington, DC 202-628-9525


The Renaissance

BY NICKY PESSAROFF

Pen Brand

Italy’s Visconti Pens is only 31 years old, but its

values harken to the Florentine Renaissance.

On May 2, 1519, Leonardo da Vinci—the model for what we call a “Renaissance

Man”—passed away at Clos Lucé in France. An apocryphal story even says that

King Francis I of France cradled Da Vinci’s head as he died. This year marks the

500th anniversary of the death of the painter/sculptor/engineer/scientist/architect.

Like Da Vinci, Visconti’s roots are in the Florence area of Italy, a cradle of the Italian

Renaissance. Visconti began in 1988 as a new fountain pen brand rooted in Italian traditions.

The brand made a name for itself early on with a series of urushi pens. In the 1990s and

2000s, the company boomed as it introduced technical innovations such as a double-reservoir

power filler; the Visconti clip, inspired by the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence; the 23 karat

palladium Dreamtouch nib; the Hook-Safe Lock capping mechanism; and best-selling series

like the Opera, the Wall Street, and the Van Gogh.

A year ago, Visconti turned another page in its history: leadership was transferred to a new

CEO. Francesco Poggesi, a native of Florence, brings multiple decades of experience in the

European luxury market. His pedigree includes serving as an executive for the Gucci Group,

Salvatore Ferragamo, and Boucheron luxury watches and jewelry.

“I was born and grew up in Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance,”

Poggesi says. “I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to

work for a writing instrument company like Visconti.”

The New CEO believes that Da Vinci’s example permeates

Visconti writing instruments and accessories: “Leonardo Da

Vinci was the perfect example of how art and science can

form a perfect human union. With the same harmony,

Visconti combines technical know-how with a uniquely artistic

vision, thanks to the manual skill of its craftsmen and the

intuition of its creative team.”

Poggesi calls his team of creative craftspeople

“architects,” an apt name for a group of artisans

who are directly influenced by the art and architecture

of Italy, where the Golden Ratio has

been studied since the time of Euclid and

ancient Greek culture.

Left—Visconti Leonardo Da Vinci Machina with

rose gold trim, uncapped and capped. Right—the

Machina presentation box is based on Da Vinci’s

sketches of an icosahedron, found in Da Vinci’s

Codex Atlanticus.

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Above, left to right—Visconti Machina presentation box front and back, and Da Vinci’s sketch of a

dodecahedron from his Codex Atlanticus.

Right—Visconti Machina rollerball in yellow gold vermeil and fountain pen in silver. Below—details of the

barrel, featuring scrimshaw renderings of Da Vinci’s machine sketches found in the Codex Atlanticus.

Found in nature in the swirl of a conch shell or the petals of a flower, and found in art and

architecture in the proportions that compose such artistic wonders as the Parthenon and Da

Vinci’s own Mona Lisa, the Golden Ratio has been elemental to the design of Visconti pens.

The Visconti Divina series is named after Da Vinci’s preferred name for the Golden Ratio,

Divina proportiona. The Visconti Divina follows the path of the Golden Ratio, resulting in an

ergonomic, pentagram-shaped body that is both stunning in style and easy to use.

“The architects who design our pens have often been inspired by the geniuses of art and

science,” Poggesi says. “The Divina pen recalls the divine golden proportion. This is because the

architects who work on design of the Visconti pens have in mind, before any modern elements,

the base ideas of the greatest and most innovative architect of all time: Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo and his proportions are the perfect masters.”

While Da Vinci’s work has influenced Visconti writing instruments from the beginning,

the brand has never explicitly honored Da Vinci, himself. For the 500th anniversary of Da

Vinci’s death, Visconti introduces the Leonardo da Vinci Machina, a limited edition fountain

pen series that honors the art and architecture of the greatest Renaissance Man.

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The Visconti Medici in Golden Blue and Golden Black: twist-action

ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pen (capped and uncapped).

The Visconti Da Vinci Machina comes in three different finishes: 288 editions in aged solid silver, 288 editions in vermeil

yellow gold, and 38 editions in 18 karat solid rose gold. Rich, semi-translucent brown resin is matched with a barrel and cap

band of pure white resin. The barrel features scrimshaw-style etchings of Da Vinci’s iconic machine drawings found in the

Codex Atlanticus. Da Vinci’s instructions also grace the barrel, and Da Vinci’s signature is found on the cap, both in the master’s

unique script.

“The use of the scrimshaw technique and a colored pigment evoke Da Vinci’s beloved red chalk drawing art, showing once

again the remarkable technical and artistic expertise of Visconti craftsmen,” says Poggesi.

Elegant metalwork graces the cap and barrel rings and the stylized Visconti clip. Also available as an oversize rollerball,

the power-filling fountain pen version features Visconti’s 23-karat palladium nib for the silver version, yellow gold plating for

the vermeil version, or rose gold plating for the rose gold version, in nib options from extra-fine through broad and stub. Each

Visconti Machina writing instrument comes in a presentation box in the shape of Da Vinci’s icosahedron and is packaged with

a glass ink bottle.

Aside from Da Vinci, Visconti is also influenced by the history and artistic patronage of the Medici banking family, who

ruled Florence (sometimes less than legitimately) for centuries. The Medicis were patrons of Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Da

Vinci, himself. Lorenzo di Medici was a direct contemporary of Da Vinci’s and recommended his services to various royal

courts—making Da Vinci a de facto ambassador for the Medicis’ political and financial interests.

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The limited edition Voyager 30 features an

ebonite body based on the original Voyager

and is available as rollerball or fountain pen

and in three colors: orange, red, and green

(orange and red shown here).

Poggesi says, “The greatness of Florence is in debt to the foresight of the Medici, who became patrons of artists. Thanks to

them, a very refined civilization impregnated with genius was born in Florence between the 13th and 15th centuries. In the

same way, Visconti, the historical Florentine company that embodies the essence of Renaissance values, is grateful to its

patrons: the foreign partners who allow us to continue the vision of a pen that combines art and history with luxury and design.”

The Medici collection gets two new finishes this year: Golden Black and Golden Blue. An eight-sided, faceted body that

also follows the Golden Ratio, the pens feature a proprietary resin called Acrosilk that is mixed with silk fibers for a glossy,

luminescent effect. Black or royal blue Acrosilk are matched to a gold-plated Visconti clip, cap top, and trim. The power-filling, oversize

fountain pen has a 23 karat palladium Dreamtouch nib in sizes from extra-fine through broad and stub. The pen is also available

as a capped rollerball or twist-action ballpoint.

The new Medici is directly imbued with the elements that attracted Poggesi to Visconti in the first place—remaining true

to the traditions of the Renaissance by pushing the company’s boundaries artistically and technically.

Poggesi explains, “Unlike other brands, which specialize in one or two products, we don’t like to limit our creativity. This is a

great added value. This is what makes us unique in a world like today that tends to standardize [us] and make us all the same.”

As an example, Poggesi references Visconti’s use of ebonite in its writing instruments: “Ebonite was the first material used

to make fountain pens, and today, there are very few companies able to produce ebonite pens. Visconti is among them, and in

its production history, it has used this material several times, obtaining results of remarkable elegance.”

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Left—Visconti’s new CEO, Francesco

Poggesi. Below—Visconti Homo Sapiens

Magma series in twist-action ballpoint,

rollerball, and fountain pen with 23 karat

palladium Dreamtouch nib.

To celebrate Visconti’s 30th anniversary, which passed officially in

October 2018, the brand is revamping one of its early favorites, the

Visconti Voyager. Featuring Voyager’s traditional body shape and

the Voyager spring clip, the ebonite Voyager 30 limited edition will

be available in three colors as a double-reservoir fountain pen and a

rollerball.

Poggesi believes that one of Visconti’s strengths lies in its ability to

utilize technology to make writing instruments from unique materials:

“If we’re talking about materials, just think of the Homo Sapiens

collection: which other brand uses a blend of resin with volcanic

lava powder in a pen?”

You read correctly: basaltic lava from Italy’s Mt. Etna. Practically

unbreakable, somewhat hygroscopic (able to absorb moisture), dense in

color saturation, and heat resistant, the Visconti Homo Sapiens is a

modern marvel and a fan favorite.

In May, Visconti introduced a new version of the Homo Sapiens,

the Magma, with glossy red aluminum trim. The power-filler fountain

pen features Visconti’s Hook-Safe Lock mechanism and comes with a

23 karat ruthenium-coated palladium Dreamtouch nib in extra-fine

through broad and 1.3 mm stub. Modes available include an oversize

fountain pen, rollerball, and twist-action ballpoint.

Credit must be given to Detlef Bittner, co-owner of Carmel,

California’s Bittner: The Pleasure of Writing pen shop (bittner.com)

and an official Visconti vendor. Bittner recommended a Homo Sapiens with red, lava-like trim. As a result, any Visconti

Homo Sapiens Magma ordered through Bittner will ship with an exclusive inkwell. The Homo Sapiens Magma is exclusive

to the U.S. market.

And these are only some of the Visconti writing instruments that have or will be premiering. Further, pens are only

part of Poggesi’s concept for Visconti. He says, “We are also planning an extension of our product category: an accessory

line will be launched in the next 2020 collection!”

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From rod stock to machining to fit to filling system, each Visconti writing

instrument goes through a rigorous testing process before being released

for purchase.

Poggesi continues, “This amazing company, Visconti, is

no longer just a company: it has become a real luxury brand

and a leader in the pen sector. We will grow by focusing

on the concept of lifestyle, strengthening our e-commerce,

and a new organizational structure that includes the opening

of a few Visconti stores in order to reinforce our image,

like the big fashion brands do. We also want to expand

our distribution network. Visconti, being no longer just

writing instruments, will be present not only in pen shops,

but also in fashion, luxury, and design boutiques.”

As CEO, Poggesi believes his most important role is

fostering a creative environment. He has introduced a new

design process that involves the marketing and product

development teams, as well.

“When thinking about designing a pen, it is important to

have multiple points of view,” Poggesi says. “The design of a

new pen should be analyzed from a purely artistic and

aesthetic point of view (here is the role of designers); from a

technical/practical feasibility point of view (here comes the

technical development department); and finally, but no less

important, from a commercial point of view, which also takes

as a reference the behavior of competitors and market

analysis (where the marketing department comes into play).”

When we think of the Renaissance, we think of iconoclastic geniuses—Rembrandt and Da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

We also consider the patrons who made their art possible—the Borgias, the Medicis, the Sforzas. But it’s important to bear in

mind that the Renaissance was also a communal experience. The Sistine Chapel was the work of multiple artists and architects.

Da Vinci sketched the illustrations for his friend Luca Pacioli’s landmark mathematical work on the Golden Ratio, the three-volume

Divina proportione.

Likewise, Visconti depends on the sum of its parts to create the whole. In ethos and in product, Visconti strives for the

title of “Renaissance pen brand.”

Visit visconti.it and colesoflondon.com.

53


• When art becomes a jewel •

The idea of creating a new collection as accessories around writing instruments is no longer a dream . As a designer and through

her immense talent, Laure RIDEL conceived and designed a new series of luxury, exclusive and one of a kind pen-cases.

The blue 60 pens case requires 2400 pieces of straws, juxtaposed and placed one by one in order to shape a radiating pattern;

this work requires immeasurable craftmanship.

The second 60 pens case is crafted using the Boulle work, a very rich type of marquetry of different metals which is a decorative

technique. It requires cutout pieces to form negative and symmetrical drawings often used during Napoleon III’s reign.

The penholder is made by a French artist using the lost-wax technique which allows you to decorate your office while

remaining practical.

POINT PLUME

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contact@pointplume.com • www.pointplume.com


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60


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The Journal of Writing Culture

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61


how to

...make a wax seal.

Lightbringer Designs LLC offers custom metal signet rings and stamps for wax seals along with extremely durable sealing

wax. CEO Harry Burger uses 3D printing to create rounded features, angled surfaces, and depth variations that are difficult

to make otherwise, adding texture and detail. Here, Burger gives step-by-step instructions for creating the perfect wax seal.

Visit lightbringerdesigns.etsy.com. Save 10 percent off orders over $25 with coupon code “PENWORLD”.

1 2

3

Getting Started: Choose your stamp or signet ring and color of sealing wax (1), and prep your other supplies: items you’re sealing, alcohol lamp, a safe place to let

the wax cool off (aluminum foil or release paper from sticky labels). If you’re sealing multiple items, have an ice cube in a teacup or shot glass and a towel (2). Be

sure that you’re working on top of a surface that can take a bit of heat. The alcohol lamp is recommended because the flame makes less soot and creates less heat,

so it’s easier to melt the wax without leaving scorch marks. Most are also made to be easily set at an angle, not just straight up—this is essential. Ensure the correct

orientation of your stamp; if using a signet ring (3), remove the ring from your finger to avoid burns.

4 5

6

Instructions: Trace the stamp lightly with a pencil where you will place the seal to help you know when you have enough melted wax (4). Position the lamp at an

angle directly over your target, then light it and start melting the wax (5). Remember that the lamp, wax, stamp, and impression all stay hot for up to a minute

after the flame is out. When enough drops of wax fall for the desired size of the seal, extinguish the flame and stir the wax puddle with the hot end of the wax stick

(6). This is to get rid of air bubbles in the wax and to direct the wax where you want the seal to go. A little more wax will transfer onto the paper as you do this.

7 8

9

Put the wax stick aside to cool in your prepared spot. As the wax on the paper cools, it will thicken. Breathe on the bottom of your stamp right before applying it to

put just a bit of moisture on the surface. This will help it release afterwards. Press the seal into the middle of the wax puddle (7). Leave the seal in place for a few

seconds to let the wax set. Hold the paper down near the seal (but don't touch the wax yet!), and pull up on the stamp to remove it (8). Set the new impression

aside and don't touch the wax or set anything on top of it until it has cooled completely (60 seconds is usually enough).

If you’re sealing many items at once like a stack of invitations or holiday cards, place the stamp directly

onto the ice cube briefly (9), then dry it thoroughly on the towel. If there’s still water in the details of the

stamp, wax can’t fill in that area and you'll have a "short shot" on the next seal (10).

10

If the seal didn't fill completely, place the stamp aside and immediately melt more wax on top of the first

seal. If it’s still warm, you may be able to re-melt it a bit by melting more hot wax on top and stirring; it

should thicken much more quickly this time. Then apply the stamp again. It can take a bit longer for the seal

to set the second time because the initial stamp is still hot.

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