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Monday, June 7, 2010

A sense of humor and a $2 mirror

Yair Greenberg has been in the pen business for as long as I can remember, and that’s a very long time. He is the founder of YAFA (an acronym formed from the first two letters of his name and the first two letters of his wife, Fay’s), which distributes a number of pen brands, including Monteverde, which he founded (the name means “green mountain,” as does his surname), Conklin and Delta. He is also the distributor of Schmidt, Hauser and Star Minen refills. A busy man, he is, since he typically introduces between five and ten new pen collections each year. It was fun to catch up with him recently in NYC, since we always have lots to talk about, not the least of which is pens.

When YAFA purchased Conklin not too long ago, Greenberg immersed himself in the brand, studying its history and its products. The result is a refreshed line that makes the most of contemporary ingredients—like some really lovely acrylics—all the while paying homage to what made Conklin a favorite during its heyday many years ago. The new Deco Crest in silver and rose gold vermeil is reaching stores right about now. It’s a very pretty pen with a vintage-style overlay, available as a fountain pen or ballpoint pen. The ballpoint with a partial overlay retails for $595, and the fountain pen, $695. With a full overlay, the ballpoint is priced at $1,495 and the fountain pen, $1,595. Within the next two or three months, a new Symetric will be coming out in vintage-looking colors: red, green or brown. Later in the year, watch for the Glider and a piston-filled Nozac. Greenberg is also working on a Duragraph and a great looking Mark Twain Crescent (it’s crescent filled—just like the old days) in a chased design, black and ivory and burgundy and blue.

In case you haven’t guessed it, Greenberg is captivated by names, and this extends to his Monteverde line in which each collection ends with the letter “a.” Most of what’s new here are line extensions, except for one as-yet-to-be-named collection launching later this year. Rest assured that it, too, will end in the letter “a.” There’s a new Mini Jewelria, new colors in the Prima and Regatta lines, and the new Color Fusion in red or yellow (based on the Black Stealth) in the Invincia Collection.

Delta, based in Naples, Italy, also has some exciting news. The Dolce Vita Oro with yellow gold vermeil trim launched in May. It is available as a ballpoint, rollerball and fountain pen in two styles: oversized or piston-filled. Also making its debut is the Titanio with a titanium nib (very smooth and flexible) and the Mapuche. The limited edition Windows collection is gorgeous. The transparent body of the pen features a scene from each of the four seasons, and there are just 200 pens in each of the four designs.

When I asked Greenberg if he avails himself of any help in managing all of his companies and indeed designing new products and even inventing a few things (he patented the Mega Ink Ball rollerball that fills like a fountain pen), he replied with characteristic good humor that he gets his best advice “from a $2 mirror.”

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