Monday, June 28, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I’ve been a fan of Curtis Australia for a while now, and a fan of the owners, Heather and Glenn Curtis since I first met them in California a few years ago. I particularly like the company’s jewelry-inspired pens, probably because jewelry is the root of the brand, with pens being a relatively new offering. I met Glenn and Heather at the Parasol Bar at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and their precious cargo, which they nonchalantly carted about in a nondescript package, was the pen and the necklace from their latest Morning Mist collection. The collection (which also includes bracelets, pendants, earrings and cufflinks) features silvery-gray diamonds known as Silvermist, introduced by Rio Tinto earlier this year. The fountain pen is 18-karat white and yellow gold with over 600 handset diamonds. In order to get the pen finished in time for the JCK show—the reason we were all in Las Vegas—Glenn personally set each stone. The articulated necklace is also made of white and yellow gold and features over 600 diamonds. The first picture shows Glenn and Heather and the pen, priced at $95,000. Though we all know that pens are my first love, it was fun to try on that necklace, which retails for $119,000. I thought it looked quite nice with my dress, which cost a whole lost less.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Of the people who responded to my last poll (the question: What is the source of your pen purchases?), 66 percent said they purchased their pens online. The remaining number was equally distributed among “pens shops,” “mass market stores” and “other collectors.” Powerful sales medium, this Internet is. It makes me wonder about the fate of brick-and-mortar stores, particularly since I am of the generation that remembers what personal service is all about. These days, most people think good service is getting an item on time and as described, and of course this is important. But I also like being wooed by the touch of a prospective purchase or the ambience of a store and its personnel. It’s retail foreplay.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
So I just got back from Las Vegas. It was a balmy 106 degrees while I was there, but the Couture and the JCK shows were held in controlled environments at the Wynn Hotel and the Sands Convention Center, respectively. In addition to some beautiful watches and jewelry, I saw some great pens. David Oscarson was hosted by W.Ink, the small-but-oh-so-elegant pen shop in the Wynn Hotel—a fitting spot to showcase Oscarson’s elegant pens. Too, he had pen displays at the Wynn & Company watch and jewelry store on the Esplanade, as well as right next door at the Encore, Steve Wynn’s newest hotel. I also met with Glenn and Heather Curtis of Curtis Australia and visited the Montblanc Boutique at the adjacent Palazzo. More on these later. And, yes, I did gamble a bit, but came home a few bucks lighter than when I left, unlike my colleagues who were much luckier. An observation: I’d hate to think that a visitor from another galaxy would assume Vegas is representative of earthlings' culture. There's a great future in plastics. Still.
Monday, June 7, 2010
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.”