There are few things I have followed so attentively within the world of pens as Montblanc’s annual limited edition Patron of the Art pen collections. I think my fascination stems not only from the ever-beautiful designs, but also their raisons d’être: the Patron of Art first debuted 30 years ago to emphasize the importance of patronage, cultural legacy and writing—things dear to my heart.
So I was sorry to learn that this year’s collection is Montblanc’s last Patron of Art. Though three decades is quite a good run, I will miss the opportunity to annually revel in the arts with a brand that is as much destined to educate as to make pens, thrilling myriad sensibilities with each new piece. This year’s Victoria & Albert collection is a thoughtful culmination, paying homage to a queen and a prince, married in 1840, whose legacy is significant. She served as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and later as Empress of India, while he was Prince Consort of Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha.
The new pen collection comprises two 4810 and two 888 editions, with one honoring Victoria and the other, Albert, within each edition. The LE100 and the LE8 editions honor the royal couple together, as one pen. Each beautifully rendered nib is handcrafted at Montblanc’s Hamburg atelier, which is honored this week at the Homo Faber art event in Venice.
Montblanc Patron of Art Homage to Victoria & Albert Limited Edition 4810
This edition features a pearl-white lacquer barrel and a cone embellished with a traditional Victorian pattern. The pen dedicated to Victoria has a mint-green lacquer cap with decoration inspired by the fence surrounding the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London. The cap is topped with a royal blue crown and the Montblanc emblem in resin. “I will be good” is engraved on the cap ring, and the clip is set with a green stone. The 18-karat champagne-tone gold-coated nib is engraved with a stylized rose.
The pen dedicated to Albert has a burgundy lacquer cap evoking the colors of the British field marshal uniform worn at his wedding and the decoration beneath the translucent lacquer recalls the stepped gable of Schloss Rosenau, Albert’s childhood home. The clip is set with a green stone. The pen’s 18-karat champagne-tone gold-coated nib is engraved with Albert’s royal coat of arms.
Montblanc Patron of Art Homage to Victoria & Albert Limited Edition 888
The version dedicated to Victoria celebrates her accession to the throne, with a cap and barrel in translucent red lacquer recalling her coronation dress and an 18-karat champagne-tone gold overlay depicting her monogram. The 18-karat gold nib is engraved with an English rose, and the pen’s clip is set with a red garnet.
Albert’s version also has an 18-karat champagne-tone gold overlay, here paying homage to the architecture of the Crystal Palace, while the gray lacquer beneath is a tribute to the tartan Albert designed for Balmoral Castle. The nib is decorated with the Saxony coat of arms.
Both versions feature an engraving of their names and wedding date on the cap rings.
Montblanc Patron of Art Homage to Victoria & Albert Limited Edition 100
This edition combines mother-of-pearl and 18-karat champagne-tone gold to recall Kensington Palace where Princess Victoria grew up. Nine lines on the cone are in reference to the couple’s nine children, and an amethyst on the clip alludes to the bracelet Victoria received from her mother when her engagement to Albert was announced. The detachable 18-karat gold cap ring features an orange blossom pattern; the opposite side of the ring depicts the linked hands of Victoria and Albert, as depicted by German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
The pen’s 18-karat gold cap is decorated with guilloche referencing the arches of the Crystal Palace, set with turquoise. Hand-engraved profiles of Victoria and Albert evoke the medals distributed during the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Montblanc emblem on the cap crown is in mother-of-pearl.
Montblanc Patron of Art Homage to Victoria & Albert Limited Edition 8
This edition is meant to convey the love between Victoria and Albert, as well as the grief Victoria felt after the loss of her husband, depicted by the black onyx inlaid with white gold on the cap. The hand-engraved monogram “VRI” surrounded by matte black lacquer opens to reveal a hand engraving from a memorial locket Victoria wore “in memory of Albert.”
The pen’s white gold patterned barrel is set with brilliant-cut diamonds and two black onyx inlays. The engraving on the cone reads, “Queen of an Empire on which the sun never set.” Her coronation ring inspired the inlay on the cone’s end, created using sapphires, rubies and diamonds. The detachable cap ring is engraved with the dates of Victoria’s reign, and the pen’s 18-karat rhodium-coated nib is engraved with a pansy, a symbol of loving thoughts.
Nib making is just one of the many art forms for which Montblanc is known, and its know-how is resplendently displayed this week at Homo Faber in Venice. The multi-day event (April 10 through May 1) at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the Island San Giorgio Maggiore highlights artisans from around the world who share their talents in the form of functional objects and decorative pieces.
In the case of Montblanc, nib craftsmanship in the ultimate service of writing is the focus, expressed via an immersive experience that illuminates the many production phases required to craft a nib. A variety of nibs—standard and bespoke—are showcased to emphasize the importance of this integral part of the writing experience. Artists and experts are on hand to answer questions and demonstrate their crafts.