Actually, not quite so random this week.
• Lock up your good pens; there are thieves about. The Herald is reporting that burglars in Plymouth have stolen a collection of jewellery and high-end pens, including a Montblanc Greta Garbo special edition ballpoint.
(Greta Garbo was a classic Hollywood movie star in the ’20s and ’30s. The Montblanc series pens carry her signature and have a pearl in the cap.)
The other items were:
A Delta Dolce Vita chunky-sized fountain pen. The pen is bright orange with a black cap.
An Elysee slim silver-coloured fine-fibre tipped or ballpoint pen. It probably has blue ink and twist mechanism to bring the nib out. The base and lid are covered in an ornate filigree textured design.
A black Parker (possibly ballpoint) pen.
According to the paper, the take for the heist was about £10,000. The thieves, who broke in during the day, also made a mess in the home, even spilling ink on the carpet.
• The above is interesting because Bonhams & Butterfields just held an all-Montblanc auction in Los Angeles during the LA Pen Show – and, coincidentally, a Greta Garbo pen was among the items auctioned. However, the one sold at the auction was a solid gold fountain pen that fetched a whopping Us$21,350.
All together, the auction brought in US$715,000 for fountain pens that included a Black Widow, a Fortune Number 88 and a George Washington, all limited editions, according to Art Daily. The auction reportedly broke a few world records, with at least 10 of the pens going for more than $20,000 each.
They weren’t all that expensive, though. The auction house’s fountain pen catalogue shows one Alexandre Dumas limited edition from the Writers Series brought less than $900.
• Speaking of Montblanc, do you remember the company’s decision to honour Gandhi with an 18K gold fountain pen that cost roughly 50 times the average annual income in India?
Now, sales of the Gandhi Montblanc have been halted while an Indian court decides whether it’s even legal. The Centre for Consumer Education had sued over the pen, arguing that the Emblems and Names Act of 1950 prohibits the use of Gandhi’s name and image for commercial purposes.
From the BBC:
“We have agreed to stop selling the pen until the court decides on the matter,” Pankaj Shah, director of International Trading Private Limited, which distributes Montblanc pens in India, told the BBC.
Just 241 of the handmade pens will be sold, reflecting the number of miles Gandhi walked in his famous march against salt taxes in 1930.
Each pen comes with an eight-metre golden thread that can be wound around the pen, representing the spindle and cotton Gandhi used to weave simple cloth.
Mr Shah said 42 of the 70 pens “allotted” for India had already been sold since they were launched in early October.
By the way, the pen goes for about £16,000.
As part of the deal, Montblanc donated £100,000 to a charity run by Gandhi’s grandson, Tushar, who told The Times that he did not agree with the opposition to the pens in India.
“People are being deprived of the right to commemorate Gandhi and that’s a very un-Gandhian thing to do,” he said.
Asked what his great-grandfather would have thought of a £16,000 pen, he said: “Everything that has been said is conjecture. Who are we to decide what he would have thought?
• The Chief Officers’ Network painted a bleak picture of the economic future in a recent report and part of the forecast was based on ink pens, of all things.
The so-called “luxury goods” sector found the same thing: if you can write with a two dollar gel pen; why buy a Mont Blanc? For us, an indicator was the number of people in meetings who used pens bearing hotel logos: these are people who were thinking twice not just about the capital cost of the pen, but even about its running costs – refills for an expensive rollerball cost a lot more than taking a promotional pen from the bedside table. Their expensive, expired, pens stayed at home.
Of course, they could just buy inexpensive, good-quality rollerballs instead of the pricey ones with the refills that cost a fortune – but alas, what’s a chief executive to do?