Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark

In 1912, Austrians Edwige Hoffmann and Heinrich Helm started making Montegrappa pens, named after Mount Grappa in Italy. From the very beginning, these pens have been made with precious metals like sterling silver and 18-karat gold, resins, and celluloid. Traditional and antique techniques of crafting jewellery are combined with the latest technology to make each of these pens

Published: Nov 10, 2015 06:45:45 AM IST
Updated: Nov 10, 2015 08:08:42 AM IST
The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark
Image: Courtesy Montegrappa

Hand-Etching By Burin Engraving Technique
Here the artist’s drawing is reduced to the exact finished size, transferred on tracing paper, and fixed on the smooth body of the pen. After the craftsman outlines the drawing, the engraving is made by hand with a burin, giving a ‘chiaroscuro’ (Italian for light and dark) effect. Some details may be filled with gold, enhancing the work’s value and elegance by providing a contrast between the various elements.

The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark
Die-casting is a goldsmith technique that dates back to the 5th century. It begins with a three-dimensional sculpture made by hand, which is then used as a model to create each single piece with the lost wax technique. All details are then finished by hand with a burin.

The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark
Low-Relief Engraving
A three-dimensional image is obtained by cutting the surface with tiny straight cuts of varying depth, and removing small quantities of the precious metal. The way the surface reflects light improves the low-relief result of this high technological engraving. The more complex and difficult phase is the understanding of the drawing. The difficulty lies in the fact that the image has to be engraved on a cylindrical surface. Even an expert hand sometimes struggles to match to perfection the meeting point where the engraving starts and ends.

The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark
Hot Enamelling
Enamel is a vitreous substance used since 6th century BC as a decorative material. It has been appreciated for its colour range and excellent upkeep. The artist first prepares the coloured enamels used for painting. Each is ground to a very fine powder with a grinder and mortar and combined with an oily solution, giving it a creamy consistency. Next, the outlines of the picture are drawn, after which it undergoes a first firing to fix the drawing permanently to the surface. The image is then hand-painted applying the coloured enamels with a fine sable brush, each application being followed by a further stage of firing.

The antique and the modern create the 'write' mark
The Alchemist
In honour of Paulo Coelho’s best-seller The Alchemist, Montegrappa’s limited edition series of fountain and rollerball pens are made in a symbolic and historical language representing alchemy. The entire pen presents an interpretation of the cosmos based on the criteria that founded medieval science.

(This story appears in the 13 November, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)