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50 years of edgy design – the “Countach-Factor”

While the world was listening to the Beatles and the ladies were wearing dresses with flowers as well as the car industry was producing cars with many round elements like the BMW 2002 or the Jaguar XJ and the Mercedes 280 SL “Pagode”, the legendary Marcello Gandini was preparing something that would leave the entire world speechless and would have influenced car design but not only, for the coming 50 years until today.

March 11th, 1971, Geneva Motorshow. The World was shocked when Lamborghini lifted the veil from their latest creation. The Lamborghini LP500, later known as the Countach. A kind of wedge with 4 wheels, a 12 cylinder engine in the back in a breathtaking, intense yellow paint. Every car enthusiast, but not only, was kidnapped into a world of edges, large glass surfaces and aerodynamic efficiency that took the Countach straight into the Olympus of instant classics, as they are called today. You have to imagine that, as described in the beginning, the world was still used to very round designs in general. These unusual forms were absolutely revolutionary. It’s enough to mention that this car, has been produced by Lamborghini for 26 years with very light modifications to the design. As a comparison, it would be the same if the Volkswagen Golf would still look like in 1995. Unbelievable!

Must haves

So, what else was happening 50 years ago, in particular in the pen industry? I did some research and have found a couple of interesting pieces to share with you going back 50 years. One of the first things to mention is that writing instruments were thinner in general. Have a look for example to this selection of Cartier Must Pens from the early seventies. Look at how many different finishes the offered and the majority of them were gold plated. Interesting detail on the top of the pen are the 3 twisted rings. So beautiful and sophisticated.

Not only lighters

Another stunning piece from 1970, is the Dunhill Dress with its singular shape, a kind of flat-rounded barrel with a guilloche finish, so called “grains d’orge”, on the flat sides and wisely inserted black lacquered areas. Of course, it features a 18ct gold nib as you would expect from a fountain pen of this calibre. Also here, the shape and the size of the pen were very slim and light. In proportion to the length of the pen, quite a thin instrument. Very typical at the time.

The Pakistan Instrument of Surrender

Last but not least, also in 1971, the Pakistan Instrument of Surrender was signed with a fountain pen coming from a shop in Calcutta. According to the story told by Mallika Circar, the document was signed probably with a Shaeffer fountain pen. For once at least, it wasn’t a Montblanc Meisterstück. Jokes aside, on December 16th, 1971, The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) surrenders to the joint forces of India and the Bengali nationalist separatists, ending the Bangladesh Liberation War and sealing the Victory Day of Bangladesh.

50 years might seem a long time. But for some iconic pieces time stopped somehow. Or we could say, that these pieces age very well. But as the Countach was an inspiration in design for many decades and has become a highly collectible car, many of the pieces above have become appreciated collection items and will be even more as time will pass. Watch out for some seventies pieces since slim design is celebrating a fast comeback. 

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