Bold and innovative designs, carefully chosen colours, high-quality materials and such distinctive nonchalance – to briefly describe the Italian pens, but what are the most important brands and their market positioning? In today’s article we’ve rounded up a few Italian pen brands, some with over 100 years of tradition behind them, others just in their early years. Let’s find out what makes them special and where they are heading.
Before we begin, there are two brands that, although no longer on the market, we must mention for their past glory. As you may have anticipated, we are referring to Delta and Omas, whose spirit, if you will, still lives through Leonardo and Scribo given that both companies are founded by former employees of Delta and Omas.
Montegrappa is already a resonant brand in the industry and needs no introduction. It has been making writing instruments since 1912 and when you say Montegrappa all you can think of is tradition, craftsmanship, performance and unmistakable Italian style. In addition to the well-known classic pens, the brand keeps up with trends and pushes its boundaries with each limited edition released. Montegrappa understood that in a fast-moving world it is crucial to keep innovating, and does so with each new launch.
Their limited edition can surely be described as works of art and we are referring not only to the recently released Maki-e collection “Kitcho”, but also to Dante Alighieri: Inferno, Raffaello 500th Anniversary, Venus de Milo and Moon Landing L.E.
Such pieces are so intricate and detailed that they need time to be discovered and fully appreciated. Perhaps having a bit less novelties and going deeper into the releases could be a good way to fully enjoy these incredible releases. Regarding Montegrappa’s market positioning, you should know that the brand has a dominant position not only on the Italian market, but also worldwide, and positioning among the leaders is not an easy task in a world full of strong competitors.
Visconti was founded in 1988, in Florence, by Dante del Vecchio and Luigi Poli both fountain pen collectors with a strong passion for writing instruments. A relatively young brand has already contributed to the evolution of the fountain pen with important innovations (the travel inkwell, the patented Double Reservoir Power Filling and the 23k palladium nib), which have become landmarks in the world of writing instruments.
Not only is Visconti known in the industry for the technical improvements, but also for its ability to create unusual designs and use unexpected materials for their pens such as the over 60 years old celluloid brought back to life through the D’Essai collection as well as the basaltic lava from Mount Etna used for the Homo Sapiens Lava collections.
Speaking of the Homo Sapiens collection, just as other brands have their iconic pieces, Visconti could make this collection become a real classic by promoting and explaining it more. As for what makes a Visconti pen remarkable, is definitely the creative spirit of the brand, and considering the high quality craftsmanship of their pens we understand why they have a good position on the market even though the brand is still pretty small compared to other companies.
Aurora is a Turin-based brand founded in 1919 by Isaia Levi, currently owned by Cesare Verona, and it also has a rich tradition when it comes to pen making. It had a good start in the industry producing writing instruments with inimitable allure and refinement. The brand has made a name for itself with the “International series” and “Aurora 88” (that sold more than 5 million units worldwide and was under production until the 70’s). Another iconic pen worth mentioning is the famous model – “Hastil” designed by Architect Marco Zanuso in 1969, a model that was quite successful at the time. A copy of it can still be found at MOMA New York.
While we know that Aurora can be highly regarded for its in-house production skills and in-house nib production, we wonder where the brand will head in the future and whether it will finally find its identity in the market. For now we see that the brand has opened a new Boutique in Milan, but the international market still lacks a site that meets the needs of today’s consumer.
Founded in 2017 by the Matrone family, Leonardo is a young brand with a great past, if you will. One of the founders is Salvatore Matrone, the son of Ciro Matrone and together with his sister, they are carrying on the legacy of their father’s business. That said, they have the expertise, the technology as well as a youthful energy and vision to create Italian pens.
Except for the nibs, everything is made in-house and Leonardo uses only high-quality materials for their pens such as celluloid, resins and ebonite. Moreover, most of the manufacturing processes are done completely by hand. Note that before leaving the factory, each pen is carefully inspected and tested by the company’s staff and Salvatore Matrone himself, which shows the care they have for their customers’ writing experience. The brand has all the necessary attributes to build a good reputation and we are very curious to see how it will evolve in the coming years.
Scribo is a Bologna-based company that shares a similar story with aforementioned brand, Leonardo. With a little bit of tradition behind it and founded quite recently, in 2016, the company is on a mission to produce high-quality fountain pens using their experience in the field. The Scribo team consists of former workers at Omas and is led by Luca Baglione, who’s also the former Omas Brand VP in Italy, and currently the Co-founder and CEO of the company. While people might be tempted to think that Scribo is a projection of Omas, it’s far from it, in a good way. The pens have a different look and are not as heavily decorated as Omas pens used to be, and we like that, we like that the focus is more on the writing experience.
Currently, the brand has two main collections: FEEL and PIUMA each with well-thought-out designs. The pens are well-built and come equipped with quality nibs of 18k and 14k gold (Scribo’s 14k gold flex nib is generally accepted as being the best modern flex nib). Their pens draw inspiration from different sources, and sometimes are dedicated to a specific purpose. Take for example their model FEEL “A riveder le Stelle” a pen dedicated to the stars of the cinema and Cinema itself with a special attention for Cineteca of Bologna. The company is still in its early years and you can tell by the small number of pens they produce (around 200 pieces per model), while other companies produce this amount or more pieces as limited editions. It would be nice to see an increase in their production and that would certainly be a step that many customers are waiting for.
A brand founded in 1774 and known mainly for its excellent handmade paper and leather goods, it also produces writing instruments (Pineider introduced its own fountain pen in 1884). Currently under the creative direction of former Visconti creative director Dante Del Vecchio, it is trying to bring some interesting writing instruments to market. In terms of branding, as with many other Italian brands, we wonder about their strategy and direction in the future and hope to see the consistency the brand has lacked in recent years.
In conclusion, one thing is certain: if you appreciate art, craftsmanship, as well as creativity and intricate designs, you will definitely find yourself in Italian pens. They exude the so-called “la passione italiana” and perhaps this is what makes them so special and beautiful among other pens. Apropos, what is your favourite brand of Italian pens?
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