Launched every year since 2003, the Pen of the Year is Graf von Faber-Castell’s way of honouring the eras and people that have shaped the evolution of humanity. Made of high-quality materials and characterised by unique ornaments and impeccable finish, this edition has become more than just a writing instrument. For many aficionados it’s a work of art. And like any work of art, it tells a story. Therefore, today we will explore the Pen of the Year of 2022 trying to fathom even the smallest details and meanings of the German brand’s latest creation.
If last year we were taken back to medieval times, this year’s edition being inspired by the Aztec culture, with typical motifs and symbols, we will venture a little around the year 1428 where historical sources mention the founding of the impressive Aztec empire, also known as the Triple Alliance, in what is now Mexico. In addition to its modern political system, the Aztecs left their mark on humanity through many spectacular works of art and several legends, including the creation myth which continues to fascinate people to this day.
One of them involves the historic 24-tonne Stone of the Five Suns, which was found near the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec Empire. According to the symbols on it, the cosmic era was divided into five cycles, each of which was ruled by a ‘sun’: the Jaguar Sun, the Wind Sun, the Rain Sun, the Water Sun and – in our present world – the Earthquake Sun. Let’s have a look at the pen now.
At first glance, the new POTY looks very imposing boasting a metal barrel with anthracite grey diamond-like Carbon coating decorated with a skull pattern reminiscent of the famous walls made of rows of skulls in the Templo Mayor – a place where the Aztecs offered up human sacrifices to their gods in order to ensure that the sun would continue to rise. It is said that these human sacrifices came from the flower wars, which were planned and coordinated battles in which Eagle warriors and Jaguar warriors were the elites. The Aztecs held many ceremonies to offer the sacrifices to their gods, especially Tlaloc – the supreme god of the rain and Huītzilōpōchtli – sun and war god. And just to illustrate the importance of skulls to the Aztecs, to this day there are still skull racks found in many historic buildings throughout Central America.
The grip section of the pen is made of dark, smooth obsidian, a volcanic glass formed from quickly cooled lava commonly used by Aztecs to build swords, spearheads and arrowheads. In fact, according to the myth, Tezcatlipoca – the god of the north, used to wear jaguar robes and carry an obsidian mirror and a tecpatl knife made of black obsidian. But for the Aztecs, obsidian had spiritual meanings as well, being used also as protection against evil spirits. Given its smooth finish, we expect a very comfortable handling while writing with the pen.
Moving on to the cap whose silhouette is reminiscent of the shape of a cactus – another pillar of great symbolic importance for the Aztec civilisation. The Aztecs were once known as a nomadic tribe that set up temporary homes from place to place, fighting off attackers, and surviving on snakes and lizards. According to the prophecy, one day the god of the sun spoke to the people telling them to look for a sign – an eagle with a snake in its beak perched on a cactus. On the spot where the eagle perched, the Aztecs were to build a great city. That’s why the cap commemorates the place where the Aztecs settled around 1320.
Contrasting elegantly with the pen’s anthracite grey look, both end caps of the Pen of the Year are adorned with Turquoise – a gemstone honoured by the Aztecs as one of their most valuable treasures. In fact, the Aztecs used it to embellish their masks, knives and shields as well as for ritual purposes. Cut into small discs, the gemstone is set on the cap’s finial as well as on the piston knob. Each disc showcases relief-engraved illustrations, the one on the cap depicting an eagle and the other the god of the dead – Mictlāntēcutli – portrayed as a skull wearing a headdress adorned with owl feathers. In today’s Mexican culture, decorated skulls still play a key role, especially on the Day of the Dead as for the feathers, particularly those from owls, were regarded as more valuable even than gold back at the time.
Last but not least, the nib. Well-proportioned and made of 18k gold, it is coated with black ruthenium, thus harmoniously complementing the pen’s dark grey appearance. It comes available in fine, medium, broad and double-broad widths to suit every user’s taste.
The fountain pen version of the Pen of the Year 2022 is limited to 375 pieces whereas the rollerball is limited to 125 pieces. Each one is presented in a highly polished black wooden box, along with a certificate signed by Count Charles von Faber-Castell attesting the limitation. The Pen of the Year 2022 – “The Aztecs” is available to order starting this week and is priced at €5,800.00 – fountain pen and €5,500.00 roller pen.
For more details about this new edition, click on the link below:
Not only for its marvellous design, but also for the inspiring story behind it, I personally believe this Year’s POTY will become a favorite among many collectors.
Nib material: 18k magnum gold nib with black ruthenium coating
Nib widths: fine, medium, broad, double-broad
Mechanism: Plunger mechanism
Weight: approx. 83 g
Total length: approx. 135.6 mm
Lead: Magnum format, ruby ball M
Weight: approx. 85 g
Total length: approx. 135.6 mm