Within the pen community, Montegrappa is synonymous with Italian design and refinement. From humble beginnings, the company has grown to be an international leader in the industry. We at Inkstable are fascinated by the way in which one Italian company has become a global leader in the writing community, producing many of the best pens on the market today, while always evolving and partnering with some of the world’s leading brands.
We should start at the beginning to best introduce you to the latest Elmo 01 design from Montegrappa today. The company was founded in 1912 by Edwige Hoffman and Heinrich Helm. Their factory was set up in Bassano del Grappa (where all pens are still produced today!), in the Vincenza region of Italy. Prior to being called Montegrappa, the pens were known by their original name, Elmo, which was the nickname of Heinrich.
During this time, the Elmo pen company (which would later be Montegrappa) produced hard rubber pens with an eyedropper filling system. The design would become more refined over time and would, eventually, become a favorite for many European and American soldiers who traversed through Italy during the World Wars, including Ernest Hemingway!
As new ownership and operations changed the way in which the brand produced pens, there became a split within the company, which was now known as “Industria Pennini Oro e Penne Stilografiche Elmo” (or IPOPSE for short). The newly named company would create a division in the product line: higher end pens would be under the Montegrappa name, while the lower-end pens would be Elmo line. With advances in manufacturing, as well as a growing use of multipurpose celluloid, there became a distinct personality between the two components of the brand.
Today, nearly 70 years later, we see that the Elmo has been reincorporated into the Montegrappa brand proper and is considered a style under the overall umbrella of the brand. The Elmo is best characterized as a pen whose simplicity should not be underestimated. Its resin body holds vibrant colors while still harkening back to the simple thin barrel shape and slightly larger cap. Because of Montegrappa’s superior ability to adapt to new technologies, the nib and writing system has evolved to be on par or exceeding any competitor on the market.
While today you can buy vintage Elmos on the second-hand market, there are also new versions of the classic Elmo, significantly improved. Currently, Montegrappa is featuring the Lo Spirito di Stella: Ocean as their available Elmo 01 design. This special edition is a deep azure, most definitely reminiscent of the epic trip from Miami to Trieste which inspired this pen. Coming in sizes EF to Stub 1.5, and with a great handfeel and balance, it’s a wonderful pen for everyday use or kept on one’s desk for display. With a silhouette that’s nearly 100 years old, it’s amazing to see that notwithstanding a new color and small upgrades, the Elmo 01 has remained such a design favorite after all of this time.