Understanding Value: What Is It That Makes A Fountain Pen Special?

Putting personal taste aside, there are a few things we can consider when asking ourselves what makes a fountain pen special. Broadly speaking the main factors can be aesthetic design, refined function and the credibility and heritage of the maker.

It’s worth remembering that fountain pens are in the same class as jewellery, cars or fashion: They can be functional or they can be luxury. We all know there are all kinds of rings, from plain silver-plated bands to diamond-encrusted baguettes. Cars can be functional, family-friendly or items of exceptional luxury. Likewise, fashion exists on a spectrum from fast-fashion day wear to handmade red carpet haute couture. 


In each case, the value and craftsmanship vary immensely. This is the same with fountain pens, while you might adore a Lamy or the Parker you’ve had since childhood, there is little point arguing that a Graf von Faber-Castell is in another league entirely.

Looking to fashion it’s worth extending the metaphor. Christian Dior and Christobel Balenciaga were both pioneering 20th-century fashion designers who changed the history of fashion – the modern-day fashion labels that exist in their names bear their great legacies. Wearing modern Dior clothing is both a symbol of contemporary craftsmanship and buying into the historic legacy. More than that – these heritage brands continue to tell stories and are forever guiding their legacy. 

Graf von Faber-Castell Family

Graf von Faber-Castell was established in 1839, Pelikan in 1838 and Montblanc in 1906. Each is a giant in the advancement and evolution of the fountain pen and each has a wealth of history and heritage. 

When we look for what makes a fountain pen special we each want it to look beautiful and function perfectly, but we also want to buy into a history and a culture.


Another thing that makes the fountain pen you own special and unique is the craftsmanship that went into making it. For many, the artisan-making process is something they appreciate and a machine-made pen can never beat the refined feel of a hand-crafted and personalised Onoto fountain pen.

It takes 35 separate steps to make a Montblanc nib and a further 70 steps to craft the body of the pen. Every stage of the process either directly involves an artisan maker or is carefully monitored by one. The machines used in the process are designed specifically for the task and testers sit in a silent padded room to listen for snags and imperfections. This is another level of care, quality and craftsmanship.

For many people, if you ask them why they spent so much on a fountain pen, they will tell you about the craftsmanship and advocate for the advantages of owning a pen that has been made by skilled artists. It makes them feel special to own such a unique and beautiful object.


Luxury fountain pens made exquisitely by hand are a big part of the appeal, but contemporary design and storytelling can elevate the object.

The Patron of the Art editions from Montblanc is an example of the finest craftsmanship built on a long history that is in dialogue with modern sensibilities. The Montblanc brand sought to tell contemporary stories about great people, institutions and artistic movements. 

If you have a strong affinity for Neo-expressionism and Visconti decides to do a limited edition collaboration with the estate of Jean Michel Basquiat, all your dreams just came true. Collaborations, fusions and new ideas colliding with heritage and history make for wonderful stories. 

Passionate about the knights of the round table, medieval history and the mysteries of the middle ages? Graf von Faber Castell took inspiration from history to create the beautiful ‘Knights’ collection. A perfect example of contemporary design, craftsmanship and creative storytelling. 

When we encounter any object and ask ourselves if it’s special we likely start by looking at it. Does it please our eye? When we want to know who made it and how, the heritage and craftsmanship. But lastly, we ask if it talks to us personally.

That’s why storytelling is important because the most beautiful finely crafted fountain pen must always connect with its user. And it’s that connection that makes a fountain pen special.


  1. Bhanuprakash TVK

    Agree 100%

  2. Gihan Zohdy

    One of the best articles I’ve read. In fact, whenever I buy myself a fountain pen that is the exact question I ask myself, how does it speak to me, how does it resonate, what would I feel when using it? Each pen would answer these questions differently and this is why I cherish them so much.

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