What Pen Would Don Draper Use?

Oh, Mad Men. Has there ever been a show that has been the cultural touchstone of a moment in television history? For many, the show was like catching lightning in a bottle: a great cast, interesting storylines, authentic sets, and enviable wardrobes.

What Mad Men was able to do was produce a world that was so set in an era, while not being nostalgic. In a way, there was something so absolutely aspirational about the characters of the show that made one drawn to it each week. Though their stories were anchored in corporate politics and personal demons, characters like Joan Holloway, Roger Sterling, and Peggy Olson were more like Greek Olympians: untouchable, yet so humanly flawed.

And, of course, that applies most notably to Don Draper. The troubled ad executive somehow, even years later, still stands tall at the pantheon of our collective fondness for the show. Because of this, I was recently asked to consider what pens Don Draper would use. While we know that Parker’s made quite an appearance throughout the show, we dived a bit deeper to think of which pens, really, epitomize the ethos of Don himself. 

Montblanc 149

The quintessential pen for any self-respecting executive, the Montblanc 149 would have, without a doubt, found itself on Don’s desk. A man like Don, who grew up poor but accelerated his way into a luxury lifestyle, would still want a pen that was a workhorse, but with a little panache. Nothing embodies this more than the 149. A great design, a memorable name, and brand recognition to boot, it’s just the sort of pen someone in advertising would appreciate.

Montegrappa Extra 1930 Turtle Brown

There is a scene in Mad Men that I remember most when looking at this pen. Megan, Don’s second wife, asks Don what he’d like to drink. His reply? Anything “big and brown.” The Montegrappa Extra 1930 in Turtle Brown fits this bill, reminiscent of the endless bourbon cocktails Don enjoyed. The detailing – from the key pattern across the cap to the celluloid swirls – would have been a comfortable sight for Don, with decor very much still entrenched in the Art Deco period of New York.

Namiki Yukari Royale Night Scene of Pavilion

A pen like this would have been a gift for Don. Perhaps from his Asian-loving former boss, Bert Cooper. Its ornamental beauty would have inspired Don when he was brainstorming new pitches. With a scenic view of Japan, this pen would have kept Don wanderlusting and thinking of escapism, a common trope of the series. 

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