Montegrappa: Mightier Than the Sword

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
If anyone was going to encompass a personality like Ernest Hemingway in a pen, it has to be Montegrappa

Author, journalist, soldier, Ernest Hemingway was one of the most important writers of the 20th century; in history, if you’d believe both the literati and the man himself. But more than that – or at the very least the root cause of it all – he was a man’s man. Between breaking Stephen Wallace’s hand with his jaw and penning numerous books on bull-fighting, Hemingway was a tempest of overt masculinity.

He lived hard and uncompromising, even when it came to his drinks; the Hemingway Daquiri (half the sugar, double the alcohol) is not to be taken lightly. It’s impressive that his tough living allowed the man to write at all. But write he did, and some of the most important books in American literature too. For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, the list goes on.

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Seeing as pen makers have an understandable penchant for honouring famous writers, it’s no surprise to imagine a Hemingway pen. But then, how do you represent a man for whom mending a net was as important as writing? The answer should be pretty obvious. Who else could sum up that uncompromising, unbridled masculinity but Montegrappa?

The Italian pen maker’s creations are anything but shy and retiring; anything designed by Sylvester Stallone is going to be more than a little punchy and, while Chaos is probably on the extreme side of the spectrum, it does show that Montegrappa is a good philosophical home for the esteemed author.

Yet one does not simply sum up Ernest Hemingway and, seeing as Giuseppe Aquila, CEO of Montegrappa has said that the result was 20 years in the making, it’s no surprise to see not one but four different releases celebrating the writer’s life.

In the same sort of way Montegrappa previously celebrated the various stages in the life of Elvis, so too does the Ernest Hemingway collection, part of the larger ‘Mightier than the Sword’ writer-inspired range. The four in question here are The Solider, The Writer, The Fisherman and The Traveller, of which Hemingway’s time in the military is first.

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As you’d expect, Hemingway saw a lot of action. Not quite as much as For Whom the Bell Tolls may suggest – he thankfully never died in a bout of partisan demolition - but certainly more than enough for any man. Of particular note to Montegrappa is his time during the First World War, when he was stationed in Bassano del Grappa at Villa Cà Erizzo, just down the road from the pen maker’s workshops.

It was here that Hemingway penned A Farewell to Arms, which in its romantic retelling of his relationship with a nurse, includes plenty of descriptions of the area. Not a bad place for Montegrappa to start in The Soldier.

A barrel rendered in bamboo black celluloid – an intriguing departure from the usual solid colour of lacquer – supports a veritable host of engraved Sterling silverwork. This trim is embellished with engravings of Bassano’s Alpini Bridge, a testament to the expertise of Montegrappa’s artisans.

Other details take a more militaristic tone; the cap is topped by the imprint of a Medal of Valour, while on the barrel end is the imitative silhouette of a Ford T, the Red Cross ambulance that Hemingway worked with during his time in Bassano. To round off these engraved detailing, the nib of the fountain pen is imbued with Hemingway’s initials.

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The pen is also available in rollerball and ballpoint models, but there’s something traditional, mechanical and masculine about the fountain pen that we can assume Hemingway would have approved of. All three are limited to 100 each, totalling 300 pens worldwide. 10 of each will be trimmed in gold as opposed to silver; it might be more of a luxurious statement but there’s actually something we prefer about the lustre of the sterling silver.

As only the first of Hemingway’s commemorative pieces, The Soldier is only a single snapshot of a life that encompassed more facets, more lifestyles, jobs and characters than even the author’s own books could attest to.

Yet while we’re looking forward to what The Writer, The Fisherman and The Traveller will unveil, we can’t help but wonder about what other Hemingway pens would be like. After all, the drinker, the brawler and the bullfighter sound like pretty good editions in their own right.

To make an enquiry, CLICK HERE.


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