Results of Swann Galleries’ First Sale of Vintage Pens

New York—A new category of collectors filled seats and bid over the telephone at Swann Galleries’ inaugural auction of Fine & Vintage Writing Instruments on September 13. The sale brought in nearly $250,000 and launched the first new department at Swann since the introduction of African-American Fine Art in 2006.

Swann President Nicholas Lowry said, “Our first Vintage Pen auction was a crowded affair, with active bidder participation both in the room and online. We are looking forward to the second auction, taking place this coming spring, as we have now firmly established ourselves in this field.”
The sale opened with a selection of modern pens that were very well received. In fact, the first 45 lots sold without exception, and many met or exceeded expectations. A Montegrappa Luxor Blue Nile Limited Edition 750 was the auction’s top lot, bringing $5,520*. Also by the Italian maker was a Silver Dragon Limited Edition, $2,280.

Montblanc highlights from the Patron of Art Limited Edition Series were a pair of Catherine the Great and Peter the Great, which together sold for $4,320; an Alexander the Great, $2,280; as well as a Prince Regent and a Semiramis, each $2,400.

Other noteworthy modern examples were a Dunhill Namiki “Fern” Limited Edition maki-e, $3,360 and an Eversharp Skyline taxi set from the 1990s brought a record price of $720.

Rick Propas, Swann’s Fine & Vintage Writing Instruments specialist, said, “This sale showed that vintage Montblanc pens continue to be the “gold standard” for pen collectors around the world and that the market continues to focus on high quality and good value pens.”

The auction featured the comprehensive Chilton collection of William Baisden, and the best of these sold for moderate prices, offering collectors an opportunity to strengthen their collections. Highlights were a fully restored Long Island #36 in turquoise marbled celluloid, which sold over estimate at $780. An uncommon Chilton “Clown” vest pen sold for $1,560.

The latter section of the sale performed strongly, with 90% of the lots sold. Bringing $5,520 was a circa 1905 Parker Lucky Curve #38 “Snake” pen, which, along with a circa 1910 Waterman #402 with sterling silver overlay that brought $1,920, indicates a continuing strong interest in the earliest American pens.                       

Early Montblanc highlights were a1920s Simplo Original #8, $3,840; a Baby 18K solid gold night and day overlay safety pen, $3,600; and two Rouge et Noir pens with coral stars at cap tops, a #6  and a #6M, $3,840 each.

A Montblanc #L139, black celluloid with long ink window and a “fabbricata in Germania” imprint on the cap brought $2,880; while a Simplo Original #4 with sterling snake clip, $2,640 and a #20 azurite celluloid with push-knob filler, $2,640

Vintage Italian highlights included an Aurora 1935 Asterope, black celluloid, $2,640 and an Aurora 1935 Etiopia, $2,400.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to consign items to Swann’s upcoming auctions of Fine & Vintage Writing Instruments, please contact Rick Propas at 212-254-4710, extension 304,; or Marco Tomaschett at 212-254-4710, extension 12,

*All prices include buyer’s premium.
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