Pen of the Year 2014

Catherine Palace St. Petersburg

One of the most beautiful Palaces in Europe

One of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe is located near St. Petersburg: the Catherine Palace.

It was originally built as a summer palace for Catherine I in 1718. The unpretentious structure was then transformed into a glittering residence during the reign of Elizabeth I: the palace was expanded and gilded both inside and out. It also houses treasures such as the famous Amber Room, which was recognised early on as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. 
The palace then became the favourite residence of Catherine the Great. She spent nearly every spring and summer there starting in 1763. She had many parts of this magnificent building redesigned – giving spectacular expression to the spirit of her time and her mighty empire.

A Philosopher on the Throne

Catherine II is the only female ruler in history to be given the epithet “the Great”. 

This energetic monarch strengthened the economy of her country and reformed its administration. She was full of the joys of life, very well educated, made music and kept in close correspondence with Voltaire, the most influential thinker of the Enlightenment. Catherine II strongly supported culture and the arts, and opened up her empire to modern European ideas.

She issued a manifesto inviting foreign immigration, calling on people from Western Europe to settle in Russia and discover its lakes and rivers as well as “all of its sundry precious ores and metals.” An expedition was started in 1765 at the behest of the Tzarina to develop new sources of jasper, agate and carnelian in the Urals. Several years later, Catherine the Great commissioned a unique monument to the natural wealth of her country.

An Architect´s big Moment

In 1779, Catherine the Great summoned to her court a Scottish architect who attracted considerable attention in Europe:

Charles Cameron travelled to Rome in 1768 to seek the Pope’s permission to measure a site and excavate in the ruins of Roman imperial thermae. 
Cameron’s investigations met the tastes of his contemporaries and laid the foundations for his reputation as an outstanding authority on ancient architecture. His big moment came when the Russian Empress gave him the opportunity to combine his fascination for Greco-Roman antiques with another favourite subject of high nobility: the world of minerals. This resulted in the brilliant Agate Rooms of the Catherine Palace.

A Masterpiece for her Majesty

Catherine the Great wanted Roman-inspired baths – and she wanted a structure from Charles Cameron in the 1780s that was absolutely breathtaking.

The same was true for the seven particularly luxurious rooms on the top floor of the baths. At the request of the Empress, the walls were adorned with ornately ground and polished jasper from the Urals. At the time, jasper was called agate, which gave the rooms their name: the Agate Rooms. 

Setting the gemstones on such a large surface area in such extravagant amounts represented quite a challenge for the artisans because these precious minerals are very hard and difficult to work, unlike marble. Nevertheless, the venture was a success. The magnificent rooms won the favour of the Empress; henceforth she began writing all of her personal correspondence here.

Write History

Paying homage to the Agate Rooms, the "Catherine's Palace" Pen of the Year brings the lustre and aesthetics of a major era alive in such a fascinating manner.

Three large, red-brown jasper stones are embedded into the platinum-plated barrel of the plunger-type fountain pen and envision the aura of these magnificent rooms perfectly. Numerous polishings give these vibrantly grained gemstones an inimitable radiance. 

The barrel is also engraved with a chain pattern that echoes a formative style element of the Agate Rooms. The cap of the fountain pen is adorned with grey, shimmering, Russian quartz with a facet finish.

The Splendour of an Era

The luxurious Special Edition of the “Catherine Palace” Pen of the Year combines 24-carat gold plating with gemstone workmanship of extraordinary refinement.
The barrel is decorated with six beautifully designed jasper stones: they are framed by intricately worked rosettes in 24-carat gold, which are embedded by hand into ebony precious resin platelets. 

Two sun yellow Russian quartz stones with a facet crown the cap and end cap of the plunger-type fountain pen. Both editions come with an 18-carat, bicolour gold nib that is ‘run in’ by hand. An end-cap protects the rotary knob of the plunger mechanism of the plunger-type fountain pen.

Produced by the Hand of a skilled Master

The creation of the “Catherine Palace” Pen of the Year placed the highest demands on craftsmanship. 

And who better to meet these demands than the Amber Workshop of the Catherine Palace? This workshop comprises artisans from various disciplines who take care of the painstaking restoration work in the palace, providing the peak of perfection.

Thus they were able to restore such architectural treasures such as the Amber Room or the Agate Rooms to their original splendour. These masters have introduced their unparalleled ability to each individual “Catherine Palace” Pen of the Year.

High Quality Presentation

Each writing instrument is individually numbered and comes in a highly polished, deep-black wooden case. It includes a certificate personally signed by the Director of the Amber Workshop, Boris Igdalov, attesting to the authenticity of the Russian gemstones.

The wooden case can also be used as a collector’s case because a second insert has room for an additional six writing instruments.