Pen of the Year 2017


Boats that were far ahead of their time

The flint hand-axe of the stone age, the pyramids of the pharaohs: every epoch has its characteristic symbols.

In Viking times it was the dragon boats. Some claim that the Viking period could never have existed without these vessels. Indeed, they were masterpieces of the art of boat-building that left their mark on European shipping for centuries. 

Sturdy enough to brave the high seas, but with a shallow enough draught to travel far upriver and penetrate deep into the hinterland, these extraordinarily versatile longboats were an ideal means of transport for invaders, explorers, and traders. With the coloured stripes of their sails, their magnificent carved dragon’s head prows, their curves reminiscent of swans and other water birds, they were the pride of their crews and sped like birds across the oceans.

Fabled Riches

The Vikings amassed huge riches in the course of their voyages of conquest and trading.

Extensive hoards of silver are still being discovered. The womenfolk were very fond of beads made of rock crystal and carnelian, most of which came from the region of the Black Sea. Craftsmanship blossomed: the Vikings made magnificent carvings and fine filigree examples of the goldsmith’s and silversmith’s art. 

At first sight the designs often appear purely ornamental; a closer look reveals animal forms with an astonishing degree of expression. It was not unusual for articles of jewellery or art to be inspired by the mystical force of the runes.

Boldness and Daring

“The Vikings are coming!” – from about the year 800 this cry of alarm spread like wildfire along the coasts of Europe.

Woe indeed when the Norsemen were intent on booty rather than trade! With their indomitable courage, their unruly strength, and their ruthlessness, these vandals armed with swords and battleaxes were the most fearsome warriors of all time. They were bound to each other by strict oaths of loyalty. Their battle frenzies are legendary, involving the elite fighters whose name gave us the word ‘berserk’.

According to the sagas these men invariably stood in the bow of the boat, the most dangerous place in a sea battle. But just as impressive as their wild nature was their skill in handling weapons. The Vlfberht sword, forged with incomparable craftsmanship, was an object to covet; nowhere have so many of these remarkable swords been found as in Scandinavia and on the Baltic coast.

Discovering new shores

In the Viking age an ocean journey was a challenge requiring great courage.

The Earth was thought to be a flat disc, and in uncharted waters one might fall off the edge. Then there was the fearsome might of the sea with its storms, thunder and lightning, and giant waves. How could one steer a course, when any landmarks were over the horizon? 

Did they go by the stars, or was a sunstone used as a compass? At any rate the Vikings achieved, with bravery and skill, something that supposedly was not possible until improved navigation came about very much later; soon after the year 1000 – that’s nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus; Leif Erikson (Leif the Lucky) became the first European to set foot on “Vinland”. 

Archaeological finds have made it probable that it was what we now call Newfoundland.

Inspiration from the north

The revolutionary and pioneering construction of the Nordic longboats inspired us in designing the Pen of the Year 2017.

The platinum-plated barrel is reminiscent of the elegant curves of those renowned boats; finished with masterly craftsmanship in the spirit of the epoch-making skill of the Vikings. 

With great precision, slivers of ‘curly’ birch are integrated. A special process has made it possible to cut such thin pieces from this wood, which is very delicate on account of its attractive patterning. That takes a degree of skill otherwise found only in the cutting and polishing of gemstones.

Exceptional Material. inimitable Expressiveness

Curly birch, with its brown markings that occur in no other figured wood, is one of the characteristic trees of the Nordic world.

The heartwood grows with inclusions of sapwood that produce markings shaped like little flames. In mythology the birch counts as a protector and was specially revered by the Vikings who were faced with so many dangers.

The warm colour of the wood, full of nuances, harmonizes wonderfully with the carnelian that is let into the cap and glows an intense red. The result is a fascinating interplay with the cool metallic shine of the platinum-plated barrel, the name Graf von Faber-Castell engraved in the end piece in runes.

The Magic of Form

Made by craftsmen from choice materials, the Pen of the Year 2017 brings the Viking age into the present day in a fascinating way:

Something of the elegant verve with which the famed longboats hastened through the waves is apparent in every stroke of this pen. Such a discovery is worth grasping in the hand.

The version with a tough anthracite-coloured PVD coating has a particularly masculine appeal. Matt-grey smoked oak – the preferred wood for building the Viking ships – stands in exciting contrast to the gleaming metal parts of fountain pen and roller-ball pen, which change their appearance with every movement. A grey shimmering smoky quartz adorns the cap of all writing implements of this Edition.

High Quality Presentation

The platinum-plated fountain pen comes with an 18-carat, bicolour gold nib that is inscribed by hand. Each pen is a unique work of art and is individually numbered: the fountain pen is a limited edition of 500, the roller-ball pen of only 150. The special edition is limited to 230 fountain pens and 70 rollerball pens. 

The fountain pen comes with an 18-carat gold nib with ruthenium plating that is inscribed by hand. Each of these writing implements is presented in a brightly polished black wooden case. A certificate bearing the signature of Count Charles von Faber-Castell confirms that this is a limited edition.