Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Generation to Generation: The World of David Oscarson

If you are of a certain age you may recall an advertising campaign from the 1960's by the Blackglama Fur Company. Their advertising slogan was: What Becomes a Legend Most? The ads featured celebrities like Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Maria Callas and Catherine Deneuve wearing Blackglama mink coats, photographed in luxurious black & white by the great Richard Avedon. Regardless of how you may feel about the wearing of fur, which I'm certainly not advocating, the advertising campaign was a huge success. It's the question that intrigues me: What Becomes a Legend Most?

In the world of writing instruments there are pens that have achieved the status of being true icons: the Montblanc 149 Diplomat, the Arte Italiana Paragon by Omas and the Pelikan Souveran Collection. These pens are cherished the world over and are among the most recognized pens in the world. But there exists a Pantheon for those writing instruments that have achieved a status beyond that of simply being an icon or legend. The only occupant of this Pantheon is David Oscarson a designer whose work transcends time.

David Oscarson's writing instruments are hand made from 18-karat gold and .925 Sterling Silver. Each pen passes through many levels of engraving which produces unique patterns known as guilloche. Guilloche is a time intensive process that brings to the fore the essence of the precious metal used in the manufacture of each pen. The pen is then overlaid with hard enamel which is comprised of a mixture of glass, water and metal oxides which is ground for hours yielding the most beautiful translucent finish that I've ever seen. David Oscarson's pens also offers a choice of filling system including: cartridge, converter or eyedropper fill. The nibs are made in Heidelberg, Germany in 18-karat gold with an ebonite feeder. Each nib is plated with rhodium and tipped with iridium to ensure the smootheness of writing for years to come. Nibs are available in fine, medium and broad sizes. A rollerball version of each pen is also available. All writing instruments made by Mr. Oscarson are Limited Editions which makes them highly sought after treasures.

Pictured above is a sample from the Harvest Collection, which was the first to incorporate three levels of Guilloche and two colors of hard enamel. The pen features a basket-weave background supporting wheat stalks, grass and kernel outlines. The pen was created in a limited edtion of 88 pens, including fountain pens and rollerballs and is available in five colors: bronze, blue, red, yellow and amber.

One of my favorite pens is the Celestial, pictured above. The barrel of the pen features the moon in each of its four phases (new, quarter, half and full) amid stars of various widths and depths. The barrel is midnight blue with the moon depicted in high relief, but its the Celestial cap that makes this pen a wonder to behold. The sun with its bold rays require multiple levels of engraving with the rays in high relief and the face of the sun rendered in three dimensional relief on the tapered surface of the cap. While the body of the pen is the same in this series, the caps are rendered in five colors: blue, white, red, orange and yellow. Truly a pen for which there exists no superlatives to describe.

Jacques de Molay was the last Grand Master of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, otherwise known as the Knights Templar. On Friday the 13th in the year 1307 Jacques de Molay and those members of the Order that were found were arrested by Philip IV "Le Bel" and Pope Clement V. Philip was heavily in debt to the Templars and his coffers were empty. Philip applied for membership in the Order, presumably to gain control of the Templar's assets, but was rejected. Broke and rejected Philip along with Pope Clement V devised a scheme to rid themselves of the Templars and confiscate their property. Jacques de Molay and his Knights were falsely accused of hersesy and were summarily tortured and burned at the stake. Initially de Molay confessed to the false charges but on the morning of March 14, 1314 he recanted saying that he was only guilty of having originally agreed to the false charges. He professed his innocence and that of his Fellow Knights before he was consummed by the flames.

In commemoration of that event, David Oscarson created the Jacques de Molay pen. Those of my readers who happen to be Freemasons will not fail to recognize features on the pen that evoke not only DeMolay but Freemasonry as well: the sprig of accacia, the Croix Patee, the Apprentice Pillar from Rosslyn Chapel, the Skull & Crossbones and the Mosaic Pavement. Appropriate to the theme of the pen is the clip which is rendered in the form of a Templar sword. On the cap is an engraving of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher while the bottom of the pen features the Templar insignia of two Knights riding on a horse symbolizing the Templar vow of Brotherhood and Poverty. To quote Ms. C.C. Reilly, MPS:
 "By producing this breath-taking commemorative pen, David Oscarson has done a tremendous service for all those who honor de Molay. May it always serve to remind us not only of the martyrdom of de Molay but also of our Founding Fathers' prudence to include freedom of religion in our U.S. Constitution."

Like many of the writing instruments in Mr. Oscarson's collection, cuff links are also available with the pen's motifs carried-over.

 The Valhalla Collection is another striking example of the genius of David Oscarson. In this collection we have a tribute to the Norse Gods: Thor (Blue Guilloche), Odin (Gray Guilloche) and Frey (Red Guilloche, pictured below). The cap features an Ourobouros-like serpent about to swallow its own tail covered in runic script. The barrel features the guilloche engraving of a Viking long ship with Mr. Oscarson's trademark hard enamel finish. The cap band bears an engraving of Mr. Oscarson's name rendered in the runic alphabet.

Before closing I return to my original question: What Becomes a Legend Most? The answer: David Oscarson. A designer of incredible writing instruments and accessories that are both treasured jewels and family heirlooms.

Mr. Oscarson's writing instruments are only available from fine pen boutiques three of which are listed below:

The Fountain Pen Hospital:
Art Brown International Pen Shop:

A Final Word:
In the community of pen enthusiasts there's a question that is often asked: What's your Holy Grail Pen? Which is to ask, What pen are you most seeking? The pen that represents, for its future owner, the ne plus ultra of imagination, design, collectibility and writing perfection. For me there has been only one answer: a David Oscarson.

Please visit David's site to view his entire collection:

Clifford Jacobs
Have Pen, Will Write
Scribo Ergo Sum