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"Pens have personality" - Montegrappa CEO Giuseppe Aquila

Words by Rob Chilton

Giuseppe Aquila is the boss of luxury pen brand Montegrappa, a company owned by his family since 1912. He tells EDGAR why he believes a fountain pen has personality.

Montegrappa still makes top-quality nibs and writing instruments in its historic HQ and factory on the bank of the River Brenta in north-east Italy. The company specialises in limited edition pieces paying tribute to world figures such as Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Leonardo da Vinci as well as more playful pens dedicated to DC Comics and Game of Thrones.

When did you start working for the family business?

Ever since I was at high school I worked at Montegrappa. My parents would give me pens to repair and I did my homework using a Montegrappa pen – they gave me no choice!

And now here you are, the company's CEO. Did you feel this was your destiny?

Yes, I felt a great responsibility to continue the brand. Our history is very important to us. Hanging in our Dubai Mall store is a photo of the Montegrappa mountain in north-east Italy – I’ve walked on it many times.

A Samurai pen with a letter opener sword accessory

Montegrappa makes a pen that's a tribute to Ernest Hemingway. What's the story there?

He was an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross during the First World War. The Red Cross HQ was next door to our Montegrappa factory so Hemingway would come in and look around. We are one of the few companies who continued to operate during both world wars.

Why did the company thrive during wartime?

Demand for pens was high because soldiers needed to write home. Back then the pen was the mobile phone of today.

The eight sided Otto pen, as used by CEO Giuseppe Aquila

What pen do you use?

I use the Otto Extra fountain pen. It has an eight-sided barrel and is made from celluloid, which is an organic resin that comes from finely ground cotton. Pigments of colour are added to make a paste, which is then put into an oven to dry for one whole year. It is cut into pieces and then dried again in an oven for another year.

Giuseppe Aquila

How special is it to you?

A fountain pen is a very personal thing. My pen will perform differently for me than it would for you because it has got used to my writing style. The feeder is made from ebonite, which is a material that has memory. It remembers how much pressure the user writes with and releases the right amount of ink. You could say the pen adapts to my writing personality.

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