Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S03 ep14 : Giuseppe Aquila, Montegrappa Pens, [Italy]
Interview with Giuseppe Aquila
Montegrappa is an elite Italian brand, mastered in manufacturing writing instruments. Celebrating its centenary in 2012, world renowned authors from Ernest Hemingway to Paulo Coelho penned their famous works using Montegrappa instruments.
Montegrappa: Montegrappa is something extremely special for my family. Heritage, tradition,
Montegrappa: Montegrappa is a place actually is the name of a mountain Monte means mountain
grappa is the name and as you may know grappa is the name of a very nice spirit and the name for
the spirit comes from the mountain.
Montegrappa: My grandfather started the collaboration with the Montegrappa company in 1938.
The person who started the business in 1912 was an Austrian lady, her name was Edwidege
Hoffman. This lady actually started off as a manufacturer of gold leaf for fountain pens and she
had a guy that was in charge of production, Austrian as well, and his name was Irish Hell.
Montegrappa: Irish Hell gave inspiration for the original name of the company. The name of the
company was Elmo so it was an italisation of the name Hell then it changed into Elmo
Montegrappa and later on Elmo dropped.
Montegrappa: Montegrappa represented actually very important area for the patriotic feeling of
Italy because on the Montegrappa the most important fights against the Austrian actually during
the First World War were fought. And once you bypass the mountain then you have access to the
valley and you can reach Venice in no time then Rome.
Montegrappa: It was the Americans who developed the first fountain pens and it all started with
Mr Waterman you know it was an insurance guy and he was very frustrated that by writing
contracts for the policies often he would drop the ink and spoil the contract it was all written by
hand and so he thought to develop this system where the ink could be contained inside the body of
Montegrappa: We only use pure gold I mean actually 18 carat gold for our leaves and the
advantage of using gold is in the flexibility that it gives you know when you write and this is
achieved by actually having different thicknesses and this gives the right flexibility to make
writing comfortable and we are the only company still left that is manufacturing also the ebonite
feeder, the feeder is the part which is behind the nib.
Montegrappa: When a user is writing with a nib which is coupled to an ebonite feeder, this
material remember the pressures that the writer is using and adapts to the personality so that means
that if you have a pen and after a couple of weeks you’ve been using it constantly you give it to
somebody else, it will not write as well for the other person because it’s used to the way you write
and the pressure you write so this makes the fountain pen very personal.
Montegrappa: We are in the jewellery area. We discovered new skills in the jewellery industry and
we thought to apply those skills on our pens and this is basically what you’re seeing now.
Montegrappa: We have a team of eight designers but we also work with external designer, we also
involved in a number of products which are either co-branding or licences and often we need to
work together with the designer of the specific brand, so for example with our Tibaldi brand the
sister brand to Montegrappa is the second oldest Italian company, we have an association with
Bentley Motors and we have a beautiful line of pens that encapsulate the spirit of Bentley cars and
of course we work closely with Bentley designers so it’s fine to see how the car designer you know
work along our designer to make a pen.
Montegrappa: Two years ago we introduce our first icon pens and it was the Mohammad Ali’s you
know when we were discussing with our distributor of these some of them say you’re crazy what
does Mohammad Ali have to do with a pen, and of course the idea behind it was to do something
that would attract to pen completely different audience and this worked brilliantly, this pen was a
huge success and actually we have built on that success doing other editions like the latest one
dedicated to 70th birthday of Mohammad Ali.
Montegrappa: We know Sylvester Stallone since 1995 because Sylvester Stallone is a pen collector
and a big watch collector as well so in 1995 he had to sign a very important deal for three movies
and he had purchased a pen that we had loaned to the time for the dragon it was a solid gold pen
and he lost it or somebody stole it I mean this is not very clear anyway he contact us through one
of his friends and he say you know Mr Sylvester Stallone would like to have one of the gold dragon
pens to sign this important contract, he’s very superstitious so he wanted that pen and so we told
him we’re sorry this is sold out because this pen was only 100 pieces made and he was a bit
disappointed so we said okay we do something special for you I mean you have Italian origins you
know we respect you, you’re a great hero and everything so we make a special one, actually we
will give you one of the PDA, the PDA is the pr… del torres of artist proof and he was very happy
and he sent us pictures of him kissing the pen and he say you can use this pen also for your
marketing you made me happy and it was very nice so this started a friendship and then year after
year you know we would meet regularly.
SS: Ever since the dawn of time many artists have been challenged by drawing certain objects and
the skull the anatomy from Da Vinci on has always been a subject of interest and the last film I did
Expendables our logo was a skull and on top of the skull was the raven which is inspired by Edgar
Allen Poe and Montegrappa was nice enough to take this image and make it even better and call it
the Chaos. I have always been fascinated by the arts, fascinated about acts of bravery, gladiators,
the incredible Roman Legions, there is for some reason it seems to be the most creative place in
the world when it comes to fashion, mechanics, cars, art, it’s just really remarkable so I love Italy,
if I didn’t live in America I’d live there. And when I think of Italy the first thing that people say
what do you think about Italians they’ve very passionate, heart, so I would say that’s what I got
from Italy is a sense of love and a sense of heart and a sense of family.
Montegrappa: In my family in the year 2000 sold the business to the Richmond Group but then we
bought it back in 2009 what you probably don’t know is that Sylvester Stallone is a partner in the
business now. This happened when we re-acquired Montegrappa we wanted to have some other
partners, shareholders in the business that would help us in promoting the brand in different areas
that we are interesting to us and of course one of the area we’re interested is world of celebrity and
of course the biggest celebrity we knew was Sly he’s our brand ambassador and actually we
worked recently together with him on our advertising campaign there was a shooting of interview
and videos, the Chaos pen that he designed has been featured already in The Expendables 2 which
is coming out in summer.
Montegrappa: We have a pen that we launch this summer is called brain okay this pen is the result
of two years of research that we have done along with professor of neuroscience, Richard Restak is
his name, I know this guy because he has written 20 books about the brain using a Montegrappa
fountain pen actually he used this type of pen, the X and that’s how I got to know him. He told me
so many incredible things about how important it is to the brain to use a writing instrument as
opposed to a keyboard or iphone or and especially fountain pen and so he wrote for us actually a
book that will be delivered along with this special pen which is the brain pen, that tells people,
educates people about the benefit of handwriting to the brain and the benefits are numerous. It’s
proved and there were different researches made in Stockholm and in United States but they have
proved that handwriting even prevents Alzheimer’s.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Giuseppe Aquila, Montegrappa Pens, Italy