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June 25, 2018 3 min read


Most of those in the working world, particularly the corporate sphere, are familiar with terms like “power suit,” or “power tie.” People even take “power lunches.”

But what about “power pen?”

With the prevalence of electronic communication in today’s world, some argue that a written message still has a certain elegance and appeal. In fact, some people think they’re classier than any email.

And when you take a second to think about it, they could be right. After all, what feels more special, getting a Facebook comment from a friend or a handwritten letter? Both are obviously welcome, but one shows more of an effort than the other in modern times when electronic communication is so easy to engage in.

A 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal takes this a step further, contending that written messages and specialty writing implements are the new status symbols. Why buy a Rolex when you could take out a sleek, well-designed pen during a meeting to take down your notes?

Paired with luxury stationery and inks, a handwritten message can become something positively regal in nature. John Z. Komurki, author of the book “Stationery Fever: From Paper Clips to Pencils and Everything in Between,” describes handwritten notes as “elegance incarnate.” When someone takes the time to write a note by hand with pen and ink, it’s an indication of wealth, because it shows they have the time and resources to spend on things like high-quality stationery.


London-based designer Tom Dixon believes that high end handwriting tools give people an opportunity for luxurious self-expression in a sea of mundane technological devices that, although sleek, are all beginning to look the same. “In the main, people have universal tools [for communicating] that are really quite bland,” said Dixon, as quoted in the WSJ article. “It’s very hard to distinguish one mobile phone from another.”

“For gentleman particularly,” he continues, “There’s always been a dearth of decorative items he can wear—just the belt buckle and watch. It’s nice to have something to hand that gives you the opportunity for self-expression.”

Hermés, Luis Vitton, and other notoriously high end fashion brands have invested in things like note cards, stationery, and pencils, cashing in on the appeal of the handwritten note. Instead of the gaudy writing tools you may expect-something gold encrusted in jewelry, perhaps-most designers are opting for a sleek appearance to their specialty pens and pencils. A good deal of them are heavy, made of metal, and have a unified and sleek design.

A lot of them also develop a wear pattern on their surface over time, and take on a patina according to their usage, giving them a weathered and rugged appearance without compromising their durability and function. Modern Fuel takes great care to design our pencils this way, as we want them to have a unique relationship with their owners and become a familiar, well-loved tool. A Simon Mills, contributing editor at GQ, put it, a beautiful writing instrument is “to a gentleman’s hand what a pair of handmade shoes are to his feet.”

And like a good pair of handmade shoes, a luxury writing implement isn’t made to be disposable. When you pay the higher price tag, you aren’t just paying for novelty, you’re paying for quality that lasts. And when you buy one of ours, you’re getting that quality for considerably less than, say, the $1,670 Nautilus pen Hermés put out (but don’t worry, it still looks like it costs much more).

Businesses that deal in luxury handwriting goods are thriving in today’s market, showing that there is indeed a demand for good writing tools and paper. Manhattan store Goods for the Study, for example, does a bustling trade in luxury home office goods, stationery, and fine art prints. The store sells writing implements from around the world to discerning customers willing to pay the price.

So if you’re in the market for something to set yourself apart from the suit-and-tie pack, consider an investment in a luxury writing implement instead of those monogrammed cufflinks you’ve been eying. It’s a much more utilitarian approach, and you’ll have a lot more occasions to show it off.

Andrew Sanderson
Andrew Sanderson

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