The hand engraved titanium M1000 Monarch is a superb pen, the engraved Monarch is a good looking pen in pictures, but in the hand.... It's breathtaking. It's one of the only pens I
have ever photographed that actually looked better the closer up you
got to it.
The artist who did the work, Adone T. Pozzobon, was kind enough to share with
us a little bit about the work that went into creating this pen.
Adone is a well known engraving artist, born in northern Italy,
he moved to Canada at a young age, and following in his father's footsteps,
became an accomplished artist. He has a background in many different art forms,
all of which he credits towards broadening his skills as an engraver. As a master
engraver, he has done work on custom knives, firearms, jewelry, and now, fine
Adone is very clear about his goals when creating a work like
"Fine quality hand engraving is unlike any form of machine
engraving and certainly bridges the gap between the cast, die stamped or laser
engraved embellishments. A custom one-of-a-kind hand engraved pen is unique
in many ways, first and foremost it is not only an engraving, it is an artistic
creation beginning with a unique design painstakingly implemented to accent
the elegance of any fine writing instrument. Beyond the initial design concept
and its preparation the artist must now begin to execute the 2 dimensional theme
onto a 3 dimensional canvas and must contend with the radical radius of this
That this pen is truly a work of art is obvious, but what might
not be so obvious at first glance is the fact that the design was carefully
created to harmonize with the shape and size of the pen. It's not just a matter
of slapping some pretty swirls on the cap and barrel!
Grayson Tighe's work is evident on this pen, to begin with,
it's not merely an overlay on an M1000. Not that there would be anything wrong
with that, necessarily, but instead of simply putting a payer of metal over
the cap and barrel, Grayson first machines down both the cap and barrel, so
that when the overlay is fitted, the resulting diameter is the same as the original
plastic pen. It's a small touch, but one that shows the level of attention to
detail that has become Grayson's hallmark. This makes the pen very usable, it's
no larger, and only slightly heavier, than an unaltered M1000.
this point, it's on to Adone for the engraving. Unlike machine engraving, commonly
seen on pens, both modern and vintage, this pen is done by hand. There's a large
degree of difference between machine engraving and hand engraving, and from
that to "exhibition grade" engraving, as Adone explains:
"One of the most difficult aspects of engraving is the
clean execution of the engraved image. Considering that the decoration is a
freehand line per line operation it quickly becomes clear that precision must
not only rest in the hands of a well-versed artist but also within the mind
and soul. If we strip away these inner sentiments it becomes easy to short change
ourselves, as the task is long and arduous. The achievement of exhibition grade
standards should never be taken lightly. It is this essence that delivers the
unique flair and professionalism demanded by the finest of collectors."
"The 'Monarch' personifies these sentiments as well as
establishes the classical fortitude in traditional elegance. Richly embellished
and elegant in its design the 'Monarch's' engraving captures the very essence
of the Renaissance era and is carefully fused with the graceful Victorian style,
yet maintaining a fresh modern sophisticated appeal."
Aside from the design, which required twenty five hours to
create, there is the technique used to accomplish the engraving:
"The tonal contrasts are created using the 'bank-note
style' shading technique, and this represents the bulk of the image impact representing
light to dark tones. This technique is considered as one of the most difficult
forms of shading as it requires extreme precision of each micro line, and is
performed under a microscope at around 20x power. Grouping these individual
lines must at all cost be precise in order to maintain tonal continuity throughout
the entire work. A single 3/8" leaf may contain more then 100 individual
micro lines. It quickly becomes clear that upon completion a pen engraving with
extensive coverage will contain literally thousands upon thousands of shaded
'Monarch's' engraving is also in relief, meaning its backgrounds (between foliage,
vines) have been cut away to precise depth and smooth and evenly leveled
by hand. To accent this background thousands of individual lines are once again
produced one at a time, however they are not of the same nature as per the aforementioned
'bank-note' shading. In this case a different contrast is designed. Using very
specific angles for each line a sparkle tone is created when the pen is viewed
from varying angles. Once again precision is paramount, if these lines vary
in depth, width or for that matter in angular position by any significant amount
then the effect will not be a desirable one, tonal continuity will have been
"The hand engraved pen will harness the reflective properties
of the base metal dependent on the specific angled cuts, depth and graduated
widths created by the artist. Therefore we are now speaking of individual characteristics
deployed by each specific artist's signature style."
It's pretty clear that the level of work put into this pen
is reflected in the final result. As impressive as it may be in photographs,
this pen is one that really must be seen in person to be appreciated fully.
The amazing detail is only really visible when the pen is held in the hand.
It's not merely the engraving, but even the matte gray finish proves to be the
result of hours of work:
additional accent on the 'Monarch' is its satin gray finish. At first glance
it appears as a quick and simple process. However, the more complex the design,
the more time and effort is required in the masking process (temporarily blocking
off the engraved areas). As with any exhibition grade engraving, each step must
be achieved first time around. There is no margin for error, making the entire
process a very slow precision-based endeavor."
The engraving work on this pen required 180 hours to complete. That's in addition to the time required to turn down the cap and barrel, and
fit the overlay sleeve to the pen! With a work of art like this, it is appropriate
to call it a labor of love. I can think of no other term that sums up this pen!
The Monarch is a one of a kind piece, and as of this writing,
it is still available, although at a price of $8,000. Before you choke however, let me point out that that comes out to only $39 an hour
spent on the design and engraving alone! With that in mind, the price seems
quite reasonable all of a sudden...
We'd like to thank both Grayson Tighe and Adone Pozzobon for
making the pen available for photography, and for sharing the background behind
Copyright © 2002 Bill Riepl