What do Miles Davis, Andy Warhol, John F Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Alfred Hitchcock, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and, now, the Beatles have in common? Quite apart from the enormous cultural impact each of them has had on the world, they have all been honoured by Montblanc's Great Characters series of special- and limited- edition writing instruments.
Formally unveiled on December 1, the Beatles pens are available in three versions: the Special Edition, which will be freely available for purchase, the Limited Edition 1969, of which 1,969 are to be produced, and the Limited Edition 88 – of which, yes, you guessed it, there are 88 examples.
The Special Edition's retina-searing colour scheme is inspired by the sleeve art on the group's zeitgeist-defining 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The stripes that cover the cap and barrel are the same colours as those worn by the four band members on the album sleeve, and for the first time in its 112-year history, Montblanc has developed a multi-colour stripe, with a 10-stage lacquering process that results in a perfectly sized and positioned pattern. The shape of its cap resembles a microphone; the cone on the barrel is shaped to mimic a rotary knob on a studio mixing desk; and the clip features a quartet of "moustaches" in memory of the famous facial topiary of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. This version is available as a fountain pen, rollerball or ballpoint.
There is no ballpoint option with the Limited Edition 1969, which really takes the 1960s counterculture vibe to a new level with a design that incorporates a peace symbol, a Union Jack and a silhouette of the Fab Four crossing Abbey Road (the album of the same name was released in 1969). The cap really does look like a microphone, made using multiple metal inlays that are coated with ruthenium. The fountain pen's nib is fashioned from Au 750 solid gold and is hand engraved with the Apple logo – that of the Beatles' record label, as opposed to the tech giant.
Significantly more luxurious, the Limited Edition 88 is so called in reference to 1988, the year the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It features a solid-gold “skeletonised” cap and barrel, with several metal inlays adorned with lacquer.
In what Montblanc describes as a “feat of technical virtuosity”, various intricate Beatles-inspired details are visible on the overlay’s surface. Inlays are worked separately with filigree details, prior to being assembled, to create the skeleton. The cone is solid gold, as is the nib, which is engraved with the words “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, referring to the media’s coverage of Beatlemania arriving in the United States.
Naturally, if you have invested in one of these fine creations, you will also be wanting something to write on. Montblanc has this covered, too, with a special notebook that has a cover made from what the company says is “refined fabric” and features the hirsute silhouettes of the four members of the Beatles, as well as some suitably psychedelic colours.
Speaking of which, you can even buy purple ink as part of the accessories collection.