Yours for $3,500 -- the horsehair fountain pen

Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:10am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - For those not constrained by these austere times, a German luxury goods company is offering a limited edition fountain pen, adorned with pleated horsehair and starting at $3,500.

Faber-Castell, which has been in business since 1761, started its "Pen of the Year" in 2002 and each year has used a different type of rare material, including mammoth ivory, 200-year-old olive tree wood, and Indian satin wood.

The weaving of horsehair is a highly skilled, intricate and time-consuming process and one of Germany's leading experts in the art, Dorit Berger, has been working on the pens.

Horsehair presents a special challenge. The tail hairs of a horse are relatively stiff and short, and so cannot be spun to a continuous thread. They cannot be woven in a conventional way.

Speaking in the office of luxury goods store William & Son in London's upscale Mayfair district earlier this month, Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, CEO of the company, said the pens are increasingly sought after by collectors.

"It is becoming more and more difficult to put together a collection of all of the Pens of the Year," he told Reuters.

William & Son's Store Manager Roy Connor said he believed the horse-racing fraternity would be a strong market for the horsehair pen, which is plated in platinum and has an 18-carat gold nib.

The standard model costs $3,500 from the shop, but if a client wants a pen made with the tail hair of his own horse, a bespoke order can be carried out for around $8,000.

(Reporting by David Brough; Editing by Steve Addison)