The Flanders Pen

Onoto has a new limited edition, The Flanders Pen. It employs copper from WWI shells from The Somme and earth from Ypres.

I’ve always thought that the association of limited edition pens with famous people or events silly, to say the least. Onoto seems to be in a competition with Mont Blanc to see who can come up with the most strained association. Mostly these things are just foolish but basing a pen on the slaughter of WWI is beyond distasteful. It’s profoundly objectionable.

My husband’s grandfather met a hail of machine-gun fire when going over the top with his comrades at The Somme. With four bullet wounds it was almost miraculous that he survived but his life was blighted by disability thereafter. He was one of thousands. Other family members did not return.

There could hardly be a family in Britain that did not at least know someone who was killed or left with permanent disability. Trying to coin a few quid from that horror seems just plain ghoulish and exploitative. Onoto must be truly desperate to do such a thing.

12 thoughts on “The Flanders Pen

  1. Before I read your post, I imagined a pen with tasteful poppies/ urushi, black and red, sober. But the more I read, the more I was disgusted. It is truly distasteful, even worse it’s macabre and vulgar. All that bull about commemorating…to make a buck on the back of those who died….. at least if they had the decency to give a part of the funds to some peace project… but no….
    I believe Conid has a Flanders Pens too.

  2. “Limited editions” respond to a demand that comes from persons that almost certainly are not writers, very possibly not collectors and quite probably investors. I agree that this “copperpen” betrays poor taste. I just hope that the profits from products like these are reinvested in the development and production of fountain pens that are meant for writing. I am aware of your understandable ire towards Onoto. I would, nevertheless, plead attenuating circumstances: after all they mostly make fountain pens, not PlayStations…

    > >

    1. I can’t see that they are a good investment. I see them offered for sale on the boards and they have to take a cut to sell them. Also, in the last few years the market has been flooded with limited edition pens. I take your point about PlayStation games on a similar subject. That’s rather more understandable though.

  3. A nice idea.
    Giving a little life to something which took it.
    It’s all junk in the ground or rusting in fields anyway.

  4. My grandfather was a sergeant in a Highland regiment and served in the trenches. He was wounded for the first time during the second battle of Ypres (1915), and again on the Somme in 1916. The second wound eventually resulted in the amputation of his left leg. My father served in WWII from 1940, and I served in Vietnam from early 1968. I still deal with the physical injuries I incurred during my time in Vietnam. My family and I know first hand the cost of war. My attitude differs from the majority opinion here. I would buy a Flanders commemorative pen as a way to honour my grandfather’s service and his memory. It would be passed down to one of my sons and on through the family for that very reason. Lest we forget.

  5. I don’t buy the commemorative argument – not from a revived brand that celebrates military leaders and war machines, which I find so off-putting I can’t go near the Shakespeare series either. How would we feel if Pelikan brought out the Messerschmitt model, or Esterbrook the General Lee pen or Pilot the maki-e Hara-kiri shape or Montegrappa the Nero nib? For all I know they exist but I wouldn’t go anywhere near them as a customer or writer.

  6. I have one of these pens. The fact that the metal used in the manufacture of the pen was fired from a cannon over 100 years ago, has now been reclaimed as part of an icon of peace, and in such a tactile way. speaks volumes to me.

    This pen will always invoke a thought to the history and those who sacrificed when I pick it up.

    Lest we forget.

    1. Sorry. I think modern pen companies will cash in on anyone or anything and this is just the most egregious example. If you need a memorial to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, that’s why communities created War Memorials.

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