Originally created 11/22/06

Professor proud of $170,000 pen



CHARLESTON, S.C. - A pocket protector would be pointless for this diamond-encrusted, $170,000 fountain pen that will never be used.

"You do not put ink in that pen. It's like owning a Ferrari that you don't want to drive," said owner Al Parish, a Charleston Southern University professor.

The pen, one of only three in the world, was on display at the Charleston Mountblanc store along with others from Mr. Parish's $1.2 million collection. They recently arrived in an armored car accompanied by security guards.

"It's just a spectacular piece of artwork," said Mr. Parish, who teaches economics at the university.

The pen is the "Montblanc Solitaire Mountain Massif Skeleton," and it was created in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Swiss company.

Its 1,400 white and blue diamonds are arranged to depict the Mount Blanc mountains, and the pen is topped with a 43-facet star-cut diamond.

The buyers of the three handcrafted pens were chosen from among 60 collectors worldwide in a lottery, said Jan-Patrick Schmitz, chief executive and president of Montblanc North America.

He said the company sought pen aficionados who collect rather than sell them for a quick profit.

The writing instrument will join Mr. Parish's collection of about 150 other Montblanc pens. Others are also limited editions, such as "The Black Widow," which features an intricate spider web design.

The pens are attractive to investors because they quickly appreciate in value.

"They rise in value much faster than the stock market," Mr. Parish said, adding his new pen could fetch as much as $250,000 at an online auction site.