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On the banks of the Brenta River stands an historical building in one of the most picturesque areas of Bas- sano del Grappa. This ancient town in the heart of the prosperous North Eastern region of Italy is the home of Montegrappa. Established as a manufacturer of gold nibs and fountain pens, Montegrappa quickly became famous for products which blend perfectly the hallmar- ks of the brand: tasteful design and superb craftsman- ship. It has been so since 1912.
Bassano had the misfortune of being in a major war zone during World War I. For the young company, ho- wever, it proved fortuitous. Many soldiers stationed the- re used Montegrappa pens to write home. Among them were two legendary American authors: Ernest Hemin- gway and John Dos Passos, who were both volunteer ambulance drivers at the front. Their respect for the pens of Montegrappa made them eager ambassadors for the brand.
Montegrappa has built its success over the years by preserving a tradition that embodies the soul of Italy and its passionate history, the sublime beauty of its countryside, its vibrant colours and unforgettable fra- grances. All one needs to do to savour this century's worth of experience is to examine the meticulous work of Montegrappa's artisans, to appreciate the attention they pay to even the smallest detail, to touch the pre- cious materials, to marvel at a century-old tradition combined with contemporary design.
Montegrappa's limited editions are conceived to provide their discerning owners with a taste of Italy, to feel the presence of the great masters who passionately brea- thed life into their works and made them immortal. Every Montegrappa writing implement reflects Italian creative flair that both honours and transcends great moments in history. A Montegrappa pen is the child of an Italy full of emotion, the object of a love for beautiful things. In 2009, Montegrappa returned to the fold where it belongs: the Aquila family, the leading manufacturers of purely Italian writing equipment. Montegrappa has always been known for its painstaking production me- thods and superb craftsmanship, as well as for the st- yle and design of products that possess the essence of Italy. Montegrappa pens are exclusive creations that, line after line, express a series of emotions through the simple act of writing.
We live in a world of instant stardom, the appetite of the public fulfilling Andy Warhol's prediction that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. But the ephemeral nature of today's cult of celebrity ignores precisely what defines the difference between the forgettable faces of the gossip sheets, and the individuals who enter the global con- sciousness. That difference is substance, a notion of worth. It is the definition of an icon.
Fame on its own is not enough to confer iconic status on a public figure. The compo- nents manifest in an icon include excellence in a given field, allied to a personality that is unique, larger-than-life and appealing to a vast audience because of genuine merits. It is a mix of style and ability, of principles, of a presence that rises above linguistic, cultural and geographical borders. The field of endeavour is not important. The life and how it was lived is everything.
When an individual forever changes the way we see the world, when we recognise not just achievements but that individual's entire being, we are acknowledging an icon. We may see them as role models; we may aspire to possessing their abilities or merely their attitudes. And even though we know we may never come close to their levels of attainment, they inspire us, they inform us. Above all, they are human, and even their weaknesses play a major role in creating their personae.
Montegrappa, a proud symbol of Italian style, design and creativity, is delighted to pay homage to the icons of the 20th Century. Athletes, musicians, artists, philosophers, actors, scientists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs are honoured in turn by a timeless col- lection of writing instruments. Each Icons Limited Edition is dedicated to a figure who impacted on global culture in an inimitable way. Their images are so evocative that a mere profile or movement of the hand will be recognisable in a heart beat. Their impact on global culture will defy time.
Montegrappa's "Icons" series pays tribute to cultural giants, regardless of the fields in which their character and achievements lifted them to global awareness. Launching the series is an individual who figures prominently in any list of the 20th Cen- tury's strongest, most influential personalities, the man who revolutionised boxing on every level: Muhammad Ali. His talent, his skill and the path of his career introduced monumen- tal changes in the sport, and the way it is perceived. It remains so to this day.
Born Cassius Clay in 1942, the young Ali won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two na- tional Golden Gloves titles and two Amateur Athletic Union National Titles, while reaching international prominence with the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Before the age of 18, his record was 127 wins with five losses.
As a professional boxer, Muhammad Ali shattered stereotypes, his stance and speed serving him in a way not typical of heavyweights. With his good looks and unparalleled gracefulness, allied to quick wit and verbal dexterity that would inspire rappers a gene- ration later, Muhammad Ali created not just an enviable record in the ring - he created a larger-than-life persona outside of it.
As a celebrity boxer with fame that surpassed all who had fought before, Muhammad Ali extended his influence beyond the arena. His stance against the Vietnam War, his con- version to Islam, his litany of eminently-repeatable quotes, his comebacks: Muhammad Ali became a cultural force beyond the confines of sport.
In terms of his impact as a notable personality of the 20th Century, he ranks as an icon of the highest standing and influence.
To reflect elements of Muhammad Ali's va- ried, eventful career, Montegrappa has in- tegrated a number of characteristic details into the Icons "Tribute to Muhammad Ali" Pen. The nib sports the "raised arms" silhouette of the victorious boxer, above the name "Ali", with the collar between nib and barrel formed from black re- sin. Finished in white pearlised resin with a black stripe running its length, the barrel bears the colours of his bo- xing shorts.
In order to achieve the desired black-and-white effect, Montegrappa employs a state- of-the-art material with unique properties. These include half the weight of glass of the same thickness, excellent optical clarity and light transmission properties, the ability to withstand temperature extremes at different altitudes and superb flexural strength for superior resistance to breakage. Equally important, as the writer enjoys physical contact with the pen, the material also proves warm to the touch.
To achieve this, each Muhammad Ali writing instrument uses the finest materials we can source, the two contrasting colours consisting of an Italian triple density white pearl along with a British super high density black. A complex process readies these for use in the pens, including a full range of heat treatment processes. These proces- ses remove the internal material stress and will result in the material shrinking by as much as 2%.
After the heat treatment process, the individual coloured portions of material are dia- mond-machined to the required size and thickness. These components are then hand assembled like a jigsaw to achieve the individual patterns within the Muhammad Ali writing instrument.
Rather than employ adhesives, which will dry over time and often result in a physical joint between the individual component parts, Montegrappa uses diffusion bonding.
This is a specialist technique involving heating the individual component parts in a controlled environment to temperatu- res exceeding 100 degrees C. The components then fuse together at a molecular level forming a solid piece of material featuring the unique Muhammad Ali design. As the diffusion bonding techniques do not require the use of solvents or adhesives, the material joints will not suffer from shrinkage and will al- ways remain smooth to the touch.
After diffusion bonding, the material assemblies are diamond-machined to form the three individual compo- nents required for the completion of the writing instrument. After machining, the parts are given a final heat treatment before being hand-finished and polished prior to assembly.
The end of the barrel completes the look with two cir- cumferential black stripes, as found at the tops of Ali's socks. The pocket clip, terminated with the Montegrap- pa rolling end-piece, takes the shape of the stitching on Ali's boxing gloves. The cap's profile follows the arc of a speed bag, while the end of the cap is shaped in the cushion form of the "World Championship" diamond- encrusted ring worn by Ali and his corner team. Last- ly, the cap features the great man's signature, in black, with the legend "The Greatest of All Time" incorporated into the cap's top.
Montegrappa Icons "Tribute to Muhammad Ali" limited edition addresses key elements
of Muhammad Ali's life. 1942 is the year of his birth. He fought 61 fights. He won 56.
His wins by knockout numbered 37. Guided by these figures, Montegrappa will issue
1942 fountain pens and 1942 roller balls in resin with sterling silver trims, 61 fountain
pens with solid gold trims and 56 roller balls with solid gold trims.
Also available will be an exclusive "knock-out" edition, gold-trimmed and set with
diamonds in the cap's end-piece. Only 37 in total will be produced, the client
selecting either a fountain pen or roller ball. Each solid gold version will bear a
number corresponding to a specific opponent and fight, the pen engraved with the
fighter's name, as well as the date and location of the event.
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