Are there any ramifications of vast, wide-ranging and intergalactic importance if you lose your fountain pen? It may depend on whether you are a celestial body, or just a minor star, in the constellation of world history and literature.
Anneliese Marie Frank, a German-born Jew who fled to Amsterdam to escape Nazi persecution, hid with her family in a cramped annex concealed by a bookcase, and lost her celluloid fountain pen (claimed, but never proven, to be a Montblanc) in an accidental stove fire. She obtained a replacement pen, and continued -between 1942 to 1944 – to journalize a chilling, if forlorn, account of the difficulties of a two-year life in a confined space to evade Gestapo capture, before finally being arrested and then deported to Auschwitz. In 1952, the English version of the critically acclaimed “Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl” was published, giving the world a haunting memoir of a life of fear, hiding and desperation.
For mere mortals like us, however, the loss of a valued pen would probably mean a personal tragedy, yet an inconsequential event elsewhere in the cosmos. But as the retail prices of some of these writing instruments (Limited Editions or vintage classics, for instance) approach stratospheric levels, it may be time to ask if one should procure some kind of protection.
First, let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that expensive fountain pens are covered in the standard “Fire” (or even the so-called Householders) Policy issued in the Philippines. They are not, and are an excluded risk under the “any curiosity or works of art” exception, and the more appropriate coverage for such items can be obtained under a “Fine Arts” Policy, which would include a broader spectrum of pen-relevant risks like theft or accidental dropping.
But before you rush to instruct your broker to buy this policy, let us quickly apply classic risk management theory in the treatment of this exposure, and see what your options are.
1. Risk Avoidance – Never, ever buy fountain pens. For an event that has already occurred, and which is likely to continue, this approach is, quite simply, untenable.
2. Risk Control – You can permanently store your pens in a bank vault, but what would be the point in attending meet-ups of the Fountain Pen Network without your weapons of mass inscription?
3. Risk Financing – You have two options: a) retain the risk, i.e., charge the loss to experience or your personal SALN, or b) transfer the risk to an outside party like an insurance company. (Let’s forget about non-insurance contracts, funded loss reserves or captive insurance vehicles for a moment; no, let’s forget that for always.)
Sound reasonable? Insurance, which is actually scarce in a market where there are no economies of scale for fountain pen insurance (think Law of Large Numbers), could conceivably set you back with a premium of, say, 2.0-2.5% of your hoard’s total value, which isn’t too bad. But you’ll probably have to absorb a Ps 25,000 deductible, so that would rule out your less-than-iconic specimens, and you’ll be asked for your home’s security, fire alarm and CCTV details, and a list of model names and numbers, plus acquisition costs and current market values. You’ll be required to use professional packing while your pens are in transit. And you’ll need to negotiate an “Agreed Value Clause” to avoid claims valuation disputes, but that’s going too far ahead, because underwriters willing to take on this type of risk are as rarified as your Tibaldi “Fulgor Nocturnos” – only one was ever made – or your diamond-studded Montblanc “Boehme.” Let that (s)ink in for a while. Fountain pen insurance can be…complicated.
In the end, unless you own a museum with a permanent display of expensive fountain pens, or are a retailer of fine writing instruments (robberies at pen stores Aesthetic Bay and Stilograph Corsani come to mind), you might be better off managing your own risk and simply exercising the rudiments of extreme caution – capping pens when not in use, foresaking cleaning solvents, avoiding the needless display of pens in shirt pockets whilst riding the MRT, and being careful about lending them to the ball pen-wielding heathen in your office. Your daily journaling may not approach the stellar reputation of Anne Frank’s diary, but to paraphrase a 460-year old proverb, “A fool and his fountain pen are soon parted.”
Catastrophe does not discriminate between starter pens and discontinued collectibles.
(featured image: A Montblanc Meisterstuck Ramses II with a gold-flecked lapis lazuli cap and vermeil body, and a combined Lamy Safari/ AL Star Frankpen in ABS plastic and aluminum, accompany two vintage 1970’s Avon perfumes in “Fire Alarm” and “Fire Hydrant” figural bottles.)