The Pilot’s Pen

Montblanc partners with the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation for the first time, celebrating the life and legacy of the great French author and aviator.

By Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle

The Writer’s Edition Antoine de Saint-Exupéry limited collection of fountain and rollerball pens from Montblanc.

Born at the dawn of the golden age of flight, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was one of those rare men of action and intellect. He translated his perilous aeronautical adventures aboard canvas-skinned biplanes into short stories and novels, such as the semi-autobiographical Little Prince, that have captivated generations of children and adults. A pioneer of aviation who helped build airmail routes, he was also a war hero in his own right, disappearing over the Mediterranean while on an Allied flying mission in 1944. Celebrated during his life, he became a legend after his death.

As a company deeply rooted in the culture of the written word, Montblanc has been honoring the world’s greatest literary figures since 1992 with its series of Writers Edition collections. Teaming up with the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation—a charitable organization founded by Saint-Exupéry’s heirs in 2009—its latest edition pays tribute to the man himself.

“It is natural that Montblanc should pay homage to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as part of its limited-edition collection dedicated to great writers,” notes Olivier d’Agay, the Foundation’s delegate general and Saint-Exupéry’s great-nephew. “This Writers Edition addresses his admirers worldwide. And on this occasion, Montblanc made a €140,000 donation to the Foundation. Beyond the theme linked to the writer, the connection between the famous writing instrument manufacturer and the Foundation’s activities is obvious because we promote education, reading and … writing.”

The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Limited Edition Fountain Pen.

As Saint-Exupéry was obviously a multifaceted individual, Montblanc faced the challenge of honoring his legacy as both a pilot and an author. Available as a fountain pen ($935), rollerball ($785), ballpoint ($730), or mechanical pen (only as part of a set), the midnight-blue resin writing instruments reference Saint-Exupéry’s legendary Caudron-Simoun C630—the plane he crashed in 1935. Details include engravings running along the barrel and cap made to resemble the aircraft’s rivets, a clip design inspired by the frame surrounding the cockpit window, and a cap ring and platinum-coated fittings echoing details of the cockpit itself. Longitude and latitude of his most famous destinations—Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, Tierra del Fuego, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Toulouse—are inscribed on the cone, while his signature encircles the cap.

The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Limited Edition 1931 fountain pen ($3,860) is limited to 1,931 pieces in a nod to Night Flight’s original publication date. It incorporates three world-firsts for Montblanc: a see-through cap where two apertures revealing the nib within represent Saint-Exupéry’s cockpit windows; the implementation of a four-step vintage coating process to the brass cap and barrel, which gives it a 1930s feel; and the application of Super-Luminova under the brand’s mother-of-pearl logo on the crown, suggesting a star glowing in the night sky. Displaying Saint-Exupéry’s artistic talent, the cap is engraved with a caricature of the author and the barrel with one of his early illustrations for The Little Prince. The rivets make another appearance and the star motif on the bicolored 18-karat gold nib references Saint-Exupéry’s own illustration in The Little Prince. The Writers Edition Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Limited Edition is accompanied by a specially created ink emulating the color of the desert at sunset.

The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Limited Edition Fountain Pen.

A man whose humanism and heroism continues to inspire others, Saint-Exupéry often reflected on the human condition, and accorded a very high value to man, believing in universal values of fraternity, friendship, duty, valor, and selflessness. And from these values, the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation was born, from the belief that the world needs responsible young citizens. Its projects include combating illiteracy in Cambodia and the creation of a pioneering tactile art book by French visually impaired publisher Claude Garrandes, which made the watercolor illustrations in The Little Prince accessible to the blind for the first time, bringing them to life in raised, two-dimensional form.

To facilitate an increasing number of initiatives, the Foundation relies on corporate sponsors. Since 2006, it has partnered with IWC to create a series of pilot’s watches paying homage to Saint-Exupéry’s life’s work as an aviator and writer. Each year, one unique timepiece in platinum is auctioned off, with the entire proceeds serving to finance a charitable project jointly chosen by IWC and the Foundation. Today, Montblanc offers its support.

“Montblanc is rooted in arts and culture, and has several partnerships in place to support educational projects that improve literacy in children’s lives,” says Zaim Kamal, creative director for Montblanc. “By partnering with the Saint-Exupéry Foundation, Montblanc continues its commitment to supporting educational and cultural projects for disadvantaged children.”

Thanks to such corporate backing, the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation successfully follows in the footsteps of this man who was as fearless a storyteller as he was a pilot, continuing on its mission of empowering youth across the globe.