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An age of discoveries: the Amerigo Vespucci collectible pen
Illustration of Amerigo Vespucci with his signature on aged paper

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An age of discoveries: the Amerigo Vespucci collectible pen

01.04.2023

The years of great discoveries

The Age of Discoveries, a period that lasted from the 15th to the 18th century, was a time when bold European sailors and traders decided to sail the seas to discover new and uncharted lands. One of the greatest explorers of these times was the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci, who set out from his hometown for Spain, where he found out about Colombian discoveries. He embarked on his first voyage to the New World in 1499 and then made a second voyage in 1501, having the audacity to go as far as the coasts of present-day Brazil and Argentina.

All scholars agree that Vespucci significantly contributed to European exploration, so much so that his name was chosen for the newly discovered continent. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced the famous Universalis Cosmographia, one of the earliest examples of a planisphere that faithfully reproduced the landmasses known at the time. Indeed, in this valuable document, the name ‘America’ appears for the first time on the territories that today correspond to South America. As explained by Waldseemüller himself in his introduction to the map, he chose the name to pay homage to the great Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.

Penne roller e cappuccio Amerigo Vespucci Visconti su antica mappa di navigazione con bussola

The collectible pen dedicated to the great Florentine explorer

In 2012, 500 years after Amerigo Vespucci’s death, Visconti created a collector’s pen dedicated to the great Florentine explorer, his travels, and discoveries across the ocean. He was among the first to realize that he had reached the shores of the so-called New World and not India, as many thought. He also proved to be one of the greatest masters of astronomical and cosmographical principles since he could establish the exact position of his caravel by calculating longitude using the lunar distance method. Moreover, like the great navigator, the Visconti brand was born in Florence. The Amerigo Vespucci collection, created to celebrate the brand’s close bond with the city and the protagonists of its history, belongs to the Heritage selection, a unique collection of precious and exclusive creations made by the best Florentine craftsmen and constituting some of the brand’s most iconic pieces.

The fascinating effect of artistic engravings

The Amerigo Vespucci rollerball pen is part of Visconti’s exclusive Heritage Edition. The writing instrument features the scrimshaw technique, a carving method used on bone or ivory. In this case, the collectible pen is composed of ivory-colored acrylic resin, entirely decorated with minute engravings designed to faithfully reproduce Waldseemüller’s Map. This wall map represented Europe, Africa, Asia, and America for the first time in history. The small Latin inscriptions that cover its surface indicate all the new geographical discoveries of the time. Of course, it was impossible to reproduce all five quadrants of the map on the barrel and cap of the pen, so our designers chose only the European and American ones for their close ties with the great Amerigo Vespucci. Thanks to the well-known skills of the Visconti artisans, it was even possible to further refine the scrimshaw technique by introducing the chiaroscuro technique, with areas of light and shadow that make the drawing even more realistic.

18-karat gold bands on the barrel and cap and the rest of the metalwork in rose gold bring elegance and brightness to the pen’s design. It is, however, the details that once again make the difference. At the bottom of the Amerigo Vespucci pen, one can notice the engraving of a caravel made with impeccable craftsmanship. Indeed, a knowledgable observer cannot miss the reference to the fast, light, and maneuverable sailing ship that made it possible to brave ocean currents and winds with greater ease than the vessels used until the second half of the 15th century. The other side of the blind cap, however, features a quote from Amerigo Vespucci, taken from one of his letters about the New World addressed to Lorenzo De’ Medici: ‘I arrived at the land of the Antipodes, and I recognized that I was in the presence of the fourth part of the Earth. I discovered the continent inhabited by a multitude of peoples and animals, more than our Europe, Asia, or even Africa itself.’

A memorable display case

Such an elegant and refined collector’s pen deserved a memorable presentation. Visconti returns to impress with its fervid creativity by creating a case that becomes an actual decorative element. It reproduces the astrolabe, or the precious circular instrument used in the past to calculate the position of the Sun and the stars based on the day, the hour, and one’s latitude. The wooden frame shows the graduated scale and the Visconti logo. The pen resides in the center between the two metal needles. At the base of the astrolabe, a wooden pedestal showcases an evocative bas-relief depicting the figure of Amerigo Vespucci alongside a large planisphere, once again recalling the great explorer and his unparalleled contribution to modern history and the evolution of our civilization.

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