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David Oscarson's Empire

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Often, when an artisan is skilled and the work is precious, his ultimate creations bear distinguishing characteristics that separate him from the hoi pollo of other brands. Indeed, the best of any product is in its signature style, those elements that distinguish its maker and feel, for that reason, immediately familiar; yet the effects never fail to dazzle. With great precision, David Oscarson's marvelous writing instruments inherently convey impressions of not only his personal journeys, but other magical histories and loving homages.

Oscarson explains, "Many of the collection designs are very personal, and I am grateful for those who take the time to understand. I enjoy relating the personal aspects of each design to so many of my friends who meet me at shows and events every year.

These creations will last for centuries, and I hope they will be enjoyed by future generations."

The prelude to the current collection was birthed earlier and, as per usual, Oscarson's exquisite series of fine writing instruments strives for continuity and is full of hidden intricacies, embedded with his introspective themes. The Henrik Wigstrom Trophy Collection of 2000 was inspired by the head work master to Peter Carl Fabergé from 1903-1918- Henrik Wigstrom-whose exquisite, bejeweled pieces of extraordinary detail and quality were so incredible they became favorites of the royal Romanov family in Russia. These Russian Imperial Fabergé Eggs were crafted uniquely and add additional intrigue to the mystique of the Romanovs; thus embodying, to some extent, the dynasty's great aspirations and the decadence that would help lead to its spectacular downfall.

Oscarson's pens, in this series from the year 2000, are based upon a specific 1907 masterpiece by Wigstrom. The Fabergé Imperial Trophy Egg (also known as the "Egg with Love Trophies" or "Cradle with Garlands Egg") was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to his mother, Empress Maria Fedorovna, on Easter, in celebration of the birth of a long-desired heir, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaievich. In short, this egg was a world, in and of itself--not unlike Oscarson's own meaningful and finely composed pens, capable of transporting the writer to the rise and fall of empires, involved by design in the deepest interrogations of art.

Oscarson is a man of composition, continuity, and purpose; each collection of fine writing instruments is as delightful as the next, and although each collection contains unique, irreplaceable attributes, the Oscarson canon is to be taken as a narrative. In this spirit comes the Russian Imperial Collection, which takes as its subject the Russian Romanov Empire, a family that for centuries ruled as a formidable dynasty--a royal lineage whose name would come to be synonymous with its native land.

Oscarson also peeks more deeply into the magical world behind the famed objet d'art universe of Faberge, exploring the trademark aesthetic masterpieces for the trenchant histories behind the delicacy. Furthermore, Oscarson gestures toward the rulers whose hands first held these spectacular eggs. Indeed, an alluring echo of his previous art can be felt in this new Russian Imperial Collection, and, as usual, the series has a story (or ten thousand) to tell.

The Romanovs hardly need an introduction, but both the complexity and historic importance involved in the family's regal exploits bear investigation. Later Russian mythos would add greatly to confusion over facts post-1613, although it is clear that a boyar in the middle of the fourteenth century, Andrei Ivanovich Koblya, was the family's founder. Multiple revisions and renovations to the way in which royal descent was decided resulted in erratic twists of lineage.

It has been widely accepted that the establishment of the clan Romanov as royalty per se was in 1613, when Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar, although the reasons for this remain controversial. Some scholars conjecture that because of his youth and, by some accounts, simplicity, Mikhail Romanov could have been vulnerable to outside influences, which was the subterranean motive for his selection as monarch. Here the Romanov tree descends through Mikhail's descendants, and the epic saga of their many centuries of escapades resists summarization, the drama so profuse and the national transformations so profound as to render condensation ineffective at best and often confusing. The Romanovs were the country Russia from 1613 until the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917 following the February Revolution.

Oscarson says, "2017 year marks the 100th anniversary of the Romanov family's abdication from the throne. Following a 304-year reign, it was an epic turn in history and also marked the end of an unparalleled era of creative luxury in Russia. The Romanov family propelled Fabergé's creative use of guilloche and hot enamel to world-renowmed status, and this collection is another tribute to that old-world craft. The design is reminiscent of the Coronation Egg from 1897 a collaboration by Mikhail Perkhin and Henrik Wigstrom] and the Henrik Wigstrom collection we introduced in the spring of 2000."

The standard line of the Russian Imperial Collection comprises four colors: Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, and Sky Blue. Each writing instrument is limited to 304 pieces in fountain pen or rollerball, in honor of the years of Romanov reign. Oscarson's trademark guilloche and hot enamel work is on robust display throughout the entire pen body: delicate engraved lines beneath colored bodies and white finials. Solid sterling silver or gold vermeil crisscross the barrel and cap in a time-consuming and elaborate double-leaf-wire process.

The cap's back side features the Double Eagle, the imperial symbol of Romanov hegemony, hand crafted and detailed in opaque black enamel.

The sturdy clip has the look of a Corinthian column, with delicate rosettes acting as a garland. The cap ring displays the name "DAVID OSCARSON" written in Cyrillic. The Double Eagle motif reappears in delicate engraving on the shapely section, and the bicolor nib also features delicate etching and the David Oscarson logo.

Just below the section, on the barrel, are two dates in high relief on white enamel: 1613 and 1917-the rise and fall, respectively, of the Romanov Empire. Gold or silver end caps on the cap and barrel lend the writing instruments uniformity of aesthetic. In addition to the standard lines, Oscarson plans extremely limited special editions with diamond insets on the overlay and rosettes and special colors-striking Amethyst, Citrine, Onyx, and Turquoise-to be released in late 2017/early 2018.

Like all David Oscarson pieces, the Russian Imperial Collection is more than artistic mastery. The pen has an internal cartridge/ converter/eyedropper system, a reliable feed, and large 14 karat gold No. 6 nib in fine, medium, or broad. Oscarson adds, "It's sometimes overlooked that these writing instruments also write! We go to great lengths to ensure that the performance of each collection piece is every bit the 'writer' that it is a showpiece, and our faithful retailers are quick to support us in this claim."

The New York Times in 1949 wrote of Fabergé as a "fabricator of jeweled fantasies." The same could be said of David Oscarson and his fabulous fine writing instruments, but it would be foolish to reduce his genius to pure aestheticism. Like each Fabergé egg, an Oscarson pen is an epic history in miniature, petals that must eventually yield to time and reveal the inner brilliant filament of a flower's bright face.

Nor can Oscarson be reduced to another prominent artisan whose genius is similarly unique, for, in addition to his remarkable talent, the bespoke community owes much to his (metaphorical) giant shoulders.

Oscarson notes, "Our numbers are small, and most of the world will never know our name, but there will always be a select few who truly appreciate the very best-even perfection--and that is what we aspire to achieve." For almost 20 years now, David Oscarson has been fearless in pioneering the contemporary bespoke artisan community. His legacy is nothing less than royal.

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