Since the beginning of humanity, we have used light and darkness as
primary metaphors. Darkness has long been associated with the
primordial, occluded, and chaotic. Light is revelatory—it allows for all
creation. Our very existence is predicated on the light of the sun. The
Enlightenment period equated darkness with ignorance, the refusal to
acknowledge reality. In the modern world, light and darkness are icons of
good and evil, and the imagery figures most prominently in theology. David
Oscarson captures this magnificent duality in a new fountain pen collection,
meant to convey the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
The new David Oscarson Deus Regit (“God Rules”) collection is among the
most personal art Oscarson has produced. While the pen can be enjoyed by anyone,
its creation is rooted in Oscarson’s faith—he is a proud member of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For Oscarson, the Deus Regit pen is
a work of gratitude to God, a testimony to His mercy and goodness; God is “the
light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by
which all things are governed, even the power of God” (D&C 88:6, 12-13).
[ed: While there are many competing ideas on the correct way to refer to
God in terms of gender, we have made the editorial decision to refer to God
as “He/Him/His” throughout this article to reflect Oscarson’s personal faith.]
Each Deus Regit piece is hand-crafted in solid sterling silver and features a
fresco-like image of God descending from Heaven, breaking through cloud
barriers and surrounded by heavenly hosts who sing his praises. The clip
resembles God’s scepter and holds a diamond, a symbol of his strength and
might—diamonds are considered nearly indestructible.
The imagery beneath contrasts sharply with this triumphant, light-filled
scene, for it depicts the Adversary—the name by which the Devil is referred
in the Book of Job—in serpent form with ruby eyes. A repeating guilloche
pattern of flames beneath the barrel enamel represents the Adversary’s unceasing
attempts to eradicate light. Indeed, because darkness indicates distance
from God, an opaque black enamel finial is placed at the base of the fountain
pen, representing outer darkness—the absence of all light—farthest from the
cap illustration of God in Heaven.
But of course, the Devil is typically portrayed as seductive, so this section is also beautiful. Further, the subtlety of the Adversary can blind a person to his nefarious intent: when the pen is inverted, the flame engraving on the barrel forms into a V-shape, a triangle meant to resemble a goat (but indistinctly, for the Devil is typically portrayed as difficult to ascertain). The gripping section is halved: one side represents spirit prison (for those who have not accepted God) and the other spirit paradise (for those who have lived according to God’s instruction) where, according to LDS gospel, all who have trod upon the Earth await resurrection. Oscarson explains, “This is my favorite part of the pen: when we lived in Heaven as spirit children of God, this plan was presented to us, and we chose to follow God, come to Earth, take our chances, and see if we can make it back. We come to Earth, and we’re tested. If you look at the gripping section, it’s a spiral, but half of it is paradise with a blazing sun and the other half is a prison with prison bars. That’s the spirit world, in between this life and the next, waiting for the resurrection.”
It also acknowledges the binary nature of life. The human mind naturally organizes phenomena in such a way. Deus Regit depicts the idea of God’s triumph in such distinctions—light over darkness, life over death, health over sickness, love over hatred, liberty over captivity, joy over misery, peace over contention, comfort over fear, hope over despair, and right over wrong.
In the Bible, God begs his followers to choose the right path: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Eagle-eyed Oscarson fans might see the new Deus Regit as a more intricate incarnation of his Celestial pen series. The eighth collection in the David Oscarson series of limited edition writing instruments, the Celestial was a simpler, less overtly religious design than the Deus Regit. In that instance, the fountain pen featured sun and sunburst engraving along with a stunning threedimensional face of the sun etched into the cap’s tapered and rounded surface. The phases of the moon (new, quarter, half, and full) and stars are featured on the barrel. The new Deus Regit collection retains the same idea of spheres, but those spheres are not astronomical and spatial but more overtly spiritual. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these domains are liturgically relevant. Whereas the Celestial collection highlighted the sun, moon, and stars, this pen contains the three kingdoms of glory, one of which is the Celestial kingdom—itself compared to the glory of the sun. The terrestrial kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon, and the telestial kingdom is associated with the glory of the stars. These kingdoms are the ultimate destination of the soul after the resurrection. To which kingdom one is sent depends upon the choices and behavior of the person in life. In terms of lineage, Oscarson can trace his family origin to the very beginnings of the LDS. He explains, “My ancestor Lydia Knight was one of the early members of our church in Nauvoo, Illinois, and this is where a beautiful Temple was built. Lydia Knight was one of those early members, and her husband Newell came home and said, ‘Brigham Young has told us to head west to the Utah Valley, and her immediate response was ‘Let us make preparations immediately. Our place is with the Kingdom of God.’ Her famous quote was always ‘God rules,’ and so that is the name of this collection: Deus Regit.” Knight was, in fact, originally from England. Oscarson’s paternal side is Swedish but equally committed to the LDS church. Each subsequent generation of Oscarson’s family has returned to Sweden, whether as missionaries or visitors.
Why has Oscarson waited so long to make such a pen? One explanation is that science is now fully
capable of its creation. Because it is such a meaningful subject matter for Oscarson, he wanted to capture it perfectly. It is only now, with advancement of technology and the possibilities for which it allows, that the Deus Regit pen can be done in full justice—specifically, the techniques Oscarson has developed to blend different colors of hard enamel. Another reason that Oscarson has taken his time is that he always perceived such an endeavor to be risky. He explains that, as he has gotten older, he worries less about how such a fountain pen might be perceived. (This author would argue that such a pen is never inappropriate—it is a personal faith in which its making is rooted, but the concept of light over darkness is an ancient and universal one. The excellence of the piece lies in
its accessibility to all writers; its central metaphor is so fundamentally human that it can resonate with all.) While discussing the Deus Regit pen, a quote from A Christmas Carol by
Charles Dickens occurs to Oscarson: “I wear the chain I forged in life…. I made
it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my
own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?” says the ghost of Jacob
Marley, warning the character Scrooge that, in one way or another, we will all
suffer the consequences of our actions.
Oscarson explains, “I’ve made other religious-inspired pens, but they were
more concrete. This is doctrinal. This is who I am. This is everything I hope to be.
It says in Psalms, ‘Do good and dwell forevermore.’ That’s my hope. With all the
struggling and trying we do, this sums it up for me. That idea of the angel on one
shoulder and the devil on the other? I believe that’s very real, and we choose to
listen to one or the other at different times in our lives.”
Oscarson has seen his share of tragedy, but he has made it through with
what can only be described as grace. Ultimately, he met his beautiful wife,
Veronica, and theirs is a harmonious relationship based on love for one another
and a shared conception of God and the world.
The Deus Regit is the 37th collection in the David Oscarson series of limited
edition writing instruments that showcase his skills in enamel and guilloche
engraving. It is produced in eight variations: a guilloche-engraved barrel of
translucent ruby enamel and a cap illustration in enamels of translucent white,
mossy black, azure, and citrine matched to gold-plated appointments or a ruby
barrel with a cap in translucent white, gray, mossy black, and citrine matched to
sterling silver appointments; a barrel of translucent azure blue enamel matched
to a cap illustration in translucent white, citrine, and azure blue with gold-plated
appointments; a mossy black barrel with a cap in white, light blue, and citrine
matched to sterling silver appointments; a mossy black barrel matched to a cap
illustration in translucent white, mossy black, gray, and citrine with either goldplated
or sterling silver appointments; and a barrel of translucent gray matched
to a cap illustration in translucent white, gray, azure, and citrine with either
gold-plated or sterling silver appointments. Each version also features a barrel
end of opaque black enamel.
The scepter-shaped clip features a diamond at the hilt, toward the cap end,
and the cap ring features David Oscarson logo engraving and the pen’s edition
number—each version is limited to 88 aggregate rollerballs or fountain pens.
Each cartridge/converter/eyedropper-filling Deus Regit fountain pen has a bicolor
18 karat gold nib with David Oscarson logo engraving in extra-fine, fine, medium,
The magic of the new David Oscarson Deus Regit collection is that it was
guided with genuine feeling and based in faith, but the writing instrument, itself,
carries an image that resonates with everyone. Light versus darkness is a
fundamental icon. It can even be an intellectual metaphor, indicating reason
over ignorance. Oscarson has created a fountain pen that is, at once, entirely
personal and completely accessible for all, and it is truly beautiful.
Visit davidoscarson.com and see the Deus Regit collection on page 65 of the