One of our pen club members, Ben, recently returned from a holiday in sunny California – from San Francisco down the coast to Carmel and Dana Point and back up through Sequoa and Yosemite Park, returning to San Francisco. Of course, the weather was great and the scenery beautiful, but none of that mattered to Ben – he was on a mission, to scratch an itch that has been gnawing at him since first reading an article in the November 1995 issue of Pen World (reproduced below) about a stationery store called Gazebo by the Sea. In 1989, Ben and his son had driven along the Monterey Peninsula on the famed 17-Mile Drive by Carmel runs through Pacific Grove to the Pebble Beach golf course, from the dramatic Pacific coastline to the majestic Del Monte Forest. After reading the Pen World article and remembering his trip, Ben knew that he had to return their some day. On his return to Carmel, Ben found that Detlef was no longer in the Gazebo but had instead had opened Bittner Fine Pens in a more accessible location in Carmel. Finally, Ben had the chance to meet and pay homage to Mr. Detlef Bittner, the man who had fascinated him since 1995.
As Ben tells us – I recognized Detlef immediately because he had hardly aged from his photo in Pen World and was dressed as sharply. I was treated royally and allowed to write with some very expensive pens. … The least expensive pen I was tempted to buy was approx. $300, which is not a problem for some of his customers such as Pierce Brosnan and Clint Eastwood (Editor’s note – Ben, such shameless name dropping!). I put in a good word for our pen club and provided him with the address of our website, which his main employee Bob immediately checked out (verifying my credibility since I looked like an Iowa farmer dressed in a plaid shirt and ball cap) (Editor’s note – I can see that). Bob commented that it was a good looking website. …Detlef was very kind to compose a kind greeting to our club in beautiful script on his personal stationery and endorsed with a wax seal of what we presume is his coat of arms (reproduced below). … The store was FULL of Rhodia stuff and it is one of the few papers that he endorses – he couldn’t say enough good things about Rhodia. He does not carry Noodler’s Ink because of too many complaints from customers re: pen damage. Detlef said that his store sells good quality pens and does not want his customers’ pens ruined by the wrong ink (Editor’s note – those are Mr. Bittner’s opinions, which we respect;however, they do not necessarily represent the views of the London Pen Club or any of its members.). The store does carry Private Reserve and the traditional ink brands too.
Thanks for sharing your adventure Ben, you must be a happy guy now that itch no longer needs to be scratched and thanks for being such a great ambassador for our club (although we really do need to have a talk about the club’s dress code while traveling!). Finally, a very special thank you to Mr. Detlef Bittner for the hospitality that he showed to Ben and for showing us the art of writing!