Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The pen is mightier than the sword. But which is more expensive?

My office evidently shares an elevator bank with a company that sells pens for prices ranging from ten bucks to $75,000. I have yet to visit the place. My taste-or perhaps, my lack of taste-runs to the Bic BU2 Grip. I could be mistaken, but I think the BU2 runs about 50 cents per pen if you buy a dozen. As a result, I am never too concerned about leaving my pen somewhere because I know I have other pens back at the office.

But what if one acquired a very valuable pen? Would one display it or use it?  For those who would use such a pen, This Omaha World Herald story offers a cautionary tale. Omaha attorney John Kerwin left a $500 pen at the Douglas County Courthouse and wants it back.

Mr. Kerwin left his pen, a Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck, and his keys at the courthouse security kiosk in November. The pen was a gift from his uncle, Monsignor Eugene Kerwin. Reader(s)™ might know that a Monsignor is a type of Roman Catholic priest.

In any event, an unidentified judge retrieved Mr. Kerwin's keys from the security office but the pen was missing.  Mr. Kerwin reviewed surveillance video of the kiosk and was able to determine which security officer last touched the pen. Mr. Kerwin then complained to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and also filed a $500 tort claim with the Douglas County Clerk.  In his claim Mr. Kerwin wrote, that he wanted either the pen returned or an "exact model replacement." The article does not say why money sufficient to pay for an exact model replacement would not be an acceptable solution.

I'm sure that Mr. Kerwin wishes he could have the moments prior to leaving the pen and keys at the kiosk back and that he feels terrible about losing a gift from his uncle.The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation and I hope the investigation results in return of the pen.

What do you think Mr. Torvik?  Would an exact model replacement really be the same as the gift? Do you carry your heirloom pens around with you? Is $500 too much to pay for a reminder that one should keep track of one's possessions?  Perhaps most importantly, when you are a judge will you personally retrieve items for lawyers when they leave things at the courthouse?

In case you were wondering about the question posed in the title of this post, this website suggests that swords are much less expensive than Mr. Kerwin's pen.  Your sword purchasing experience may vary.

**Aside 1 that is probably only interesting to me.  Douglas County has a shape that resembles the state of Iowa. I assume this is because people in Nebraska wished they lived in Iowa.

***Aside 2 that is probably only interesting to me. According to Wikipedia, Pope Francis has decided that he will not grant any more requests that priests be given the title of Monsignor. 


  1. Interesting. I have owned two non-BIC style pens in my life:

    1) A mont blanc ball-point pen of some kind, which I received as a Christmas present from my grandfather in college. I actually did come to treasure this pen, and used it quite a bit. I probably purchased five replacement ink cartridges over the years. A couple times I thought I had lost the pen, and the feeling of having lost it did give me a keen feeling of loss, probably because my grandfather died many years ago. But in fact I never lost it. I still have it, although it recently broke. It's technically still usable, but it's days are numbered. I'm glad I used it up instead of losing it.

    2) I received a gold plated pen of some kind from my parents on some occasion, I think it was my graduation from law school. My name is engraved on it! This pen I tend to keep in my work bag, meaning that it is quite likely that I will lose it at some point. It really is hte kind of pen that is supposed to be displayed, I think, but that's not really my scene.

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