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Montegrappa for Sea Shepherd
The loss of a ship is never a cause for celebration, but the sinking of the Essex on November 20, 1820, was a historic moment of natural justice. Two centuries later, Sea Shepherd and Montegrappa commemorate this memorable event with a project imbued with determination, intrigue, and recycled bronze.
The crew aboard the Essex likely thought their luck had finally arrived when they spotted a pod of whales a thousand miles west of the Galapagos. But November 20, 1820, was destined to be the whaler's last day at sea. Fifteen fruitless months after leaving Nantucket, two furious strikes from the powerful head of a sperm whale sent the Essex to the bottom of the Pacific.
Their escape was fortunate, at least until cannibalism began. When the crew finally reached land, nine men had been lost. The news of the incident was reported in newspapers around the world and inspired Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick. But for many, the tragic fate of the Essex remains largely unknown.
Image courtesy of SHARUZEN, Iroltha Tattoo Studio, Slovakia
Not so for Sea Shepherd. More than two centuries after the Essex incident, man and whale are still engaged in a fatally imbalanced struggle. Over four decades, the activist group has often felt like an enraged lone bull in the vast oceans infested with illegal fishing.
Their countless daring forays against maritime fleets have done much to expose the audacity and scale of marine destruction, but Sea Shepherd's "direct-action conservation" tactics have often divided public opinion. To Montegrappa, their brand of activism deserves admiration.
Clearly, we are in the presence of nonconformists in the noblest tradition.
Montegrappa has always appreciated a good sailor's story.
Stories like the sinking of the Essex are a source of artisanal creativity for a manufacturer that can boast traces of Ernest Hemingway in its DNA. Maritime legends are well represented in Montegrappa's Vault, the historical archive of limited editions, where we can find the Amerigo Vespucci (2001) and the Pirates (2016). With this kind of pedigree, it was perhaps written in our destiny to tell the story of the whaler.
But as a platform to launch our partnership with Sea Shepherd, the premise of the Essex's demise was compelling. Completed in time for the bicentennial of its sinking, Victory of the Whale is the first luxury accessory ever created in collaboration with ocean activists. It is thanks to their moral - and material - support that this Solidarity Edition conveys its message with substance as well as style.
Captain Paul Watson founded Sea Shepherd in 1977.
Tired of the charade of dishonored treaties and futile protest demonstrations, the Canadian activist took matters into his own hands in 1979 when he used his first ship to ram the Sierra in the port of Lisbon. Rather than compensate the owners of the whaler by losing his own boat, Watson sank it.
Since his reenactment of the Essex incident, Watson has built a fleet of ten ships, with a crew of thousands of young "shepherds" volunteers recruited from around the world. Flying a revamped version of the Jolly Roger, the classic pirate flag, their missions all have one goal: to defend, conserve, and protect our oceans and marine life.
Some label them as "eco-pirates," but for Watson, direct activism remains the only option when national navies cannot - or will not - enforce the laws.
Significantly, more than forty years of frontline campaigns have not caused a single injury or loss of human life.
From the ocean, for the ocean: the creation of Victory of the Whale.
The 59-meter M/Y Steve Irwin was Sea Shepherd's flagship until 2018. When it was purchased in 2006, the patrol boat had already spent three decades at sea, but its ability to keep pace with the faster ships of the Japanese whaling fleet made it a vital strategic asset. Named after the famous environmental television host, it led numerous missions in the Antarctic Ocean before its retirement.
Before heading to an Australian maritime museum, Sea Shepherd preserved much of the inventory of M/Y Steve Irwin, including a bronze propeller aged from thousands of hours in Antarctic waters. Parts were melted down and shipped to Italy to ensure it had a more pampered second life.
Montegrappa's artisans reshaped the recovered material using a typical sculpture method, lost-wax microfusion. The recycled bronze used in the rugged design of Victory of the Whale reduces its environmental impact and places years of frontline activism into the hands of its owners.
Lessons from the past highlight an emergency of the present.
Next to its precious bronze structure, Sea Shepherd's battle flag is engraved on the barrel of Victory of the Whale. The group's menacing logo is deliberately designed to underscore the crisis afflicting our oceans. In it, the crossed bones of the traditional pirate are replaced by Neptune's trident and the shepherd's staff - symbols of an ethos of "aggressive nonviolence."
The pen's design is both nostalgic and picturesque, characterized by a whale-shaped clip that represents respect and compassion for ocean life. Below it, turbulent waves in recycled bronze wrap around a sea of turquoise celluloid - the final resting place of the Essex.
The handcrafted mahogany wood barrel references the whaling ship's hull, with details on the end cap evoking the lifeboats that saved its crew. The bicentenary of the sinking is reflected in limited editions of two hundred fountain pens and rollerballs, each moored in a luxurious blue lacquered box.
Two centuries after the sinking of the Essex, Victory of the Whale tells its story to draw attention to mankind's ongoing assault on ocean life and provide tangible support to Sea Shepherd's mission. Proceeds from the edition will support the organization's efforts to protect the Mediterranean from illegal fishing.
Nonconformists and eccentric writing instruments have always gone hand in hand. Like the vision of Captain Paul Watson and the organization he created, Victory of the Whale is bold and unconventional because it must be.
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