The Memory Collection

Montegrappa’s main collaborator and inspirer is, once more, Dr. Richard Restak, who has provided the book which will accompany each Memory Pen. Visualising the concepts embodied in his work resulted in a device of which every element – from surface texture to the choice of material, from the chosen colour to the engravings – has special significance.

Produced in pearlised yellow celluloid, with either sterling silver or solid 18k gold parts, the Memory Pen is as fascinating as the topic that stimulated its creation. Yellow was chosen because it is the colour most associated throughout the ages with memory, while the upper part of the Memory Pen’s barrel depicts the different types of long-term memory. These include:

Episodic: The memory of events that occurred at a specific time or place, such as a birth or a wedding
Semantic: That part of the memory which stores general knowledge, e.g. “Where is Rome?”
Procedural: Where the memory maintains skills that don't involve speech or words, such as dancing

Gracefully embedded within these three divisions on the pen’s barrel are three seals of memory created by Giordano Bruno, a 16th century memory master. Triangular shapes are etched upon the circular metal parts, representing the writing of new memories, with the apex pointing downward, or the experiencing old memories, with the apex pointing upward.

On the side of the barrel are three compartments representing the past, the present and the future. The second, or middle compartment represents the present from which we look backward into the past: the first compartment proceeding upward, from the nib, by means of memory. After incorporating the past into the present through memory, we then project into the future, shown as the third compartment farthest up from the nib, via our imagination, which is closely allied with memory as first noted by Aristotle. Only humans can integrate these three dimensions of time to process the long-term future.

Complementing this visual representation of memory is the pen’s cap, its seven lower rings representing the average maximum number of items that can be stored in memory at one time. Above that are five thinner rings to denote the five basic senses upon which all memories are created. The brushed steel columns, running vertically within the seven lower rings, are arranged to symbolise the bidirectional flow of information for memory creation or recall, while the neural network – the basis of memory creation and storage – is illustrated by an engraved metal pattern on both barrel and cap.

Shaped in the form of a seahorse, the pocket clip represents the hippocampus and the amygdala, two structures important in the initial stages of memory formation, with brushed steel to show the communication between these parts of the brain. A seahorse is also etched on the nib, just like the Brain Pen.

The Memory Pen will be limited to 300 examples each of the fountain pen and the rollerball in sterling silver, to represent the P300 electrical wave produced by the brain, which effectively correlates with memory abilities and intelligence. The solid gold version will be offered in a series of 20 each of fountain pen and rollerball, its significance relating to the way memory is tested.

This most ancient yet still effective memory system – the peg memory system – consists of sound-a-like or rhyming words that correspond to each of the numbers from 1 through 20. Each number is remembered by picturing the rhyming word. In English, the number “1” is remembered by picturing a bun because of the rhyming: one-bun. Number “2” is recalled through an image of a shoe, which rhymes with “2”, while Number “3” is evoked by the word “tree”, which rhymes with “3”. This rhyming method continues for all of the numbers from 1-20.

To convey the magnificence of memory, in all of its power and capability, the Memory Pen arrives in packaging as inspiring as its contents. A transparent representation of the brain houses the pen, opened by two cylinders concealed in the base, while the stand conceals a copy of Dr. Restak’s book, allowing the owner to appreciate the nuances of the “programme” that stores all the thoughts that are so precious to us.

In and of itself, Montegrappa hopes that the Memory Pen will forever test its owner’s powers of recollection, so densely packed is its surface with details inspired by the study of memory and the understanding of how one’s memory operates.