It's all about the written word...

Celebrating three years in publication. Thank you for visiting often!

Friday, December 31, 2010

William Henry at the Golden Globes

A limited edition of just 25 pieces, the Golden Globe 810 from William Henry is hand-crafted at the brand’s Oregon Studio. The barrel is crafted from ebony wood, with titanium and ebonite accents. The cap is built from ebonite, with titanium, mokume gane and sterling silver accents. The cap ring is hand engraved and inlaid with 24-karat gold, and the sculptural stainless steel spring-loaded clip features an inlaid diamond. This convertible pen may be used as a fountain pen with an 18-karat gold nib (and cartridge or converter filling system) or a rollerball. Offered to presenters and award nominees at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards, the pen is priced at $2,000. It comes in a wood presentation case.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All about Bruce Lee..

Master of martial arts, Bruce Lee, is paid homage by the newest pen from THINK. Each pen features a red cap adorned with a golden dragon clip, and the trademarked Bruce Lee symbol atop the pen is complemented by the golden cap band with his name in raised lettering. This is a limited edition of 888 fountain pens, each with a medium nib, and 888 rollerball pens. The fountain pen is priced at $315, and the rollerball is priced at $295.

© Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

In a pear tree...

The Pear Tree Pen Company, an online retailer of pens, inks and accessories, just launched its own line of luxury writing instruments. Its first, The Perdice Bradford Limited Edition fountain pen, is handmade in the US by Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Company. James Partridge, owner of Pear Tree, designed the pen with the helpful assist of Gray. It is crafted from Sheaffer rod stock from their Balance II series: Crimson Glow, Amber Glow, Cobalt Glow, Jade and Tiger Eye. I received one in Jade to test for this review, and I must say that I was very impressed, but not surprised. The pen is up to the rigorous standards of Edison, which means that it is perfectly shaped and balanced, the threading is flawless, and the material--for which I guess we should thank Sheaffer--is gorgeous. The shape is reminiscent of the Waterman Hundred Year Pen, though the size is more like the Deluxe model. The Jade is a clear and vibrant green with pearly flecks, and the other colors--though I only saw them in photos--look equally beautiful. In keeping with the overall minimalist design of the pen, the only marking on the barrel is the imprint "Perdice Bradford" with the edition number and a dot code signifying the material within the series. So, too, the clip is unadorned--springy yet sturdy. The pen features an 18-karat Edison nib: the one I tested was "Medium," and it was smooth with a bit of flex; "Fine" and "Broad" sizes are also available. There is a very limited number of pens being produced: Ten in Amber, Cobalt and Tiger, 12 in Crimson and eight in Jade, each priced at $325. A final and very interesting note about the name: "Perdice" is Italian for pear, and Bradford, of course, is a type of pear. I like the Perdice Bradford...a lot.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The Fireworks limited edition maki-e fountain pen from Pelikan depicts an experience of a Japanese fireworks display in its rendering of an orange Kiku-mono (peony) on the cap and multiple Botan-mono (chysanthemums) along the length of the barrel. Sprinkled gold and mother-of-pearl complete the design. The Pelikan logo is on the crown, along with the limited edition number and the artist's signature. Just 88 fountain pens are available, each priced at $3,600. The pen comes in a wood presentation case. The fountain pen nib is 18-karat gold.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Henry Simpole for Onoto

The new Onoto Overlay No. 1, beautifully created by Henry Simpole for the British-born Onoto, is available with a sterling silver, gilded silver and 18 karat gold overlay, creating a stunning counterpoint to the black pen body beneath. And if you look closely, you'll see the letters "O-N-O-T-O" ingeniously woven into the filigree design. Also within the design is an oval cartouche which may be used for engraving up to five characters. The rhodium plated 18-karat gold nib may be specially ground to fit one's preferences. The Onoto Overlay No 1 is being issued in small limited editions (500 in sterling silver, 250 in gilded silver and 50 in solid gold), so an early reservation is suggested. Prices range from $1,050 to $4,125.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The 2011 Stylus Pen Annual Is Here!

The long-anticipated 2011 Stylus Pen Annual is hot off the press and making its way to Fine Life Media's Connecticut warehouse. There are executive privileges: I received my advance copy a couple of weeks ago, and I must say it is a great book. All the major pen brands are included, but I did do a bit of fine tuning this year, leaving out a few of the smaller brands or those that are not distributed widely, or at all, in the US. There is contact info for all of them, however. Also included this year are some very insightful interviews with the principal players in the pen industry. I sent each a list of questions, and each responded in his or her own fashion. Very little editing was done, and I am sure you will be fascinated--as I was--by their candor. Also new this year is a group of articles geared toward both classic and new pen collectors by some of your favorite authors: Richard Binder, Paul Erano, David Isaacson and Ron Zorn, as well as a wonderful essay by Jeff Bohn.
All in all, this year's Annual is a darn good read, and it will be referred to again and again as a comprehensive annual guide to pens. Send me your comments after you receive your copy, and I will include them as I am able in a future marketing package--with credit to you. All who comment will be put in a drawing to win a pen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Tis the season to consider the Post

Gate City's New Postal Reservoir Pen pays homage to the Postal Pen Company of yore (1920s). It is made using the original Postal design, and it offers the best of both worlds: the great usability and huge ink capacity of the original Postal along with the durability and practicality of modern acrylic resins. It also features a transparent barrel to give you a view of the ink supply. The pen is available in three color combinations and two sizes: Junior (427/32" capped, 63/8" posted), 2.4 ml ink capacity; and Senior (511/16" capped, 73/8" posted), 3.2 ml ink capacity. Having personally seen and held the pen, I can attest to its flawless finish and quality construction--and it writes well, too. Imagine that. 

The original Postal Pens were sold only through the mail, so this time of year seems especially fitting to commemorate the company. And the New Postal Reservoir Pen would be perfect to write your holiday greetings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To mail or not to mail...

Traditionally, the holiday season is a time to send greetings in the form of cards and letters to our family members and friends. But with the proliferation of technology, particularly e-cards and email, snail mail is down. “Our volume for 2010 is projected to be approximately 167 billion pieces, a decline of approximately 10 billion pieces from last year’s total,” says Joseph Corbett, chief financial officer and executive vice president of the United States Postal Service. The state of the economy certainly hasn't helped, with more people spending less money on cards and postage. But what about pen aficionados? Will we readily forego the pen? I, for one, sent cards with handwritten notes in each, albeit fewer than in years past. Please take my poll and let us know your holiday mailing habits. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The new Ceramic Tornado

Newest from Retro 51 is the Ceramic Tornado ballpoint, the latest rendition in the popular Tornado line first introduced several years ago. This limited and numbered edition, available in brown or white ceramic, has rose gold colored trim and retails for $250. The pen is packaged in a great-looking black lacquer box.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The M-4 Magnet Necklace Pen

New from Franklin-Christoph, the M-4 Magnet Necklace Pen pen features an attractive clasped silk cord. The ballpoint pen uses a Parker-style Piper Ultra-Glide 1000 refill, and the cap attaches to the barrel with a magnet feature. The pen is available in black or yellow with rhodium trim ($47.20) or engraved sterling silver with a 2mm Swarovski "sapphire" ($77.20). Each pen has a lifetime warranty and comes in an attractive gift box. These prices are for a limited time only. I saw the new pens for the first time about a month ago, and they are well balanced and well constructed. They are also a perfect size for quick retrieval for note taking at about 4.25 inches in length. The M-4 Magnet Necklace Pen may be purchased directly from Franklin-Christoph.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Christmas Giant

Writer, illustrator, storyteller and pen lover, Steve Light is introducing his latest book, The Christmas Giant, in time for the holidays. The colorful 32-page hardcover book tells the story of Humphrey the giant and Leetree, his elfin best friend. Together they make wrapping paper for Santa's presents, but this year, the two have been tasked to grow a Christmas tree. Creative thinking and some clever recycling help save the day when disaster strikes. The book is perfect for kids of all ages, but is primarily targeted at 3- to 6-year-olds. It is priced at $15.99; find more information from the book's publisher, CandlewickI bought a few copies as gifts, and Steve was kind enough to sign one for the newest member of my family when I saw him recently in NYC. I am delighted, since it is truly a beautiful book that will warm your heart.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There is a Black Swan hiding in every bottle of Australian Roses…

This ink exhibits a rose halo on certain papers on both sides of the line and exhibits darker shading on the edges of lines where the tine of the nib touches the page or a side of an italic nib lays a firmer line.  This new ink from Noodler's is made up of dyes with multiple properties in order to generate the various shading and different tones under various light sources (it will look different in daylight versus fluorescent lighting, for example), and it is about 16 percent "bulletproof." It may be used in just about every pen, including the Noodler’s piston-filled ink ball pens. It has a neutral pH of about 7. With certain pens this ink will appear to be a very conservative dark burgundy plum, but it will appear as a light cherry tone with drier-writing pens. A paper towel test will always show the black swan hiding in the roses. It retails for $12.50.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Times for Sheaffer

Sheaffer has recently begun an advertising campaign on the “Geoffrey-Tron” screen, located above the Toys R’ Us store in New York's Times Square.

     “The ads remind consumers that the Sheaffer brand is ‘The Gift that Matters,’ this holiday season,” said Gretchen Dickenson, Brand Manager, Sheaffer PenThis campaign began November 5, 2010 and will run through January 1, 2011. The images are visible four times each hour, appearing about 5,400 times throughout the holidays, and will achieve approximately 85 million impressions for the brand.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Banned in Manchester?

According to the UK's Times of India, fountain pens were recently banned in the Hillcrest Grammar and Preparatory School near Manchester, England. Why? Ballpoint markings are easier to pick up on computer-scanned exam papers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last day to order Conway Stewart Belliver

The Conway Stewart Belliver Special Edition in Pistachio or White Whirl is a limited edition of just 50 pieces each, and today is the last day to order on a first come, first served basis. These colors will not be repeated on this model hereafter, nor will they be available as a bespoke pen. Writing modes available: fountain pen ($430) or rollerball ($395). The fountain pen has an 18 karat nib in sizes F, M, B, IF, IM and IB and is filled by cartridge or converter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Taccia's Overture

Taccia has just introduced its new Overture twist-action ballpoint pen. It comes in a variety of great colors, including Chocolate Mist, Ivory Frost, Sedona Red, Bluestone Marble and Evergreen Marble. The chocolate and ivory versions have rose-gold plated trim, while the rest have chrome trim. Each pen is fit with Schmidt's Easy Flow refill which gives the smooth feel and flow of a rollerball pen. Priced at under $100, this pen is a treat. I think a steel-nibbed fountain pen is coming soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Celebrating 5,000 years of Chinese Calligraphy

Fourth in Loiminchay's series of pens that pay homage to calligraphy, the Kaishu features the work of two famous and most influential calligraphers from the Tang Dynasty: Liu Gong-quan and Yen Chenching. Just 18 sets of two pens each will be produced; each set is priced at $30,000.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Many companies currently produce maki-e pens, but few have the long and stellar reputation of Namiki. One of their latest is the Setsugekka--a limited edition of just 999 fountain pens. Snow in winter, the moon in autumn and flowers in spring are beautifully rendered in painstaking detail on each pen. It can be yours for just $18,000.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pens in the News

CBS News Sunday Morning, October 24, had a feature on collecting fountain pens following its research visit to the Washington, DC, pen show in August. Check out this link compliments of Amarillo pen collector George Schwarz.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered..."

Krone captures the macabre elegance of Poe’s writings with its Edgar Allan Poe Limited Edition writing instrument. The pen’s .925 matte sterling silver cap is reminiscent of a mysterious weather-worn stone wall and is set with three hand-painted miniature representations of “The Raven,” “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Golden Bug.” Bronze framing highlights each painting. A skull sits on the cap crown, and Edgar Allan Poe’s signature is engraved at the base of the cap.  Violet veined charcoal celluloid was used to create the barrel. Just 388 fountain pens and 38 rollerball pens will be available. The fountain pen is priced at $5,900. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Score another one for the handwritten word

Last week, the online Wall Street Journal business section featured an article entitled, "How Handwriting Trains the Brain." In it, author Gwendolyn Bounds outlines the many reasons that writing by hand is good for kids (it can improve idea composition and expression and may aid fine motor-skill development, among other things) and why it's good for adults--it can keep the cognitive abilities of aging baby boomers on point. It seems that neural activity in the brain is different when we consciously form symbols as opposed to simply choosing a whole letter on a keyboard. So the next time you take out your favorite pen and paper and start to write, remember that you are doing your brain a favor.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Calligraphy, anyone?

Campo Marzio, based in Rome, produces some great and colorful stationery products. And if you're looking for a moderately priced calligraphy set that's well made, great looking and priced under $50, give Campo Marzio a try. The company has been around for several decades, but really made a push on an international scale in 2006, opening nine boutiques around the globe. I saw Campo Marzio at the National Stationery Show in NYC this past spring, and their booth was made to look much like one of their boutiques. It was colorful, with beautifully presented products including pens, desk accessories and personal leather goods, like wallets, attache cases, etc.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When we lose our signature, do we lose our identity?

Ever scribble your signature completely incomprehensibly just to see if you can make the electronic credit card swipe machine tilt? Read Alex Kuczynski's hilarious tale in the New York Times: Identity Crisis.

Monday, October 4, 2010


The newest limited edition from Pelikan is the third fountain pen in their series "Achievements of Civilization." Fire, as it is called, is beautifully designed and captures the essence of its name with understated elegance. A bowl of flames is depicted on the clip, the 18-karat gold nib (fine, medium and broad sizes) and the cap crown. The brass and lacquer body is a gorgeous shade of red, with every flame on the barrel laser engraved then plated with 24-karat gold. The gemstone "sparks" on the barrel are topaz. Just 500 fountain pens are available worldwide, each priced at $1,875. I think this is another winner from Pelikan.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Michael's FatBoy limited edition TeslaCoil is machined from a solid bar of aluminum and features tightly wound copper wire to simulate the windings found on an electric motor. All of Michael's pens are made in the U. S., and the company has garnered much attention for this and other reasons since its inception less than 10 years ago. The TeslaCoil is available as a fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil. They are priced accordingly: $495, $295, $195 and $195. I like Michael and his products--fun, well-made and unpretentious.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Inspired by a watch

Dunhill's new Revolette Skeleton pen is inspired by skeleton-style watches. This limited edition pen (888 pieces) is a "three-in-one" style, comprising a black ballpoint, red ballpoint and pencil. It is made from brass, ruthenium plate and clear resin, and it is priced at $1,650.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New from Cartier

Cartier's Roadster Collection includes three new designs: a circular-grained decor, grid decor and rays decor (pictured). Each is available in a fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint. The pens are priced from $540 to $1,000.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For the Collectors Club...

Conway Stewart’s Wordsworth model in a classic cardinal ripple ebonite is a stunning addition to the company's Collectors Club offerings. Just 100 pieces will be produced, and orders will be fulfilled on a first-com-first-served basis. This color will not be repeated on this model again, and it will not be available as a bespoke pen.  The fountain pen is priced at $690.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

IW magazine on sale now...

Don't miss the fall (September) issue of IW (International Watch) magazine, also published by Fine Life Media, with the first-ever Stylus magazine insert. This abridged version of Stylus includes an extensive new pen product section, a "news" page with pen show calendar and a cover story about Dani-trio maki-e pens. It is already in the hands of IW subscribers, and it is on sale now at various book stores around the country. The full-feature online Stylus will be posted this week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'll take two bottles of Sapphire, please...

Pelikan's new Edelstein inks (see my earlier post, "If Pelikan makes it, I buy it") are now available in sets of eight bottles for $160. A set contains a bottle of each color: RubyMandarinAventurineJadeTopazSapphire and Onyx, as well as an extra bottle of Sapphire. Don't forget to flush your fountain pen before changing colors!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A lot of clams

Here's a glimpse of a brand new pen created by Dante DelVecchio of Visconti for the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. It is a very limited edition of just 100 pieces, all of which were initially slated for the museum. But I now understand that a very few pieces will be available in the US. The Oceanographic fountain pen is priced at $2,650.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Imagine this...

New from Montblanc--with pictures just released today--is the John Lennon pen collection in three versions. I spoke with the president of Montblanc North America, Jan-Patrick Schmitz, on Friday, and he said the collection would be kicked off today in NYC with messages of peace transmitted via satellite feeds from around the globe: Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mexico City. Susan Sarandon hosted the event in NYC at Lincoln Center. The John Lennon Pen is this year's Donation Pen, meaning that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a worthy cause. This year's cause is the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. The 70-piece limited edition fountain pen in skeletonized white gold is priced at $27,00 and is available at Montblanc boutiques; the Commemorative Edition, limited to 1,940 pieces, is crafted from sterling silver ($3,375) and is available at select pen retailers and jewelry stores; the "unlimited version" includes a fountain pen ($920), rollerball ($690) and ballpoint ($690) crafted from black resin engraved to recall a vinyl record. The fountain pens are all piston filled with 18-karat gold nibs. The pens in each of the three styles have interesting iconography reminiscent of John Lennon, and the packaging includes Lennon's self-portrait on the lid, as well as a copy of his recording, "Imagine."

Friday, September 10, 2010

In the movies

Retro 51, the Dallas-based pen brand, is introducing its first edition of a Disney movie-themed pen. The new Tron  film will be released just before Christmas, and the Tron glow-in-the-dark pens will be on the shelves the first week of October. There will be more movie-themed pens coming in the not-too-distant future from Retro 51. You saw it here first!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The highlight of your day

I love this idea. Take a look at Pelikan's new highlighter pen, the new M205 DUO. What a stylish way to highlight a book, notes, manuscript, or anything that needs a little extra attention. The fountain pen is piston filled (visible through the translucent fluorescent yellow barrel), and it has a steel nib in a double broad size. The pen and bottle of ink are sold for $145.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Paper for writers

I just received a package in the mail from my friends at JetPens, an online company specializing in Japanese stationery products--pens, papers and such. Though just a few years old, the California-based company has grown in leaps and bounds and is in the process of moving to larger quarters. It was founded by some very young entrepreneurs who wanted to put their business skills to work after graduating from college. I could not be happier for their success.

In addition to some fun and very nice pens in the package, was a Campus notebook. The ruled book has wonderfully smooth paper (great for a fountain pen) and is a perfect size for briefcase or purse at 5.8 inches by 8.3 inches. Each page has 24 lines, and there are 80 sheets in each book. I've tested the paper with several of my fountain pens, and I must say, I love it. It's a bargain at $7.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Celebrating 85 years

Omas is introducing the limited edition Fusion, which combines an interesting profile, with materials for which the company is well known, including titanium. There are just 850 piston-filled fountain pens in the edition, each priced at $4,000. The 18-karat gold nib is available in extra fine, fine, medium and broad.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dado Penworks

I love all the creativity involved in pen making, from the actual production of a writing instrument to the marketing and sale of it. I've been lucky over the years to meet quite a few independent pen makers, and each brings his own signature to his products. In fact, this is my very favorite part of what I do. I like to learn about an individual's motivations, as well as his process and goals, since as far as I'm concerned, a pen is just a pen unless there is something unique breathed into it by a real live person. It then reaches even greater heights in the hand of someone who cherishes it and uses it.

Several weeks ago, I met Dallas pen maker David Stephenson in Houston for a cup of coffee and a look at some of his pens. We met at everyone's favorite office away from home: Starbucks's. So over some icy drinks we talked about his pen company, Dado Penworks, and his plans--and he's got a lot of both. Here's a sampling of his work...a web site is coming soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's the write thing

We just produced this bumper sticker for pen lovers worldwide. Email me for details about how you might obtain your very own. Of course, you don't have to use it on a car bumper. You can stick it anywhere you'd like.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To be understood

Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I flipped on the TV in hopes that it would lull me back to sleep. Instead, there was a very "non-soporific" discussion on one of the news stations about what the college class of 2014 will be confronted with. Among other things was the fact that they will neither use nor understand cursive writing, since that age group has dabbled on a keyboard virtually since birth. Sad--not so much that they can't write it (There ARE other ways to communicate these days), but that they can't read it. This means that much original research will be unavailable to them and in my opinion, it also means that some very pleasurable opportunities in life will be lost to them. For example, one of the highlights of my travels is seeking out museums where old manuscripts are on display. It's a visceral experience, and I cherish each encounter. Love letters, scientific journals, political treatises--imagine not being able to decipher them simply because you can't read the script.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

If Pelikan makes it, I buy it

Pelikan is introducing its new line of inks called Edelstein (which means "gemstone"). They supposedly are kind to fountain pens and have a special ingredient that ensures extra-smooth writing. There are seven new colors in all, with pretty names like Topaz, Mandarin and Jade. The bottle shape, I think, is quite pretty as well. One important note: the name is pronounced, EY-dell-shtine (which reminds me of the Cloris Leachman character in Young Frankenstein every time I say it). But anyway, I thought you'd want to get it right when you ask for it at your local pen shop. The inks are priced at $20.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Anello is Italian for "ring"

Graf von Faber-Castell is introducing the Classic Anello in titanium, each segment accented by platinum-plated rings. The matte finish of the titanium is highlighted by the gleam of the platinum plate--but the feel in the hand is seamless. The pen is available as a cartridge- or converter-filled fountain pen with a bi-colored 18-karat gold nib, a rollerball pen, a ballpoint and a pencil with an eraser. Great news: six nib sizes are available for the fountain pen! The Classic Anello Titanium is priced from $395-$595.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming very soon

Bexley is introducing its new Imperial International collection, making its debut at the Washington, DC, pen show, August 13-15. It has the same sleek and unadorned look of the Oversized Imperial, but it is .5 inch shorter--and less expensive at $189. It comes in three colors of acrylic (gray, burgundy and green), and it has a two-tone steel nib available in fine, medium or broad. An 18-karat gold nib is available upon request and, of course, for more money. There will be a rollerball added to the collection later in August priced at $169. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Very cool in the heat of summer

Every year, Caran d’Ache creates a new Ecridor Eclat Winter Edition. The latest is the Sonate d’hiver collection, available in September. The hexagonal ballpoint pen ($365) is platinum-coated silver plate, accented with 57 Swarovski crystals—eight black and 49 white. The crystals conjure notes on a swirling engraved stave to create a lovely winter sonata. The pen is fit with Caran d'Ache’s Goliath cartridge for a long write out, and it comes in a black velvet pouch accented with yet another Swarovski crystal. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

It takes a tumble

The Kaiser pen, first introduced by Laban in 2005, is now available with a choice of beautiful hand-painted designs, each of which takes more than eight hours to complete. The pens are crafted from ivory-colored resin and are tumble polished for 48 hours to create a perfectly smooth body (Too bad my gym doesn't offer something like this...) before painting. Finally, each pen is coated with ten coats of transparent spray lacquer to protect it. A final polishing ensues, insuring a flawless and durable finish. The Hand-Painted Kaiser fountain pen is priced around $270 with a steel nib available in fine, medium and broad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Largest sale ever

Bonhams is having its largest pen sale ever on August 19 at 7 p.m. Rick Propas, veteran pen collector and expert (and Stylus contributor), will be giving a lecture on limited editions at a reception at Bonhams on August 17. Bonhams is located at 580 Madison Avenue in New York City. For more information, visit the Bonhams site. To attend the reception, RSVP to

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Great time in NYC

I spoke with Maryann Zucker this morning. She and her husband, Steve, are the show hosts for the NY pen show held each year, and this fall they will host their tenth annual event. I've been to just about every one of the shows throughout the years and have had a wonderful time at each, though the venues have been different. This year it will be held, like last year, in Manhattan at the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Avenue, just south of Central Park.  I love NY in the fall and I love pens anytime of the year, and it's never too early to make travel plans. Come to the Park Central on Friday, October 15 (11 am to 7 pm), Saturday, October 16 (10 am to 5 pm) and Sunday the 17th (10 am to 4 pm). Check out the web site for more info or if you wish to be an exhibitor. Some final notes: I suggest the Carnegie Deli just down the street for sustenance (in the form of huge deli sandwiches) in between those hot pen negotiations. A walk in Central Park is just a few minutes away, and a mere 15-minute walk will take you to the theater district. All this and pens, too? Oh yeah, and Stylus magazine is the sponsor.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bigger and better for Shaw Pens

Alan Shaw of Shaw Pens is moving to a larger building in Glenside, PA, to accommodate the increased pen production needed for his growing business. The new location is more than twice the size of his previous pen shop, and he's expectantly awaiting a new laser engraver and other cutting-edge machinery. Shaw is planning an open house in the fall. Stay tuned, or wait for your invitation to come in the mail. Congrats, Alan.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

From Cuervo y Sobrinos

The Mille Miglia collection from  fine watchmaker Cuervo y Sobrinos includes a fountain pen ($2,900) and a rollerball pen ($2,500), each crafted from red resin. The decoration of the overlay, engraved with the Mille Miglia logo, recalls the typical grille of the Formula 1 cars of the pre-war era. The clip is reminiscent of the silhouette of the Esplendidos watch case—an important icon of Cuervo y Sobrino’s timepiece collection. There are just 1,609 pieces in the pen collection as a tribute to the 1,609 km of the legendary Mille Miglia race (605 fountain pens and 1,000 rollerballs pens). The fountain pen has an 18-karat gold nib and is filled by cartridge or convertor. Each pen comes in a collector box.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Race to the finish

Krone is introducing the Le Mans pen collection, which celebrates the 24 Heures Du Mans, the world’s oldest endurance sports car race. A colorful interpretation of a vintage 1956 Le Mans image is hand painted on mother-of-pearl on the barrel. The pen’s cap has a mother-of-pearl inset, hand painted in a classic font: “24 Heures du Mans.” The shortened clip is adorned with lacquered racing stripes in crimson and white.  A distinctive three-dimensional pattern in .925 sterling silver forms the base of the pen. There are 388 fountain pens ($5,900) and 38 rollerball pens ($5,700) in the edition. Each comes in a great-looking collector’s box.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Man With Many Pens

With one he wrote a number so beautiful
it lasted forever in the legends of numbers. With another

he described the martyrs' feet as they marched
past the weeping stones and cypresses, watched

by their fathers. He used one as a silver wand to lift
a trout from its spawning bed to more fruitful waters

and set it back down, its mouth facing upstream.
He wrote Time has no other river but this one in us,

no other use but this turn in us from mountain lakes
of late desires to confusions passed through

with every gate open. Let's not say he didn't take us
with him in the long current of his letters, his calligraphy

and craft, moving from port to port, his hand stopping
near his heart, the hand that smudged and graced the page,

asking, asking, his fingers a beggar's lucent black,
for the word that gave each of us away.

                     --Jonathan Wells

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Larger than life

I recently learned about a most interesting project. Seattle-based artist and comic-book author Jim Woodring is raising funds to produce a giant dip pen, with a 16-inch steel nib and a six-foot holder. Woodring plans to learn to write with the larger-than-life pen to give public demonstrations, using it to ink drawings on  3’ X 5’ sheets of paper. The $4,500 he is hoping to raise before September 2, 2010, will provide ink, paper, graphite, an eraser and a drawing table, in addition to the pen. To learn more about Woodring, the pen and the project--or to donate--visit Projectsite.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who are you REALLY?

Take the following pen personality quiz just for fun.

  1. I like pens
    1. from well-known manufacturers.
    2. from small companies with great reputations.
    3. produced by artisans—the one-of a kind stuff.
  1. The mode I prefer is
    1. a fountain pen with a traditional filling system.
    2. a fountain pen with a cartridge or converter filling system.
    3. anything that suits my mood.
  1.  Speaking of style, I like
    1. black pens, preferably with silver trim.
    2. Maki-e and other art forms.
    3. colorful pens that really stand out. 
  1. I purchase my pens from
    1. reputable pen shops, after much research and testing.
    2. pen shops, online, and via catalogs.
    3. from all of the above, as well as via pen friends and pen shows. 
  1. I own
    1. more pens than I dare count, each reflective of my personality and finances.
    2. a group of well-chosen pens that I will always enjoy.
    3. a fluid bunch of pens to which I add or subtract as I see fit.
If you answered mostly a’s, you are probably on the conservative side—no impulsiveness here; mostly b’s, you’re a moderate who enjoys life and pens within set personal boundaries; mostly c’s, I’d like to buy you a drink.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mini me and thee

Sheaffer just introduced its newest addition to the Prelude line—the Mini Ballpoint. Though it’s not launching until September, here’s a preview of the translucent red with gold-tone trim. The diminutive twist-action pen also comes in brushed chrome plate, black onyx laque with a chased palladium cap, gloss white and rose gold shimmer, all with nickel-plate trim. There’s a black laque that also has gold-tone trim like the red model shown here. The pen is intended to toss in a purse or pocket, since it’s quite a bit smaller than other pens in the Prelude line that we’ve come to know and love. Priced at just $40, I’d certainly find a few reasons to own a couple. The pens take standard Sheaffer refills, by the way, which I think are quite good. The Mini has a three-year limited warranty and comes in a gift box. Note the White Dot. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Test drive

Alan Shaw of Shaw Pens recently told me about his new partnership with the Porsche Club of America. The result? A great-looking carbon fiber fountain pen produced by Shaw and available exclusively through the club. At the moment, the pen is only available with a steel nib but it looks like a future holds the option of an 18-karat nib. The pen, priced at $460, was introduced at the Porsche Parade in St. Charles, Illinois, in early July. The cap crown features the club's logo. Shaw has introduced some interesting limited edition pens of late. I am impressed with their bespoke craftsmanship and, of course, Alan's absolute enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Here, there and everywhere

Where do you think most pens are made? Of course they are made around the globe, but if you’re “into” pens, you probably know that most hail from Germany, Italy and Asia. Unfortunately, just a few are still made in the US, and Bexley and Michael’s Pens are two examples. 

In the UK, Conway Stewart has gained a reputation for its limited editions and beautiful bespoke craftsmanship. Its newest Belliver collection is crafted from pearlescent brown resin (in shades of amber, bronze and cream), and it has gold trim and an 18-karat nib. Personally, I think the name is as interesting as the pen, and I’m a huge fan of creative names for pens—particularly since there aren’t many. “Belliver” (also sometimes spelled “Bellever”) is derived from the location where the Conway Stewart factory is located on the outskirts of Plymouth Devon. It is also the name of a tor situated close by in the Dartmoor National Park. Tors are small hills usually capped by granite outcroppings, and they are popular tourist attractions, with hikers seen trekking from one peak to another during their holiday vacations. Tor granite was used to construct the pillars outside the British Museum in London and also to build London Bridge.

The Belliver may be ordered through July 25. The fountain pen is priced at $430: the rollerball, $395.The cartridge/converter-filled fountain pen is available with the following nib grades: fine, medium and broad, and italic fine, medium or broad.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Share the love

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who said that he never fails to get a comment from friends and colleagues when he takes one of his great pens out of his pocket to sign the lunch or dinner tab, flourish his signature or take notes in a meeting. The same holds true for me. So it got me to thinking about how important it is for all of us to share our interest in fine pens and get others excited about the possibilities they offer. Whether you consider a pen a fashion accessory, a writing tool, a collectible, or even a status symbol, let others know about the joy and fun they bring. Tell them there’s a whole community of people who love them, talk about them and read about them (and, of course, buy them). We, after all, are the ones who drive the pen market and incite manufacturers to stretch the limits and offer new and exciting products each and every season. Unfortunately it sometimes seems like pens are the world’s best-kept secret. Pass on your interest and insure their future. And leave the hotel pens where they belong—in the room.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Is it a collection, or is it just a lot of pens?

I have a lot of pens, and I assume you do, too, since last week’s survey on this site (How many pens do you own?) revealed that more than half of the respondents own more than 50. Since I know some of you, I also know that, like me, you own MANY more than that. But are you a collector or do you just like pens? Take the following test to find out:

I purchase pens…
a) with premeditation
b) as an impulse buy

Do you keep all the original packaging?
a)     yes
b)    no

Do you catalog your pens in any way?
a)     yes
b)    no

Do you gravitate toward a certain brand purchasing just about everything they produce and often ordering it before it ever hits the stores?
a)     yes
b)    no

Do you own any other collectibles?           
            a)  yes
            b)  no

Is there a “theme” to your pens (such as a certain era, color, manufacturer, etc.)?
a)     yes
b)    no

Do you keep track of the current value of your pens?
a)     yes
b)    no

Of course there are many other ways to tell what type of pen aficionado you might be, but if you answered mostly “a”, you are most likely a collector. But you probably already knew that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A gift forever...

My book club is currently reading Mao’s Last Dancer, the autobiography of Li Cunxin, whose life began in a poor village in northeast China and years later took him to fame and success in the US. The young peasant boy left home to study ballet in Beijing at the behest of Madame Mao during the Cultural Revolution in China, and his father gave him a pen as a gift on his first visit home after almost a year. “I hope you will use it every day…and every time you use it, you will remember your parents and our expectations of you,” said his father. A pen always has and always will be a gift with meaning.

Share your own stories—from books or personal experience—about pens as gifts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sometimes it's fun to be me...

I’ve been a fan of Curtis Australia for a while now, and a fan of the owners, Heather and Glenn Curtis since I first met them in California a few years ago. I particularly like the company’s jewelry-inspired pens, probably because jewelry is the root of the brand, with pens being a relatively new offering. I met Glenn and Heather at the Parasol Bar at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and their precious cargo, which they nonchalantly carted about in a nondescript package, was the pen and the necklace from their latest Morning Mist collection. The collection (which also includes bracelets, pendants, earrings and cufflinks) features silvery-gray diamonds known as Silvermist, introduced by Rio Tinto earlier this year. The fountain pen is 18-karat white and yellow gold with over 600 handset diamonds. In order to get the pen finished in time for the JCK show—the reason we were all in Las Vegas—Glenn personally set each stone. The articulated necklace is also made of white and yellow gold and features over 600 diamonds. The first picture shows Glenn and Heather and the pen, priced at $95,000. Though we all know that pens are my first love, it was fun to try on that necklace, which retails for $119,000. I thought it looked quite nice with my dress, which cost a whole lost less.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Surprise, at least to me...

Of the people who responded to my last poll (the question: What is the source of your pen purchases?), 66 percent said they purchased their pens online. The remaining number was equally distributed among “pens shops,” “mass market stores” and “other collectors.” Powerful sales medium, this Internet is. It makes me wonder about the fate of brick-and-mortar stores, particularly since I am of the generation that remembers what personal service is all about. These days, most people think good service is getting an item on time and as described, and of course this is important. But I also like being wooed by the touch of a prospective purchase or the ambience of a store and its personnel. It’s retail foreplay.