It's all about the written word...

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another vote for the written word....

Handwritten mail delivers more cheer than an electronic exchange, according to a recent study. And it also can lesson the emotional load of unknown or frightening circumstances. In a study of 193 soldiers recently returned from deployment, those who received letters from family and friends had fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress than those who had communicated through email, instant messaging and video chat. "These days, letters are relatively rare, so writing and sending one is a sign of commitment," says coauthor of the study Howard Markman, Ph.D., University of Denver. In addition, since letters may be re-read, they may help a person feel connected to loved ones when lonely or in need of support. So keep writing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Based on the Conway Stewart Belliver, the Poinsettia Special Edition of fifty pens features a mix of deep burgundy, brick red and black veins splashed with traces of iridescent green. Set off with gold trim, the colors of the Poinsettia Special Edition conjure the holidays, making it the perfect pen for those last-minute cards or as a gift. It is available as a fountain pen or rollerball; the cartridge- or converter-filled fountain pen has an 18-karat nib in extra fine, fine, medium, broad, extra broad, italic fine, italic medium and italic broad. The fountain pen is priced at $490 and the rollerball at $460.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Made in Italy

Looking for a great and luxurious way to store your pens? Style of Wood might just have the answer. These lovely pen boxes are made in Italy, as are the brand's desk accessories, watch boxes and watch winders. The marquetry box shown here is just a small sampling of the available designs, which include interesting colors and finishes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

More holiday gift ideas for the pen lovers in your life!

Now you can express your love of pens with quotes on embroidered shirts or etched mugs from Ask Woosters. Twill or denim shirts have detailed embroidery on the front, and the mugs are deeply etched in glazed ceramic. These shirts are perfect business casual or weekend wear. The mugs are oversized, and make great desk accessories, as well as wonderful way to enjoy your favorite beverage. Mugs are $11; shirts are $49. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coffret Ecridor designed for gift giving...

New from Caran d'Ache for the holiday season, the Coffret Ecridor District comes in its own gift box, ready for giving. Produced in the Geneva workshops of Caran d'Ache, the lovely diamond-cut guilloche allows light to play off the pen, giving it a dazzling palladium finish. The ballpoint has a retro-style clip and push-button action and is fit with the famous Caran d'Ache Goliath ink cartridge; it comes with a 50-page leather notepad. The Ecridor District box is produced in a limited edition for the Christmas and New Year season, available in select shops and department stores priced at $155.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's still the Year of the Dragon!

Italy-based Montegrappa is celebrating its 100th anniversary in a big way. And since it coincided with the Year of the Dragon, they pulled out all the stops to created a truly outrageously beautiful collection of dragon pens, the complete set of which will only set you back $1.5 million. 

The Centennial Dragon series comprises these limited edition pens:
-33 fountain pens in rose gold with black and white diamonds, numbered 1/100 to 33/100
-33 fountain pens in yellow gold with emeralds and white diamonds, numbered 34/100 to 66/100
-33 fountain pens in white gold with blue sapphires and white diamonds, numbered from 67/100 to 99/100.

The pen numbered 100/100 is a special one-of-a-kind piece (pictured) priced at $850,000. This Ultimate Centennial Dragon, as it is called, is crafted from 18-karat solid gold and features baguette-cut diamonds totaling 20.70 carats and brilliant-cut diamonds totaling over 3.5 carats, as well as colored diamonds totaling 14.0 carats. You'll also find some rubies and pearls if you look not too closely. The other versions range in price from $210,000 to $220,000.

These works of art are an apt celebration of a company that has stood the test of time, though not without challenges. I wish it at least another 100 years.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Pen for all Seasons

Fahrney's recently published my essay in one of their holiday newsletters...I thought you might enjoy it, too.

One-Stop Holiday Shopping

What’s compact in size, but big in impact…. reasonable in price, with a luxury look? A pen, of course. Even with the proliferation of today’s virtually instantaneous methods of communication, fine pens have lost none of their luster as writing implements and fashion accessories. And where else can you find a gift that is perfect for both genders and comes practically already gift-wrapped? If that isn’t enough to encourage you to head to your nearest pen shop, consider that a pen is an appropriate gift for a male or a female, comes in a broad range of prices and requires little-to-no sizing. Also, it can be a very personal gift or not, depending on your choice of pen, making it a welcome surprise for either a loved one or a colleague. Sounds like one-stop holiday shopping to me.

So where do you begin? First, decide on an appropriate pen retailer and a general price range. There are wonderful pens in the $100-and-under category and truly fabulous pens if you wish to spend more. But quality should be your first priority. A pen should feel solid in your hand with no wiggly parts, ill-fitting caps or uneven plating. More expensive fountain pens will usually have18-karat gold fountain pen nibs, more luxurious production materials, and perhaps even enhanced collectibility. But a well-crafted steel-nibbed resin pen can be just as enjoyable as its higher-priced counterpart.

Next consider the style, mode, and how the pen will probably be used. There are so many shapes, sizes and hues from which to choose these days that there truly is “something for everyone.” Bigger and heavier pens are more appropriate for a larger hand. A smaller pen might be best for pocket or purse, as opposed to a signature pen that stays on one’s desk. Thematic limited editions or a particular brand might be just the ticket for a giftee with special interests. I am particularly drawn to fountain pens, but rollerball pens, ballpoints and even pencils make great gifts, too. And for as many conservative black and silver pens as there are out there, there are at least as many bright and wildly patterned ones for the more colorful personalities in your life. Finally, hold the pen and try it out if you can. If it feels comfortable and writes smoothly, it will perform well for the lucky recipient.

No doubt you’ll have questions about your new soon-to-be acquisition, and most pen retailers employ knowledgeable salespersons. So ask as many questions as you’d like, including: What type of warranty does the manufacturer/store provide? What is the store’s return policy? What type of refills and inks are appropriate? Can the fountain pen nib be exchanged for a different size?

So don’t get all wrapped up this holiday season. Instead, go to your nearest pen shop and say, “Wrap it, please.”

Friday, November 30, 2012

A weighty matter...

The new Colibri Ascari rollerball pen is making tracks among those who love techy-looking, high-performance rollerball pens. Inspired by the atmosphere of the Italian Grand Prix racetrack, this spring-loaded pen is predominantly matte black with a dash of red or racing blue. The precision-cut grip allows for comfortable handling, and the substantial weight and balance of the pen is impressive to say the least. The Ascari has a strong Colibri spring clip and uses a German refill system. It is packaged in a luxury matte black gift box, making it an ideal holiday gift for the man or woman in your life who enjoys substantial eye-catching pens. I own one and it never ceases to elicit comments...of course I always take advantage of the opportunity to "talk pens."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pelikan's Lizard

While recalling an historical model that dates to 1937, the new Pelikan M101N Lizard has been updated to reflect today's fountain pen manufacturing: the lizard-patterned barrel and cap of the fountain pen are made of cellulose acetate. The clip and bands are palladium plate, and the 14-karat gold nib (extra fine, fine, medium and broad) is rhodium plated. This special edition, priced at $625, is available in a limited quantity beginning in December--just in time for Pelikan's 175th anniversary in 2013. Looks like next year holds more surprises in celebration.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Speaking of Presidents...

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Krone is introducing the second edition of its Abraham Lincoln Tribute Series. The cap and barrel are "Union" navy blue resin, and the sterling silver cap band features Lincoln's signature. The sterling silver clip serves as a canvas for a bronzed portrait of Lincoln. The cap crown houses an authenticated piece of wood obtained from Lincoln's private office in the White House, where he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. A framed piece of parchment, with Lincoln's actual handwriting, accompanies each pen. Just 88 piston-filled fountain pens (nib sizes in fine, medium and broad) and 28 rollerballs are available. The former is priced at $3,900, and the latter at $3,800.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fountain Pen Day

I'm not sure who designated the first Friday in November as Fountain Pen Day, but I'm always glad to have something to celebrate--especially when it involves pens. So here's my top ten list of reasons to buy a fountain pen...or any pen that strikes your fancy and encourages you to write more.

10.    You can find a good pen in any price range.
  9.    No need to worry about buying the right size (but pay attention to pen circumference and hand size).
  8.    A good pen works for both genders.
  7.    A good pen will last forever...or almost.
  6.    There's a fine pen for every taste--conservative or flashy, monochromatic or colorful.
  5.    Most good pens come in their own little box, ready for wrapping.
  4.    Pens are both luxurious and functional.
  3.    If purchased from a reputable retailer, a pen can be returned or exchanged with no hassle.
  2.    A pen is personal without being too intimate, perfect for a special someone or a business associate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Porsche Design Tec Flex

Remember the very first Porsche Design writing tool? It's now available in a very modern-looking black. Crafted from stainless steel, which is then finished with PVD coating, each pen also features a scratch-resistant PVD-coated gripping section. The Tec Flex  P'3110 is available in a fountain pen with an 18-karat gold nib (fine, medium or broad), rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil, all made in Germany. The ballpoints and the mechanical pencils each have a very tactile quality: when you push the mechanism, the stainless steel weave on the barrel responds to the pressure and contracts, then returns to its original position once the refill or lead appears. Prices range from $295 to $975.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Montegrappa and Warner Bros. Consumer Products have recently announced their partnership under a licensing agreement, allowing Montegrappa to develop new collections inspired by DC Comics characters, beginning with Batman

Appropriately, there will be 1939 Batman fountain pens and 1939 Batman rollerballs, the number signifying the year of his first introduction. All of the pens’ components are made of aluminum with a black anodized finish--except for the clip, which is fashioned from ruthenium-plated brass. These materials give the pens a dark gray hue evoking the color of Batman's original costume, and the pens’ surfaces are engraved with bats in flight. The fountain pen has an 18-karat gold nib bearing the Batman logo. In addition to the pens being offered for individual sale, there will be 500 sets that also include cufflinks and a wristwatch. These are exclusive to the box sets. The cufflinks are jet-black representations of the Batmanlogo in three dimensions, with the bat-shape cutout exposing a carbon fiber surface. 

Based on the Montegrappa NeroUno watches, the matching wristwatch is powered by a Swiss-made Ronda quartz movement, housed in a 42mm stainless steel case finished in black PVD, with six screws securing the back. As befits a model in the Cult Collection, the packaging for the Batman editions bear bats-in-flight patterns, the inner box featuring a large Batman logo on its lid, while the inner lid shows Gotham City at night.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Coming soon...the Ohio Pen Show!

The eighteenth Ohio Pen Show is right around the corner--November 8 - 11, 2012--at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Hotel. A variety of pen companies will be in attendance, and on Saturday there will be an auction of vintage pens. The public show is on Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm and on Sunday, from 10 am until 5 pm. Come join the fun, either as an exhibitor or attendee!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't miss tonight's presidential election debate...

But there's nothing debatable about Montblanc's Signatures for Freedom collection, first launched in 2007. Each pen is an example of truly beautiful workmanship, and the series as a whole is inspired by the lives and visions of previous commanders-in-chief whose services laid the groundwork for our nation's freedom, independence and values. Limited to 50 pieces honoring the number of states in the union, the collection includes tributes to George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. For the serious patriot and serious Montblanc writing instrument fan, Airline International has a three-piece set with matching numbers (50/50), exclusive to that store and priced at $145,000. Shown here are Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Listen up, Onoto fans...

Webster’s is a family business serving London and the Southeast UK, with six stores retailing luxury pens and accessories. The company has commissioned Onoto, the classic British pen manufacturer based in Norwich, to craft a limited edition of 40 fountain pens, with just 10 available in a set with a matching rollerball in honor of the retailer's fortieth anniversary.

In addition to the inscription ‘Websters 1972-2012’, the individually numbered pens each feature a sterling silver cap embossed with the Queen’s Jubilee hallmark. This unique cap is interchangeable between the fountain pen and rollerball, with an additional clear cap supplied for the rollerballAvailable with an 18-karat gold two-tone nib, the pen has an acrylic resin barrel and is presented in a beautiful, burrwood gift box. The Webster’s anniversary pen accepts both bottled ink – with a converter supplied – and international standard cartridges. As with all Onoto’s products, the pen comes with lifetime warranty.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Year of the Dragon from David Oscarson

Dromgoole's, the preeminent pen shop in Houston, hosted a David Oscarson event last evening. David was there greeting guests and talking about his latest--and truly gorgeous--new creation: the Black Water Dragon. While it is Oscarson's eighteenth limited edition, it is his first overlay pen. And he has done well. The golden dragon overlay is rendered in great detail, with a ruby for an eye and a pearl in his open mouth. It coils around the clipless cap. The pen is rich in symbolism, and the colors are gorgeous: shiny black or translucent red. There are just 88 pieces (cartridge- or converter-filled fountain pen with 18-karat gold nib or rollerball); they are priced respectively: $5,600 and $5,400. Larry Dromgoole was his most gracious self, welcoming guests at his store on Rice Boulevard. Dromgoole's has been a Houston institution for decades, offering fine writing instruments, stationery and office supplies.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Only a few days left...

Limited to only 50 numbered pieces worldwide, the Conway Stewart Dartmoor Special Edition with silver trim was created at the company's factory in Devon, England. From the Conway Stewart Wellington collection, this model is a substantial pen with a subtly curved cap and barrel. Orders will be taken until October 12, 2012...just four days left! The cartridge- or converter-filled fountain pen with an 18-karat gold nib (extra fine, fine, medium, broad, extra broad, italic fine, italic medium and italic broad) is priced at $608, and the rollerball is priced at $572.

Friday, October 5, 2012

San Francisco Pen Show opens today!

The San Francisco Pen Show, held at the Marriott San Mateo Airport Hotel, opens today at 11 a.m. and runs through Sunday, October 7. Visit and check out some of the vintage and new pens available for sale from some of the best dealers around the world. A one-day pass is $10 and a two-day pass is $15; children under 13 are free. So bring the kids and have some fun--there's lots to do in and around San Francisco after all the pen hunting is over!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not yet seen in the US...

Curtis Australia, the Melbourne-based jewelry and pen manufacturer, is introducing a new ballpoint: the Free Spirit. Its colors at once suggest Harley-Davidson edginess and autumn-sunset romance. While already available in Australia, it has not yet been seen on these shores, but I'll let you know when it arrives, and what its selling price will be.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Five Best Budget Pens

Lifehacker, a very cool website devoted to offering "tips and downloads for getting things done," published a list of Five Best Budget Pens "you make sure never to let someone borrow and walk away with." The article, written by Alan Henry, gives the results of a poll taken among the site's readers, and it cites several models from five affordable brands: Pilot, Zebra, Uniball, Lamy and Sharpie. Thankfully, the Lamy pens pictured are all fountain pens. What are your favorite budget pens?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Montegrappa honors St. Andrews Links

For the second time, Bassano del Grappa-based Montegrappa has been asked to create pens that celebrate the famed golf course St. Andrews Links. For 2012, a new model will be offered as a fountain pen and rollerball in black resin and sterling silver or in bamboo black celluloid and 18-karat rose gold. The silver pens will be produced in a limited edition of 600 pieces each to denote the number of years golf has been played at St. Andrews, while the gold pens will be issued in an edition of only seven fountain pens and seven rollerballs to represent the number of golf courses there. 

Lastly, a special hand-etched edition called “18th Hole” completes the collection, with only 18 fountain pens and 18 rollerballs in 18-karat rose gold and green celluloid being produced. The barrel shows a golfer in period dress, about to complete a putt, skillfully reproduced by Montegrappa’s in-house engraver, Mario Rossetti, from an original photo. The cap ring is engraved with golfing images. 

In 2010, Montegrappa created a green celluloid collection detailed with a golf ball cabochon on the cap, and the St. Andrews Links’ logo engraved on the barrel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Swann Galleries pen auction recap

The inaugural auction of Fine & Vintage Writing Instruments hosted by Swann Galleries on September 13 was a great success, bringing in nearly $250,000. 

Swann president Nicholas Lowry says, "Our first vintage pen auction was a crowded affair with active bidder participation both in the room and online. We are looking forward to the second auction, taking place this coming spring, as we have now firmly established ourselves in this field."

The first 45 lots sold without exception, and many met or exceeded expectations. A Montegrappa Luxor Blue Nile limited edition 750 was the top lot, bringing $5,520. Montblanc's Catherine the Great and Peter the Great, Patron of the Art Limited Edition Series, sold as a pair for $4,320.

Rick Propas, Swann's Fine & Vintage Writing Instruments specialist, said, "This sale showed the vintage Montblanc pens continue to be the "gold standard" for pen collectors around the world and that the market continues to focus on high-quality and good value pens."

Early Montblanc highlights were a1920s Simplo Original #8, $3,840; a Baby 18-karat solid gold night and day overlay safety pen, $3,600; and two Rouge et Noir pens with coral stars at cap tops, a #6 and a #6M, $3,840 each.

For complete results of the September event, an illustrated auction catalog, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Les Miserables mosaic in pen parts

Artist Nathan Wyburn of Wales recreated the iconic image from Les Miserables using empty Bic Cristal pens. The mosaic took 2,436 empty barrels and 3,591 lids to produce, totaling 6,777 pen parts. He produced it to launch the 2012 Bic Challenge in the UK.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Montblanc Honors Pablo Picasso

This limited edition writing instrument from Montblanc honors the famed Spanish modern artist, known for catapulting the cubist movement forward in the twentieth century. This piece will be issued in a worldwide limited edition of 91 pens to honor his prolific lifetime.

The design is mainly inspired by the Picasso writing and sketch “Portrait de Jeune Fille” from 1936. The shape of the fountain pen is based on a simple pencil shape, symbolizing the minimalism of Picasso. The cap is made of 750 solid gold, with a Montblanc emblem in mother-of-pearl. The body of the pen is made of black lacquer and 750 solid gold with red lacquer. Finally, the instrument features a rhodium-plated 18-karat gold nib. The Pablo Picasso is priced at $33,500.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Audrey Hepburn and S. T. Dupont

The Audrey Hepbrun collection was inspired by the famous Riviera bag created by S. T. Dupont at the beginning of the 1950s. The actress discovered it in 1953 and adopted it immediately. Serving as both a travel bag and handbag, this unique model went everywhere with the actress, who loved its form and feminine detailing--like the secret compartment it had. Today's Audrey Riviera is made of grained pink calfskin with white straps and can also be produced upon request in all kind of leathers and colors, crafted by hand in S.T.Dupont's Faverges workshops.

A pen and lighter set for a touch of glamour
Taking inspiration from the hat worn by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, the Audrey Hepburn™ collection has an elegant bow design in powder pink and white Dupont lacquer for the Line 8 lighter and the Liberté fountain pen and ballpoint. Liberté is a line for women, launched two years ago.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dallas Pen Show this weekend!

Don't forget the Dallas Pen Show, just a few days away. Held at the Doubletree Hotel near the Galleria, it is one of the most hospitable and fun shows around. Vintage and contemporary writing instruments will be on display, and admission is just $5. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, September 21

8:00AM to 10:00AM—Exhibitor Setup (exhibitors only)
10:00AM—Show Open
8:00PM—Show Closed

Saturday, September 22

9:00AM—Show Open
10:00AM—All About Sheaffers, by Dan Reppert
11:00AM—All About Esterbrooks, by Lisa & Brian Anderson
12:00 noon—Fountain Pen Repairs by Joel Hamilton & Sherrell Tyree
1:00PM—Pens for Kids, by Allen Quait
2:00PM—All About Nibs, by John Mottishaw
2:00PM—Silent Auction Closes
3:00PM—The Latest in Modern Pens, by Susan Bowen
3:00PM—Checkout for Silent Auction Items
5:00PM—Show Closes

Friday, September 14, 2012

Are pens and pencils things of the past?

This is from a recent issue of The Standard, Missouri State University, entitled, "Pens and Pencils are SO Last Year," by Dayle Duggins...

When kinesiology major Tim Williams was told to take out a pen or pencil in class last week, he and his classmates exchanged confused looks and laughed. No, it wasn’t because Williams and his peers didn’t want to take a departmental survey, it was because they had yet to pick up a pen or pencil in Dr. Sarah McCallister’s classroom this school year.
As of the start of the school year, kinesiology majors are required to have an iPad, while those taking kinesiology courses — besides Fitness for Living — must have access to an iPad.

McCallister, who is in her seventh year as the kinesiology department head, said the tool not only helps students with coursework, but gives them a major advantage in the real world, as the technology is prominent in clinical establishments and many of the jobs kinesiology students seek.
Kinesiology — or the art and science and study of movement — incorporates physical education, exercise, and movement science, radiography, respiratory therapy, and much, much more.
Because students are learning about the complex workings of the human body, tools like the iPad make the subject much easier to understand, according to McCallister.
“It touches on all the different learning styles,” McCallister said. “It can do things a computer can’t; it’s portable and less expensive for students.”
How, exactly, is purchasing an iPad that can cost up to $829, if loaded with a ton of memory, cost-effective?
According to McCallister, the iPads most of the kinesiology students purchase can pay off in a semester. By introducing students to e-books and extremely relevant — and free — applications, it offsets the cost of books. McCallister also said if something, such as an iPad, is required for a class, it can be covered by financial aid.
Williams, a senior in the program, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the technology he, at first, was extremely skeptical about. Now, after two weeks of classes with the iPad requirement, Williams said he plans to use the tool when he becomes an elementary physical education teacher.
“My first thought was ‘here goes a pretty big chunk of change,’” he said. “Now, I absolutely love it. The educational uses far outweigh any negative thoughts.”
Above all else, Williams said being better prepared and more qualified as a teacher is the ultimate benefit — something McCallister had hoped for from the start of the process last January.
“We want our students to be the best and most marketable,” she said. “We couldn’t see sending our students out not prepared to use it (iPads) in their jobs.”
Not only is the tool preparing students for the future, but it makes it easier to communicate, incorporates interactivity, immediate feedback, and makes it simple to collaborate in the classroom, McCallister said.
Brenda Goodwin, an assistant professor in the department, agrees.
“It’s created excitement and passion for what we know and love,” Goodwin said. “What I have tried to do is take this tool and do two things: show kids how they can, as a teacher, use it and manage their classes with it and how they can use it to get their students to buy into the content of their class.”
Goodwin, who was concerned about the additional cost at first, now sees the tool as a cost-saver for students. Williams, who has taken Goodwin’s classes, is on the same page.
“I definitely think it’s feasible for students,” Williams said. “Money saved over time is a huge plus.”
Having a tool he can use in his class and engage his students is a huge plus as well, according to Williams.
“The biggest benefit is that I’ll be more prepared and qualified as a teacher,” he said.
While the iPad takes away some teacher-student interaction, McCallister said the educational tool will never replace the value of face-to-face learning.
“We don’t want to be behind; we want to be ahead,” she said.