Pen Collectors

PensPen Collecting, Pen Clubs & Organizations, Pens Shows……The World of Pens. Who collects these wide assortment of writing instruments and how do they spend their time?

Now that I am submerged into the world of pens I’m kind of flabbergasted by the vast amount of ballpointsrollerballsfountain, felt-tip, erasable and limited edition pens available and the prices some people will pay to get these very coveted objects!

Image result for cross ballpoint pens
Cross Ballpoint Pens

First I’m curious to know who these people are! Do they have a particular kind of personality?  Do they come from similar backgrounds?  I myself do not collect a thing. My mother was a depression child,  so she has a hard time throwing anything away…. as a result, in my household now that I’m all grown up,  you better not set anything down for too long or it will end up in a bag headed for Goodwill or some other charitable organization.

After doing a little research I’m finding pen collectors do not really stand out as any one particular personality type, in truth, I really cannot get a good answer about who these mysterious people are and why they like pens so much. From what I can gather, pen collectors come from all different walks of life, have all different types of personalities and are scattered all around the world!

Lamy-LX-fountain-pens
Lamy Fountain Pens

Interestingly enough, I did come across a woman in Germany, Angelika Unverhau, the world record holder for ballpoint pens…. 220,000 ballpoints from over 146 countries!  Now that would be an interesting household to grow up in.  I wonder what affect she’s having on her kids?

With the emergence of the electronic age you think you would be hard pressed to find a pen show; not the case, you can still attend pen shows all over the world….from Chicago to London to New York and beyond.  There are vast numbers of pen online forums, clubs and trading sites as well.

Image result for parker rollerball pens
Parker Rollerball Pens

I don’t know what rock I have been under for the last four decades but it seems that these things we use to write things down with have quite the following.

You too can join the thousands across the globe that have joined the fascinating world of pens.  Where shall you begin?  MontblancWatermanCrossKroneAurora, Libelle, Fisher, Lamy….the list goes on and on!

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Women and Men

13" Laptop Bellagio Sleeve - Red;
Bellagio Laptop Sleeve

Ah…..falling in love, there is no feeling like it! Racing heart, sweaty palms, the sensation that you are just going to burst at the seams with excitement.  You cannot get enough of him or her, all day, every day. They occupy your every thought and boy does it feel great!!!

Come on you remember, don’t you?  It has not been that long since you’ve experienced the high?…..Even if you are deeply committed and truly love the one you’re with; whether you have been together one year or fifty, it is time to recapture that giddy feeling, reignite that flame and fall in love all over, with that special person in your life!

Audrey Leather Vicky Convertible Crossbody Clutch - Red;
Lodis Leather Crossbody Clutch

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and what better time to start the ball rolling! Come on life is too short, let’s give it all we got!!!  You cynics out there who say Valentine Day is a Hallmark holiday, so what, who cares; why not take advantage of it anyways, take the opportunity to get back that gosh darn fantastic feeling when you first fell in love!Below are some great Valentine gifts she will just love and they won’t be gone in a week: the Andrew Philips Leather Heart Shaped Paperweights; luxurious red and pink pens from Faber-CastellWaterfordAuroraCrossWaterman & more; exquisite red and pink leather wallets, agendas, totes and briefcases from LodisKnomo, McKlein and Clark & Mayfield;  or even a fun red or pink umbrella from Shed Rain and Knirps Umbrellas.

Image result for Ipsilon Deluxe Ballpoint Pen Red
Aurora Ipsilon Ballpoint Pen

For that special guy in your life this Valentine’s Day:  Piel Leather Golf Accessories;  Bey Berk Bull & Bear Bookends;  Clava Leather Wine Carriers; extraordinary fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens from MontblancNamiki, Cross or Waterman; or top quality leather briefcasesmessenger bags, wallets, portfolios and more.

Falling in love….ooooh what a feeling! Happy Valentine’s Day from Executive Essentials!

Goals and Goal Journals, The Longhand Edition

Hey, folks! Guest blogger Tracy McCusker is back with a few suggestions for your New Years’ Resolutions and suggestions on how to keep them going strong well after January ends. 

It’s the end of the January! That means it is probably about time to do a month-end review of your resolutions.

We all have gut feelings that most New Years’ Resolutions are broken–temporary at best. According to Psychology Today, research shows that 50% of resolution-makers abandon them by June–90% by the following year. These studies don’t even take into account the drive-by resolution makers who make broad resolutions (change diet, lose weight, be more successful), only to half-heartedly give up come February. The social script about resolutions is that they are not meant to be taken seriously.

If you’re serious about your yearly goals (and I believe that you should be), it’s important to take the time for a status update.

 

Ipsilon Quadra Ballpoint Pen Sterling Silver Cap;
Aurora Ballpoint Pen

Pick a good pen that you’ll be comfortable writing with and set aside some time. It’s time to take a good look at what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it.

 

It’s important to pick a journal, notebook, or agenda that is separate from your school, work, and/or creative notes. The best goal journal is something that you like the look & feel of. If the design appeals to you, you will be more likely to carry it around with you during your day. And you will also be more comfortable writing in its pages. If leather agendas are your true passion, pick up a sturdy leather one. If you can’t bring yourself to write in anything nicer than a legal pad—then grab one and go for it. There are plenty of journals and folios in-between for those of you who don’t know what might strike your fancy. Cross, for example, offers a nice line of journals that have pen loops, perfect to stash in a satchel or briefcase.

Now it’s time to answer a few hard questions. How well are you doing with your initial goals? What daily progress are you making? Weekly? Are you actively working towards achieving your goals? Why or why not? Is it time to change your nebulous “get in shape” goal into a more tangible, actionable statement? What was your original motivation for your goal? Do you still have that motivation? Because of the dismal numbers for resolutions, I’m assuming that many of you at this point is struggling with your yearly goals. If you have the motivation but aren’t on track, what’s going wrong?

 

The Original Personal Agenda Lilac;
Filofax Personal Agenda

Part of the problem with yearly goals is that long term goals are usually vague. My long-term goal is to “use my time more wisely and richly.” Why that goal? A few serious health problems landed me in the hospital last year. It has impressed upon me just how precious time can be. It’s my vague long-term goal. But a desire for change without a concrete plan is just a wish.

 

A desire for change with a concrete plan, and specific steps to achieve that plan–that is an achievable goal that can be tracked in a goal journal.

I dedicate a couple of pages toward the beginning of my goal journal to write a long and specific list of things that I want to do in 2012. The front of the journal is a good place to put it (or the back) because you’ll want to flip to this page constantly to see how you’re doing and to hopefully cross items off as you complete them.

The key to a good list is its length (50-100 goals is good), and a mix of short goals and long goals. Having short goals that can be completed with a day’s effort and ongoing goals that take weeks or months to finish allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment as you cross small tasks off the list and work toward your bigger goals.

Image result for goals

I use general guides to create the list by thinking about what “large heading” kinds of projects I want to work on (writing; drawing; seeing the sights in my own city; family time), but each item on the list is specific. “Visit Griffith Observatory”, “Host a family dinner party”, “doodle for 30 minutes a day”, “Write 100 poems”, “Publish a book of poetry”.

While I am a happy user of websites like 43 Things and Accompl.sh, it is so important to write these goals out longhand. When you write out information long-hand, that information goes into your brain along multiple paths. It’s called kinetic memory. Typing doesn’t have quite the same impact because the words you type are locked into visual memory. To really have an impact on your mind, pair kinetic & visual memory by tackling your goals in a journal, notebook, or planner, then reading them back to yourself later.

The second important factor of the goal journal is that it will allow you to create action plans. A list is still just a list unless you have an action plan about when these goals will get done.

Image result for goalsAn action plan is a to-do list that’s tied to a goal and expresses a motivational statement. An action plan charts your to-dos for a certain period of time (be it daily or weekly). It contains a task, a due date, and an explanation to yourself why each step/goal is important. It’s too easy to let your personal goals become subsumed by work, so it’s doubly important to remind yourself.

“To Do Friday: ‘write blog interview questions for Mr. X, a novelist and book reviewer. Email questions by Friday evening. This interview is part of my goal of 20 guest blog posts for the year. Remember that this interview is important because I love Mr. X’s novel To the Stars, and this interview is a way of giving back to a writer that’s inspired me, and to the community that he and I are a part of.”

Now that’s an action plan.

Currently, I’m hip-deep into my list with 16 completed goals out of 133. I’m on-track to complete the lion’s share of the items by the middle of the year. Only a handful of longer term goals will take until December to complete. This year, with my goal journal and a new action plan for each week, I am confident that I will achieve my long-term goal by paying attention to the short-term ones. How about you?

Understanding Fountain Pen Nibs

This post will be the first in a series about the technical aspects of fountain pens. — by Tracy McCusker

If you have never owned a fountain pen before, it can be bewildering to understand them when you run across one for the first time.  Most fountain pens look gorgeous. The bare nib is their most striking feature. Aside from the price (which can span from twenty to two thousand dollars), it can be hard to understand the pen beyond its appearance. Despite a fetching lacquer & chrome trim, the appearance of a fountain pen will tell you nothing about how it writes.

 

The truism that “fountain pens are not ballpoints” should be kept in mind. Ballpoint pens have standardized points that vary very little from refill to refill. The writing experience with a fountain pen, on the other hand, is highly individual. If you ask the opinion of ten different people, each of them will likely desire a different kind of “feel” to their pen.  You will often hear the “feel” of a fountain pen described on several continuums of “smooth or scratchy,” “springy or stiff,” “flexible or nail.”

 

Image result for waterman expert fountain pen
Waterman Expert Fountain Pen

 

There are three factors that go into the writing experience with a fountain pen: the ink, the paper, and the nib. Two of these factors can be controlled by choosing different papers, or different inks. For example, a pen may feel scratchy on printer paper but smooth in a journal. The one variable you cannot change is the quality of nib. That is why when you buy a fountain pen—and mean to write with it, rather than display it—you buy it for its nib.

Anatomy of a Nib

The fountain pen contacts paper with a nib rather than a ball (as in a ballpoint or rollerball). The nib is made up of several parts, though only a few are important to us right now. The breather hole is the small hole (usually on top of the nib) that allows air to replace the ink that moves out of the pen. The slit is the small space between the tines of the nib that allows ink to travel down to the tip. The tip of the nib is coated with an extra-hard tipping material that stands up to the pressure exerted during writing. This tip is often small enough that you would need a loupe (a jeweler’s magnifying glass) to actually see what you write with.

 

Image result for fountain pens nibs
Fountain pen nibs

 

The breather hole, tines, and slit control the amount of ink that follows to its tip. In turn, the tip of nib affects how scratchy or smooth a writing experience is. Tipping a fountain pen nib is so common that descriptions will not mention it. If they do, they often call it “iridium tipping,” even though iridium is hardly used.

Nib Materials

Modern fountain pen nibs are made from various materials such as palladium silver, titanium, gold, gold-plated steel or stainless steel. Nib materials need to be corrosion-resistant because inks are generally acidic.

 

Gold nibs have a springy feel vs stainless steel which is stiff

14k gold, 18k gold, and stainless steel are the three most common alloys used in nibs. Stainless steel nibs are seen as workman-like and are generally inexpensive. Stainless steel has shorter shelf-life than gold, though a good stainless steel nib can last for twenty years or more. Gold nibs can last for a hundred if properly maintained, and can be heirloom-quality objects. Gold nibs are, however, expensive. Unless a pen has inlaid rare metals or stones on their body (and believe me, Krone is plenty guilty of that excess), a pen price over 200 dollars generally means that it has a gold nib. Recently higher-end pens like the Waterman Exception and Perspective have been released with rhodium-plated gold or polished steel nibs in place of traditional yellow-gold nibs. It is therefore important to check the material of the nib in the description to understand what you are paying for.

 

A word now on gold nibs, as they are associated with better writing experiences. Many collectors believe that gold nibs automatically equal better “feel”; many first-time pen buyers also assume that a higher price will equal a better pen.

Generally, it is said that gold nibs are “springy,” or “supple” and stainless steel nibs are “nails,” or “stiff.” The assumption is that everyone prefers to write with a “springy” nib, and shuns the “stiff” nib. But these are relative terms and every writer has a different preference. I personally like to write with nibs that are stiffer than average; I currently favor two fairly inexpensive pens that use stainless steel nibs. The stainless steel nibs can stand up to a constant torrent of writing. I have also written with nibs that I would consider too stiff–one was a 14k gold nib on a Pelikan 205 Demonstrator. There is no substitute for actually trying the nib before buying a pen.

A pen maker’s reputation often can serve as a guide for what their nibs will feel like. Several pen manufacturers are notable for their good stainless steel nibs–Lamy and Rotring are among the best. Other pen-makers, like Waterman, use truly amazing gold nibs in their higher-end pens that are a great mixture of springy & smooth.

Nib Sizes

The other important factor in the writing experience is the size of the pen nib. The size of the nib refers to the amount of tipping material that touches the paper. The broader the nib, the more ink flows onto the paper; thus, the broader the nib, the smoother the writing experience. Most pen nibs are available in fine, medium, or broad. Less common are extra-fine, double-broad, stub, italic, and oblique nibs. Medium is considered the “average” size nib that will serve the majority of writers. Stub, italic, and oblique nibs are nibs that offer a variation in line width that you see in beautiful samples of handwriting; italic and oblique nibs are often found on calligraphy pens, or specially ground by a nibmeister.

Image result for nib sizesNibs are generally bought & fitted to different types of handwriting. Those of us that write in small, tight handwriting usually require a fine or extra-fine nib. Those who write in larger hands do well with medium, or broad nibs. Even if you love the smooth feeling of broad nib gliding across the page, if you can’t read your handwriting through the broad strokes of the nib, the pen is not going to be very suitable.

The flow of ink to a nib often changes with time. As I write with a pen it adjusts to my writing. Over time, the tip tends to broaden and put down more ink than it did at first. Thus after a few months, many of my fines start to write more like mediums, and some of my mediums more like broads.

Nib sizes are relative to the pen manufacturers. Japanese pen manufacturers like Namiki (Pilot), Sailor, Platinum, and Tombow tend to have nibs on the smaller side than Western pen manufacturers like WatermanParkerAurora, and Lamy. I own a Pilot Prera with a fine nib, and it writes smaller than even my extra-fine Lamy. If you have tiny handwriting like me, you may consider looking at Japanese pens to find a pen more suited to small script.

In closing, I have scratched the surface on the topic of nibs. It is important to keep in mind how the pen writes. More often than not, we have a very good idea about what we want our pens to look like. With fountain pens, however, it’s often more rewarding to go with a pen that compliments how you would like to write than what you’d like it to appear to be. A good pen shouldn’t be chosen like jewelry, and you may consider giving a chance to a pen that looks a little strange (or plain) if it offers you a good “feel” on paper.

Mother’s Day Gift Pens

Spring is here and the Easter Bunny has hopped off into the wild blue yonder making way for the months when we celebrate those that gave life to us – our parents. First up, Mother’s Day. And what a perfect time of year to celebrate the one person that gave us the opportunity to owe taxes, err, I mean life. The person who gave us life.

Seriously though, mothers around the world deserve our deepest gratitude and undying devotion, just as they gave us all they had to offer and just as they still give us all they have to offer. It’s a tough job, being a mother, and one that you’re not born into, but rather one that you give birth to. And from cradle to grave they will always be there for us when they are able.

This mothers day we at Executive Essentials have a few pen lines that we think would be the perfect gift for any mother out there. From sassy and charming to organized and intelligent and beyond, we have a wide array of pens that all mothers will love. So don’t just stand there thinking about what kind of quiche to make for dinner or whether daffodils or roses are more appropriate for dinner, take a look at these great pens deals and let your imagination (and gift giving) soar.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Image result for The Metropolitan Museum of Art pen collection

The Metropolitan Museum of Art collection was made for Mother’s Day. This entire pen collection has a lot to offer every type of Mom. But, this line of pens speaks very clearly to the experienced mom. The one that’s past diapers and baby yoga and more into soccer tournaments and PTA meetings. This entire collection cuts across a great many design styles, lending itself to various tastes. However, all of them lend a sense of organized authority, with just a hint of playfulness and independence. Check out this pen line and see if you find your mom in here.

The Good Bead Pens:

Fresh as a Pink Posy Bead Kit - Pen Not IncludedDoes your mom float just a little left of center? Does she make everyone laugh but you? Does she have an uncanny ability that allows her to turn a toilet paper tube, an old football jersey, and a Popsicle stick into an embarrassing craft? If this sounds like your mom then we have the pen for you. The Good Bead Pen Collection is filled with inspiration and hope. It is a true visionary pen, meant to inspire and entertain and it is just quirky enough to make heads turn when you pull it out. In a series of vibrant colors meant to grasp the imagination and run, these great pens will be the perfect addition for that mom that makes everything.

Yard-O-Led Esprit Collection

Image result for Yard-O-Led Esprit CollectionThere’s really no way around it. The Yard-o-Led Esprit collection is perfect for any mother. This glamorous collection of pens have a look and feel that is simple, yet elegant. Set in silver at the head and tail, with the barrel, body-lines that curve slightly along the shaft, these pens have a silhouette to remember. Dressed up in the middle with pastel fields of color, these pens speak to the mom that need function and beauty wrapped up into one writing instrument. There is a wide array of colors to choose from and the choice will be hard but know this, whatever you do choose will become your mom’s new favorite.

Aurora Talentum Collection

Aurora Talentum Finesse Rollerball Pen Pink;
Aurora Talentum Finesse Rollerball Pen

My own mom once trounced a group of kids that used to follow me home to pick on me when I was in 7th grade. Remember that scene from the Karate Kid, when Mr. Miyagi comes to Daniel’s rescue right when he’s about to get flying sidekicked in the face. It was a lot like that, only my attackers didn’t know martial arts and neither did my mom. And why do I mention this? Because my mom’s favorite color is pink. But, not just any pink, but the exact pink color that the Aurora Talentum Collection uses in its pink with chrome series. And what am I trying to tell you about that? Moms are tough and so is the color pink. If you have a tough mom. This just might be her pen.

Regardless of what type of mom you have, Executive Essentials has a great variety to choose from. So take a look around and find one that will go great with the mom in your life.

Why Ballpoint Pens are Serious Writing Tool

This surprisingly simple feeling is a rare sentiment in the pen collecting world. Yet I am sure most of you will agree with me. If ballpoint pens and fountain pens are made in the same model by serious pen manufacturers, why don’t more pen collectors say the same thing? Why is the attitude that fountain pens are the most serious kind of pen so prevalent?

I think I have a possible answer for this bias.

 

Ipsilon Ballpoint Pen Grey Lacquer;
Aurora Ipsilon Ballpoint Pen

I became a pen aficionado in the middle years of the internet after alt boards were on the wane, and independent domain-based boards were on the rise. I cut my teeth on several pen forums, where the old guard valued the fountain pen most highly of all. Even more appreciated were the well-maintained Parker 21s and 51s of thirty, forty years ago. A vintage pen that was kept in working condition was the sign of a well-heeled and well-schooled pen owner. A love of retro things and pride of maintaining precision instruments were all bound up in the act of collecting pens.

 

When I decided to move from being a casual appreciator of luxury pens to a fully-fledged pen collector, I had already imbibed the attitudes of my fellow collectors for years. Now that blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are replacing the tight-knit pen communities, many of the attitudes established in these small circles have exploded into the wider world as “givens”. It is a “given” that fountain pens are the best kinds of pens. They are the ones with the most prestige. It is a “given” that ballpoint pens are pretty wrapper around disposable junk–a waste of money.

While these attitudes aren’t necessarily shared by the pen community at large, I do feel at times that there is an inbuilt idea that fountain pens are the most prestigious and therefore the most “serious” of pens. These attitudes filter down into gift guides as various shades of subtle bias. To trumpet fountain pens over ballpoints often (but not always!) carries the implication that ballpoint pens are inferior tools.

So let me open up with an opinion and two confessions. I believe the best writing experience is provided by fountain pens. A smooth nib on fine paper feels unbelievably elegant. As a pen collector, however, I own no vintage pens. And in most of my daily life, I write with ballpoint pens. To many of my mentors in the pen world, I would not be considered a “serious” pen collector (or appreciator) to say these things. But because I believe that a pen’s value is derived from what it can do (write well), rather than what it is (old, complicated, pretty), it often just makes good sense to use a ballpoint.

As I discussed in the Feathering Guide, the majority of paper goods aren’t “fountain pen friendly.” We are firmly

Geometric Weekly Personal Agenda;
Geometric Weekly Personal Agenda

in an economy that assumes most writers will be using a ballpoint pen. With my tiny handwriting and inks that feather wildly on poor paper, I am faced with the choice: work only with the smallest range of materials that are friendly to my fountain pens, or write with ballpoint pens. As I am an artist, I’m well-acquainted with suiting my tools to my chosen medium. When I am writing in sketchbooks, on recycled newsprint, some handmade pulpy papers that just love to guzzle fountain pen ink (and would provide disastrously bumpy for a delicate nib), I reach for a ballpoint. To want to use a wide range of papers, journalsplanners, pads, and jotting surfaces is not a frivolous desire. We are often either attached to a favorite kind of writing surface or have our choices dictated to us (have you ever tried to fill out carbon copy medical forms with a fountain pen?). To choose to own, and write with ballpoint pens opens a wider array of products to us.

 

My second reason for preferring ballpoints is that fountain pens are often just heavier. Most pen manufacturers offer their line of pens in ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. Nib assemblies and caps usually add extra weight to fountain pens (and also to rollerballs). Fountain pens without caps, like the Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen, are a rarity. The lightest weight pens (of fountain or ballpoint variety) are made with high-quality plastics (called “resins”) like the Namiki Prera. For the majority of pen styles, the ballpoint is easily the lightest pen available. The Cross C-Series ballpoint pen, I was delighted to find, offered me the same aesthetic choices as

Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Black Matte;
Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen

its companion fountain pen–with nearly ⅓ less weight. The C-Series is one of the heaviest pens that I own. While pen weight may not be the most pressing concern when you are looking at pens, heavier pens lead to hand fatigue and writing fatigue so much quicker. Why should a heavy, or unwieldy pen be considered a more serious tool than a light-weight one, if you can write with a lighter pen for longer?

 

Finally, my last reason for preferring ballpoints is that fountain pens simply don’t have many ergonomic pens. I have a repetitive stress injury. Often, when the pain flares up, I can forget about writing with all but the lightest, most comfortably designed pens. My go-to pen is often a Sensa Cloud 9 because it has a comfortable gel grip that helps me grip a pen less tightly to alleviate the stress on my wrist. Michael’s Fat Boy is one of the few pen sellers that offers ergonomic fountain pen selections. I do have hope of finding an ergonomic fountain pen that will fit my hand; for the meantime, all of my ergonomic pens are ballpoints.

When it comes down to judging the value of a “serious” writing implement, it’s not how complicated, or old, or well-maintained a pen is. Those are wonderful values to have as a collector and appreciator of the tools for themselves. But a tool is also serious when it is used. Much as the well-polished wrench with a green neoprene grip may look beautiful, just as the basic wrench may look plain — it’s not how the tool looks, or how many parts of it that you have to clean that makes it serious. A serious tool is one that fits the user’s needs. Whether that person prefers to write with a vintage Parker, a Faber-Castell limited edition, or a Caran d’Ache metal ballpoint. What matters is what you do with it. Do something grand.

The 2012 Penaholic Gift Guide: Part Two

Part One of 2012’s gift guide can be read here.

Last week, I gave the inexpensive pens picks for my 2012 gift guide. In this second half of my pen gift guide, I give my picks for mid-range and luxury collections. Though the price tags are larger, the prices are still small compared to the years of writing these quality pens can give.

In this second part, I also go over my picks for essential pen accessories–pen cases, stands, and displays. Every owner of a fine pen should have at least one good case to keep their favorite writer protected. Onward to the pens!

Mid-Range Pens ($75 – $150)

 

Ipsilon Deluxe Ballpoint Pen Blue;
Aurora Ipsilon Deluxe Ballpoint Pen Blue

 

Aurora Ipsilon:

Italian pens dominate the second half of the gift list this year. The first entry on the lists goes to an underappreciated writer, the Aurora Ipsilon. It and its more expensive big-brother the Aurora Ipsilon Deluxe (which boasts a 14k gold nib, and a $200 dollar ) aren’t stars in the fountain pen world. But among writers who want a pen that will always put ink on the paper, the Aurora Ipsilon is tops. The barrel has a thin brass core under the resin to give the pen a bit of heft; the body is well-balanced for long writing sessions. The Ipsilon has multiple nib types available, depending on your preferences: steel, gold-plated, or 14k gold. Aurora pens are known for their “tooth” – a distinctive, resistive feel when you put pen to paper that some like, and others don’t. Often the highest praise goes out to the broad-nib version, which puts a hearty amount of ink on the page (yet writes like a medium in American brands). It is a favorite for many pen collectors, earning it a place on this year’s list as an excellent buy. The only way to know for sure if it’s going to be your next favorite is to ink up one and give it a try.

Available as a fountain pen, rollerball, and ballpoint.

Stipula Bon Voyage:

Image result for Stipula Bon Voyage pen
Stipula Bon Voyage Fountain Pen

Before the Bon Voyage, Stipula tested the waters with a little pen, the Passaporto. The Passaporto revived a tradition of eyedropper fountain pens in mid-range priced pens. An eyedropper is a fountain pen where the cartridge is done away with completely, and the barrel of the pen becomes the ink reservoir. It is filled by (you guessed it) an eyedropper in the inkwell. The Passaporto could hold nearly five times the amount of ink a regular cartridge-filling fountain pen could. The downside: the Passaporto was diminutive in larger hands, and its lack of clip made it harder to carry around (not to mention, the Passaporto’s round body had the tendency to roll off the desk with a light nudge). Enter the Bon Voyage, which keeps the main aspects of its predecessor’s translucent design and adds a clip and O-ring to keep the barrel more secure when it is used as an eyedropper. The Bon Voyage can still be used with cartridges, for those who don’t want to hassle with bottled ink.  As an update to the Passaporto’s design, the Bon Voyage is a winner for long writing sessions, travel, or for folks who just don’t like to refill their pens every week.

Available as a Fountain Pen or Speedball (a rollerball that uses fountain pen ink cartridges).

Delta Markiaro Posillipo:

 

Image result for Delta Markiaro Posillipo Pens
Delta Markiaro Posillipo Fountain Pen

Delta is a company whose sterling reputation has made me keen to try a pen in their line but found them price-prohibitive as a casual pen collector. Enter Delta’s newest entry-level pens under the Markiaro name, the Markiaro Gaiolat and the Markiaro Posillipo.  Of the two collections, the Markiaro Posillipo is the more elegant; its body is a shining, gently marbled resin. The rich colors on the Posillipo are gorgeous reflections of their Italian origin. The lower cost of the collection (compared to Delta’s normal offerings) is, in part, due to its steel nib (rather than its wide array of more expensive gold, or fusion nibs that are gold with a steel inlay). Delta’s steel nibs are smooth, firm, on the wet writing side. The grip section on the pen is metal, which may detract some writers who find it to be too slick to comfortably grip for long writing sessions. But pen collectors and pen aficionados who are interested in branching out into Delta will be well-served by the Posillipo. Aside from the just-under-two hundred dollars Capri Day and Night collections, the Posillipo is the least expensive—and one of the more striking—ways to experience a truly classic Italian pen brand.

 

Available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

Luxury Pens (over $200)

Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique:

 

Meisterstuck Classique Rollerball Pen Black & Gold;
Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique Rollerball Pen Black & Gold

I am a recent convert on the Meisterstuck Classique. When I had a chance to review the Classique this fall, I was struck by three things: the timelessness of its resin-and-gold appointments design; the way it felt like a natural extension of my hand after a few minutes of writing; how durable and well it had held up over the last quarter century. The Classique is durable, luxurious, and—well—priceless. The Classique is the first heirloom-quality pen on this list. I have no doubt that it will continue to function admirably for the next twenty-five years. The Classique has only a modest number of trims available: gold & platinum. But the number of options aren’t what you consider when you buy a Montblanc. You think about how effortless it is to write a page in a journal or sign a name to an office invoice.  The Classique does not come cheap, but it is worth the price.

 

Available as a pencil, ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

Montegrappa Emblema:

 

Image result for Montegrappa Emblema
Montegrappa Emblema Fountain Pen

Throw a dart at the Montegrappa catalog, and you will hit a vibrant pen that’s the envy of any desk. I’ll admit it was a struggle to pick between the Emblema and the expressive Piccola (which is half the asking price of the Emblema). In the end, the Emblema won out for its well-balanced celluloid body that seems to post its cap better than the Piccola. The Emblema features an 18k gold nib that offers a tiny bit of flex and a very smooth writing experience. Of all nibs, the 18k nib is in the sweet spot. 14k nibs are often stiff, and anything more than 18k is just fancy talk for a gold inlaid piece of jewelry. The 18k nib is just soft enough to offer the slightest bit of line variation in writing (called flex, this quality is highly valued by many pen collectors), but strong enough to stand up to hours of serious writing. Like vintage pens, the Emblema is crafted from celluloid, a plant-based resin that has been used in first-class pens for more than a century and a half. With its engraved silver band and its appointments, the Emblema looks like a piece of luxury furniture. It is, frankly, stunning. If you have the resources–go for the Emblema. You will not be disappointed.

 

Available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

S.T. Dupont Liberte:

 

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S.T. Dupont Liberte Ballpoint Pen

Pen reliability could be called “S.T. Dupont,” and I would not argue the title. As the most expensive collection on this list, the S.T. Liberte is neck-and-neck with Montblanc for prestige, quality, and luxury in a writing experience. Whereas Montblanc pens are known for their lightness in the hand, S.T. Dupont pens have more heft. Liberte owners sing the highest praises of their flawless writing experiences. And they are gorgeous. More restrained than the colorful Montegrappas, the Liberte shows off its style in simple black or white with silver appointments. The Liberte is considered a “feminine” pen range; its “masculine” counterpart would be the Defi Collection, with finishes in carbon fiber (and an even higher price tag). Honestly, a sleek pen is a sleek pen to me, and I enjoy both the Liberte and the Defi. I find the prices on the Liberte to be slightly more in line with a pen that I’d want to show off on my desk (and use to write on special occasions). Whatever the case may be, any S.T. Dupont will give you as smooth a writing experience as money can buy.

 

Available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

Pens Sleeves

Since I’ve rather breathlessly praised some very beautiful and very expensive pens, the next question that comes to mind is: how do you keep these pens safe?

 

 

Triple Pen Case;
Aston Leather Triple Pen Case

 

If your gift recipient is anything like me, they are not content to let their favorite writing instruments luxuriate on their desks, untouched and unloved. For the on-the-go writers, pen cases are a great gift accessory. A good case is key to keeping luxury pens pristine and work-horse pens free of infuriating dents and dings in their resin.

 

Libelle’s Double Pen Sleeves keeps everyday pens safe. For more expensive pens that I don’t want accidentally brushing each other, I turn to pen cases with individual pen loops like the Namiki Nylon Pouch or cases that look like cigar holders (Libelle or Aston Triple pen cases). For an extra touch of luxury, Montblanc offers pen sleeves with their distinctive logo on the front of the case. Of all of the pen cases that I’ve used, Libelle and Aston top my list as the most dependable and most stylish (for a reasonable price).

Namiki Nylon Pen Pouch

Montblanc Meisterstuck Pen Sleeves

Libelle Pen Sleeves

Aston Pen Cases

Pen Stands

 

Legal Eagle With Scales Pen Holder;
Jac Zagoory Legal Eagle With Scales Pen Holder

While I can’t say that pen stands are a necessity (I’m a true believer in a hands-on approach to pens—all of my work pens are hauled around in roll cases), there is some attractive pen stands that may suit your recipient… especially if you are purchasing a luxury pen that is meant to be ogled as much as it is to be used. Minimal pen stands are the best choice for pen-lovers, because they emphasize the pen. The Jac Zagoory Ripple Pen Stand does just that: the stand is no more than an attractive base that holds the pen upright. It shows off the pen as a true work of art. If having a pen-at-hand on the desk is more important than an artistic display, Bey Berk’s double pen stand may be just what your giftee needs.

 

Jac Zagoory Ripple Pen Stand

Bey Berk Pen Stands

Pen Display

Pen collectors will attest to how necessary it is to have a pen display case. They make a good gift for a budding collector who’s just bought their first few pens; they make a great gift for the collector who needs to upgrade their storage to accommodate their habitual increase in collection size.

 

Blond Collection Fiddleback Maple 10 Pen Case;
Venlo Pen Case

 

Reed and Barton make one of the most attractive pen chests on the market. Its cherry wood finishes pairs well with most dark wood furniture pieces. My cherry wood case (a six-pen display) next to my journal collection is the most conversation-starting piece in the room.

For us truly recalcitrant collectors, Laban makes a wonderful line of pen chests that range from 10 to 40 pens. Display case plus pull-out drawers for storage…could a collector ask for more?

 

Pen Chest - 10 Pens;
Laban Pen Chest