I didn’t always understand the demand for nice pens. Throughout my entire school career, I used whatever I bought at Walgreens or office depot, and they worked just fine. It wasn’t until I started seeing these other types of pens that it hit me. Pens can truly be beautiful accessories to any desk, and there is a monumental difference between the Walgreens Bic and a Waterman or Waterford fine writing instrument.
Waterman and Waterford Pens have elegantly and intricately designed pens, and they are now on sale at Executive Essentials. If there was ever a time to invest in this type of product, it’s now. Whether you need a gift for Father’s Day, a graduation present, or just think it’s time to add some class to your desk, Waterman and Waterford have the pens and prices for you.
Just to highlight a few, the Waterford Rainbow Arista Prism Rollerball Pen is a good pick. Its contemporary colors and shape come in your choice of multicolored mocha or rainbow, and marbled caramel or purple. Polished chrome appointments accompany each pen to make them stand out from any other design.
Another good choice would be the Waterman Expert II Ballpoint Pen in Dune Blue. The vibrant gold trims, deep blue lacquer, and mesmerizing reflective effect ensure a distinct elegance and originality.
Of course, you should browse the selection for yourself because there are more than 20 designs on sale. With colors ranging from fire engine red to deep sea blue, there is sure to be a pen for you.
Throughout its long history, established in 1884, Waterman has produced a wide selection of the highest quality pens in a broad range of prices. In 2010, Waterman continues as a major player in the 21st Century pen market, with the creation of the Serenite d’Art Collection, by pushing through the boundaries and producing some of the most beautiful pens in the industry today.
The Serenite d’Art Collection, inspired by Water, Air, Earth and Fire, combines the finest materials with the creative vision of a modern artist. The curved bodies, the unique textures, the splendid colors and the breathtaking designs merge into true masterpieces that are extremely pleasing to the eye yet highly functional. How often does that happen in the art world?
Gorgeous hues of blue, red, silver and black and the unique designs encompassing Mother Nature at her strongest, is sure to please the ever evolving needs and desires of today’s sophisticated pen collector. Waterman’s Serenite d’Art has hit the mark, combining art and the art of fine pen making!
While the Serenite d’Art Collection is superb, those looking for a more moderate price point, check out the enormously popular Waterman Carene, Perspective and Exception collections. With the same Waterman eye for detail, these collections offer an elegant gift at a much more affordable price.
Waterman has changed the face of the modern pen; for a unique gift this holiday season choose Waterman, now available at Executive Essentials!
It’s tax season all around the United States. For those who overpaid it’s a time of joy, an occasion to expectantly check the mail or log into our bank accounts. For everyone else…it’s just tax season.
As Americans, we started paying a federal income tax in 1861 and 1862 to pay for the Civil War. During this storied time of civil unrest, young men on both sides were using smooth-bore, long-barreled muskets and keen-edged sabers to solve the nation’s differences on the field of battle. But, off the battle field they were using quills and dip pens to write letters of their experience and re-connect with their friends and family back home. Quills had a short life span and were easily breakable, especially in the pockets of young soldiers tramping around the countryside from skirmish to skirmish. Metal tipped dip pens were more durable, but also more expensive and rare. But, even though the typical soldier of the Civil War era relied heavily on quills, dip pens and even pencils, it doesn’t mean the fountain pen didn’t exist in America.
Peregrin Williamson, a Baltimore shoemaker, received the first American patent for a fountain pen in 1809. Later, in 1831, John Jacob Parker patented the first self-filling fountain pen. However, these early fountain pen models were fraught with mechanical problems that led to ink spills and other inadequacies that left them impractical for the average user and thus hard to sell. All that would change, however, after the Civil War. As the war ended and the healing process began, the nation once again turned it’s eyes on innovation and technology. During this period the fountain pen in America would begin to take shape as we know it today with the addition of what many consider the first practical fountain pen produced by Lewis Waterman. Countless others followed.
Modern fountain pens have changed drastically from their civil war era counterparts, as has the tax code that initially sprung up to help fund the war. But, what hasn’t changed is our connection to our written language and the instruments we use to lay our thoughts out on paper. As collectors we still yearn for that perfect writing instrument to pen the great American novel, draft that world-renowned play or simply write a letter back home. At the very least we’ll need something to sign our taxes with this season.
Which reminds me, if you need any help figuring out what to do with your return this year, might I suggest something along these lines?
The ovens are far from heating up for this 2011 Thanksgiving dinner, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas is content to wait on the sidelines until we are all done digesting. In fact, ho-ho-ho tinged commercials have already infiltrated the airwaves and local shops are already trimming their newly frosted windows in red and green. It is clearly time to start thinking about the gifts we choose to say ‘thank you’ to those around us in our daily lives. And there is no better way for a business to say thank you to its employees and customers than with a high-quality pen that is stylish and affordable.
Executive Essentials makes gift giving easy by offering a wide selection of personalized pens from top name brand companies like Cross, Waterman, Waterford, Parker, and Dunhill. The pens in the EE catalog come in a wide variety of styles and prices to fit the needs of just about any company’s budget. At Executive Essentials, we have the ability to offer substantial discounts for high volume orders and with a little extra time, we can let you see a finished sample of your logo pen prior to your order. We know that you want the very best when you give gifts and we have the pens you need and the service to make it come true. And, unlike cheap custom pens, our pens come from name brand, well-respected companies that offer quality, style and satisfaction guaranteed.
Take a look at a few of the amazing pens in the Executive Essentials catalog that come with the option of being engraved.
This streamlined pen from Parker has a stainless steel body that is brushed to give it a textured effect before it is buffed to smooth gloss finish. Although the shape is simple, the pen itself is designed for a comfort and feel that is appreciated by both men and women. The gold accents give it a flair that is striking without being gaudy or garish. Listed at $65 with another $14 for engraving, the Parker Sonnet is a gift worth giving and worth receiving.
One look at the elliptical shape of the Waterman Carene Ballpoint brings to mind an object of speed and grace. The almost bullet like design has a simplicity that is understated and mired in a long standing tradition of craftsmanship. It all makes sense though when you find out that the Carene is modeled after the world’s finest Yachts. The barrel is a high-gloss lacquer and is trimmed in gold for a dynamic look with a weight that feels good in all hands. This executive pen carries a $150 price tag and costs $16 to personalize, but it’s not a gift soon forgotten.
At the lower end of the price spectrum is the Claria in chrome from Waterford Pens. But, don’t be fooled by the $31.99 price tag. This inexpensive pen is far from cheap. The chrome barrel of the pen gives it a substantial feel and the shape lend it a fit for any hand. The rhodium plated finish give it a look that shines bright with sophistication and prestige. This is a great pen for everyday use. One that can be put to work and offer style all at the same time. Engraving this pen costs $14, with two choices of font and 22 characters of engraving text. The right price. The right pen. The right gift.
All brands of pens have ranges within their own hierarchy. It’s part of the marketing game to make sure that you have products in your lines that speak to those pen lovers in all economic brackets. I’m glad they do. It’s a good challenge for pen designers to push the limits of quality and aesthetics against the wall of everyday price points. What does a $50 designer pen look like, write like, feel like and smell like compared to a $20 version? How can the manufacturing process be tinkered with to create savings in the higher end pens? Experimentation is key and eventually, the results of those experiments trickle down to the users. Us.
But, there’s another way that pen collectors can get good deals on brand new pens rather than waiting for the brands to become more efficient or come out with a line that is more affordable. Quite simply you only need to take a look at the clearance section of the Executive Essentials online catalog.
Today I’d like to point you to the Waterman clearance pens. Although the current stock of Waterman pens on clearance isn’t bursting at the seams, you will find 6 great pens at prices that are worth considering. So take the time the time to check out a few of these great deals on Waterman pens. But remember, we also have a great deal more Waterman pens in the Executive Essentials catalog that are worth looking at as well.
Blending prestigious materials, color, and a distinctive, vibrant personal style, Waterman continues to create some of the most elegant and inventive writing instruments in the world today. The Waterman Hemisphere rollerball pens, with its timeless lines, are practical and discreet. It breathes modernity and a magnetic refinement. The simple contemporary elegance of this stylish chromed rollerball is made from lustrous black lacquer is as timeless as a little black dress or a tailored tuxedo. This particular pen is running $35 down from $75. A real steal.
The Waterman Perspective celebrates the dynamic purity of modern architecture. This elegant expression of contemporary design has a slim cylindrical shape decorated with a delightfully dazzling chrome finish throughout each pen. This ballpoint is made a silver colored satin lacquer that creates a shimmering tone effect and is decorated with the sharp beauty of architectural lines. It comes with a three-year warranty and a twist action mechanism that is easy to use. Originally this pen cost $130, but now it is only $109 in the Executive Essentials catalog.
The pen that breaks away from all expectations and changes the rules…the Exception. With its bold square design, the Waterman Exception has a powerful presence, finesse, and elegance. This fountain pen is the ultimate expression of seductive confidence. It is made of rich, luxuriant berry pink lacquer and bright white silver-plated trims for women who just love being women. To add to this stunning writing implement is an intricately engraved rhodium plated18-karat gold nib. Right now you can get a savings of $85 and have this pen in your hand for $300.
These pens and variations are available in the Executive Essentials catalog. And don’t just dwell on Waterman, Executive Essentials has a plethora of great pens on clearance every day. Come on in and browse a little.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nibs 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 Waterman, Parker, Aurora, 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.
When I bought my first fountain pen twelve years ago, I was plunging into a completely new world of writing. Because I’d only used ballpoint pens before, I encountered problems for which I had no names. Fountain Pen Basics are posts for new fountain pen users who are learning the ropes of their pens. The series will introduce you to fountain pen terminology by looking at the solutions to common fountain pen problems.
There are a few banes of the fountain pen world. None are as bad as the new fountain pen that’s just been removed from the box and fitted with a new cartridge (or filled with the writer’s favorite ink), applied to a blank sheet of paper…only to have the pen’s crisp lines disappear into a tangle of tiny, fuzzy lines. This phenomenon is known as feathering.
In the graphical parlance, feathering simply means a fuzzy or indistinct edge. For the fountain pen, feathering happens when the ink is absorbed by the paper and spreads through the paper’s fibers to create a ragged edge. The form of feathering that is most common is a slightly blurry edge with wispy capillary lines running off of the edge at random. On a very rare occasion, this kind of fuzziness is fine. When I am drawing grungy calligraphy letters, I don’t mind the extra random edges created by the pen. Most of the time, however, feathering ranges from being a nuisance that detracts from the pleasure of using a fountain pen to making my handwriting downright illegible.
Chances are good that if you’ve chosen to write with a fountain pen, it’s because you admire the crisp, dark lines that the ink makes on the page. The idea that these crisp lines can become fuzzy is a drawback bad enough to make you think twice about using a fountain pen. I know I certainly had second thoughts when my second fountain pen turned out to be a feathering maniac.
What can you do to stop feathering?
There are three aspects at play whenever you make a mark on the page with a fountain pen: the nib, the ink, and the paper. In past articles, I talked about nibs. Nibs can be wet writers or dry writers. A “wet writer” is one that puts a lot of ink down on the page. Wet writing pens tend to have more feathering problems because more ink flows onto the page when you make a stroke. A “dry writer” is a nib that does not put down as much ink. A dry writer is usually less prone to feathering, but has the drawback of being more scratchy on the page–or sometimes, with the wrong ink, prone to skipping. Dry writers often make lines that look very sharp on the page. Generally speaking, medium to broad nibs are wet writers, and pens on the extra-fine and fine side are dry writers. If you are looking to buy a new pen that avoids feathering, researching “dry writers” could save you some heartache down the line.
However, it’s likely you already own a fountain pen–so the nib is already a fixed quantity. (A nib can be “adjusted” by a nibmeister who is experienced with grinding and flexing nibs to alter the ink flow, but that is a pretty advanced solution.) That means the two variables that you can control are the ink and the paper.
So let’s talk ink for a moment. Even if you have the driest of dry writers for a nib, how the ink flows through the pen will affect how it writes. Inks have a range of flows. A good flowing ink will set down color on the page well. An ink that flows excessively will put down too much liquid and cause feathering. An ink that has a poor flow may skip, or clog a pen. Finding an ink that has a good flow is an ongoing task. Not all inks play well in all pens.
When I first started using fountain pens, my favorite inks were Levenger inks that were on the poor flow side. The inks would dry quickly, required a lot of cleaning, and often clogged my nibs. I was a meticulous nib-cleaner. I didn’t mind the extra rinses I had to put my nibs through. It seemed worth it for an ink that was dark, lustrous, and didn’t feather. What I didn’t understand was that all inks have different characteristics. I didn’t realize that I could have found an ink to match my pens that wouldn’t feather and wouldn’t clog my pen after every refill.
Two of the inks that have given me the least amount of feathering (or clogging) problems are Waterman Black and Waterman Blue. These inks come in three different kinds of refills: bottled ink (used with converters, pistons, or other filling systems), Waterman cartridges which are double-length and fit into Waterman fountain pens, and standard cartridges (which are small and fit into all pens that are fitted to take standard cartridges). Because of their wide variety of refills, and their easiness to use in pens, I usually recommend these inks first.
If you are new to fountain pens and have a feathering problem: first try Waterman ink.
Next, let’s talk paper. Once upon a time, papers were manufactured to be used with fountain pen inks. They were surfaced to react well to ink, and their rag content was compatible with the juicer dip pens that would often be used side-by-side with internal feed fountain pens. Today’s paper is generally geared towards many different needs. Cheap office paper is generally used for copiers or printers. Most legal pads and other jotting surfaces are designed to stand up to the tips of ballpoint and gel pens. Think paper and expensive paper don’t necessarily equal “great writing experience” either; many expensive papers and many thick papers are designed to be absorbent. Aquarelle papers are lovely, thick, and have an interesting texture. But aquarelle paper is designed for watercolors; fountain pen ink feathers like crazy on its surface. The brands generally considered to be “fountain pen friendly” brands are Rhodia, Quo Vardis, and Clairefontaine. Papers that have a high cotton content are generally considered better for fountain pens. Papers made from bagasse (sugar cane waste) are often cited as a great surface for pens that prevents feathering but may show ink through the opposite site of the page (this problem is also known as bleedthrough). Onion paper (airmail paper) has also been attested to as an anti-feathering paper for wet writers.
Dry writers (or wet writers with the right ink) can overcome some of the issues associated with papers that aren’t generally considered fountain pen friendly. I regularly use Fiorentina journals to keep track of my daily schedule. Some of my wetter-writing fine and medium nibbed pens feather like crazy on the paper. So much so that I sometimes can’t recognize my own handwriting. This is a common headache for small handwriting and feathering ink. Calligraphy on this paper? Completely out of the question! However, a dry writer like my eight-year-old Waterman Hemisphere (fine nib) loaded up with Waterman Blue will produce a crisp, clear line on the Fiorentina paper. Moleskine is often cited as a fountain pen unfriendly brand, but their Folio series journals feature extra-thick pages that have proven to be feathering-resistant with pen and ink combinations that will feather on other, more fibrous papers.
What can you do about feathering without too much stress or money? If you’re experiencing feathering problems, I suggest starting with a feather-resistant ink like Waterman Black or Blue. Rinse out the nib, let the pen dry, load up some new ink and try it out on a range of different papers. Copier paper, journal paper, planner paper, bagasse paper, cotton rag resume paper–whatever kinds you already have on hand. Give each paper type a whirl. If feathering is still a problem, it may be time to try more expensive “fountain pen friendly” brands (or perhaps time to research dry writing fountain pens). For the most part, I think most pens’ feathering issues can be solved by trying inks whose reputations are for feather-free writing.
When you’ve had a chance to stretch your wings, and are looking into experimenting with ink brands and colors that have different flow properties, that’s likely when expensive papers and other fountain pen paraphernalia will make its way to your writing desk. For those looking to venture into different inks, stay tuned for next week’s Ink Spotlight where I will review Private Reserve’s line of inks.