Sheaffer Valor rollerball pen – what makes the difference?

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

On the website from day 1 we have tried to offer a description based on our observations, with pen in hand, identifying its salient features and performance qualities. We find the repetitive regurgitation of the manufacturers’ hyperbole laden prose unimaginative and uninformative. Using that formula suggests that the web host may not only not have stock of the product but may not have even set eyes on it.

However, we are introducing the Sheaffer Valor rollerball pens. These are a fairly imposing pen being offered as an alternative to the purists’ fountain pen. Nibs you can describe with their shape, materials, potential writing performance and width/style range. Rollerballs are mass produced, smooth (or not), and work (or not). End of. It makes writing something about a rollerball pen to tantilise the reader exceptionally difficult. Therefore, the Sheaffer Valor rollerball writes. OK?

Smiths – fountain pen users friend?

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

We are very lucky in our village of Cranleigh. Tucked in the lee of the Surrey Hills AONB, the village comprises of around 4000 households of which, according to local authority research, only 28% shop locally.
Deep joy! WHS opened here in March 2010. Local residents were divided with many saying it’s about time that we could have lower prices locally. Containing my outrage, I will offer one of their ‘savings’: PenFountain Lamy cartridges retail at £1.50 across 8 colours. WHS offer them for £3.49 in only blue or black (29/7/2010).  Hope our customers do their research before dismissing the local independents.

Fountain pens – too good to hurry?

July 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Perhaps it’s no coincidence but when our customers in the shop see the bowl of Murray Mints on the counter they pounce on them!  ‘I haven’t had one of those for years’, is the cry.   Perhaps, for some, it’s the same as using a decent fountain pen – too good to hurry.

Stories from the gash Lamy

July 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have a Lamy Studio fountain pen that lives on my desk. It’s an everyday pen with numerous dings in the barrel where it has been generally abused and, while I enjoy writing with its 1.5mm calligraphy nib, it is also used to demonstrate Lamy’s nib changing capability. It’s fitted with a convertor so it

Lamy reliability

Lamy Studio everyday gash pen

can be used to test different inks and is currently enjoying an outing with Diamine Damson (which has proved to be a bit variable between a delicious damson colour and black). The pen’s looks belie what a smooth writing experience it offers.

The beauty of the fountain pen is that it is used for drafting copy before typing. It encourages more planning of what to write and gives more thinking time. If the communication is (brief!) to a customer then I think, coming from a fountain pen retailer, it should be written in ink.

If you would like to try my rewarding gash pen to see what your pen is unlikely to become, just drop in if you’re passing through Cranleigh!   Why not give your favourite pen an outing to show us?

Bob Melvin

What is your pen made from?

July 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Fountain pens are manufactured using a wide range of materials the sum of which contribute to the design, performance and perception of the finished pen. While many of the materials are relatively common, the reason for their use in pen construction may not be as obvious. We will expand the information in this section over time to include some of the fascinating and more historical products used in pen construction.  These descriptions are covered on the website

Barrels and Caps

Resin:  A generic term used in fountain pens to cover a wide range of plastics.  Many ‘resins’ are pigmented acrylic resins used either as a single colour or mixed in multiple colours without becoming homogeneous to create swirls and coloured effects.  

 ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a sophisticated plastic compound used principally in Lamy pens but used extensively in industrial applications in automotive, furniture, electronics and toys including Lego bricks.  ABS is used for its dimensional stability, durability, and resistance to UV degradation making it suitable for highly coloured products.  Hence the brightly coloured pens found in the Lamy Safari range!

 Brass:  An early form of an alloy of elemental metals, brass is a combination of copper and zinc.  Alloyed in different proportions, brass can offer strength, malleability, corrosion resistance, and, in finished component form, has almost no requirement for lubricant for faces in close contact such as screw threads.  Brass is used extensively as a core metal for the production of quality fountain pen barrels and caps with its compatibility with metallic plating processes and coloured lacquers.

Fittings and Nibs

Gold: A dense, soft, malleable, elemental metal which, with its mechanical properties and resistance to oxidisation, is an ideal material for the production of fountain pen components.   

Silver:  A soft white lustrous elemental metal.  Sterling standard silver is 92.5% pure, the balance usually being of copper. 

Steel: Many fountain pen nibs and components are manufactured from either chrome plated steel or stainless steel.  Whilst traditional opinion is that the best nibs are only produced from gold because of its softness and spring, a good quality steel nib, in many cases, will serve its user equally well.  With many nibs, gold or steel, the pen is often not even used often enough to make any significant difference to its tip profile. The issue is more about the design and finishing of the nib because, unlike gold, a steel nib is unlikely to wear into the style of the users hand. In which case, the design and finishing is more critical than the material it is made from.  Examples of particularly good steel nibs are those used in the Caran d’Ache Ecridor range and the stainless steel nibs from Lamy with their wide range and simple inter-changeability.  Electro-plated steel is also used in the construction of most pens’ clips because of its spring.

Platinum group: Rhodium, palladium and iridium are chemically inert mineral elements which are part of the platinum group and are similarly rare.  They are used industrially either alloyed with other platinum group metals or used as catalysts in chemical processes.

 Rhodium plating is used extensively in fountain pen nibs as decoration, often over a gold nib where the mechanical characteristics of the gold are desirable but a silver trim finish is required.  The limited depth of the rhodium will have no effect on the characteristics of the nib.  Rhodium is also used as a fine plated coating over silver plating, such as on the Waterman Carene Essential Wave silver pens, to protect the finish from discolouration, wear and corrosion.

 Palladium is used occasionally in pens in a similar manner to rhodium, more usually in the manufacture of trim components.

 Iridium, a relatively dense element, can also be used in the manufacture of nibs to offer a more durable writing tip.

Penfountain offers new Quindici leather Messenger Bag

July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

We had a customer in our shop in Cranleigh enquiring about high quality student bags and, fortunately, Susan remembered seeing a new leather Messenger style bag from Quindici.  We contacted the company and were advised that these were so new that, whilst they had stock,  they had no photographs available but would send a couple of bags to us.  Next day we received the new stock in both black and brown.  Details were duly added to and the customer contacted.  24 hours after the initial enquiry we had a new product photographed, on the website and sold.  Needless to say, replacement stock has already been ordered!

The bags are a classic Messenger Bag of a medium size, suitable for a laptop and a reasonable number of files or academic books.  Rest assured, there are 2 slots for your favourite fountain pen and 2 further slots for USB memory sticks.  The broad fabric straps are adjustable for length and the full length flap offers 2 magnetic catches.  The interior is basically a single compartment but with a secondary laptop pocket which includes additional base padding and an ‘insulating’ space between the pocket and outer end walls of the bag for added protection.  The bag is constructed using a high quality split leather giving both strength and durability and yet looking extremely presentable.  Our price is a very competitive £79.95 leads single-click payment offer for pen sales

July 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

On-line fountain pen retailer has introduced a further innovation to their purchase options with single-click payment.  Although available on some larger retailers’ websites, this offer represents a new departure for the smaller retailer.  The Quickbuy process operates by offering customers the convenience of registering their credit or debit card details when making an initial fountain pen purchase.  Subsequent purchases can then be made with a single-click, charging the purchase against the registered card.  The system was developed working closely with web hosts, Guildford based Sure Communication ( and payment service provider, principal, Bob Melvin, explained the background to the system, “In order to make purchasing as simple and stress free as possible, in addition to keen prices, we offer our customers the widest choice of secure payment methods.  Previously, we have been at the forefront of online cash payments and now we have championed single-click payment.  For our customers, the biggest concern is maintaining security, and, by working with, one of the UK’s leading payment service providers, while we do not have direct access to customers’ card details, they have the resources to maintain the very highest level of data security.”   The process initiates when a transaction reaches the payment stage on the website and the customer simply clicks on a ‘pay by retained card’ option to complete the purchase.

Single-click payment makes ordering a fountain pen less stressful and reassuring for the customer.

Published as a press release

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