Leather Luggage and the Fountain Pen

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

What’s leather luggage doing with a company called PenFountain.com?  Well, we love our fountain pens but, along with pens, we just love the finer things of life.  This includes cars, culinary skills (and eating!), walking (to counter the previous interest) and good quality leather goods.  For some time we offered the Quindici range of leather business luggage.  What could be a finer home for your pen than a beautiful leather briefcase?

Excepting the briefcase, the one major bugbear of business travel is how to carry a suit or dress without it turning into a second-hand dishcloth.  You’re running late for the business dinner. Check-in. Hotel room. Pull suit out and….. Well, it’s just not stylish with so many wrinkles.  What’s worse is that the alternative was the old suit bag in the closet.  It weighed far too much and you needed to have arms like a gorilla to hold it high enough to prevent it sweeping the hotel foyer floor.    

Quindici Leather Garment Bag - Leather Luggage at its best

Quindici Leather Garment Bag

Enter the stylish Quindici Tri-Fold garment bag.  This was the first piece of the Quindici range to catch our eye at a trade show.  With its nappa leather, it is just so soft, stylish and still practical.  Big enough for 3 suits and pockets enough for an overnighter and when its closed, the dimensions are right for carrying like and an ordinary suitcase. We then looked at the rest of the range and decided that these were a ‘must have’. 

The Quindici Leather Tri-Fold garment bag is probably the best investment you can make for a regular traveller.  The Quindici leather briefcases and holdalls are also worth a look!

Wringing out the ink

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

For many users, bottled ink is the lifeblood of their fountain pens and getting the best fill for their converter is vitally important.  To this end, there are numerous videos on You Tube of varying qualities (and degrees of condescension!) offering advice on how to get the best results.  In essence, ensure the nib is fully immersed in the ink and fill by gently lifting the plunger, either by screw thread or by slide, dependent on type.  To ensure maximum filling, push the plunger back downwards and upwards a couple of times to express any airlocks.   Hey presto!  A video script.

fountain pen ink, Lamy fountain pen ink, Pelikan Edlestein ink, Waterman fountain pen

Ink bottle design - more than just aesthetics

What is not covered on these videos is that, in addition to the quality of the ink, there are more designs of ink bottle than you can shake a nib at.  Each bottle is designed around a specific brand requirement, some of them even take into account the needs of filling a pen.   However, ink bottle design is not just about aesthetics but about practicality and useability.  Once you have drawn a significant amount of ink from the bottle, covering the nib can become a problem.  But, with a little thought in bottle design, the amount of ink it is possible to draw can vary significantly. Possibly the best design for an ink bottle is Lamy’s with its central well in the base, shown without its plastic support cover, allows the ink  to flow to the point where it is needed.  At the other end of the spectrum ( no name – no price tag)  is the cuboid glass bottle with the little dish that bearly covers a nib when full.

The choice is yours!  

Not sure?  Come to PenFountain.com in Cranleigh and have look for yourself.

Has your pen experienced magnetron sputtering – or is it just a Cross Spire

March 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Be assured, magnetron sputtering is not a fault but a sophisticated electro-magnetic process.  It is used in an advanced surface coating system that offers a fine, high-gloss, durable finish, without filling-in even the finest detail on etched or engraved surface decoration.  Magnetron sputtering is used in the Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) process.  PVD offers the benefit of being a relatively green process with little release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the application process compared with conventional spraying or plating techniques.

 The new Cross Spire range has been finished with PVD in 3 colours, Caviar Black, Golden Shimmer and Icy Chrome. On close inspection of each of the 3 colours, it is impossible to confirm that the chrome and gold finishes are not conventionally plated, even with the fine diamond pattern engraved surfaces.

The Cross Spire pen range in 3 PVD finishes

However, it is not the finish that grabs the attention first with the Cross Spire, but the slender barrels of each format, including the fountain pen. At just 8mm diameter, the fountain pen feels exactly the same as using a slightly weighty conventional lead pencil.  The screw-top cap is removed and posted with a corresponding male thread machined into the top end.  This functions in 2 ways, extending the length of the pen to a significant 153mm and adjusting the balance on a very light pen of just 18 grams.

The nib is quite special for such a small pen.  Visually, it looks almost out of place because of its size – a full sized-nib on a miniature pen. When compared to the Cross Apogee nib, the Spire’s nib is virtually identical across the width and even a little longer!  But this is the real deal.  18ct gold with colour coded finishes in gold and rhodium as appropriate, although, Cross seem less forthcoming about the finish on the black nib. The writing experience itself is everything that would be expected of a pen at this price point. The Spire fountain pen at full price is £155.00 (PenFountain.com price £139.50).  The first sample I tried which, to be fair, was a pre-production model, was quite generous in its inking whilst the subsequent production model sampled was a little more reticent, but quite acceptable.  The Spire also shares the same 0.5mm line width as for other medium nibs from the Cross range.  It is available with the standard fine, medium and broad nib width options.

The Cross Spire full sized nib compared with a Cross Apogee

Because of the overall dimensions of the Cross Spire, the writing experience is a little unusual with the diminutive barrel taking some getting used to.  However, for the more copious fountain pen writer, the combination of small diameter, light-weight and length may offer an exciting alternative to the more conventional pens from other manufacturers. The Spire is offered in 3 colour schemes all finished with the PVD coatings.  The black is a particularly interesting option with an all black, gloss finish including trim and nib making this diminutive pen more acceptable to a potential male market.

As may be gathered from my comments here, I am quite impressed with this latest offering from Cross.  But, this is a cartridge only pen using dedicated Cross Spire cartridges and only available in either blue, blue-black or black inks. On the mechanical side, the screw cap-posting facility is let down by the random positions of the clip when tightened, none of which line the clip with the nib.  For writers with smaller hands this is unlikely to be a problem. For larger hands, it may have the clip catching the crook of the thumb.

In summary, if you write extensively and are looking for a fountain pen that doesn’t tire your hands or, you want to use a real fountain pen with discretion, the Cross Spire is worth looking into.  But the cartridges and the clip may prove a drawback.  The Cross Spire is available from PenFountain.com, or in our Cranleigh shop, in fountain pen,  ballpoint and rollerball formats.

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