June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Running a website like PenFountain.com is like the proverbial Forth Bridge paint job. You just think things are about right when you find that you need to start again. Sometimes it’s adjusting copy or content to meet new demands from the search engine gnomes and other times, you find a product description requiring revision because it was introduced in the early days when the priority was getting product onto the website and being Google friendly wasn’t so important. Falling into the latter category, one of my favourite Lamy pens, outside the Safari and Studio ranges, is the Logo model 6. Searching on this, I was slightly horrified to see inadequate descriptions of a very worthy pen range. Work was duly started, including new descriptions and images.
The Logo is a budget-range pen but moves into something a little more sophisticated in appearance than the slightly bulky Safari but at a price significantly below the Studio. The range is based around a slim, brushed stainless steel barrel with deep- machined ribs forming an extended grip. The fountain pen weighs-in below 20grams and with the options of either cartridge or supplied converter, offer the full range of ink colours and nib widths right through to the italic stub type nib, up to 1.9mm. With the nibs being common to the Safari and many other Lamy pens, the writing experience is well documented. The choice of Logo 06 fountain pen becomes a question of whether the user prefers a more slender pen and finds the grip comfortable.
The Logo 6 series is available in fountain pen, ballpoint, twin-pen with ballpoint and pencil, and rollerball formats. The design synergy of the Logo is complete and allows the creation of sets for gifts without spending excessive amounts of money. However, the disappointment from our perspective is the quality of presentation options offered by Lamy, allegedly driven by environmental considerations. As an example, the transit cases offered with the Safari were originally designed to have a central diagonal piece of cardboard to which the pen could be located using its clip. Even this has been discontinued and now the pen rattles about in an over-sized box. With the slightly more expensive products, there is a couple of options available which allow the retailer to supply a slightly improved presentation and offer sets in a Lamy branded package.
June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
In contrast to the ubiquitous black pen, Waterman have recently released a series of white editions of their existing pen ranges. The Expert Deluxe notionally described as ivory, has been on the market in white with its chisel-patterned, chrome plated cap since the middle of last year. This has now been joined by the Carene Contemporary series, now available from stock, which features a deep gloss white lacquer over a brass barrel with gunmetal trim and cap. The gunmetal finish is based on a silver plating but with subtle black overtones creating quite an impact by introducing just a hint of contrast. The nib is the tried and tested Carene 18ct gold unit with rhodium over-plating and available in a range of widths and styles (details available on the PenFountain Nib Comparison Chart). However, the colour of then nib, while sympathetic, does not quite correspond with the gunmetal.
The Waterman Hemisphere 10 series is also available in white with conventional chrome trim, if you have a requirement for something a little more petite. The excellent writing experience for each of these pens has been well documented on other websites and blogs.
These pens look impressive with their clean crisp colours and contemporary styling and, while the lacquer used on Waterman pens is very durable, in the course of day-to-day use, the barrel may pick-up minute scratches that will not be readily visible on a black or darker coloured pen but, on such a bright white, may be slightly more visible. We would suggest that a pen case may be a worthwhile consideration as an accessory.
June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
We know that fountain pens can be frustrating but computers are in a league of their own. Trying to link my social media to work together and my Facebook won’t be friends with my other stuff!
June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
We have revised the PenFountain Facebook page and will be pleased to see you there. Will be more interactive than our blog with some exciting new things of interest to FP users. Allegedly
Our blog will still continue with its light-hearted view of the world of pens.
June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
At PenFountain.com we thoroughly enjoy talking to our customers about their pens, our pens and inks, and are happy to allow a little ink-dip for nib comparison. But, what also fascinates us is where our customers come from. Today we had customer who had a 90 mile round-trip to see our Porsche Design range. He came to buy because he liked our prices but many come just to look and chat.
This has lead us to ask, ‘How far are you prepared to travel to find a pen shop and what constitutes a decent pen shop?
June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
We regularly get prospective customers in the shop with little idea of what to buy but the words Mont Blanc trip off the tongue without any idea of price or rationale. We suggest pens across the price range with a response ‘What! For a pen?’ ‘But, sir, this is half the price of an entry-level Mont Blanc.’
Love them or loath them, Mont Blanc is a master class in brand management. In marketing classes, the first thing taught is the ‘4 P’s’ – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. A basic mnemonic which serves well even at a sophisticated level as a ‘back-to-basics’ check. Mont Blanc pens are fine. They are good quality, reliable, pens. The Mont Blanc range is beautifully presented, as would be expected for the price. One criticism may be that their refills are not as widely available as would be helpful for their owners. But until you have purchased, you don’t find that out. Realistically, in terms of quality they compete with Pelikan, high-end Parkers and Watermans, and personally, I would rate Caran d’Ache marginally superior.
However, where Mont Blanc leaves all the other brands in the shade is in terms of desirability. In pricing terms, they have created a good product but have managed the market in such a way as to sustain a premium price point. The company has reduced the number of retail outlets, focussing instead, on the high-end and jewellery retailers where they can ensure that the brand is represented across its range including jewellery and leather goods. Uniquely, Mont Blanc seems to manage retail pricing to avoid the usual scrum of internet site under-cutting each to generate sales. Combine this with the rolling-out of dedicated Mont Blanc boutiques, the creation of ‘want’ in your target market is complete.
A few limited edition products offers a ‘collector’ component and a focus for highly targeted advertising, naturally of a similarly high quality, and brand development is that simple!
Parker pens are almost the antithesis of Mont Blanc. Especially at the high-end, the Parker Duofolds and Premiers are of a comparable quality with attractive packaging and even a similar price point. Those in the know can see through the puffery of branding and will take an objective view of the pen and its performance. Parker pens work. They do exactly what they say on the label. Unfortunately, they do it for insurance company response incentives for nothing, as well. Therefore, the brand is worth what people are prepared to pay for it. With considerable regularity therefore, we offer the Parker Duofold or Premier in response to a request for a high quality pen and the customer declines, not on the basis of the pen or its superb writing experience, but because the Parker brand has been devalued. Parker is aware of its brand’s erosion and are working to improve its perception. Last year as part of this recovery process at PenFountain.com, we took delivery of some of the best display furniture we have seen for pens but this is only a starting point.
When choosing your next high-end pen, our recommendation would be to try the pen in a blind testing (difficult to write blindfolded but you get the idea!) and find the pen which gives the best experience. There is a strong probability that it will be one of the non-Mont Blanc products.
June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
We’ve just got the new Pilot Capless matt black fountain pen in stock. As soon as it came in I thought I’d better photograph it and get it on the website – this one’s going to be popular! The format is well-known and well received. Just click the end and out pops the 18ct gold nib, ready for action. To the uninitiated the Capless is quite a revelation – a fountain pen that is practical for everyday use. In that, I mean, not sitting down and writing a missive under controlled circumstances but just picking it up, sign a document, then put it down. It’s the sort of thing that doctors need to do all day.
Back to this sexy little number. I set it up in the photo light diffuser box and click. Pull the image up on-screen and – it’s so black, so matt, and absorbs so much light that it has become a blob – all the detail is lost, literally a vanishing point! So much for a quick pic. The finish is exceptional in its quality with end-pieces in corresponding matt black. In fact, the only interruption to the mattness is the relief of the gloss black, double ridged band around the centre of the barrel. Click the end-button and the small, rhodium over-plated, 18 carat gold nib is revealed in all of its contrast to the black but ready for writing.
The design is as has been available for a number of years and maintains the clip/nib layout which can be awkward, particularly for users with smaller hands. However, the nib is an exceptionally smooth and reliable unit available in fine, medium and broad options. Filling is by proprietary cartridge or converter, both of which are supplied.
If you want a statement fountain pen that is right on fashion message, the Matt Black Capless fountain pen is a stunning model to put in your shopping cart.