London 2012 – No pens but great Filofax!

January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The UK pen industry has proved a little reticent in producing celebratory mementoes for the forthcoming London Olympics.  This may be a reflection on the fact that there are only 2 significant truly British manufacturers.  However, we might have assumed that some of the other manufacturers with a strong UK presence may have stepped into the breach creating a product of suitable quality as a long-term keepsake of the occasion.

In context, we understand that the licence fees associated with the use of Olympic design media, and even the use of ‘2012’, in a commercial application is prohibitively expensive and, straying from the tight constraints of any agreement, will result in a visit from the Olympic Stasi with powers to confiscate and fine.

Despite these hurdles there is one British manufacturer that has taken the plunge – Filofax.  The British diary and organiser publisher has created a range of products using Olympic motifs, the star of which is the Filofax London 2012 Union Flag organiser.  This is a stylish, (and its not often that you can say that about a memento!) chocolate brown, nappa leather bound, Personal sized organiser with an embossed line Union Flag wrapped around the cover and discreet London 2012 logo on the closing tab.  This organiser represents something that is both practical and collectable.  At £90, the premium price reflects the uniqueness and quality of this desirable memento.

Union Jack 2012 Personal Organiser Chocolate

Union Jack 2012 Personal Organiser Chocolate

However, for those with a lower budget, there are also the Sporting Icons organisers in Pocket and Personal sizes for £27.00.  These are full organisers bound in faux leather and feature matrices of sporting event icons with ‘London 2012’ in the official Olympic type style.

From a pure PenFountain perspective, these are not pens.  However, if you want a discreet and collectable memento of this once in a lifetime event, the Filofax London 2012 range is definitely worth a thought. The Filofax London 2012 range is available from both www.PenFountain.co.uk and from our retail store, PenFountain @ Beales, Worthing, West Sussex.

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How do you choose your next pen?

January 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Buying a pen, particularly a fountain pen, can be a very personal experience.  The price, the style, the nib and even the presentation can be a determining factor.  At PenFountain, we are currently experiencing the Rolls Royce for a Mini price scenarios on the retail front.  A £5.00 pen in a velvet lined cardboard veneered case so that it the looks the business (but it’s a lie!).

For fountain pen users, without a doubt there are some fine ‘gems’ to be found below £10  – without the presentation case but, for collectors, these are often the little extras for selection from a pot of pens on the desk.  When it comes to buying the more serious pens, is it hearts vs. heads on price and appearance or is it all in the brand?

We are conducting a short poll – please feel free to complete the poll and comment.

Parker Duofold Senior Brown Limited Edition

January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

When Parker put their minds to a limited edition it is often worth watching for.  The Duofold Senior Brown is a case in point.  From the images available from their launch event, the pen’s colouring looks a little dowdy but on opening our stock the pictures didn’t do the pen justice.  This is not an ‘in yer face’ styling but a sophisticated understatement in terms of presentation and colour and, by Parker’s own statements, an homage to the Duofolds of the 1940s. Anyone owning this pen is making a statement: ‘I’ve got style and it’s in spades’!

Parker Duofold Limited Edition Senior Brown

Parker Duofold Limited Edition - pictures don't do it justice!

The Senior Brown is essentially Duofold Centennial in size.  The grip, barrel and cap are finished in fine rectangles of dark browns and blacks with just enough variegated pale greys to lift the colouring.  The darkness is contrasted by trim in broad bands of polished palladium plated metal and a bold, polished Parker arrowed clip.  With the patterning continuing along from the grip through to the cap gives this pen a continuity rarely seen in modern fountain pens. It is quite a sizeable pen at 172mm posted and 50 grams in weight.

The nib is an 18ct gold unit over-plated with palladium in a standard medium format only.  It is unlikely that other sizes will be available given the exclusive nib decoration. However, taking a pragmatic view, there is a significant range of alternative nib sizes and styles in the standard Duofold Centennial range which are dimensionally compatible. However, keeping the original nib would be essential to maintain the pen’s exclusivity and value!

Parker Duofold Limited Edition Senior Brown and case

Parker Duofold Limited Edition Senior Brown and case

In keeping with the Duofold Senior Brown’s £900 price tag, the presentation case is a stylish affair with a piano varnished wood veneer finish and chrome fittings. Each pen is numbered with a global production run of  just 900 units, 1 of which goes to the Parker heritage collection. The certificate of authenticity is kept in the accessory tray beneath the presentation insert in the case.

Would I want one?   I think space in the collection cabinet may be tight but I could certainly squeeze this handsome devil in!

The Parker Duofold Senior Brown is available from PenFountain either on-line or from our concession store in Beales, Worthing, West Sussex.

CSI Waterman

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

The victims were delivered, not in the usual body bags, but in a Jiffy bag.  They were pulled onto the bench for examination.  It was not a pretty sight.  Not 1 but 2 victims, Hemisphere front-end assemblies dismembered in places that there should not even be any joints.  The witness claimed that he had not seen any violence towards these sad examples of fountain pen-dom.  But close examination suggested otherwise. The SOCO identified similar patterns of damage but, using conventional wisdom, the only explanation could be demise by aggression.

Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen

Waterman Hemisphere - unwitting victims

The team looked for further evidence and fortunately, the witness could produce the complete pen from where the cadaverous nibs had come with a pristine nib still in situ.  Further perplexed, as a precaution before elevating the evidence to the specialist forensic laboratory, the SOCO checked for evidence of fluids in the pen.  Yes, there was fluid in the converter – ink, but not as we know it.  The converter was removed and flushed but, he noticed a gnarling on its normally clean, round mouth.

Forensic experience was required here and the evidence was bagged and despatched to the secretive clean rooms found only in the Waterman complex located just to the west of Nantes, in the West of France.  Time passed and a brief phone call requested further information about any inks and cleaning materials used.  The witness was questioned further and, under interrogation, he revealed that he had used an unnamed registrars’ ink and proudly announced that the pen had not seen any solvents, in fact it had never been cleaned-out!

The final piece of the jigsaw was in place.  The acidity of the registrars’ ink having lain in place for some 18 months without disturbance had attacked the nib assembly and converter mouth from within.  The structure of the resins used in the components had failed resulting in fracturing during assembly and use.

This is not a victimless crime but a lesson in the importance of taking precautions when using iron gall registrars’ ink, one of the oldest inks known to man.  Wash it or lose it.

The Diamine Registrars’ ink that we offer, whilst formulated for fountain pens, needs to be treated with respect in terms of its use in pens.  Damage on the scale reviewed here is very unusual and the result of unfamiliarity with the product. At PenFountain.com we advise customers of the requirement for cleanliness, both on the web page and on the ink’s  outer packaging.  However, whilst acidic, Registrars’ Ink does not represent a threat to health and is of a strength similar to that of vinegar or a cola drink.

Sonnet Surprise

August 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

The new Parker delivery arrived at PenFountain.com.  Opened, checked and oops! Ordered the wrong product code.  It’s a Parker Chiselled Carbon Sonnet fountain pen.  Haven’t seen one of these.  They appear to have slipped under the radar.  But this pen is something special.

Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint

Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint

We are late converts to the Sonnet, particularly the later, more creative interpretations such as the Sonnet Art Deco (Feminine Collection!).  The Chiselled Carbon Sonnet however, is everything the Art Deco represented but in a different design direction.  This is a more masculine treatment of the profile with gloss anthracite coloured PVD coating over a striated, chiselled design, interspersed with minute starburst crosses.  The finish has titanium particles in it which create a fine metallic sheen allowing the light to interact with the facets of the chiselling. The trim is nickel palladium plated while the fountain pen has an 18 ct gold nib with rhodium coating.

The 18ct gold nib is the proven Sonnet 7 series unit offering a smooth writing experience with just enough spring in the tip to add that little extra softness to the touch.  The nib is available in 8 width options from extra fine through to medium reverse oblique, although beyond the core fine, medium, and broad options, these may only be available to special order.  The ballpoint is in a corresponding style, in standard or slim versions, and uses the recently introduced Quink Flow ballpoint refill.

Together the Sonnet Chiselled Carbon fountain pen and ballpoint has proved to be quite an exciting ‘find’, one that seems to have passed-by a lot of pen enthusiasts, professional and amateur.

Pure Black Magic

July 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Porsche Design pens have a reputation for the quality of their design and engineering.  With their creative use of materials, processes and finishes, they are, effectively, in a league of their own.  The new Porsche Design P3105 is further proof of this unique position with its immediate impact created by sheer presence.  This is an understated, ‘statement pen’.  Not garish, perhaps not even as ostentatious as its stable-mate TecFlex series pens.

Porsche Design Pure Black fountain pen with paperweight

Porsche Design Pure Black fountain pen with paperweight

The P3105 is an imposing, all-metal pen finished entirely in a silky black finish which creates the very slightest hint of a highlight along the length of it barrel and cap. Removing the screw cap provides the first indication of the engineering quality.  This is smooth. The grip is finished with a slightly rubberised finish but the eye is immediately drawn the substantial, 18 ct gold, rhodium finished, stepped nib.  The Porsche Design brand is embossed into the lustrous rhodium and once inked, writes as well as the pen’s presence would suggest.

Filling for the Porsche Design P3105 is by either cartridge or converter and is  accessed by unscrewing the slightly fluted end-cap to the barrel to reveal a cartridge cage, similar to the Pelikan Ductus assembly.  Whilst untried, the converter filling appears to be by removing the converter from the pen and filling it independently before re-locating it back into its cage assembly.  This strikes me as being a potentially messy operation and could end in tears!

Porsche Design Pure Black 18ct Gold nib
Porsche Design Pure Black 18ct Gold nib

Taking a step back, this pen is right on the money for creating an impression, particularly if you have the car to back it up.  It is 14mm in diameter and weighs-in at a very substantial  62 grams but, like its TecFlex family members, the weight is beautifully balanced. The Pure Black is also accompanied by a matching Pure Black Porsche 911 shaped paperweight.  However, if you like the concept but are looking for something a little lighter, the Pelikan Ductus is almost identical and at a lower price.

At PenFountain.com, we believe that we are one of the few dealers to actually have one of these sort-after pens in stock at present.

Parker introduces Art Deco Sonnet

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Why do pen manufacturers insist on introducing new models instead of launching them?  Not for them the conventional marketing wisdom of getting a few journos together and extolling the virtues of the new product, its marketing campaign and target audience.  No, the new product is here, hidden among the price increases and, by the way, we don’t have any stock available anyway!

In this category is a nearly missed style gem, the new Parker Sonnet Pearl and Metal range.  This has art deco styling in spades with just enough colour and chintz to make it different but not too much to make it exclusively feminine territory.   At its core is the tried and tested high-end Sonnet product with its all-metal base with decoration in lacquers, metallics and PVD.

Parker Sonnet Metal & Pearl Fountain Pen Detail

Parker Sonnet Metal & Pearl Fountain Pen Detail

On the Sonnet Pearl and Metal, the deep gloss lacquered barrel section with an iridescent mother-of-pearl finish lifts this pen out of the melee of the current white and chrome effect pens.  A broad, rose gold band punctuates the bright cleanliness of the mother of pearl and the bright, stainless cap with chased geometric patterns.

The Sonnet is a medium-sized pen with relatively light-weight.  The fountain pen is supplied with the proven 18ct rhodium plated gold nib that offers a writing experience very much in keeping with quality of the pen’s appearance.  Offering either cartridge or converter filling, the art deco Sonnet is available with a choice of 8 different nib widths.  The ball pens all use the conventional, if unexciting Parker refills.

Parker Sonnet Pearl & Metal fountain pen and ballpoint

Parker Sonnet Pearl & Metal fountain pen and ballpoint

At PenFountain.com we have recently taken the Monteverde Parker/G2 style ballpoint refills.  These use Monteverde’s Soft Touch technology on their ballpoints offering near-rollerball smoothness without the short life-expectancy or extended drying times and also offer a range of 6 colours.

The question still remains, why haven’t Parker told more people about this delightful pen range themselves?

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