Porsche Design Shakepen – expensive novelty?

March 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Porsche Design Shakepen is a compact ballpoint with a unique flick-action.  Nib extension and retraction is affected by a simple, gentle flick of the wrist.  The mechanism is surprisingly reliable (although, perhaps not, considering the Porsche’s reputation!).  The mechanism operates by inertia with a bob weight that creates a surprisingly heavy pen for such a small physical size but equally gives a presence for such a diminutive pen.

The flick-pen is currently available in 2 finishes from PenFountain.com, the popular rubberised, striated finished Caoutchouc and the all-metal Twist.  Both are very practical pens offering small stature without  the clutter of a small operating mechanism often found to be difficult to operate for users with larger fingers. With typical Porsche Design attention to detail, the Shakepen features a raised branding badge on the upper section that doubles as roll-stop to prevent your pride and joy rolling off the table when not in use.

Porsche Design Shake pen

The Porsche Design Shakepen operates by a gentle flick of the wrist

The Porsche Design uses the industry standard D1 sized refills available from a number of manufacturers including Monteverde that offers to D1 in 2 line widths.

The Shakerpen is a fun pen offering a certain style and presence.  Does it represent value for money?  Porsche Design pens are a premium priced pen with style and quality to match.  The Shakerpen is effectively Porsche Design’s  entry level pen in the current line-up and, in that context, the pricing is probably about right and is certainly on par with compact pens from other luxury pen brands.

Service vs. Tumbleweed

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cranleigh, like many high streets in the current economic gloom, is extremely quiet.  The tumbleweed almost rolls down the road some afternoons.  However, Cranleigh is relatively quiet even when other high streets are heaving with shoppers preparing for a holiday. This is why the retail shop for PenFountain.com is in an ideal position.  With the majority of our sales being online, for those prepared to make the journey, we are able to offer attentive, personal service that buying a quality pen deserves.

PenFountain.com for pens at low prices

PenFountain.com, the shop to look out for!

For those who have discovered the almost therapeutic pleasure derived from pen selection, many have travelled some distance. Recently a couple came over from Woking.  This is not exactly the other end of the country excepting they came by bus requiring a change of route at Guildford just to visit the shop. 2 x buses x 2 and over an hour of travel each way.  They seemed to enjoy their excursion and think it well worthwhile.

What is waiting for those who make the pilgrimage?  A good range of pens, a selection of nibs and paper types, enthusiastic, informed opinion, and advice, with prices parallel to our online offering. Arguably, this offer could not be replicated in a bigger store elsewhere because our personal involvement cannot readily be scaled up to a busier shop. Our service is not just for the high-end pens, either.  In many ways greater satisfaction comes from helping first-time fountain pen users, particularly left-handed ones!

PenFountain.com in the Surrey countryside

Make a day of your visit to PenFountain.com

Once in Cranleigh, we can recommend a selection of excellent refreshment stations and some other interesting independent retail experiences too.  Walkers and cyclists are well catered for with open countryside all round us.  So, why not make a day of your visit to PenFountain.com?

Cross Chinese Year of the Dragon Special Edition

August 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Every now and then one of the mainstream pen manufacturers creates a really special ‘Special Edition’ and unusually, it’s Cross this time.  Based on the Sauvage profile, the Chinese Year of the Dragon, 2012, is being celebrated with this beautiful, deep-etched, gold plated, lacquered pen.  Deep-etched through the black or translucent red lacquer to the gold beneath, the Chinese dragon drapes itself around the barrel, across the joint onto the cap with perfect alignment.  The pens are supplied in a sumptuous display case with an integral display plinth for showing-off the pen in a cabinet or in pride of place on the desk.  These pens are available in either fountain pen, rollerball or ballpoint.  However, there is limited stocks with only 800 units being made available in the UK.

Based on the Sauvage, The Chinese Year of the Dragon pen from Cross

Based on the Sauvage, The Chinese Year of the Dragon pen from Cross

The Chinese Dragon pen will be supplied with a dedicated 18ct gold nib on the fountain pen with converter and cartridge options.  The rollerball is designed using Cross’s unique Selectip rolling ball system with 2 alternative refill formats being available.  The ballpoint will use Cross’s proprietary ballpoint refill.  We believe that pricing will be at £300, £250 and £200 respectively.

Full details and final specification will be published on PenFountain.com on the pen’s release and when stock is avaialble

We understand that the Dragon Pen will be released towards the end of September 2011.   Please email your interest and we will keep you informed as to progress.  mail@penfountain.co.uk

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.

Monteverde refills Mont Blanc’s vacuum

April 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mont Blanc, in their re-seller selection process, has created a vacuum for customers wishing to refill their pens. Unless you happen to pass one of their authorised outlets you cannot generally get your exclusively priced pens refilled.  This has resulted in a number of disenfranchised MB owners.  We do not complain about this scenario in the PenFountain.com retail business in Cranleigh because it has enabled us to sell alternative but often comparably priced complete pens.

US based pen brand, Monteverde, has offered a range of Mont Blanc compatible refills for a number of years and now, at PenFountain.com, we have been able to source these refills ‘re-enfranchising’ the rightly disgruntled Mont Blanc owners.

Mont Blanc compatible refills from Monteverde

Mont Blanc compatible refills from Monteverde

The products offered are of a high quality and, in our opinion, may even offer an innovative advantage in that the Monteverde ballpoint refills use their trade marked Soft Roll technology. The unique writing point design allows smoother contact with the paper than conventional ballpoint pens giving a writing experience more akin to that of a rollerball but with ballpoint drying times. In addition, the ballpoint refills are available 7 different colours but at about ½ the price of the original products!  Monteverde also offers a Ceramic Gel alternative to the ballpoint refills and Mont Blanc compatible rollerball refills.

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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