September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
The art of fountain pen ink manufacture probably hasn’t really changed in the last 100 years or so. It was already a ‘green’ product before the term (and even possibly the colour) was widely used. If proof were needed of the retrospective aspect of ink production, on the Diamine inks website they acknowledge 1864 as their date of establishment and a subsequent move to a ‘state of the art’ manufacturing facility in Liverpool in 1925 but there is no suggestion of a later move from this site although they have moved production since.
On the positive side, Diamine produce a fabulous range of high quality inks which, with planned additions in the next 12 months, will extend to more than 100 different colours. As part of this expansion, 5 new colours have been added this summer which are: Wild Strawberry, Macassar (dark brown/black), Denim (dark blue), Meadow (rich pale green) and Eclipse (black/brown). In keeping with our track record, we have now added these to our offering at PenFountain.com and can be viewed on our Diamine colour chart or in our Cranleigh shop
September 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
We have been advised today that Lamy are discontinuing their Extra Fine nibs in all but their high-end pens. In effect, the superb stainless steel nib range is being reduced to fine, medium, broad, and left-handed, in the core products with 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9mm in the calligraphy type nibs. The steel nibs are renowned for their ease of changing.
The 14ct gold inlaid nib in extra fine will continue to be available for the foreseeable future.
At PenFountain.com we are disappointed to learn of this change because it was a popular nib for the finer characters used in many Asian scripts. We will maintain stocks of the steel nibs for as long as possible.
August 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Lamy Safari and its success as a school fountain pen is well-known. But lying behind this success is a combination of design and manufacturing quality together with features that make this an attractive pen from the outset.
From picking the pen up at just 18 grams in working order, the quality of the ABS moulding is immediately noticeable. The Lamy Safari uses the same polymer that is used in the manufacture of Lego bricks, offering the same high quality, and durable finish. Its round-sectioned barrel is finished with facing flat sections and an ink level window. Whilst the grip, also round in cross-section, has 2 asymmetric flat recesses to accommodate the thumb and forefingers in an ideal position for optimum control. The stainless steel nib, shared with the Lamy family up to around £80 pens, offers excellent writing characteristics from its range of widths from extra fine through to 1.9mm square-cut italic calligraphy style. There is also a left-handed nib available.
Filling the Safari is by conventional, proprietary ink cartridges or by optional screw-piston pump ink converter to allow use of bottled inks. The best thing about the Safari is that it works reliably with a smooth performance which, particularly for the uninitiated, exceeds expectation for a relatively low-budget pen. The Safari also uses a rubber o-ring as a final seal to its click-on cap contributing to the reliability of its initial ink flow.
The detail adds to the Safari’s difference. The ability to change the nib with minimal cost and simplicity is well-known, using the Lamy slide-on mounting system. This offers 2 principle benefits including, replacement of a damaged nib or selection of an alternative nib width or style. The cartridge has a small reserve ink supply in the final constriction at the top of the cartridge where, when you’re down to your last drop, a little flick of the end will release the ink from its designed-in air-lock.
By the way, when you get your first Safari fountain pen, please remove the cardboard spacer from the barrel – it’s only there to prevent premature puncturing of the sealed ink cartridge before use. You’d be surprised at how many customer have complained at not being able to get their new pens working!
The Lamy Safari is currently on Special Offer at PenFountain.com for £9.95 until 5 September.
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.
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!
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?
August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
We love our fountain pens but, let’s be real, we need the computer in business life for producing letters, spreadsheets and the general bumf of commerce. To help things along and keep costs down, at PenFountain.com we have started selling JetTec printer cartridges online. Much is made of the unreliability of compatible cartridges but in our opinion, it’s like everything in life, ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’. There are cheaper compatibles and remanufactured cartridges on the market but they’re not much use if they don’t work. Or worse, stop working shortly after installation, usually in the middle of an important document and usually late into the evening!
The JetTec ranges are products that we have offered on the retail side in our Cranleigh shop for a number of years and have great confidence in their reliability with the Company making much of their 100% Guarantee claim. However, it’s not guarantees that you want, it’s the knowledge that you won’t need a guarantee to fall-back on – because it will work.
In our opinion, a stronger statement of success comes from the Queen’s Award for Innovation bestowed on the Company in 2004 for re-designing the Extra Life cartridge range for Epson and Canon printers. The re-designing of the two brands works on two levels, creating a differentiator for the JetTec products and avoiding conflict with the notoriously litigious OEMs. The redesign is such that JetTec have their own patents for their cartridges. The remanufactured inkjet and laser cartridges are produced using equally advanced, state of the art cleaning, re-progamming, and refilling processes.
At PenFountain.com we have been using JetTec cartridges in our Canon iX4000 inkjet printer since it was new. The only problem experienced with the printer was when, unknown to us, a machine screw fell off a shelf above the printer into the paper feed hopper and was pulled into the printer. A bit of deft work with the snipe-nosed pliers pulled it out without detriment to the print quality!
Next time you have a requirement to write a business letter, don’t be too ashamed of using your printer instead of your beloved fountain pen!
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.
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.
August 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
“Buy fountain pens now!” Sounds like a line from a ‘B’ movie about the commodity markets. But there is truth in it. We all love our pens and enjoy the privileges of writing with a choice of nibs, particularly those produced in gold with precious metal decoration. The pen manufacturers have been maintaining prices remarkably well but one has already broken cover with unscheduled, mid-year price increases of 14% for their gold nibbed fountain pens coming into force at the beginning of next month. We are sure that the others will have to follow suit, either with an unscheduled price revision, or with a massive hike at the next scheduled revision.
The background to this is the general economic upheaval and investors turning to precious metals including, gold, silver, rhodium and platinum, for security. We have looked into this and suggest viewing a US based coin website where the picture is very clearly laid-out: http://lynncoins.com/historical-gold-charts.htm
Cross have announced their price schedule for the European markets and, according to a customer in the Southern Hemisphere, are trying to lift prices even higher there. So, if you have a major birthday to buy for or just a treat for yourself for Christmas, we would suggest a purchase earlier rather than later!
August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Mail on Sunday ‘You’ Magazine of 31/7/11 featured the Parker Sonnet Pearl and Metal ballpoint pen. In the covering circulation from Parker, the range of Sonnets featured is described as ‘The Feminine Range’. However, in our coverage we have tended to describe them as ‘Art Deco’. The difference raises the question: Who decides what is masculine and feminine in pens. Even Mrs Pen and I don’t agree on this one!
My view is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder with regard to pen choice and gender and in determining the collection as ‘feminine’ you are effectively alienating 50% of your potential audience, whereas the Art Deco description clearly tags the pens as a sexually-neutral fashion style. Conversely, Mrs Pen proposes that the ‘Feminine Collection’ title positively focuses the product towards the female market, potentially creating demand for customers undecided in their choice because of gender.
While the pens are particularly attractive, the nomenclature continues to be controversial here at PenFountain.com. Any votes, please?
August 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
We’ve just had a customer in our Cranleigh retail shop, PenFountain.com, to buy a LamyNexx for his son. However, his wife had advised not to buy the Lamy cartridges from us because they would be cheaper in the local WHS. How can we win? Smiths’ price is £4.99 (with the additional benefit of buy one get the second at half price!). Our price is £1.53.
The bigger picture is more worrying. At those prices young writers will be discouraged from buying a Lamy fountain pen because of the cost of refills. And yet, this is one of the best pens to encourage the joy of hand writing among young students. Whilst, on the flip-side, the perception appears to be that you get a better deal buying from our competitors.
You can draw your own conclusions as to which is the better deal!
July 7, 2011 § 3 Comments
At PenFountain.com we promote our retail business in Cranleigh and the surrounding towns by supplying a pen to The Challenger, a local free publication, as the prize for the best letter, poem or other piece of prose each month. Winner in the July issue of the magazine was Wendy Strohm of Dorking with her poem, Bookham Common.
Wendy was delighted to receive her prize of a Parker Urban Premium Matt Black fountain pen with a leather case and kindly wrote an email of thanks – in verse, of course.
A thank you note to Bob & Susan
Now just imagine my sheer delight
At returning home from work last night
A better note I have not read
Than the Challenger email that said –
My little poem was just the best
And had beaten all the rest!
And thanks to you – a prize to be had
Oh yes, I am, extremely glad!
Thank you very much indeed
This is the rewarding side of running a business like ours.