12.30.2009

New Year's Resolutions from YOU

Please comment on this post. We value all of your feedback, positive or negative.
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There's a new commercial that Domino's Pizza is airing on TV that features executives observing less-than-flattering customer feedback and digesting harsh Tweets. Domino's even released a video on YouTube called "The Pizza Turnaround," that expands on the commercial, explaining that they've heard the call for better quality and answered it.

Now, although Goldspot has never received the complaint that their pens taste like cardboard or that the ink is basically ketchup, we know that there are always actions we can take to better service our customers. This applies for all customers : past, present and future.

The Question is : What would you like to see from Goldspot.com in 2010?

Just like the test tasters in the Domino's commercial, be blunt, yet constructive with your criticism. We are going to base our company's New Year's Resolutions around your thoughts and opinions.

On a Side note : our offices will be on vacation from Thursday, December 31st to Sunday, January 3rd. Please be patient with our responses to e-mail and voicemails. Have a safe and happy New Year!

12.22.2009

Season's Greetings from Goldspot Pens


A big thanks goes out to all of our customers, vendors, followers, fans, and subscribers. With your support, we hope to continue providing the finest of fine-writing products in 2010 and beyond. We wish you a safe and happy holidays.

In observance of the Christmas and New Year's, our office will be closed from December 24th to 27th and from December 31st to January 3rd, 2010. Please be patient when waiting for a response via e-mail or if you leave a message on our voicemail.

12.18.2009

Last Minute Pen Gift Ideas

Sorry for the recent lack of posts. The Holidays have made us all busy elves in the fine-writing department of Santa's workshop. We're picking, packing, taking orders and making sure that everyone gets a great gift for their loved ones. With that in mind, there is only 4 business days left before Christmas Eve, but it still is not too late to find that last-minute gift.

Our best suggestion is to order this weekend and select from thousands of pens, leather organizers and accessories that have the "Snowflake Tag" (see graphic on right). Since we take orders from the internet and by phone, sometimes the inventory does not update quick enough to show that the item has run out-of-stock for the moment. The good news is, we will be making personal phone calls to people who may have ordered an out-of-stock pen to see if there are any alternative color choice or point sizes you would not mind switching for.

Many of our diligent customers have called us ahead of time to ask if the item is in-stock for immediate shipping before placing their order. Here are a few last-minute gift suggestions that we have plenty of units in-stock:

Waterford Arista Cranberry Polished ballpoint pens
The Cranberry color is a great Holiday hue. Sold with a presentable Waterford blue gift box. Other colors may be found on the Waterford Arista Page.

Pelikan Technixx Fountain Pen
Pelikan is well-known for their high-quality fountain pens, and here is your chance to own or gift one at a special closeout price. The solid aluminum body gives the pen a quality of "heft" that is seen in higher priced models. Few available colors and modes at the Pelikan Technixx page.

Parker Insignia Pencils & Ballpoint Pens
An oldie but goodie, the Parker Insignia compacts Parker writing quality into a slim, sturdy frame. Fan of mechanical pencils? We have several colors of the Insignia .5mm mechanical pencils at closeout prices. $19.95 for a pencil or ballpoint, $39.95 for selected sets, all styles available on our Parker Insignia page.

Plus, we have hundreds of the hottest styles available for immediate shipping.

On a sidenote : Many folks have been eagerly awaiting the Lamy Dialog 3. Last word from Lamy is that they are shipping our first batch of backorders starting Monday, the 21st. Hopefully, we will be able to receive the shipment before Christmas so we can send them out to those who have been patiently waiting.

12.08.2009

The 5th Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper

Image courtesy of Zani


Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up! The holidays are upon us. Santa is gassing up his sleigh and what better way to celebrate than a carnival! Welcome to the fifth Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper! No tickets necessary for these rides.


Editor's Picks

Inkyjournal has a unique Moleskine-compatible ink-rating system and featured a German fountain pen ink made of wine at De Atramentis Spatburgunder Ink Review.

There is a new Retailer Spotlight on Journaling Arts (the next host of the Carnival) over at Rhodia Drive.

To offer some thoughts on 2010 planners, Inkophile asks, "What Works for you?"

Pen Reviews


Brad offers an in-depth and insightful analysis of why you should own a Lamy Safari : A closer look at the Lamy Safari posted at Miscellany & Cacophony.

Julie (Okami) writes about a classic, Featured Pen - The Parker 51 posted at Whatever.


Notebook Reviews

Tom Overfield presents an unconventional, photographic review, Habana in my Cabana posted at Bleubug.

Eric gives a photo guide through the Exaclair Madness Reviews and Quo Vadis Habana Giveaway!!! posted at Mr. Sir's Blog.

Another happy Field Notes customer, Superpooky presents Field Notes posted at Trains, pens and planners.

The Office Supply Geek is eager to spread the word of these Ecosystem Environmentally Friendly Notebooks and save our planet, one notebook at a time.

User Collections

Sam shows off one of the largest, most complete Scripto collections in the UK : Scripto posted at Future; Nostalgic.

Julie resurrects a 70-year old fountain pen : Bringing a Wahl Back to a Proper Life posted at Peaceable Writer.

Taylor ponders the aesthetics and utility of her notebook collection. A Notebook Post: Addict Side v. Writer Side and Notebook Systems posted at I'm Not a Book Nerd, but I Play One on TV.

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That concludes December's Carnival. Big thanks to the Carnival ringmaster, Notebook Stories. The next Carnival, the first of 2010, is hosted by Journaling Arts. It has been a pleasure reading all of the posts and I hope that everyone has a safe and healthy Holiday Season.

12.02.2009

Goldspot Shipping Information for the Holiday Season

Hey Pen Lovers,

Shopping online during the holiday season usually means nervously waiting by the front door for your package to arrive. We here at Goldspot Pens know that everyone has a deadline in the month of December. Whether you need your order to arrive on Christmas Eve or a week before for your company's holiday party, here is some helpful information on our shipping schedule this month.

First, and most importantly, if you have a rush order that needs to be delivered, engraved and/or giftwrapped ASAP, please give us a quick call at 1-800-963-7367 once you have placed your order to make us aware of your timetable. We will be able to check stock and verify a more accurate delivery date than the website estimates. We offer UPS Next Day, 2-Day Air and 3-day (business days) shipping, which are available at an additional cost.

Cut-Off Dates for delivery by December 25th
These dates vary by shipping speed. Each delivery service varies in price. More information regarding our shipping prices can be found on our shipping & services information page.

We take into consideration the US Postal Service Holiday Shipping Cut-Off Dates to provide these deadlines for customers shipping by US First Class, Priority and Express Mail Service.
  • US Domestic First Class Mail orders should be made by Friday, December 18th to ensure delivery by the 25th.
  • US Domestic Priority Mail orders should be made by Friday, December 18th to ensure delivery by the 25th.
  • Priority Mail order for Military addresses (except for zip 093) should be made by Thursday, December 10th.
  • International Express Mail Service orders to most countries (except in Africa and Central & South America) should be made by December 16th.
  • International Priority Mail orders to most countries (except in Africa and Central & South America) should be made by December 10th.
With UPS service (domestic US only), you can afford to "cut it closer" to your deadline, but please keep in mind that most of our orders are processed and shipped within 48 hours of confirmation. We do need time to process and pack every order. If you need a rush order, always call before or right after placing your order.
  • UPS Ground orders for delivery addresses on the West Coast should be placed by Wednesday, December 16th.
  • UPS Ground orders for delivery addresses in the Mid-West should be placed by Friday, December 18th.
  • UPS Ground orders for delivery addresses East of the Mississippi should be placed by Sunday, December 20th.
  • UPS 3-Day orders (anywhere in US, except AK & HI) should be placed by Sunday, December 20th.
  • UPS 2-Day orders (anywhere in US, except AK & HI) should be placed by Monday, December 21st.
  • UPS Next Day Overnight orders (anywhere in US, except AK & HI) should be placed by Tuesday, December 22nd.
If your order has engraving, please expect an extended delay of 2 to 3 business days extra due to high volume. The Goldspot Elves are working overtime to get your order shipped correctly and on-time. Our best recommendation is to make things easier for all of us and place your mission critical orders now.

11.30.2009

2009 Pen Gift Picks - for Professionals

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus (for the rest of us), the gifting season is upon us. If you have a few (or several) pen lovers on your list or looking to give something different this year, hopefully these suggestions will help you in your search.

First up in this series of posts is the consummate professional. Accomplished and career-driven, the professional is usually no stranger to the finer things in life. They may already own a nice pen, leather folio or piece of desk art, so present them with something unique or better than what they presently have. Here are our recommendations :



Waterman Expert Black & Gold Pen & Pencil Set (on sale for $124.95)
Classic Waterman (France) design with a sophisticated, black tie appeal. The black & gold combination is classy enough for the boardroom or impressing potential clients on a sales call. Perfect for engraving. Black matte with chrome trim and Satin Chrome finish also available.

Parker Sonnet Premium Collection
Reviewed on our blog back in July of this year, the Parker Sonnet Premium wears like a fine suit that you will never need to dry clean. Well, if you have the fountain pen, you will eventually have to clean it, but all it will take is a few minutes by the kitchen sink. The body and cap of the pen features an engraved chevron pattern covered in smooth lacquer. Many will recognize the signature Paker "arrow" clip. Available in fountain pen, rollerball pen and ballpoint pen in several formal finishes (Chocolate GT shown above).


Filofax Finsbury Organizers
For the organized, or those who desperately want to be organized, Filofax offers the features of a appointment-maker, address book, note-taker, calendar and to-do list holder. The full-grain genuine leather cover of the Finsbury is rugged, yet soft to the touch. Also available in a zip version for an extra added measure of protection. Available in several sizes ranging from the wallet-sized mini to a more ample A5 size. Colors include Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Pink and Raspberry. Modestly priced from $40 to $80, depending on size.

Jac Zagoory Desk Art Pen Holders
Made from solid pewter and crafted with fine detail, the often-whimsical designs of Jac Zagoory are fun and appropriate for corporate desk-scapes. Each piece of Desk Art acts as a pen holder for most writing instruments (pen not included with purchase).

I hope you enjoyed our selected recommendations for the professional in your life. Stay tuned (or subscribe to the Goldspot Pens RSS feed) for the next installment due later this week.

Next Tuesday (December 8th) we will be hosting the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper. Article submissions will be accepted with a deadline up until the end of this weekend (the 6th). For more information about the Carnival, please read our post about the Carnival and how to submit your blog post.

11.25.2009

Parker Premier Ad Campaign










11.18.2009

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is Coming, Send us your Articles


Hey all,

Goldspot Pens is December's host for the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper. The Carnival is in its fifth month and features a great collection of recent articles, blog posts, and reviews that are all pen, pencil and paper-related.

To send us your article for the Carnival, please follow this link here and follow the submission guidelines. On the first Tuesday of December, which also happens to be December 1st, Goldspot will publish the Carnival on this blog.

So, if you have a blog and love to write about fountain pens, rollerball pens, ballpoint pens, stationery, pencils, office supplies, notebooks, and organizers, etc., come on down and send us your article.



Prior Carnivals have been hosted by such illustrious pen & paper blog-writers such as : Notebook Stories (the original creator of the Carnival), the Pen Addict, Office Supply Geek, and Black Belt Productivity. Click on the blog links to read the past Carnivals.

If you're not a blog writer, but still love pens & paper, the Carnival is a great way to find new, undiscovered blogs out there that you can follow. I know my RSS reader is already jammed with over two dozen fine-writing-related blogs, but I always find room for more :0)

11.16.2009

Winner of the Goldspot 2009 Pen of the Year!


Our Goldspot Pens readers have spoken! With 34% of the total votes cast, the Pelikan m205 Blue Transparent fountain pen is 2009's Pen of the Year.

To celebrate the m205 being the people's choice, we will be running a special offer for those who have not purchased the winner.

From today (November 16h) until Friday November 20th, we will offer one free bottle of Pelikan fountain pen ink to accompany the purchase of your new Pelikan m205 Blue Transparent fountain pen. Simply visit our store, select the pen plus the bottle of ink (and any other items you would like) and make sure to mention the promo code PELIKAN205 at the checkout screen. The discount will be taken off after the order has been confirmed. If you pay through Google Checkout or PayPal, you will be promptly refunded for the cost once the order has been imported from the website.

Congratulations to Pelikan for making such a fine product and many thanks to everyone out there who voted!

Please note: this offer is only valid for purchases of the Pelikan m205 fountain pen in blue transparent in any point size. This offer is not redeemable for cash and cannot be combined with any other discount. Promotion ends at the discretion of Goldspot Pens or by Friday, November 20th, at 11:59pm.

11.05.2009

Vote for Goldspot Reader's Choice "Pen of the Year" 2009






Voting is open until November 15th. The winner will be announced by e-mail with a special promotion code to use on our website.

11.04.2009

Review : Tombow Zoom 2000 Rollerball Pen

This special request review comes from Chris C. over on our Facebook Fan page. If you would like to request a review of a product that we carry on our website, please feel free to tweet, comment or post on our Facebook fan wall.

The Tombow Zoom 2000 gives me the impression that it is a writing utensil of the future. It looks like the Terminator dropped it on his way back to help John Connor save the world. It has a brushed chrome finish and an unique "spacepod-like" shape. Diamond-like cuts repeat in a pattern along the central band of the barrel. The design is simple, yet extremely intriguing as you turn the pen in the light. The grooved pattern flashes its facets like fine crystal.



The smallish cap would be the payload of this futuristic writing missile. It fits very tight on the business end of the pen, ensuring that the liquid rollerball refill will not be dry when you pick it up to write. It posts nicely on the back-end of the pen and doesn't add any significant weight to cause imbalance when writing.


Speaking of the weight, although the pen is solid metal, it is lighter in the hand than you would think. However, it does not give the impression of being flimsy or cheap. My only issue with the overall design is the grip. The brushed chrome barrel drops off to create an uncomfortable edge between the front section and the rest of the pen. When holding and writing with it, I feel like my grip is further away from the point than I would prefer.



Aside from the slightly awkward grip, writing with "sputnik" is a smooth, enjoyable experience. The Tombow rollerball refill is smooth, rich with a dark line and fine-pointed (also available in extra-fine). If you are used to writing with fountain pens all the time, this is definitely a good alternative. There is a slight amount of bleed-through on Levenger Circa paper, but nothing more than what fountain pen ink would usually produce.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : Tombow 05 Fine rollerball ink flows very nicely. The light weight and balance of the pen make it easy to write for longer periods of time. I gripe about the grip, but that could just be me. (grade A-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Very space-age with high-tech appeal. (grade A)
  • Utility : The small cap can easily be misplaced. The firm snap of the cap ensures ink refill freshness. Clip is well build and attaches smoothly to the pocket. (grade A-)
  • Price : At $100 retail (on sale for $79.95 at Goldspot.com), the bargain would be the Tombow rollerball refills, which we sell for $2.10 each in a variety of colors. Compare that with a Waterman or Parker, which rollerball refills cost $4.70-$5.75 each. (grade B+)

Final Grade : A-
If you like the space-age aesthetic and smooth-writing rollerball refill, the Tombow Zoom 2000 should definitely be on your Christmas list for an everyday writing pen.

10.30.2009

NaNoWriMo - A Perfect Excuse to Write

Ever say to yourself, "one day, I would love to write a novel?" Sunday is your day to start.

November 1st begins National Novel Writing Month. For the entire duration of November, your objective is to crank out at least 50,000 words (about 175 pages total) of fiction. The "upcoming month of literary abandon," to put it in the words of the folks over at NaNoWriMo.org, will be your chance to join the motivated masses that share the same goal. They have been organizing the event since 1999, which started as a noveling binge between 21 friends in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2008, the number of participants blew up to over 119,000, with more than 21,000 crossing the 50k word mark.

So, you have what it takes to commit to writing 1,667 words per day for an entire month? Sign up for a FREE account at NaNoWriMo.org where you will be able to update and track your progress as the month goes by. I won't go into the details of how the tracking works, but you may find the nitty-gritty details here.

I realize that since this is a blog about fine-writing, there will be a few Luddites out there who would opt to do this on pen and paper. There is a less-technologically advanced way of verifying your word count. According to NaNoWriMo's frequently asked questions page :

What you do is write your 50,000 words, then have someone you trust verify that it is, indeed, 50,000 words. Then using something like the Lorem Ipsum generator, submit a file of the exact number of words of your handwritten manuscript to our word count validator.
For people who prefer doing a little bit of both, load up a trusty fountain pen and write several pages and then transpose them into your word processor of choice. Not only will you get the satisfaction of putting pen to paper to write your novel, but you will also sharpen those typing skills. If you don't have the portability of a laptop at your disposal, this would be a good solution when you are away from the desk.

Besides the online social aspect of writing with others around the globe, there also local "regions" that you can join which can hold local "write-ins" where you can meet and write with other WriMo's.

If you would like to join and have a bit of friendly camaraderie, Tom @goldspotpens will be participating in the NaNoWriMo. Note: he will not be writing about fountain pens, although they may make a cameo appearance. If you would like to be his writing buddy, visit his profile here.

Happy Halloween!

10.27.2009

Review : Online Vision Blue Fountain Pen

Released in Summer of 2009, the ONLINE Vision series is a sturdy, aluminum-based writing instrument that strikes a harmony between ergonomic utility and modern, elegant style. The lightweight characteristic of the aluminum body affords the writer hours of pain-free writing comfort while the molded plastic front section ensures a secure grip.

A neat feature on this series of fountain pens is the interchangeable nib option. When you order most ONLINE pens on our website, you can make a special request to have the nib be swapped for a fine, medium, broad, 0.8mm calligraphy, 1.4mm calligraphy or 1.8mm calligraphy nib size. The nibs are also sold separately for a modest $11.20 per nib. Just search "online nibs" on our website store and you will find all available sizes. All of the ONLINE fountain pens are sold with medium as the default. So, that is why I decided to write with a medium for this review.

As you will see in the first photo, the packaging is no-frills, much alike Lamy, who value utility over unnecessary elaboration. The black carboard box has a clear, plastic window and a magnetic closure. The pen arrives only with international-size ink cartridges aboard. For those who fuel with ink bottles, remember to buy a standard "Schmidt" converter with your order.

I loaded the pen with a Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue ink cartridge and wrote the review. My initial impressions on the nib were this : really wet and toothy. The toothiness does vary on how you angle the nib and your writing style. The ink flows very generously, even more than I would expect for a medium point. No skipping or starting issues. Overall, I would not rate it among the better of the stainless steel nibs, this one is just O.K.


The cap has a very solid snap to the front end of the pen. It posts well to the chrome-plated back end of the pen, but the metal sheath inside of the cap will end up leaving scratches on the chrome after extended use. The clip is solid and feels like it is spring-loaded when you press the very top of the cap.

As far as aesthetics are concerned, the Vision series uses a series of geometric patterns that are matched up with each color finish. The effect is very modern and sleek. The contrast of the matte color finish against the polished chrome appointments is a nice touch.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : German-made, Stainless Steel nib (available in fine, medium, broad, 0.8mm, 1.4mm, 1.8mm calligraphy) writes very wet and is a bit toothy, but not unbearable. (grade B)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Modern, sleek appeal that is understated, but not underrated. (grade B+)
  • Utility : Clip has a nice, spring-loaded feel. The lightweight aluminum is very easy to write with and the plastic grip adds to that comfort. The only problem is the inside of the cap easily scratching the back part of the pen while posting. (grade B)
  • Price : At $50 retail (at Goldspot.com), this is a great value for a versatile, stylish writing instrument. (grade A)

Final Grade : B+
At this price, the Vision is a "recession buster" in the fine-writing market right now. With brands like Waterman and Parker still cranking out pens north of $300 retail, it is good to see that some manufacturers understand the modern pen consumer. Great value for writers looking for a solid, dependable pen to use as a daily writer.

10.14.2009

We Now Sell Montegrappa, Italia Writing Instruments


Goldspot is proud to announce that we have added Montegrappa Pens to our ever-expanding selection of fine-writing instruments. Italian-made since 1912, Montegrappa is the oldest Italian pen manufacturer. Their style is articulated in the finest resin, celluloid, sterling silver and gold used in pen production.

As some pen aficionados may know, Montegrappa has been under the umbrella of Mont Blanc distribution for the last several years. Prices became bloated and customers stopped buying. This year, it has been sold back to the original family in Italy that brought the brand to its prominence. With the change in hands, retail prices have dropped up to 40%. This is unheard of in the fine-writing industry.

Some special offers I think you should know:


The Eternal Bird Limited Edition. Our mouths nearly dropped to the floor when we saw this pen for the first time. The wrap-around sterling silver engraving is finely detailed and absolutely breath-taking. With the purchase of any Eternal Bird fountain pen, the matching inkpot, which is valued at over $3,000, is included for free in the order. Here is a pic of this finely-crafted inkpot:

If investing over $3,000 in a fountain pen and inkpot is not in the budget, there is a more enticing offer with another limited edition Modigliani fountain pen.

Tributo Modigliani. This limited edition was created in tribute to one of the most well-known portrait painters in the early 20th century. The Montegrappa pen abstractly recreates some of the features you would find in the artist's portraits. For a limited time, purchase any of the fountain pens in this series and you will also receive a complimentary ballpoint pen in the same series, shown below:
For $1,080 retail, the fountain pen and ballpoint pen combination is a great value for a limited edition of such high quality.

Of course, we will also be selling the regular lines of Montegrappa pens, such as the Emblema, Picoola, Espressione, Miya, Micra and the NeroUno. For those who have looked at Montegrappa before from other pen retailers will be pleased to see the drop in price on our store.

10.09.2009

Nominations for Pen of the Year 2009


Since we had so much fun voting in last November's Goldspot Pen of the Year, we decided to do it again. As opposed to last year's format, where we picked the nominees, we are asking YOU, the pen public, to weigh in on your favorite pen of 2009. I realize that this may chaff some vintage pen fans, but we are looking at pens released in 2009 ONLY. However, new color releases may be considered for a pen model that has been in production for years (e.g. Pink Lamy Safari, Vivid Red Namiki Vanishing Point, etc).

For those of you who may not remember, last year's winner by vote was the ONLINE Newood Calligraphy fountain pen set. As part of the victory celebration, we ran a promotion on this item the week following the election. We will do the same this year, provided that the elected winner is a product that we sell on our website.

Comment on this post with your nominations. You may also nominate by tweeting or posting on our Facebook wall. If your favorite pen of 2009 is already nominated, 2nd the nomination! Most importantly, have fun!

10.02.2009

Winner of the Traveling Pen Giveaway

Congratulations to Sara of Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Thirty-Something DIYer for winning the Traveling Pen Giveaway with her fine feline photo:


Her caption read : "My feline muses support my fountain pen addiction and encourage my journaling habit. "

She will be receiving her prize of a $25 gift card to our store at www.goldspot.com. Although the entry field was small, her photo was definitely deserving of merit. Congrats again!

9.22.2009

Review : Taccia Merit Fountain Pen


Bold, bright colors and chrome (or gold)-pressed appointments accent Taccia's newest release, the Merit Collection. Although this pen has an overall body shape that is pleasing to the eye and comfortable to hold, the first distinct feature you will notice is the transparent ink window.



Following the recent upward trend in transparency in pen design (i.e. Monteverde Mega fountain, Pelikan M205 Blue Demo, Aurora Optima Demo), the Merit offers the writer a glimpse into the converter (or cartridge) to view the ink level. The collection is offered in a matching rollerball as well.

There is also an ink window on the rollerball model as well, which is pretty useless considering the rollerball cartridge is opaque.



I tried out the Onyx Black fountain pen in medium point. The large nib is German stainless steel with iridium point. I filled the converter with Noodler's Bulletproof Black and gave it a test run on some Levenger Circa paper.

Initial impressions : plastic, but done well. The body is made from polished resin through and through. No brass body to the pen or cap. The ample girth and polished trims really save this pen from looking, or feeling cheap. The light weight is actually a positive in my book, as it is more comfortable to write with for long periods of time.




The nib flows very wet without scratching or any intermittent flow issues. Even with Bulletproof Black, which tends to not flow so generously through my Pelikan M215 Fine Point, the lines are very smooth and rich. The Medium is great for signatures and faster handwriting styles. The nib quality is on par with some of the best steel nibs that are out there.

A few pet peeves I have about the pen are cap-related issues. One : the cap posts very loosely on the back of the pen. This is a make or break for many fountain pen people out there, including me. Also, the cap does not screw back on to the business end of the pen very smoothly. I usually have to try once or twice to get the threads aligned properly.

The major selling point of the Merit collection is the price. At a retail value of $95 for the fountain pen and $80 for the rollerball, the Merit is a great value and can be compared to pens that are twice as expensive. When you order them from Goldspot Pens, every finish goes for $75.95 Fountain / $63.95 Rollerball.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : Large, German-made, Stainless Steel nib (available in fine, medium or broad) writes wet and flows nicely. Top pick amongst other Stainless Steel FP's (grade A-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Simplistic, but nice choice of vibrant-colored resins. (grade B)
  • Utility : Fountain pen Ink window lets you know when to fill up before the ink runs out. However, the cap does not post tightly on the back and the screw threads to close the pen are not very smooth. (grade B)
  • Price : At $95 retail (on sale for $75.95 at Goldspot.com), this is a very affordable value for a pen that can easily be considered in the same tier as a Parker Sonnet, Waterman Perspective or an Aurora Ipsilon. (grade A-)

Final Grade : B+
We can give a lot of "merit" to the price of this line, given the current economic climate, but I will choose to give credit to the high-quality nib and the usefulness of the ink window.

9.08.2009

The Facebook Traveling Pen Giveaway


Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card to Goldspot.com
No purchase necessary. Gift Card not redeemable for cash.

Partly inspired by the "roaming gnome" prank and the recent Twitter pen & paper community topic #dailyarsenal, coined by @DIYSara, Goldspot Pens is conducting a month-long giveaway through our Facebook Fan page called "The Traveling Pen."

Pens can become office utensils, status symbols, travel companions, workhorses and confidants of our innermost thoughts, etc. We want to see how your pens fit into your life. Snap a picture of your writing instrument of choice in an environment that tells a story. For example, if you are always buried with paperwork at the office, you may want to take a picture of your Lamy 2000 resting atop a stack of papers that rest in your "inbox" on your desk. If you're a big Star Wars fan and love pens, take a shot of your MB Starwalker resting against a Luke Skywalker action figure as if it is his lightsaber. The more creative, the better.

Here's how we will run the Giveaway :
  • Entries must be submitted through our Facebook Fan page in the "Fan Photos" Album. If you are not a Fan yet on Facebook, Find us Here.
  • Upload a photo and title it.
  • Enter as many pictures as you would like from now until Wednesday, September 30th. The winning photo will be picked by the Goldspot Staff.
  • The winner will be contacted through Facebook to obtain their mailing address to send the $25 Goldspot gift card. The photo will also be published on this blog, with the photographer's consent, of course.
Some Ground Rules :
  • No inappropriate or pornographic images, please. If Facebook doesn't automatically delete them, we sure will. Goldspot reserves the right to remove any image that is found offensive.
  • Family members of Goldspot employees are ineligible to win the giveaway. Sorry, Dad.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Gift Card cannot be redeemed for cash.
Judging Criteria :
  • Creativity
  • Photo Quality / Clarity
  • Representation of Theme
Have fun taking your pics! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask and comment on this post.

Some quick links related to this post - #dailyarsenal topic on Twitter, @DIYSara's Blog, Traveling Gnome Prank on Wikipedia, Goldspot's Facebook Fan Page.

9.02.2009

Must-Have Back-to-School Supplies

As the calendar flips to September, kids are taking the first step on the school bus, students are being handed out their syllabuses and teachers are hurrying to complete their curriculum for the coming school year. The first day is always nerve-racking, yet exciting. Meeting your teachers and classmates for the first time, you quickly set expectations and get yourself prepared for the semester ahead.

Getting armed for the oncoming school year is always a daunting task. You ask yourself, "how many notebooks to I really need?" "How am I going to keep track of all the assignments, quizzes and tests?" "Will the teacher mind if I write in Dragon's Napalm Red?"

Not to worry, Goldspot is here to provide some helpful suggestions for your back-to-school supply shopping.

Before I start, lets set some ground rules : If the teacher hands out a checklist of specific items to purchase for the class, it is best to follow it to the "T." There is usually a rhyme to the reason and it will reflect better on your instruction-following skills if you come back the next class with every item on his or her checklist. The other rule would be to always have a pen handy that writes in blue or black ink for standardized tests. And I don't mean Ottoman Azure or Red-Black ink. Getting creative with your individuality is great for taking your own notes, but going outside the lines on important tests will cause problems on the report card.

On to the list : Firstly, lets get organized. Filofax offers a great system that can act both as a notebook, diary, address book and planner. Styles range from the luxurious, faux-alligator print leather to the sturdy, academic, vinyl covers. Their newest offering, the Filofax Mode, is a vinyl cover that features a punched, geometric pattern that shows off the contrasted interior color. A stretchy silicone band securely closes the organizer. With the purchase of any new Filofax organizer, you can expect a full complement of calendar, notepaper and other refills to get started. More refills, including all 2010 calendars (for current Filofax owners), are available for purchase on our website. It is always a good idea to stock up on extra notepaper and other organizational items that you can imagine yourself using (i.e. zip-lock envelope, hole punch, index tabs, etc). View the Filofax Mode Series Here and our Filofax refills Here.


As multi-tasking becomes the apparent necessity in our modern lives, we need a great multi-tasking tool to battle the onslaught of book reports, essays and term papers. One of my top selections for Multi-function pen is the Parker Executive. The style and function of the pen is reminiscent of the ever-popular Rotring 600's and Trio's that have been long discontinued. This pen is a workhorse and is exceptionally easy to operate. The selection system is gravity-based, which means that when you want to select a black color refill, you pick up the pen, look at the icon for "black" at the top of the clip and press down on the click-top. To retract the point, press the top of the spring-loaded clip. This ensures that you will never accidentally clip the pen to your shirt pocket without retracting the point. The Matte Black model uses a black refill, blue refill, 0.5mm pencil and an orange highlighter refill. The Shiny Chrome finish gives you an option between the orange highlighter an a touch-screen PDA stylus. Click Here to find the Parker Executives on our website.

A close runner-up to the Parker Executive would be the ACME 4FP series. Fun and functional, the "world's thinnest four-function pen" offers an array of eye-catching designs at a lower price ($39.00). The selection mechanics work on the same as in the Executive. Your refills are a black ballpoint, orange highlighter, 0.7mm pencil and PDA stylus. You can check out all of the styles Here.

A good, ergonomic pencil is always a useful tool, especially for those who make mistakes (it's OK, we all do). Keep the Dixon Ticonderoga #2 and a sharpener on the side for Scan-Tron tests, but when you are sketching out an algebraic equation, 2-point perspective or writing notes to your BFF a few seats ahead of you, pick up the Lamy Scribble. Available in both a 0.7mm pencil and a 3.15mm sketch pencil, the Scribble is a handy companion for both quick ideas and long sessions of writing (or drawing). Its removable clip and 4 3/4" size gives you the freedom to grip the Scribble any way you like. Starting at $27.95, you may find our Lamy Scribble selection Here.

Every backpack needs a ballpoint pen that won't quit, especially for pop quizzes or when all of your disposable Bic pens run out of ink. The Caran d'Ache Goliath ballpoint cartridge is heralded as being the best in the biz for longevity and smoothness. These cartridges can be found in the Cd'A Metal Collection. Select from over a dozen colors, including fluorescent, day-glo shades, metal-x colors and lacquer finishes. Starting at $15.95, they are so inexpensive, it is hard to buy just one. Find them on our store Here.

If the new school year is a good excuse for you to buy a new fountain pen, we've got the hottest, special production Pelikan pen that has been a huge hit among pen aficionados since its debut in early August. The Pelikan M205 Blue Demonstrator is a piston-filler pen (bottled ink-filling only) made from crystal blue resin, accented with chrome-plated trims and steel nib (available in extra-fine, fine, medium and broad point sizes). Pelikan is synonymous with exceptional, German-engineered writing quality and durability. Several of their special editions are valued in the thousands, but this series is being sold at an amazing value of $87.95 each. Buy yours today on Goldspot Pens Here. May I also suggest a bottle of Noodler's Navajoe Turquoise to complement the color of the pen?

If you've purchased a few of our selections already, good for you! Now, you need a place to protect and transport them back and forth to school. You don't want your new pens rattling around in your book bag or briefcase, getting scuffed up and possibly leaking all over your other supplies! Libelle, NY offers a variety of genuine leather pen pouches and cases to fit the size of your #dailyarsenal (thanks to @DIYSara for coming up with that hashtag topic on Twitter). Whether you have 20 writing instrument or just one, there is a leather case for you. Browse our selection of Libelle leather goods Here.

I hope you've become inspired by our run-down of the Must-Have products for back-to-school 2009. I would love to hear any additional suggestions that you may have, so please do comment on this post. As always, thanks for reading.

8.17.2009

Pelikan M200 Italic Special Production Review

Building off the popularity of the M200 italic nib that was released last year and promptly sold out across American pen stores, Pelikan re-issued the Black Tradition Series 200 with medium italic nib earlier this year. Try one today from Goldspot Pens.


This special production has the exact same body and piston-filling mechanism as the standard Tradition Series 200 fountain pens. One minor difference between the stock image and the actual product is that the translucent ink window is actually tinted green as opposed to the black-tint you see in the above picture. I personally think the dark green adds Pelikan's personality and identity to the design. Check out all of our Tradition 200 series pens here.

One question that seems to be coming up from our customers interested in this model is, "how does the italic compare with the standard medium and fine steel nibs?" I went to task and produced a sample writing sheet that shows the capability of the italic nib.


I'll be the first to admit that I'm no calligrapher. If anyone has the M200 and wants to show off the true potential of an experienced hand with this pen, please post a pic of your writing and we'll feature it on our site. Don't fret, non-calligraphers! There is a small booklet included with the pen that gives you two basic lettering styles to copy and learn from.

The italic takes some getting used to, especially if you've never used a fountain pen before. You need to be more deliberate and apply a slight degree of increased pressure to ensure all of the strokes are well-represented on paper. It forces you to slow down and contemplate the ART of each letter. The line variation is ample and the down-stroke almost appears as thick as a broad-tip stroke.

As far as the overall design of the pen, the M200 is made of resin with no metal inner barrel, which makes for a fairly lightweight pen. The balance with the cap posted is extremely comfortable. Filling and cleaning the Pelikan piston-filler is easier than using a converter, and it holds a ton more ink.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : gold-plated, stainless steel italic nib is a pleasure to use and offers a decent amount of line variation with good smoothness. (grade A)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Classic Pelikan style black w/ gold-plated trim. Sophistication without the frills. (grade A-)
  • Utility : Cap posts securely on the back-end and writes well posted. Lightweight resin body and cap balances well in the hand. Good for long writing sessions. However, more time and care has to be taken with each stroke, which slows down your writing speed. Not ideal for taking notes in a meeting or in class. (grade B)
  • Price : At $125 retail (on sale for $99.95 at Goldspot.com), this is certainly a great deal for a pen of this quality. The only reason I do not give it a higher grade is because you can purchase a normal M200 nib for $20 less. Most companies that offer an italic nib don't charge that much of a difference. (grade A-)

Final Grade : A-
Pelikan sure knows how to please their avid customers and collectors. This is a true "writer's pen" that requires more time and a fine appreciation for penmanship. With that said, they accomplished their task at building a product to satisfy the lack of high-quality, specialty nibs that are sold in the contemporary pen market.

8.10.2009

Can I have your John Hancock?

This weekend, I was having a discussion with the family over breakfast regarding handwriting, specifically signatures, and I thought the topic would be very appropriate for the readers of this blog.

The conversation started when my wife, who is a school teacher, mentioned that the modern-day curriculum included less and less cursive writing instruction for younger children. I chime in to say that the kids are getting in front of the computer earlier and learning to type efficiently is actually more important in the modern-day workplace, and will become even more significant in the future. My wife and Mom champion for the importance of learning sound handwriting technique. "You still have to sign legal or business documents," my Mother reasoned.

"People sometimes write an X or an undulating line for all they care," I argued. My Mother works at a doctors office, so she has seen her share of illegible signatures. My Father, the token skeptic, blurts out that the doctors purposely have poor handwriting to prevent against possible forgery of prescription orders. Then, we get to the subject of John Hancock.

Possibly the most recognized signature of all-time, a "Hancock" stands for boldness, artful expression and individuality.

This leads me to imagine the broad spectrum of signatures that are out there, and about the people who create them. I broke the signature spectrum into several parts:

The Symbol - an "X", wavy line or a simple check-mark. You wonder if the person invented the font "Wingdings."

The Squiggle - Maybe one letter is recognizable, but the rest looks like an erratic EKG readout or like the person was trying to get the ink flowing out of their ballpoint pen again. Example (Louis XIV's signature):The Somewhat Legible - Sloppy, but the overall shape of their handwriting gives you a clue as to the author's real identity. It's like a 3-d Magic Eye poster; some people get it right away while others are staring aimlessly. Example (guess who):
The Somewhat Good - Most letters are well-defined and legible. Many signatures fall in this range, especially if you have good handwriting but are in a rush. Example (Gerald Ford) :
The Exquisite (a.k.a. the John Hancock) - This type of signature wears its flair proudly. You feel the need to crop everything else out of the document and present this person's signature to an art gallery. Maybe they are a part-time calligrapher? Or maybe they had their knuckles rapped with Sister Mary's ruler every time they didn't do their cursive lowercase "z" correctly (The "Phil Rirruto" part from Billy Madison comes to mind).

I would love to hear from our readers on this topic. Talk about your own handwriting and how your signature has developed into its current state. Which of the above signature types do you fall into? At what age did you develop your "signature" style? Have you noticed its change over time? Does your signature vary depending on what you're signing? Do you hate electronic signature pads because they ALWAYS distort your signature? Do you think we should be spending more time practicing our cursive and our signatures?

Feel free to send pics of your signature, but be aware that anyone can be on this blog watching, so upload with caution.

Signature graphics are courtesy of Anna Koren's Graphology Center website.

8.05.2009

Goldspot Selected for First "Carnival of Pen Pencil and Paper"


Hey all,


Come one and come all to the first-ever Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper, as hosted by the Blog Notebook Stories. Here you will see a bevy of current pen, paper and office supply blog articles submitted by blog-writers from across the globe. The host was so kind enough to recognize our latest post that took a sneak peek at the new AT Cross fall 2009 releases.

Along with writing instruments reviews, you will also be able to find notebook reviews, sketch art and unique stories from collectors and writing enthusiasts. Many of the articles are well-written and very detailed. So, if you like writing and are a pen and paper enthusiast, check out the Carnival and you will probably find a few new blogs worthy of an RSS subscribe.

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On the Goldspot front, we are close to putting the finishing touches on the new catalog. We will have loads of new products to share with you in the coming months for "Back to School." Subscribe to our blog's RSS feed, follow us on twitter @goldspotpens and check out our Facebook fan page for up-to-the-minute news on all things pens.

7.29.2009

Cross 2009 Fall Line Sneak Peek

Ramping up for what will hopefully be a busy and productive November and December, Cross will be introducing the release of three all-new lines of writing instruments, beginning in September. Having seen these pens first-hand, I would like to share some exclusive details in this sneak peek:

Masquerade
Some may recognize that this is the newest limited edition print, created in the same series as the Kalahari, Quasar, and Turismo. Available in three colors: Raven Black (shown above), Cardinal Red and Peacock Green. There are two major differences in this new release to the past editions. Cross has sold their past editions out within 3 to 6 months after their release. This edition is expected to last about a year on the market. Another difference is in the finish. Besides the colorful design that is wrapped 360 degrees around the barrel, the pen has deeply engraved lines that sport a metallic finish and adds to the overall glamor of the theme. ($65 retail)

Sentiment
Adorned with a heart-lock charm and accompanied with an interchangeable key charm, the Sentiment is a good pen for romantics. The design is a basic Century II model with the charm adornment and a finely engraved center band. It will be available in Ebony Black, Scarlet Red and Pearlescent Ivory (shown above). There will also be a Breast Cancer Awareness finish (pink) that will be released with a pink ribbon charm attached at the top of the clip. Prices range from $70 for the ballpoint to $110 for the fountain pen (steel nib).

Affinity
This is the series that really departs from Cross' usual style of pen-making. The Affinity is crafted from resin and features a screw-on/off cap in the rollerball and fountain pen modes. The lack of a brass base makes it much lighter and the girth is more comfortable to hold than the Classic Century or Century II. There will be an introductory price for this line's release, which will increase about $20 across the board. When we put them up for pre-sale in the coming weeks, definitely snag them while they are cheaper. Colors available : Black, Blue & Red (shown) Intro prices are $50 Ballpoint, $65 Selectip Rollerball and $80 Fountain pen (steel nib).