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).

7.18.2009

30 days, 30 pens on Fountain Pen Network

Hope everyone is enjoying their beautiful summer weekend.


I had to share this FPN Link with everyone since I am really enjoying my daily update from fellow Fountain Pen Network user Soapytwist. He could have been inspired by Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me," his large fountain pen collection or both. Every day, for thirty days, he is reviewing a fountain pen from his expansive collection.

So far, he's reviewed pens made by Pilot, Cross, Mont Blanc, Parker, Lamy, Waterman, Mabie Todd, and Caran d'Ache. He includes several hi-res shots of the pen, along with a writing sample of his review. The pens are well-cataloged, as each entry shows the make, model, approx. year of manufacture, nib size, where it was purchased and what he paid for it.

The project is on day 10 and I am very eager to see my e-mail notifications from FPN with a new review each day. If Soapy ever decides to make a book about his 30 days, 30 pens project, he should mimic the "Supersize Me" image and insert pens into his mouth instead of fries. Make sure they aren't inked, though.

7.14.2009

Parker Sonnet Premium Gold Lustre Review


After a less-than-favorable review of the Parker Latitude fountain pen that was done over a month ago, it was decided that Parker should have another shot at redeeming themselves with a higher-end Sonnet review.

Parker refreshed its versatile Sonnet line back in summer 2008, introducing slight changes to the arrow clip, the cap band and to the nib graphics on every fountain pen. Along with the subtle design mods came this new line of chiseled pens called the Sonnet Premium. There are four different finishes : Gold Lustre, Silver Lustre, Chocolate and Carbon. Gold Lustre seemed to be the most attractive for this review.


As with each of the new Sonnets, every pen is sold with a black, suede-like, tri-fold pen pouch, which is way more useful than the clamshell box that older Sonnets were sold in. The pouch features a magnetic closure and has a loop in the middle to fit your pen, along with loops for two additional pens and two narrow "pockets" for refills.

The Sonnet Premium fountain pen has an 18ct sold gold nib that is available in either fine or medium point. It can be filled via cartridge or converter.


As the close-up shot can tell you, the attention to detail in the chevron-pattern design is top-notch. This pen is radiant with a sophisticated demure. You can run your fingertip over the barrel and cap to feel the ribbing produced by the intricate engraving.

Although the pen is mostly metal, the weight in-hand is not heavy. The size is average (5 1/4" capped, 5 7/8" open, with cap posted on back). Posting is a big deal for me, and this pen posts securely without adding too much weight to the back-end.


Inked up with the Parker blue ink cartridge that came with the pen, I grabbed my designated scratch pages and went to town.

The flow is smooth with no scratching, but a bit thicker than I am used to with a fine point. The issues I had with the Latitude were not as apparent with the Sonnet. Every now and then, it did not register a downstroke, usually on the first letter of a new word. It wrote better while holding the pen at a more acute angle to the paper. I don't know about everyone else out there, but the more perpendicular, the better for my handwriting.

Overall, it worked much better than the Latitude, but had the occasional hiccup. Some steel nibs perform better than this particular Sonnet gold nib, which should tell you where you're money is going to when you buy this pen.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : 18ct gold nib performed up to the quality standard of a normal steel nib. Smooth, good flow, and it did pick up writing right away after being inked on the shelf for a week or so. However, you paid for gold and should get a better quality nib for the price. (grade B-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Classy, sophisticated, yet sparkling appeal that would impress at formal affairs. The engraving detail is executed very well and shines beautifully in the light. (grade A+)
  • Utility : Cap posts securely on the back-end and writes well posted. The famous "arrow" clip attaches and detaches smoothly from the shirt pocket. Lightweight design makes long writing sessions easy and relatively cramp-free. The included pen case is extremely useful. (grade A)
  • Price : At $240 retail (on sale for $191.95 at Goldspot.com), the price level does seem like a bargain for the aesthetic value of the pen and the solid gold nib. However, the nib does not write any better than high-quality steel, and there is a lack of luxury presentation (like a hardwood box or leather pen case). (grade B-)

Final Grade : A-
Parker does redeem themselves from my last review. Although there is more to be desired from the nib, this pen's aesthetic value overpowers the slight shortcoming.

7.09.2009

Pen-Spinning, Part II

The other day, I posted a Lamy Pico pen-spinning video that I happened to stumble across on YouTube. I asked if anyone else was interested in sending in a video of themselves doing some tricks and certainly got what was asked for :










Courtesy of Steven from the Universal Pen Spinning Board.

Yes, so if you are interested at all in impressing your co-workers, classmates or your professors with your pen-spinning, there is a place for you on the internet to congregate with other spinners. Steven also sent me a link to a YouTube playlist of pen-spinning tutorials. Definitely check out those videos and make sure not to use any expensive fountain pens to learn spinning!

Thanks again to Steve for the links and info. Most helpful!

7.07.2009

The First Step to Recovery

--Posted by Tom, Goldspot Pens' Blog Editor

"Hello everyone, my name is Tom," I speak sheepishly as my hands tightly clutch the podium edges.
The roomful of strange, yet friendly faces respond, "Hello, Tom."
I take a deep breath, swallow my pride and part my lips:

"I have a problem...with pens."

My first "fine pen" was an older-style Parker Sonnet Matte Black w/ Chrome Trim ballpoint that my then girlfriend gave to me as a present. If you want to go further back in time, my first nice pen that I remember owning was a Pilot Dr. Grip back in middle school. A few of my classmates heckled me roundly for spending $7 on a pen. One day, I let the pen out of my site and they lifted it from my bookbag, tore apart the soft, ergonomic grip and stuffed it into classroom radiator.

A few years ago, I started working in the fine-writing industry, where I have had the chance to nurture my pen philanthropy. With literally thousands of pens in our company's stockroom, it is hard for a pen addict to resist not buying a pen every working day. As any good addict does, I have built a system to enable my collection to grow. I'm going to let you in on my pen-buying rationale because I have a dilemma I may need to "crowd-source" to solve.

Pens are more sentimental if they are given or purchased at a special moment in one's life. My buying patterns are based around significant achievements in my life, almost like an award of accomplishment. Last year, I purchased a Pelikan M215 that coincided with me getting married. For completing the third catalog last year, I bought a Levenger True Writer Demonstrator. I signed my first-ever car lease, which I negotiated the heck out of, with a True Writer Starry Night fountain pen.

Now, I have till about the 2nd week of August to figure out the next one: Me and my wife are having a baby girl.

The idea is that I purchase the pen of exceptional quality and use it for the time being and keep it until my girl has graduated high-school. Then it will be cleaned out, fixed up and gifted to her.
So far, I have determined that it has to be more expensive than the Pelikan M215. It has to be a fountain pen, preferably a piston-filler in fine point. I can't break the bank on this, so there will be no $500 and above pens floating in my head. As far as colors go, I'm going to be using it, and my kid is not going to know what color she likes for a while, so I may go with what I like, which is blue.

I am totally open to our reader's suggestions. If you want to ask additional questions, comment on the post and I will provide further details. I do have to say this : there is no prize if I end up picking your suggestion. Just knowing that you assisted a fellow pen peer should be reward enough.

Thanks,
Tom.

7.02.2009

Lamy Pico Pen-Spinning Video




This guy is a pro with his Lamy Pico. Unbelievably Awesome. If there are any talented pen-spinners out there, take a video of yourself and send it to us. We would be glad to post it up on our blog.