7.30.2010

Retail Me Not Goldspot

So, you're one click away from checkout, shopping cart full of goodies, and you're just about to pull out your credit card when the thought dawns on you like a great, big lightbulb hovering above your head : Let me see if I can get a coupon for this!

Sites like RetailMeNot have made coupon hunting a 5 second "google" search away. I won't lie, I've done it before for sites like Amazon and B&N, but with limited success. Although the search for the coupon can take less than 5 seconds, you may waste 15 minutes trying out the different coupons to see which one takes. Coupons, especially online ones, expire rapidly. A coupon code may sometimes last one or two weeks. By the time someone submits the valid code on RetailMeNot, it may only have a few days before it is invalid.

Listen, we want to make it simple and straightforward to our customers. That is why we have our Facebook Fan Page set up with a "Promotional Offers" Photo Album. There, you can find some long-term promotions that don't have a set expiration. For limited-time sales and coupons, we post them regularly on Facebook and our Twitter feeds.

Most stores will want you to sacrifice your e-mail address to obtain "special offers" and "deals." In reality, don't we all have too much e-mail to check already? However, if you do prefer to receive our promotions via e-mail, you can always sign up through our eNewsletter Sign Up Page.

Next time you price shop for pens, be sure to check our Facebook and Twitter pages for our most current discounts and special offers. You'll be glad you did!

7.29.2010

Welcome Woodessen to the Goldspot Store!


Hello fellow Goldspotters,

We would like to formally introduce Woodessen to our selection of fine writing and luxury products. With other pen manufacturers offering less in the terms of desk sets or pen holders, we were lucky to find the folks at Woodessen at the National Stationery Show back in May of this year.

Most of their wood desk sets feature American Walnut, which is known for its stability and durability. Available in several different wood types and designs, each crafted piece is a work of art. Each pen that is included uses pressurized space pen refills. The company also has a sensitivity to the environment and is committed to sustainable forestry.

For more information on Woodessen products, please visit their website at http://www.woodessen.com/

7.27.2010

The Lifespan of Paper vs. CD/DVD

Another win for the pen & paper crowd:

Recordable media like CD's and DVD's took over as the preferred storage of digital media shortly after most personal computers were fitted with optical drives that record and re-record. With a storage capacity that put floppy disks and zip disks to shame (and into their tech graves), people quickly stocked up on stacks of disks to backup everything from important work documents to pictures of Fluffy...oh, how we miss Fluffy.

Perhaps it was our haste or our lust for more storage space, but we may have been short-sighted when it came to this media. It seems as though we cannot really get a straight answer about the definitive lifetime of a CD or DVD, but it seems that their span can range from 10 to 50 years. Gold-Label discs being the only exception (but they are rare) at 100 years. Given the fact that CD's and DVD's have only been around for the last decade or so, most people haven't started talking about the degradation of their discs just yet...but it's coming.

Take a look at acid-free paper : it's been around since the 1930's and it provides 100 years of durability. Archival paper is said to last even longer and is used for important legal documents. Use an pH neutral ink like Noodler's and you are creating a record that does not need to be downloaded or exchanged into a different electronic format every 10-15 years to survive.

You may say that the external hard drive will be the best way to store media in the long term, but hard drives (except for solid state thumb drives) all have moving parts that wear and break down over time. The standard computer hard drive needs to be replaced every 4 or 5 years. If you are not diligent about your hardware, it may even end up taking all of your files with it to the grave.

So, next time you think about scanning all of your important documents and photos into the computer, ask yourself "will their digital form will outlast the original, physical copy?"

7.19.2010

It's all Material : Going Platinum


There is a reason why 'platinum' is atop of the record-selling charts. And not simply because it is expensive. Considered an extremely rare metal, why else would platinum be so desirable, especially when producing pens?

Platinum has a higher luster and a better overall durability than sterling silver or gold. Every time other metals are scratched or polished, a tiny bit of the metal is lost. Although platinum can be scratched and develop a patina of wear, the metal is so strong that it will not chip or splinter. It also does not tarnish in air. The metal resists corrosion and high temperatures, yet is malleable enough for a jeweler or pen-maker to work with. With a simple polish, the finish on a platinum piece can be brought back to its original lustrous shine.

Platinum has several industrial uses, most notably as part of vehicle emissions controls on catalytic converters, oxygen sensors and spark plugs.

Platinum is plated on most pens that feature the material. The plating varies in thickness and purity. The choice of platinum as the exterior of a pen is done to increase durability and to imbue the creamy, silvery luster as part of the aesthetic qualities of the design. Some fountain pens may use a solid gold nib with a platinum mask to match the nib color with the trim or body color of the pen. In more affordable models, platinum is plated on the clip and trims.

See our previous post in the series, It's All Material, the Gold Standard.

7.16.2010

Pen Spotlight - Noodler's Pens and Ink Samples

Many have heard that Noodler's is coming out with their own line of fountain pens. We will be selling them on our site in the coming weeks. After reading this review by Bleubug, who bought oodles of Noodler's pens, we're a little nervous carrying these. We can at least help one of the issues by putting some padding into the pen boxes before shipping them to prevent any defects by the time they arrive to your door.

There's been some buzz around the pen & ink blogs about "ink swatches" and their color representation on the computer screen. Brian Goulet over at Ink Nouveau unveiled his Swab Shop, which is an ink comparison tool, viewing ink swabs of 160+ colors from several brands. Inkophile wrote a post this week as a disclaimer to viewing ink swatches on the 'net. Ink color is a tricky subject that is riddled with inaccuracy when you try and reproduce the hue on another medium like the web. Part of being a fountain pen enthusiast is exploring the scores of different brands and formulas to find something you love. True, it does help when you have a swatch as a general reference, but I'd rather find out myself by loading up the pen and giving it a "go"!

Remember our post about Pens and the Age of Consumer Electronics a few months ago? Pocket Blonde found a notepad app that looks a lot like a pocket Moleskine or a Field Notes jounral on your iPad. Steve Jobs is trying to take food off my table!

As if you don't already have a Safari, or don't know why you should own one - check out Unposted's Lamy Safari review. If you like pens in general, and I'm talking ballpoint and rollerball pens, you should still have a Safari fountain pen. Do yourself a favor and buy one.

7.14.2010

Top 5 Pen Articles on Goldspot Blog 2010 so far

Going along with our theme of looking back at the last six months, we've notably increased our posting every month to not only include product reviews and other company propagan-- er, I mean announcements, but other content such as articles on being a pen enthusiast and what pens mean to us individually and as a society.

I know, real deep stuff, right? Well, folks, here are the articles that you've read (and hopefully enjoyed) the most so far this year:

  1. How Does the Pen Addiction Start? - Usually anyone who is a lover of pens has been one from an early age. We go through how the addiction builds from a $1 Bic to a $500 MontBlanc. Lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and comparisons to actual drug addiction.
  2. Summer Pen Care - Whenever the mercury starts to rise in the steamy summer months, we always remember to water the plants, put on sunscreen and drink plenty of water, but what about your poor pens baking in that black crucible of a briefcase? We offer tips for your pens to stay cool (and usable) during the summer.
  3. Pres Obama Uses 22 Pens to Sign Healthcare into Law - Whether you're on one side of the fence or the other on this debate, we all can agree that 22 pens is A LOT of pens to use for one signature. We delve into the reasoning behind this Washington tradition and even feature a video of the signing taking place.
  4. Pens and the Age of Consumer Electronics - This is one of my favorites because of how I came about writing that post. I originally started by thinking about the newly announced iPad and how it was going to change the world of personal computing and communication in general. I was going to defend writing as a form of communication that will never cease to die...and then, I did a complete about face and ceded my argument to say, "you win, Steve Jobs, pen and paper is dead."
  5. Getting Things Done with Pen and Paper - As a big fan of the GTD mindset, I couldn't help but relate pen & paper to this popular system of organization by explaining a bit about my own process of note taking and list-making.
We hope at, the very least, you can have some cheap entertainment while reading these posts. There are sure to be more articles like these in the future as long as you keep reading them.

7.12.2010

Waterman South Sea Blue Ink Review


As used in the recent review of the Waterman Exception fountain pen, Waterman South Sea Blue is definitely one of the nicer turquoise inks that we stock. Since this is our first Waterman ink review, lets talk about the bottle and its unique shape.
The glass bottle is multi-faceted, which is a lot more accommodating to get the most ink out of the bottle in a mess-free fashion. When the ink level is low, simply tilt the bottle on one of its flat sides to create larger pools of ink that are easier to get at with your nib. The wide dimension at the base of the glass bottle ensures stability when you rest it on its side to fill your pen.


The ink itself performed very well when tested, producing smooth, clean lines without feathering or much show through on the back side of the page. It even offers some nice shading. The hue itself is a slight bit of a greener turquoise than Pelikan's Turquoise, which is another favorite of mine. The drying time is outstanding, producing very little smear even after one second. True, there are cheaper alternatives for 50mL's of ink, but for the glass bottle, fast drying time and beautiful shading, it is definitely worth the few extra dollars. Waterman bottled ink - $9.00 for 50mL at Goldspot Pens.

7.09.2010

Top 5 Pens of 2010 Thus Far

Dear Pen Friends,

Wow, the first half of the year has gone by quickly, hasn't it? It doesn't seem long ago that we were shoveling ourselves out of 4 feet of snow. To bring you up to speed on the best, new pen releases this year, here is our Top 5 pens that debuted so far in 2010:
  1. Visconti Homo Sapiens - early front-runner for Pen of the Year, the Homo Sapien, also known as the "Lava Pen," embodies innovation with a rock-solid design that makes for a truly unique writing experience. To see more of why this pen "rocks," check out or Lava Fountain Pen review.
  2. Monteverde Invincia Stealth - Any customer can have a pen painted any color that he wants so long as it is black. A slight modification of a classic Henry Ford quote. The Stealth gives you ALL Black. Nib, front section, barrel, clip and trim all sport a polished, glossy black. Check out our friend Office Supply Geek's Review of the Invincia Stealth and check out our review of another Invincia pen in Black Pearl.
  3. Parker IM / Vector / Urban - This year, Parker is looking to reassert their well-known brand of writing instruments to the general public with their new model designs that fall within the $20 to $60 price range. We've reviewed a few of these pens, which will be posted on the blog this month, and are quite impressed with the value that these pens offer.
  4. Monteverde Prima - Affordable, colorful, well-made and nicely-balanced, the Prima is a great everyday writer that is in tune with a pen addict's budget.
  5. Lamy Studio Platinum Dark Grey - The extremely popular Studio line is always known for its quality in craftsmanship, artistic modern design and sensible price. Each year, it seems, Lamy spawns a limited edition color that is always a hit with pen enthusiasts. Continuing in the tradition of Pearl White, Violet, Bronze and now the Platinum Grey, Lamy never ceases to satisfy their fans. Check out our review of the Stainless Steel Studio and see for yourself why you should probably pick up one of these pens if you don't already own one.

As we get closer to the fall, we are sure to see more releases by the best brands in fine writing including Pelikan, Aurora, Montegrappa, Waterman and Visconti. Stay tuned to our blog and sign up for our e-mail newsletter to keep current on all the new releases.

7.08.2010

Waterman Exception Slim Celadon Fountain Pen Review


For the first Waterman review on the blog, we started off with the high-end Exception level of writing instruments. So, what is celadon? In ceramics, celadon is a type of glaze that is usually pale jade in color. Used as a lacquer color on the pen barrel and cap, its creamy, opalescent shade is elegant and contemporary.

If we are to talk about the Exception, we have to talk about the rule. Most pens are cylindrical or rounded in shape. Some have faceted sides, but none quite like the Exception, which has a quadrangular shape. Imagine a rectangular box in three-dimensional space, round the corners and edges and you've got the overall shape of the pen.


The design stays true, through and through. The cap barrel and front section all offer the boxy shape. The cap only fits on to the top of the pen with a satisfying click by putting it on so that the shape aligns with the rest of the pen. The cap posts on the back securely in such a way to match up with the rest of the pen's shape. The pen is never out of aesthetic alignment.

The lacquered brass and silver-plated trim offer a nice heft to the pen. While they call this a "slim" model, the width at its thickest point (the bottom of the cap) is a shade under a half inch, which really isn't slim (like a Cross Classic Century, for example). The black front section is contoured to match the quadrangle, which is aesthetically pleasing, but not kind to the fingers. The front section was crafted with looks held in higher regards than ergonomics.



The Exception uses a rhodium-plated, 18k (750) solid gold nib. The pen fills by cartridge or converter (both options provided in box). The tip is smooth and the ink flow is fairly good. There is not much flexibility, but some line variation is possible. The pen becomes a bit unruly with the cap posted on the back, extending to 6 1/2" in length.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : 18k solid gold nib writes smoothly with a good flow. Grip section is a bit uncomfortable and writing posted adds to that discomfort. (grade B-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Unique quadrangular shape and pearl-like lacquer looks elegant and modern. The light jade isn't for everyone, though. (grade A-)
  • Utility : The snap-click cap only caps and posts a certain way to become unified with the rest of the pen's shape. Consider that you will have to write with cap in your other hand. (grade B)
  • Price : Goldspot a special deal on the Celadon finish. The fine point comes in under $300 while the medium point is offered at $307.95. While being a more generous offer, the cost for a lacquer finish pen with an 18k nib is a bit higher since it is a Waterman. (grade B-)

Final Grade : B
The design, while unique and stylish, seems to have been constructed on the basis of favoring form over function. For the money, go with a Waterman Expert instead.

7.06.2010

12th Carnival of Pen Pencil and Paper


Happy belated 4th of July and welcome to the 12th Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper! The brain-child of Nifty over at Notebook Stories, the Carnival has been a monthly staple since August of 2009 and we have the honors of hosting this month.

The traveling Carnival is a showcase of all the pen, pencil and paper-related blog posts from around the vast expanses of the internet.

Editor's Pick

Julie (Okami) presents Pen Cabinet Extraordinaire posted at Whatever. You know you're a pen collector when a pouch, box or drawer of pens isn't enough. (Reading a Jeff Foxworthy accent into that comment). - Goldspot Pens.

Pens

Heather & Joni Bowers present First Fountain Pen: Platinum Preppy posted at A Penchant for Paper.

dianeb presents Pentel VICUNA 0.7mm Gel Ink Pen posted at Pocket Blonde. Comment : "I can't tell whether I like the pen or the advertising more, but it's very trendy and a nice writing instrument."

dowdyism presents Review: Uni-Ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Pen - White Ink posted at The Pen Addict. Be sure to look hard for the text of this review. Love the tongue-in-cheek humor. - GS

dianeb presents Pilot Namiki Falcon Review (modified by Mottishaw) posted at The Penny Writer.. Comment : "Nice review of the Namiki Falcon with modified nib from a new pen, pencil and paper blogger The Penny Writer."

Mark Webber presents The Magnet Tribune - Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts - Students are missing out on the joy of fountain pens posted at My High School Journalism.org.


Ink

David Garrett presents ink review: j. herbin orange indien - seize the dave posted at seize the dave. Beautiful scanned ink sample. -GS

Paper

Brian Greene presents Whitelines Hard Wire A5 Black Cover :: OfficeSupplyGeek posted at OfficeSupplyGeek.

Cheryl from Writer's Bloc presents Behance Action Journal & Dot Grid Journal posted at Writer's Bloc Blog.

Misc.

dianeb presents Guest Post: The Mystery of Mary Nordmeyer posted at Pocket Blonde. Comment: "A detective story by Jack and Ilona that started out trying to unravel the mystery behind this amazing handwriting."

-- - -- - - - - -
Thank you to Nifty for honoring us with the hosting duties this month. Don't forget that you can submit your blog posts to future Carnivals by using this submission form.

7.01.2010

Montegrappa Miya Midnight Blue Fountain Pen Review


This was a long overdue review that was inspired by a customer of ours that purchased this pen in a turquoise celluloid. I opened the box to make sure the nib size was correct before packaging it for shipment and was struck by the beauty of this pen. Feeling the weight and balance in my hand, I just had to review this pen.


First, a little bit about the pen and its maker : The Montegrappa Miya is manufactured in Italy from the same factory in Bassano del Grappa that has been producing fine pens since 1912. The barrel and cap material are made from hand-turned, precious celluloid. The contrast of vibrant blue shades is a marvel to behold in the light.


Sterling silver, not chrome or silver plating, is used for the clip, trim, Greek-key patterned center band and the front grip section. The material adds a higher amount of gleaming luster and it will certainly benefit from an occasional polishing, just like fine jewelery.


The presentation is also top notch. The pen rests on cream-colored, plush platform. The box and the interior have a leatherette or faux suede feel to them. Underneath the pen is a pull-out drawer, where you would normally find the complimentary ink cartridges and a warranty / instruction manual that also gives you a nostalgic look at the Montegrappa company.

The unique, precisely balanced shape of the pen was the first quality that really impressed me. It might not be as evident in the photography, but the part of the barrel leading toward the front grip section has a subtle curve. It connects with the sterling silver section with no lip or hard edge. That was the second design feature that impressed me. The third was the overall size and cap posting. With the cap posted on the back-end, the size and weight did not throw off the balance or writing comfort of the pen.


The nib is solid 18k gold that fills using cartridge or converter (provided with pen purchase). The fine nib that was used to test the pen was smooth (not very flexible) and gave a generous ink flow. My only aesthetic issue with the pen would be the heart-shaped breather hole that is on the nib. It immediately made me question whether this was a marketed ladies pen. Thankfully, I am secure enough in my masculinity to be accepting of that small detail.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : 18k gold nib writes smoothly with a generous ink flow for a fine point. Designed for optimal writing comfort with a precisely balanced shape. (grade A)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Visually stunning celluloid paired finished with polished sterling silver. Greek key pattern adds a classical flair to a bold look. (grade A)
  • Utility : Cap posts well on the back-end without discomfort. Rotating sphere at the bottom of the clip slides and holds well when clipped to the pocket. Cap screws on and off smoothly. (grade A-)
  • Price : Available in extra-fine, fine, medium or broad nib sizes for $495. True, this is a high price-point, but this has been the best time to own a Montegrappa in a while. Since ownership had changed hands over a year ago, prices have dropped across the board on all of their pen lines. Unfortunately, it will still be high for many pen aficionados. (grade B-)

Final Grade : A-
There are only a few occasions where I will say this, but the pen is definitely worth the price. Considering the celluloid, sterling silver and 18k solid gold used in the construction of this pen, one can easily see why the value would be in the hundreds. Materials and price aside, the pen writes extremely well and is designed with balance and writing comfort in mind, which is main reason why you should be looking to buy this pen.