Guest Post : Whats in Your Pen Toolbox?

Hey Pen Friends,

One of our dear fans and walk-in customers - Karen, asked if she could share her list of items that she uses in her Pen Toolbox with our readers here. She had recently rekindled her love of fountain pens and dove in headfirst into the fountain pen frenzy.

Here is what she uses to fill, maintenance and use with her writing instruments.
  • Silicone Grease
  • Q-Tips
  • Paper Towels
  • Blotting Paper
  • Rubber gripper sheeting (dollar store)
  • Nib smoothing Sheets or Sticks
  • Jeweler's Loupe (10x, 20x or 30x)
  • Heavy Steel Needle Nose Tweezers
  • Ear Syringe
  • O-Rings / Washers
  • Nib Tin (storage for extra nibs, Altoids container works well)
  • Eyedropper (for filling & mixing inks)
  • Ink Sample Vials (for traveling & mixing inks)
  • Brass Nib Shim (for cleaning between tines)
  • Simichrome Polish (for cleaning and shining nibs, also removes ink stains)
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Replacement rollerball tips
  • Ink Syringe Kit
  • Ultrasonic Jewelery Cleaner
  • Phone #'s and Websites of some pen experts
  • Bag of Silica Gel packets (sucks out excess water)
Thanks, Karen for that lovely list. If anyone else would like to share "what's in their Pen Toolbox," please e-mail us at orders@goldspot.com with the subject line "My Pen Toolbox." You can also leave a comment below with some items that are your personal favorites and what you use them for.


Share an Ink with Dad

Pens must run in our blood.

My Brother loves pens. My Dad loves pens. I never even realized my one Aunt had a whole collection of pens until I started working for Goldspot. I guess you can say we have a natural affinity for the fine writing instrument.

When my parents come over on the weekends to get together and see their Grandchild, we catch up on things with some small talk. "So, how's work, Tom?" - An innocent segue to talk "shop." After the typical bland response, "it's good," I delve into the new brands we're looking to carry, new pens that I think are really going to be hot sellers and opinions on any inks or pens that I got to try during the week.

"Tom," my Dad says with a smile and a gleam in his eye, "I saw this ink on your site.." Many of our Saturday conversations start like this over a stack of pancakes and coffee. See, My Dad rekindled his childhood love for fountain pens when I started working for Goldspot some time ago. It first started with a Pelikan because it reminded him of the ones he used in school. For me, I never used a fountain pen prior to working for a pen company. Once I did, it must have activated the "Pen Lust" gene (I believe it's on chromosome 12) and I still can't help myself to buy more inks and pens.

We both love turquoise bottled inks. Pelikan Turquoise, Edelstein Topaz, Waterman South Sea Blue, Pilot Iroshizuku Kon Peki Cerulean Blue, Noodler's Navajoe Turquoise, the list goes on.... One time, I bought a blue demonstrator True Writer from Levenger that was on sale and came with a bottle of their matching Bahama Blue ink. One weekend, I showed my Dad something I wrote with that color and all I hear over my shoulder is, "Ooooooooooooh."

So, I had to give the whole bottle to him. That's my Dad, one-half of the duo that brought me into this world and made me the person that I am today. I owe him an eternal debt of my gratitude, let alone a bottle of ink! I can't possibly thank him enough for always being there to support me in any of my endeavors. He was often a tough sell to convince that I was making a good decision, but that taught me to always do things for the right reasons and keep my head on my shoulders.

Recently, one of my favorite days I got to share with my Father was when we exhibited at the Philadelphia Pen Show. My Father is not an employee of Goldspot, but he came down with me and Sal to help man the tables. Armed with his extensive knowledge and experience with pens that is only rivaled by my own, he was a tremendous help in talking with visitors. He'd show off his TWSBI, Visconti Homo Sapiens and Pelikan m205 that were inked up to let prospective customers try out. Any time that he closed a sale, he would guide the customer to talk with me, his Son. His voice was so swelled with pride that even one of our customers had noticed and mentioned it to me.

I am truly blessed to have such a caring and supportive Dad and I would gladly share any ink or pen with him so we can both enjoy it together as Father and Son. Happy Father's Day, Pee-pa! (that's my 2-year-old Daughter's way of saying "Grandpa")

And a Happy Father's Day to ALL the Dad's out there. If you're getting a pen or ink as a present from your children, you should consider it a very good Father's Day, indeed!


Introducing Economy Shipping & FREE Shipping

We're always looking to offer our pen customers more value for their purchase. There's no denying that shipping rates have gone up with all carriers (UPS, US Post, FedEx & DHL). Instead of passing on the costs to our customers, we are offering more flexibility with our shipping options by offering tiered levels of domestic shipping.

Of course, we still have our Refills Only shipping rate, which starts at $3.25. This does not include bottled inks, but covers a wide array of small ink cartridges and other refills that can be sent by US First Class mail. Filofax paper inserts are also considered refills.

If you're like most people who are buying for themselves and want to get the cheapest shipping regardless if it takes a little longer to receive, we now offer Economy Level (3-10 business days). Starting at $5.95, a whole dollar less than our previous "UPS Ground" rate, Economy will offer our customers the ability to purchase less expensive items (other than refills) and save on shipping. Starting today, you can get your order with Free Economy Shipping for a new low order minimum of $50 or more. Make sure your order totals $50 or more, we're shipping to a US address and you enter the promo code JULYELEVEN during checkout. Offer is subject to change or cancellation without notice.

The next level is Standard (2-6 business days), which is a better option for those who are buying gifts for events that are a few weeks away. Standard starts at $7.95 for the first five items.

For quicker turnarounds and time-critical orders, we have Expedited (1-3 business days) service. Starting at $16.95, this level gives your order the urgency to make it in time.

Lastly, we have the mission-critical, pull-out-the-stops Next Business Day Express option for the customers that "need it yesterday." Next Business Day starts at $29.95 (option : Saturday Delivery - $44.95). It is always preferred if you can get in touch with our customer service department when you place your order to ensure that your order gets delivered by your need-by date (we affectionately call it the "pen in-hand" date). Sometimes circumstances beyond our control can prevent us from processing orders from the website that are placed after 11AM for same day shipping. It is best for everyone if you let us know you need your order to go out the same day it was placed. This way, we can ensure that it will be done!

Check the updated shipping table below for a summary of the new shipping tiers that Goldspot offers.

If you are viewing this post 10 years in the future when the price of gasoline has rocketed to $50 per gallon and we have resorted to sending packages by pigeon couriers, needless to say we are not going to honor these prices. Kindly note that prices do change and we may not be able to honor the rates shown on this page in six months, a year, two years and so forth. We will update you when we do decide to send Pelikan pens by flying Pelicans.


New Introduction : Edison Pen Co. Hudson

The Edison Pen Co is a boutique manufacturer of fine fountain pens based solely out of Milan, Ohio. Brian, the expert pen craftsman, chief cook and bottle washer of Edison Pens, debuts his first mass produced line of fountain pens, called The "Hudson" - Now available at Goldspot Pens.

Prior to 2011, The Edison Pen Co developed a sterling reputation among fountain pen fanatics on Fountain Pen Network for his custom designs. Yours truly even indulged in a custom piece back in 2009 to commemorate my first Daughter's birth. To give a sense of his word-of-mouth popularity, when I was open for suggestions on a pen I should buy to celebrate my first-born, every other comment on my initial post was EDISON.

However, there is a price to pay for custom quality. Starting at $250 for a steel nib, the cost is a bit on the high side, but well worth it considering I got to hand pick (via webcam) the actual bar of acrylic that was used to make my pen. Until now, there has not been much of an option for someone to try out a steel nib Edison Pen at a lower price. Enter the Hudson.

The Hudson ($150) is available in three resin colors - black, emerald green and ruby. The black is a pull-no-punches, polished, glossy finish with a silver clip. The emerald green is a dark and moody color, shimmering a lush green luster as you turn the pen, while looking almost black in certain light. The Ruby is a brilliantly lighter version of the same resin material, becoming translucent enough to see through some of the inner workings of the pen.

The stainless steel nib fitted on each pen is engraved with the Edison Pen Co logo. Available in fine, medium or broad (and I've tried all three as you can see by my writing sample below). The writing experience with each was smooth very pleasing. The fine, to my surprise, wrote more like an extra fine and I don't see myself often going to the medium as my favorite, but for the Hudson, it is true.

Each of the pens is handsomely presented in a faux croc leatherette pen gift box that has the Edison Pen Co logo screened on the inside lid of the box. A converter is included with purchase (no cartridges), but it can be filled either by international ink cartridge or via bottled ink with converter.

For a visual comparison, I took a few pictures of the Hudson with my custom Edison Herald and my TWSBI fountain pen to give you a reference to its size and quality. Would definitely recommend that you put one in your Goldspot shopping cart today!

A Call to All Pen Bloggers

There are a lot of you out there that love writing about writing instruments.  Personally, I have subscribed to over 40 blogs alone that cover pens, paper and ink and the list is always growing. Starting and maintaining a blog about fine pens can be an expensive and time consuming proposition. Goldspot aims to make it a rewarding one as well.

With our Blogger Discount Program you can choose from our vast array of pen brands ink and paper and receive extra discounts on every order that you place. We want to make your hobby as cost effective as possible. Whether what you're looking for is a Rhodia notebook or a Visconti Rembrandt Eco Roller, we want to supply your writing habits with plenty of tools to talk about on the internet.

To apply, please post your first name, the name of your blog that you currently run and its website address. You must be an administrator of that blog and there has to be a way to contact you through your website (via e-mail or contact form). We will get in touch with you directly to give you more details on the discounts we offer.

Remember, no blog is too small - just as long as you keep it current with new posts every so often. I know I'm sometimes guilty of letting the blog go a week or two without update, which is like an eternity for the internet culture.


Cross C-Series Rollerball Review

Cross is always looking to bridge the high-tech roadster aesthetic with a writing instrument and was extremely successful with the C-Series. Having produced duds like the Autocross ballpen and the Turismo, Cross was coming up light on the masculine pen design until they nailed it with the large, heavy-hitting C-Series rollerball.

The unique feature to the C-Series is that it was the first Cross Pen to feature a twist-action gel ink rollerball. In fact, you can choose between either the Jumbo "Selectip" ballpoint cartridge or the gel ink rollerball cartridge. Of course I needed to try out both for the writing sample below:

Since I'm more of a fountain pen guy anyway, the liquid flow of the gel ink refill seemed more of a natural fit. Although the weight does make it feel more like a luxury pen, the balance seems to be a bit back heavy when writing and the faceted chrome tip is not very pleasing to hold either, making the pen more of a looker than a solid writer.

The spring-loaded clip with the hex screw nut detail is a great convenience for those clipping their hefty C-Series to their pocket. After noticing that your posture is now slouching over as you have the pen perched in the shirt pocket, it may be a good idea to store it in a leather pen case instead.

  • Writing Quality : Heavy back end and chrome grip design does not suit long writing sessions. (grade C-)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Certainly a solid pen with great metal trim design and motor-head features. (grade A)
  • Utility : Ability to go from ballpen to rollerball is convenient. Spring loaded clip is sturdy and well designed. (grade B+)
  • Price : At $100 retail, the C-Series rollerball is a bit on the high end for a Cross Pen. However, compare the size and weight to a typical $40 Cross Century ballpen and you see a significant difference, but it really does not justify the cost.  (grade C)

Final Grade : B
Although the C-Series does appear a grand entry into the world of fine-writing, its lack of everyday writing quality and higher price point make it an average value pen buy.


Preview of Visconti's Van Gogh Impressionist's Collection

This pen has me excited.

I don't say it often, but when a design like this hits my eye and comes together in a sweet package, it gets me itchy to put my hands on it. The Van Gogh isn't anything exceptionally new - the Visconti line has been around for a while and was discontinued about a year or so ago. The layered, painterly pattern of colors offer a canvas-like appearance of the finish - something that is not seen in the fine writing industry.

So, when I got the word that Visconti was reviving the Van Gogh, needless to say, I was stoked. When I saw the photos, I was in love.

Cut from the same "mold" as the new Visconti Michelangelo, the new Van Gogh also has 18 faceted sides, magnetically sealed cap and an intricately engraved cap band. Visconti pays tribute to the artist's works by creating three finishes named Starry Night (seen above), Room at Arles and The Sunflowers.

Room at Arles
The Sunflowers
As you can see with the handsome packaging, each pen is carefully crafted to mimic the painter's thick application of oil paint on canvas in each of the works. Each color will be available as a twist-action ballpoint pen, rollerball, eco-roller and fountain pen. The fountain pen is fitted with a finely engraved, polished, steel nib in fine, medium or broad sizes and uses either ink cartridge or converter to fill.

I've always wanted to have an eco-roller (or other brand equivalent of a fountain-like filling rollerball)  as part of my collection and I think this will be a great occasion to give one a shot.

Retail prices are estimated at $199 for ballpoint, $249 rollerball, $259 eco-roller, $279 fountain pen. Unveiling this September. Possible pen of the year candidate, anyone?


Montegrappa is King of the Ring

As announced today by Montegrappa's Press Release :

"We are both pleased and humbled to learn that the editors of Robb Report, the USA's most prestigious luxury journal, have selected Montegrappa Icons Tribute to Muhammad Ali Knockout Edition as the "Best of the Best" Pen in their just-published signature June issue. This 23rd annual "Best of the Best" edition represents an entire year's search for the luxury world's most exceptional new products and services.

"Achieving this honour is a monumental accomplishment for Italy's oldest pen manufacturer, for the winning pen had to compete with every pen launched in the previous year, from around the globe. Such an honour recognizes the achievements of our design team and those who construct the actual pens, for any writing instrument earning the title "Best of the Best" must excel in both form and function.
"Montegrappa's Icons Tribute to Muhammad Ali limited edition addresses key elements of Muhammad Ali's life. 1942 is the year of his birth. He fought 61 fights. He won 56. His wins by knockout numbered 37. Guided by these figures, Montegrappa will issue 1942 fountain pens and 1942 roller balls in resin with sterling silver trims, 61 fountain pens with solid gold trims and 56 roller balls with solid gold trims. The Knockout Edition honoured by Robb Report is an exclusive version of the gold-trimmed pens, set with diamonds in the cap's end-piece. Only 37 in total will be produced, the client selecting either fountain pen or roller ball.

"Each solid gold version will bear a number corresponding to a specific opponent and fight, the pen engraved with the fighter’s name, as well as the date and location of the event.

"As a special benefit for being selected as a 2011 "Best of the Best" winner, Montegrappa enthusiasts can read the article describing Montegrappa's achievement thanks to Robb Report granting Montegrappa complimentary access to the article."

Congrats to Montegrappa! They did a fine job wit this limited edition and we cannot wait to see what they have in store for the Frank Sinatra Icons limited edition pen that will debut later this year!


After 3 Years - My Favorite Bird Pen

Hello Old Friend,

A month or so ago, we were discussing the best beginner fountain pens and the Pelikan tradition series came up as one of them. That got me thinking of my own Pelikan m215 and how I've never *gasp* done a formal review on it. What better way to pay tribute to my trusty stylo-sidekick than to review it three years after first writing with it.

Many reviews usually speak of the pen when it is brand new, right out of the box with a small amount of use. Yes, you can certainly get an idea if you will enjoy the pen after writing with it for only 10-15 minutes, but there are little quirky things that you tend to notice weeks, if not months down the line. After all, the true test of a pen (or any other product) is how it holds up over time and use.

If I were to review the pen the first day I started writing with it, I would be able to agree with my former-self that the nib writes like a dream for being stainless steel. Impeccably smooth while retaining the characteristic of a very, very fine line (almost extra-fine).  Nothing has changed in that aspect, but the one thing I have noticed after loading it up with so many varieties of ink is that some darker colors make the nib drier and stubborn to write with. Specifically, darker Noodler's colors (bulletproof black, blue-black) tended to make it hard to start writing, skipping occasionally. My favorite dark color to use with it is Sailor Jentle Blue-Black, followed by Aurora Black.

The patented Pelikan piston-filling mechanism is exceptional at getting a full fill of ink that lasts me about a month! True, I may not write with it every day, but pacing it with other pens that I use in the same manner, the time between refills is the longest for the Pelikan.

As with any fountain pen, you want to make sure that you do a routine rinse cleaning between changing ink colors and if you are planning on putting away the pen for a while. What I have noticed about the piston is that it gets a little stiff and tough to turn if its been out of use for a while, even if I clean it my very best. Not a big deal, but I do wish it was easy for me to take apart like my TWSBI so I can make sure there isn't any ink sediment stuck to the piston.

One of my favorite design features of the m215 is the length and weight of the pen while the cap is posted on the back-end. Comfortable and compact, I can write endlessly and effortlessly. However, the cap is the source of my two biggest complaints about the pen. For starters, posting it on the back will inevitably cause fine scratches on the bottom of the blue body. Not a big deal, it's typical wear and tear. What annoys me the most is the looseness of the screw threads to the top of the pen to keep it capped. Often, I would wear the pen in my shirt pocket and reach for it, only to see that I've gotten the cap, but no pen. Point up and ready to stain my shirt, the Pelikan got out of its cage! While it is a very smooth thread, it really does not tighten fully when you screw the pen shut. A slight jostle here and there and the cap loosens in a way that other pens I own do not.

Despite the minor foibles in the Pelikan's character, the m215 remains as one of my favorite fountain pens that I believe should be in all fountain pen enthusiast's collections. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the m215 has been discontinued and the specific blue/black that I have is no longer available, but I would recommend, with equal vigor, that you opt for the m205 in its place. It has almost equal size and balance, while being a bit lighter in weight.

For another opinion, check out Office Supply Geek's Review on the Pelikan m215.


The Best Pen Catalog Ever?

The Goldspot annual 2012 catalog has now reached both coasts of the US. Hundreds of the newest and best pens are being crammed into mailboxes nationwide. If you are a recent customer of Goldspot, you should have received your complimentary copy. If not, we have the entire 48 pages online or you can contact us at orders@goldspot.com to request a copy be mailed to you.

Some of the NEW features you'll see in this issue:
  • Gigantic pen photos.
  • Closeup shots of details and nibs.
  • Refill suggestions on the bottom of almost every brand-specific page.
  • Size Guide dimension measurements for dozens of popular pens.
  • New releases from Pelikan, Conklin, Visconti, Waterman, Aurora, Parker, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jac Zagoory and ONLINE...to name a few.
  • Over 200 colors of bottled ink listed.
  • Writing accessories like diaries, academic calendars, Filofax organizers, Rhodia notepads and desk pen holders.
Many of the tweaks and the new features that you see in this issue have been inspired by your input. For your comments and suggestions, we greatly thank our fans and hope that they enjoy the new catalog as much as we did making it for you.