Top Pen Trends of 2010

Goldspot works with dozens of brands and manufacturers every year that roll out their newest styles and colors to captivate the fine writing market. Some ideas tend to overlap when a need has been discovered for a particular type of pen. Here are the hottest pen trends that we have found in 2010 (in no particular order):
  • Always Bet on Black -  The style of black on black has been a hot one replicated by several prominent brands. For example, Monteverde has their Invincia Stealth Black, Retro 51 made a Tornado Stealth and Parker released their Premier Special Edition in all black. 
  • More Special Editions - Speaking of the Premier Special Edition, more manufacturers are leaning toward producing limited runs (in the neighborhood of 50 pieces) of pens that use a specific material or design that is exclusive to the production. Conway Stewart has been offering a special edition finish every month that usually sells out. Just recently, Visconti developed a few Opera Club special colors that are in short supply.
  • A Rollerball that Writes Like a Fountain - Both Visconti and Monteverde have jockeyed for the claim to fame that they are producing a rollerball pen that refills like a fountain pen. On one side, you have the Monteverde Invincia Ink Ball, which is a current iteration of the Mega Ink Ball pens that were once popular a few years ago, but have sizzled after the economy tanked. In the opposing corner, you have the Visconti Rembrandt Eco Roller, which promotes eco-friendly writing, despite needing a new replacement front end every 15 fills.
  • Paper is Important, Too - With a resurgence in idea notebooks like the Moleskine, writers and creatives across the world are now toting a little black book to dump all ideas, sketches and brilliant (or not-so-brilliant schemes) that may come to mind. However, fountain pen users have quickly responded to the sub quality paper for their nibs. In comes Rhodia, who has filled the market demand for high-quality, affordable notebooks that work like a dream with any fountain pen. Rhodia has worked out so well that Levenger decided to offer their infamous Circa notebook system with Rhodia paper.


Top 5 Pen Articles of 2010

When we're not reviewing pens and inks, we are talking about writing, owning fine pens and what it means to be a pen enthusiast. Here are the Top 5 Articles of 2010 that you have voted on with your clicker fingers.
  1. Teaser of the Parker Premier Special Edition Black - It figures that the most popular article was also one of the shortest. I took a few shots with my cellphone when our Parker rep came for a visit to show off the new special edition Parker and thought that it would be a real blast for Parker fans to see a sneak peek of the pen before its release.
  2. Voting for Pen of the Year 2010 - In its third year, we're hoping that the Goldspot reader's choice POTY vote will be a fun and important staple in every pen fan's calendar come November.
  3. I have a HUNCH you don't know much about pens - Sometimes technology, i.e. the newest, whiz-bang, Google-killer needs to be put in its place. Check out our review on using Hunch to recommend a pen.
  4. Pen Spotlight - Noodler's Pens & Ink Samples - One of our grab-bag entries that discusses swabbed ink samples and the new Noodler's fountain pens.
  5. New Pen Buying Guide - One of the last few posts preceding our first Pen Show in October, this guide was meant to help those who would be looking to buy a new pen and may be intimidated by the process and the prices.
Any particular favorite articles that you have read this year? Please comment below and make me feel honored to have you as my reader.


Top 5 Pen Reviews of 2010

We're wrapping-up 2010 with some "best-of" posts that recap the last year of articles, news and reviews that have been showcased on this blog. Firstoff, the Top 5 Pen Reviews of 2010. What makes it the "tops?" We compared all of our reviews using visitor traffic as the measuring stick.
  1. Visconti Homo Sapiens Fountain Pen - Runner up to the 2010 Pen of the Year, the HS made a huge splash in the pen industry this year by introducing new pen-making materials and an epic theme.
  2. Lamy Studio Stainless Steel Fountain Pen - Among the best stainless steel fountain pens that you can find under $100, the Studio is a must-have in any pen collection.
  3. Pelikan m200 Italic Fountain Pen - Manufacturers have been big on italic this year, realizing that there are still people out there that want that additional flair to their writing.
  4. Parker Premier Silver Fountain Pen - One of Parker's biggest releases in the last several years, the Premier is poised to bring Parker back to prominence as a player in the pen market (say that three times fast). With their release of the Black Special Edition that has done very well at the end of this year, there is indication that the Premier has saved the brand from irrelevancy.
  5. Cross Affinity Crimson Red Fountain Pen - There's a lot to love about the Affinity. Cross actually decided to make a comfortable, inexpensive and smooth-writing fountain pen. Who knew they could do such a thing?
I know we've taken a bit of a break on pen reviews and haven't done one since September, but I promise there will be more to come, especially for 2011, and they are going to be more in depth and interesting to check out than ever before!


Pen Spotlight - Holiday Edition

Holey Moley, has it been a crazy December! Our day-to-day work has consisted of picking, packing, express, overnight, engraving, giftwrap, rush orders, bulk orders and phone calls non-stop from Black Friday Weekend. It's a double edged sword - you nearly go crazy with all the work, but everyone gets their gifts in-time and our company benefits from the business.

We'll be enjoying a well-deserved break this weekend and will close the office from Friday, Dec 24th to re-open on Monday, Dec 27th. The Website will be OPEN 24/7 and we will have FREE SHIPPING on orders of $75 or more throughout the end of the year.

Although we've been running ourselves ragged processing orders this December, we have added a few new products and brands to the site that we would like to share:
  • TWSBI (Goldspot's Pen of the Year 2010) - The fans have spoken! Due to the great response on the voting of Pen of the Year, we have acquired these TWSBI pens to sell direct through Goldspot.com.
  • Visconti Opera Club Limited Edition - Only limited to a mere 40 to 70 pieces per writing style, these rare colors of Visconti's popular Opera pen are sure to sell fast.
  • J Herbin - We really haven't talked much about the French ink-maker, but we've started selling Herbin in the last month or so and I personally look forward to trying out a few of their inks in my fountain pens.
  • Sailor, Japan - Yes, it's so new that we don't even have it up on the site yet. We're still in the process of getting the photography together, but we will be able to offer the fantastic writing quality of Sailor pens in a few short weeks.
And now, for some Link Sharing -
  • Although it may have been more helpful a few weeks ago, you may be able to see where you went wrong in giving your office gift by reading Monster's the Do's and Dont's of Exchanging Gifts at Work
  • Pen & Paper connoisseur Pocket Blonde does a helpful, side-by-side comparison of fountain pens that write with a "fine line." This is great if you have a pen in one of the brands that is listed and was always wondering how the line would compare in a different pen model.
  • Lady Dandelion does a similar comparison using italic and oblique nibs in her post titled "Width Matters."


Holiday Ink Giveaway

Goldspot wants to give away a gift every week until the end of the year to our faithful newsletter subscribers. This week, we are going to give away a bottle of Noodlers Eternal Luxury Blue fountain pen ink (Retail value $13.50 each).

Rules :
  • You have to be a current newsletter subscriber. If you are already subscribed, you're already entered into the giveaway! If you are not subscribed or not sure if you are, please sign up for our pen e-mail newsletter.
  • Your ship-to address must be in the United States.
We will select the winner on Friday, December 17th at 3pm Eastern Time. The winner will be selected at random from our current e-mail subscriber list.


Pens in Time for Christmas and Free Shipping? YES!

Now that we're officially inside two weeks of XMAS, we know that our customers are growing more concerned about receiving their gifts on-time. For our US customers, the last possible day that UPS and the US Postal Service will deliver is Christmas Eve, December 24th.

We have a Free Standard Shipping promotion code (expires 12/31/10) on our catalog fliers that are going out in every shipment. It is for any order of $75 or more that is placed with a shipping address in the continental United States. So, many of you may want to know, when would be the last possible day that I can place an order with FREE SHIPPING that would make it in time? Consult this handy-dandy chart below (click to make larger):

Please don't take this as an excuse to procrastinate a few more days before placing your order! We want those fingers clicking over to the Goldspot Pens Store as soon as possible so that you can be both thrifty and on-time. To verify stock, please call our elves - I mean customer service at 800-963-7367. Items with tags on the site are usually IN-STOCK, but that information can change faster than the website can handle. It is best to contact us directly with urgent, time-sensitive orders.


3 Pens on My Wishlist

Dear Santa,

I've been a good little boy who likes pens. Really, really nice pens. You may have to call on your elves from Italy and Japan to help out making these.

Namiki Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque Fountain Pen in Fine Point - The Japanese-made Pilot Vanishing point is compulsory in any fountain pen fanatics collection like a Lamy Safari or Pelikan would be. I mean, who else makes a click-top, retractable fountain pen with a gold nib and still under $200 retail? The blue carbonesque is a finish that you don't see everyday, which makes it distinctly part of this series. Convenience and the writing experience of a fountain pen - what else can a boy ask for?

Aurora Optima Auroloide Blue w/ gold trim Fountain Pen in Extra-Fine Point -This is one of those pens that would be on my "if I had the money.." or "hit the lotto" scenarios. The Optima is one of the few piston-filling fountain pens that has such a great, classic style about it. Blue and Gold is such a classy, yet underutilized color combination. The size and weight are perfect for daily writing. The large 14kt solid gold nib is also a pleasure to write with, even if you leave it inked in a desk for weeks, so I've been told.

Visconti Rembrandt Eco Roller in Blue - "Another blue pen?" remarks Santa. Yes! Blue is a staple of my collection thus far. The Eco Roller uses a rollerball front section, but fills like a fountain pen by ink cartridge or converter (included). The blue is a magnificent dark tone with plenty of variations, almost like it was painted on a canvas. The magnetic cap is truly convenient, plus I can put my initials on top of the cap with the Visconti My Pen System.

Going to need to ask for a pen case with all of these, too. Maybe next year  ;)


5 Pens to Recognize your Employees and Clients

As the fourth quarter, the Holiday Season and 2010 draws to a close, it is typical business etiquette to show your appreciation to those who have helped you in making this year a successful one. If you're looking for a great value pen to give as a token of your gratitude, then look no further! Goldspot has a great selection of business-appropriate pens.

Waterford Metro - Classic styling and signified quality backed by the Waterford name, the Metro is a full sized pen that is dressed for the boardroom. Handsomely presented in a glossy black gift box and priced to move at under $50 for either the twist-action ballpoint or capped rollerball.

Waterman Carene Garnet Red  - When you think classic fine writing quality, one of the first brands that usually comes to mind is Waterman. There is hardly a better value than that of the Carene pens we have on Waterman Clearance. Half-off selected styles with limited inventory.

Cross Classic Century Satin Blue Ballpoint Pen - Can't talk Corporate gifts without mentioning Cross. Always a reliable standby when it comes to choosing pens for your clients, retirees or executives, the satin blue w/ gold trim is a classy and rare pen that has been discontinued and on sale for 20% off.

Parker Urban Contemporary Finishes - Strong, architectural patterns chiseled into the metallic body of this pen give the Urban a modern, high-tech appeal. Available in metallic black or white, the Urban is moderately priced upholds Parker quality standards.

Fisher Space Pen Bullet Lacquered - For the dressed-down bosses that prefer to keep things fun and lively, the colorful and functional Bullet Space Pen is a perfect match. Under $25 each, the Bullet offers convenience, utility and personality. There are several colors available, which could match one of your company's colors. Engraving looks really sharp on any of these pens and is usually a good idea, especially if you have coworkers that like to abscond with your pens...

As always, we recommend you call our customer service line (800-963-7367) to check stock on any bulk order. Depending on the price and the quantity ordered, we can also offer quantity discounts.  At this time of year, it is especially important to give us a call right away so that delivery is guaranteed before the big office party.


3 Gift Ideas for the Fountain Pen n00b

Yes, you n00b. For those lacking savvy in web gaming vernacular, "n00b" (or newb, newbie, etc) is synonymous with novice or newcomer. I think it is fair to say that there are more young people who own an iPod than those who own a fountain pen. But that's OK. We're going to change that this year.

We've been swamped. The Holidays have started early this year, and we would like to address some common questions that our customers have while they make their list (& checking it twice). One topic that we would like to offer our insight on is, "what is a good starter fountain pen?"

It's a great gift idea. While there are an overabundance of technological gadgets and tchotchkes that will be flying off the shelves this December, throw your loved ones a change-up this year and wrap up one of these :
  • Lamy Safari - almost a no-brainer in suggesting an all-time best-selling fountain pen. What's not to like? Inexpensive at under $30, available in an assortment of brightly colored, sturdy ABS plastic and fitted with a durable stainless steel nib that will withstand the initial adjustment for the writer to adapt to a fountain pen nib. One caveat to the Safari for the holidays is its no-frills packaging cardboard tube - not very presentable unless you giftwrap it.  Also, they are only sold with one disposable ink cartridge, so buy the converter separately to give the ability to fill from an ink bottle.
  • Parker Urban Fountain Pen Kit - an incredible value at $39.95, the kit offers a black Parker fountain pen with gold-plated trim, a bottle of Parker black "Quink" ink, a converter, ink cartridges, an instruction booklet on "how to write with a fountain pen" and a cleaning cloth. This is a great idea for someone who always wanted to try a fountain pen and was not sure on how to care and write with one. 
  • Waterman Phileas - Largely considered to be one of the most popular entry-level luxury fountain pens, the Phileas brings classic Art Deco style with a smooth-writing stainless steel nib. The Phileas is a more high-class option that is still affordable ($42-$60) and is sold in a Waterman blue leatherette box and comes with converter and ink cartridge.

We have plenty of these options in-stock and ready-to-ship for all your gifting needs. If anyone needs any pen suggestions, feel free to drop a comment!


Happy Thanksgiving + 9 Black Friday Deals on Goldspot

First and Foremost : HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all our customers, fans, readers and pen-loving people! We wish you the healthiest and happiest Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Goldspot will be enjoying the Holiday with their loved ones on Thursday and Friday this week, so our offices will be closed until Monday, December 29th. However, our website will still be taking orders around the clock! Also, UPS will not be delivering ground shipments on Thursday or Friday. Only Air shipments will be delivered on Black Friday. If you need to contact us during the weekend, please call 800-963-7367 and leave a voicemail for customer service. Alternatively, you may also visit our Goldspot Help section of our website to send an e-mail to our attention.

Now, down to business...

We've got some extraordinary deals going on STARTING NOW for Black Friday weekend. That's right. No lines, no waking up at the crack of dawn, no coupons to cut. This year, not only are the BLACK TAGS back to help you find extra discounts on 1,000's of pens and accessories, we also have a Black Friday Flyer up on our website for 9 special offers that will be running throughout the weekend.

For example, we have a fountain pen bundle deal with the Visconti Homo Sapiens : Order any Visconti Homo Sapiens fountain pen and receive a free bottle of Visconti Ink, free Visconti ink blotting paper, a free Rhodia notebook and the free my pen system personalization (initials only).

Google Checkout is also running a promotion this weekend to take an extra $20 off your order of $200 or more. That means you can take advantage of the Black Tag pricing, buy a special off our flyer and check out with Google to really stack your savings. Kindly note that you must checkout through Google Checkout in order to take advantage of the $20 off $200 deal.

This is a perfect time to buy up all your gifts for your family, friends, significant other, acquaintances, coworkers, and business associates. If you need any suggestions, feel free to browse this blog or visit our clearance section for great gift ideas and all-time low prices.


News on The ACME Beatles Collection 2011

"Here comes the ...."
Pens! Do-do-do-do...

On the heels of the Apple announcement on Tuesday that brought the Fab Four on to iTunes, ACME has released more information regarding their new Beatles Collection that is due to debut sometime in 2011.

At this moment, the Beatles Collection of ACME writing instruments will consist of the following:
  • 9 limited edition rollerball pens, one for each year the Beatles were together in editions of 1,962 to 1,970 pens. Packaged in a black Beatles box for ~$98 each.
  • 13 limited edition rollerball pen and card cases, one for every UK album they ever produced. Limited to editions of 1,000 in each style. Packaged in mini album covers for ~$120 each.
  • One limited set of four pens, one of each for John, Paul, George and Ringo in an edition of 600 sets. The four pen set will consist of one rollerball pen, one fountain pen, one ballpoint pen and one felt-tip (all interchangeable) Packaged in a black Beatles box for ~$450 each.
  • One limited edition pen interchangeable from rollerball to fountain (parts included) in an edition of 1,000 pens, packaged in a black Beatles box for ~$120 each.
  • 3 limited edition watches for ~$90 each.
  • 3 eyeglass cases, not limited edition.
Prices and details may vary as the collection gets closer to launch. Goldspot Pens will be placing pre-orders for the Beatles so that we can try and get our hands on some good numbers. If you would like to express your interest in purchasing these pens, please do comment on this post and we will include you in our e-mail update list.


Pen Spotlight - The Beatles, Disney and a Montblanc Kills a Macbook

Congrats to Retro 51 for winning the North American Global Stationery Product of the Year - 2010! As you can imagine, Disney licenses Mickey and friends to an awful lot of consumer products. Retro 51 has done a praiseworthy job at infusing the Disney characters with their vintage, nostalgic designs.

I had to chuckle when I read this article from TechCrunch called Yep, Montblanc killed my Macbook Pro Today. It is a playful, tongue-in-cheek story about a Luddite writer that traded his Macbook laptop for a Montblanc fountain pen.

And finally,
Need I say more?
I will - ACME Studio, based in Hawaii, is going to introduce the Beatles licensed pen in 2011. Not much is known about the design(s), but you can expect some aesthetically pleasing design that is in-line with the style of the band. Previous limited collections include the Simpsons, Blue Man Group, and Elvis Presley.

My best guess is that these pens will price around the $90 to $120 range and will be highly desirable for collectors of both the Beatles and ACME pens. We are on a list of retailers who are going to be kept up-to-date on the anticipated release and will pass along new information to you, our pen public, as soon as we receive it.


Send our Troops a Gift to Write Home About

Our US servicemen and women work hard and sacrifice so much for us overseas. Through the United States Postal Service, we are able to provide the same standard shipping & ground rates to APO & FPO addresses as we would with any domestic US address. That means we can ship pens and other accessories by US Priority Mail starting at $6.95, with refills going by US First Class starting at $3.25. Both starting rates are for the first five items of the order. We will also honor free shipping promotion codes that usually apply to continental US - on orders that are placed with an APO/FPO address.

Priority mail may not show up as an option on the list of shipping methods when checking out. If this happens, simply select UPS ground for the same price and we will ensure the package is sent properly.

A couple quick tips about addressing for APO / FPO addresses:
  • Use the service member's full name - mail must be addressed to someone specific.
  • Include the Unit and APO / FPO - (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) with nine-digit zip code (if one is assigned)
  • Example :
    Seaman Joseph Doe
    USCGC Hamilton
    FPO AP 96667-3931

Pictured in this post are the Visconti Rembrandt pens available in Red, Ivory and Blue. If you need any assistance placing an order that is being shipped to an APO / FPO address, please feel free to give us a call during our office hours at 800-963-PENS.


New Noodler's Ink : Black Swan in Australian Roses

Quite a title, isn't it? A brand new ink from Noodler's, the Black Swan in Australian Roses looks to be one of those inks that every fountain pen enthusiast who has a bottle or two of Noodler's would be "dye"ing to try.

We just caught word via e-mail from the distributor about this ink, so I have no prior experience with it, however, you can check out this neat video that is up on YouTube, explaining about the characteristics of the ink.

For a written description, this is directly from Noodler's Ink:

This ink exhibits a rose halo on certain papers on both sides of the line, as well as exhibiting darker shading on the edges of lines where the tine of the nib touches the page or a side of an italic nib lays a firmer line. It is approximately 16% “bulletproof” and is made up of dyes with multiple properties in order to generate the various shading and different tones under various light sources (it will look different in daylight versus fluorescent lighting – for example). It functions as a conventional fountain pen ink and thus writes in just about every pen one can think of….including the Noodler’s piston filled ink ball pens. The ink inhabits a neutral pH range about 7, though in time it might migrate to 7.5 or 6.5 (that won’t be known until after the passage of time). With certain pens it will appear to be a very conservative dark burgundy plum, whereas it will be a light cherry tone with drier writing pens – and a paper towel test will always show the black swan hiding in the roses.

Be the first to try Black Swan in Australian Roses : 3 oz bottle for $12.50 each.

The Cartridge Vs. The Converter

Many times you will hear of a fountain pen commonly offered with the cartridge / converter filling system. This means that the fountain pen can either accept disposable ink cartridges or use the refillable, screw-type converter that can draw ink from a bottle. My intention of this article is to pit the both of them in bloody battle and see who would triumph gloriously.

Just kidding, but I did want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using either method of filling your fountain pen. This information is especially useful for first-time fountain pen owners, so listen up. You don't want to get ink all over your nice sweater before Thanksgiving Dinner, or on the Turkey, for that matter.

Cartridges are, by far, the easiest between the two. They are fully supplied with ink, so when you pop that sucker into the front section of your fountain pen and hear the satisfying snap of the insert being pierced, you know you are moments away from writing the Great American Novel, or signing your expense reports, or writing a passive-aggressive note for the noisy neighbor upstairs.

No mess filling your pen, but it does take a few moments to get that ink into the feed and to the point. To juice the process, I usually like to give the ink cartridge a gentle squeeze with my thumb and forefinger to get the ink down faster. Removal is as easy as taking out the empty cartridge and throwing it away.

The big negative with going the cartridge route of filling your fountain pen is that they are disposable, hurting the environment and your wallet at the same time. Buying box after box of cartridges isn't as cost-efficient as getting bottles of ink. Also, there hardly is as much of a color variety as there is with bottled ink. Most manufacturers will simply offer the blue, black and blue-black, while their selection of bottled inks will have every color "under the rainbow."

Converters are the modern compromise between the traditional bottle-filling systems of old with the industrialized notion of interchangeable parts. Without going into a whole historical tangent, the converter's purpose is to allow the user to fill their fountain pen in an old-fashioned way without having to worry about delicate pen repair down the road. You simply insert the converter in the same manner you would a cartridge. Seat it properly into the front section of the pen. Then, submerge the nib and feed into your bottle of fountain pen-friendly ink. Screw the black knob clockwise to draw ink up through the nib into the converter's ink chamber. Screw anti-(counter)clockwise to expel the contents (air, ink or water) out of the converter. This may take several twists up-and-down to get the proper suction, making sure all of the air is removed from the converter and that you are drawing up only ink. Filling via converter is a process that takes several tries to get a handle on it and novices are sure to get their fingers inky at first. Heck, I still get inky sometimes.

There are two main "draws" with a converter : one is the actual process itself. It may be nostalgic for some, while many also experience a sense of being deliberate and caring for your writing implement. With so many of our modern consumer items being disposable, it is a nice change-of-pace to actually take the time and fill your fountain pen, getting it ready to meet the day's tasks head-on! The second point is that it is more cost-effective to fill from an ink bottle than it is to continually buy cartridges. By the time you are buying package after package of disposable ink cartridges that last a few months, you could have had a whole collection of modestly priced ink bottles to last you a few years. There are online communities like Fountain Pen Network that encourage ink swapping or ink sampling, which would mean getting small 2 mL samples of different brands, hues and formulas of ink to find one that you really would love to get a bottle of.

The intimidating part of using the converter over a cartridge is the potentially messy process. The closest activity I can relate it to is changing the oil on your car. It is far more satisfying to do the job yourself, but you need to take time and get a little messy to accomplish. Taking the car to Lube 'N Go will be more expensive, but far less effort involved. If the oil came in different colors, which would change the colors of your exhaust, now we'd be much closer to the experience of filling a fountain pen.

Bottom Line - Most pen manufacturers offer both the converter and one ink cartridge with the purchase of a new fountain pen for the same reason that both Jiffy Lube and Advance Auto Parts are around. There are people who prefer to be more hands on, while there are others who want to keep things simple. It really depends on the effort of the individual. Not that I'm saying people who use ink cartridges are lazy, they just would rather concentrate their daily efforts elsewhere. People who like filling their fountain pen with a converter want to invest themselves into their writing instrument and are willing to take the risk of getting ink on their hands because it is part of the charm, the very reason why they selected a fountain pen to write with in the first place.


Parker Premier SE Black BP Equipped with Quinkflow

In the age of the Schmidt Easy-Flow 9000 and Monteverde Soft-Roll ballpoint ink cartridges, Parker, who has been the long-standing bar of measure for the aptly-named Parker-style ballpoint refills, had fallen behind in quality. Many of our customers rave about the smoothness, ink flow and long-lasting qualities of the Monteverde or Schmidt refills, often buying the refills with the intent to exchange the misbegotten Parker cartridge in the pen they just purchased. Parker ballpoint refills just didn't match up to the new technologies that were being developed and introduced into the market.

Finally, with the introduction of the new Premier SE Stealth Black ballpoint, we get a glimpse of the Parker Quinkflow ballpoint cartridge, which is equipped in every Premier SE ballpoint. According to the Parker propaganda website, they promise a smoother, cleaner and more consistent writing performance. Lipstick on a pig? I say no.

I did have my skepticism at first, but then when I tried it side-by-side with a regular Parker ballpoint, I was struck by the immense difference. Smoother? Check. Cleaner? Double Check. More consistent writing performance? Don't know about that since I only got to try it for a few minutes. It is definitely a significant improvement over the standard Parker ballpoint cartridge that now comes standard in virtually every Parker Pen (and many more brands, for that matter). But, now that we've gotten a taste of what better writing quality could be, what do we do now?

The introduction of the Quinkflow technology as a separate refill for sale is not available at the moment. However, Parker will be including the Quinkflow refill in every new purchase of a Duofold, Premier or Sonnet Precious ballpoint pen. It is a rolling change that will take effect at the end of this year into next year. The refills themselves should be available for sale in North America by the beginning of December. I anticipate that the Quinkflow refill will be a separate offering to the regular ballpoint for a while, probably at a higher price point. Although, with all of the competition and Parker-Style clones out there that already outperform the brand's own refill, I would imagine it is a matter of time until the standard Parker refill is no more and the Quinkflow is the wave of Parker's future.


Pen of the Year 2010 Winner

Our readers, fans, followers and pen enthusiasts from all reaches of the internet have spoken. Drum roll please..............*fuddles with envelope*

The winner of the Goldspot Pen of the Year 2010 is the TWSBI Diamond 530 Fountain Pen!

The TWSBI ran away with it, taking an early lead and dominating the vote with over 40% of the vote at one point during the week. With the voting finalized, the winner ended up with 38.07% of the total vote, beating out rival Visconti Homo Sapiens by a large margin. It certainly wasn't close, folks!

Showing in third place is the Pelikan m800 Blue 'O Blue finish with the Parker Premier SE Black rounding out your Pick-4.

Some of the "other" selections that were not shown on the poll that users had voted for : Taccia Merit, Namiki Falcon (non-metal version), Pilot 78G, Delta Turchese Meraviglia Stantuffo. 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the vote and promoting it on Facebook and Twitter. We hope you had fun. Looking forward to seeing all the new pens that are introduced in 2011 and doing this all over again next November!


Pen Spotlight - Veni, Vidi, Voting

While voting for Election 2010 has now concluded, voting for Pen of the Year 2010 continues until Tuesday, November 9th. Cast your Vote for your favorite pen.

A pair of spotlight posts come from OfficeSupplyGeek, who was nice enough to take the time to visit and buy some products at our Pen Trunk Show back last month. In a post about our show, he writes about the Montegrappa Muhammad Ali and new Lamy Studio finish that he spotted.

In an interview with one of our own, OSG featured Tom's Desk and favorite office supplies. It is a part of the What's on their Desk series, which is a series of interviews of people in the stationery, fine-writing and office supply industries about what tools do they use everyday.

Okami reviewed the new Delta Italiana fountain pen. The additional photos and writing sample are done very well to give you a great impression of how that pen looks and writes. The "aged/dull" finish of the swirl colors really doesn't translate well in pictures. You have to feel the pen for yourself!

The NoteBooker got a hold of some neat Waterman Harley Davidson Pens. He compared the Harley Free Wheel and Horizon to other fountain pens you may also have in your collection : the Lamy Safari and Monteverde Invincia. We also have them up for sale on our clearance section, as these styles have been discontinued.

Other Pen News:
Tiger Pens talks about a Telegraph article that wrote about how stationery shops are flourishing amid the digital revolution. "Journalers are cool kids now," Tony writes. Yes! Finally!


Vote for Pen of the Year 2010

Voting will be live for 1 week and will close on November 9th at 12:00 AM Eastern Time. Winner will be announced Tuesday on this blog and through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. There is a write-in option if you so please. Remember, have fun!

If you are having any issue with entering an "Other" write in option and it doesn't seem to be going through, you may also leave a comment below with your selection.


Happy Halloween - Special Weekend Treat

Happy Halloween from your friendly pen purveyors at Goldspot Pens!

Our E-mail Newsletter Subscribers had the first crack at this week's special promotion, but now we are opening it up to everyone, young and old, to come knocking on our virtual door to Trick or Treat. (Tip : the promo is also on the banner for this weekend only). This special ends on November 1st, so get working on filling your pillow cases and plastic jack-o-lantern pails.


You Design the Next Filofax Organizer for 2011

Calling all Entries! Filofax USA is challenging its fans to create an organizer design that will be produced in 2011. That's right, see your very own homegrown design in the hands of thousands. The Filofax Designers Challenge is open from October 28th to January 15th 2011. They are looking for creative minds to produce an organizer that continues Filofax's long line of success by dreaming up an exciting design that is fashionable, functional, aspirational and affordable.

Winners of the contest will be picked by a panel of judges with the prizes as follows (posted from Filofax USA's website)

  • First Prize (1) : -  U.S. $2,500,  production and international distribution of your design*, and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions!
  • Second Prize (1) : U.S. $1,000 and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
  • Third Prize (1):  U.S.  $500 and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
  • 5 Honorable Mention Prizes will each receive a U.S. $100 gift certificate redeemable at www.filofaxusa.com and inclusion in Filofax's ‘Winner’s Circle’ promotions.
This is an exciting opportunity for people who are Filofax fans and very handy or crafty. Personally, I would like to see a Filofax that can accept Rhodia paper and had pages that can be interchangeable without opening & closing the rings. I know, sounds a lot like a Circa. A leather embossed outer cover would be pretty sweet as well.

Between this an the Parker Write Big contest we posted about yesterday, are we starting to see a trend develop?




The Parker Write Big Contest - Register to Win a Pen or Trip to NYC

Hey Pen People,

The prestigious Parker Pen company has announced the "Write Big" contest. There are 41 chances to win and 3 sets of prizes. Winners will be selected randomly and from around the globe. One lucky winner will receive a trip to NYC and a Parker gift set including one Parker Premier Special Edition Black Fountain Pen (Retail Value $375), 1 pen pouch, 1 key chain and 1 travel bag. 10 winners will receive a Parker Premier Black Edition Fountain Pen. And 30 winners, selected by a Parker jury, will have their "Write Big" sentences projected in 3D on the front of the Museum of Art and Design in NYC on December 7th, plus they win 1 Parker IM Premium Gunmetal Rollerball.

To Enter, simply visit Parker's Write Big Contest Submission Page and write a sentence beginning with "What if". Share your message with the world! Be wildly creative and say something poignant and defining of our society. Your participation offers one chance of winning. If you invite a friend, it gives you two chances. If the friend registers and enters the contest, then you get another FIVE chances to win. You can check out the entries on the Parker Contest Message Gallery. Good luck, everyone!

Please be advised that this is not a contest held by Goldspot Pens and we accept no liability for the prize offerings or the contest rules that are put forth by the Parker Pen company.


List of 2010 New Pen Releases

Earlier this week, we sent out a call for entries to the 2010 Goldspot Readers Pen of the Year and so far we've seen a vigorous response on the topic posted on fountainpennetwork. The overwhelming choice has been the TWSBI Diamond 530 Piston filling fountain pen, but there has been some interest in seeing a list of the pens released this year for people to mull over in providing their nomination. It was argued that, if you haven't heard of the pen before and needed to be reminded of its existence, then it really shouldn't be a nominee. I agree, but to further the discussion and get people talking about the all the pens released this year, here is a running list of the new pens that we've seen come across our desk this year:
  • Visconti Homo Sapiens
  • Visconti Rembrandt Eco Roller
  • Cross Torero
  • Cross Edge
  • Parker Premier Stealth Black Special Edition
  • Pilot Vanishing Point Ice Green
  • Montegrappa Icons Muhammad Ali
  • Aurora Alpha
  • Aurora Tu
  • Libelle Chromatic Speed
  • Libelle Siena
  • Conklin Limited Edition Deco Crest
  • Delta Italiana
  • Delta Titanio
  • Monteverde Invincia Color Fusion
  • Monteverde for Goldspot Exclusive Formula Red (*shameless plug*)
  • Waterman Carene Contemporary Collection
  • Sheaffer Intensity
  • Pelikan m205 Duo
  • Aurora Cube Firma
  • Retro 51 (numerous lines) Tornado Monochrome, Exotic, Kalligraphiti, etc.
  • Taccia Staccato SE
I know I'm probably leaving several pens out, but this is just to get folks current on what has debuted in the pen market this year. We'll leave this discussion fairly open-ended and the ballot that comes out on November 2nd will be diverse, unlike the "real" elections that only have a few choices.


Call for Nominations - 2010 Pen of the Year

It's that time of year again! While the political pundits are posturing themselves for polls this November, pen people can voice their point by picking the Pen of the Year for 2010. We need nominees from you, the pen-loving public, for your favorite choice of pen that was released in 2010. That could also include new finishes or colors of a pen model that has been around longer than the last year.

We'll sort through your comments and also post the same question on Fountain Pen Network to get more answers so we can compile the most complete list of nominees to vote on starting Tuesday, November 2nd (Election Day). Voting will last one week and will conclude with the official crowning of this year's winner and a special discount on that pen for a limited time.

Past winners include:


Pen Spotlight - Nice and Crap Notebooks

Yes, this is a "pen spotlight" post, but I just happened to find a few blogs that were talking about notebooks in the last few weeks that I found interesting to share with our pen crowd. Most notably, Notebook Stories sparked a discussion about the importance of having a crap notebook. Especially check out the comments below the post. Seems that most people have both nice & crap notebooks, each with their own intended uses.

I nearly squee'd when I saw that Moleskine was coming out with new covers for the iPhone and iPad that have notebooks attached to them. These hybrid tools are fantastic for those who straddle the line of tech and old-fashioned pen & paper tasking. They are taking pre-orders on Amazon, but one would assume that the covers will hit the US market shortly before the Holiday Season in the next month or so.

For our long-term Filofax fans out there who stumble across their beat up, old leather cover organizer, there is still hope yet to restore it! Philofaxy has a great how-to article on restoring a leather Filofax cover. Pictures included.

Rhodia recently sponsored an event called Two Night Stand, which according to Rhodia Drive :
[Two Night Stand] was planned as a weekend-long collaborative event where 20 creatives (designers, bloggers, photographers, coders, illustrators, video artists, etc.) would converge to tackle a mystery project together.  The entire creative process was to be cataloged online via the website and through social media.
You can see it here at http://www.thetwonightstand.com/feed
Creative collaboration, especially when done under a time constraint, is always a fun time, provided there is enough caffeine (or beer, in this case) to go around. The Rhodia pads they used were probably a great asset as they needed to sketch, design and draw out their concept from start to completion. One other writing escapade that will commence shortly is NaNoWriMo, which is a yearly event that takes place the entire month of November. The goal is to write an entire draft of a novel during the span of the month. Having tried and failed last year, I can tell you that it is no small feat.


Goldspot Pen Trunk Show Recap

Hey All,

Its been very busy with getting everything straightened out after the show. Had a lot of inventory to sort through and orders to process from over the weekend. Add to that the normal internet orders that come in 24/7 and you've got yourself quite a full plate. We just contacted the raffle prize winners. Congrats to all of you! Since we had such a variety of gifts to give out that could be for men or women, we gave our raffle winners the choice of picking on a first-come, first-serve basis.

While we are sharing a couple of pictures from the show on the blog, the full album can be found on Goldspot's Facebook Page. We had a fun time and hosting our own show was definitely a learning experience. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, even the people who may have never heard of us (or knew that expensive, fine pens existed) who happened to be in the mall that weekend. And special thanks to Wolf Fine Jewelers, who were gracious enough to share the store with us during the weekend and co-host the event.

And who could forget our sales reps that drove up to 3 hours out of their way to come out and support us? Big thanks goes out to Marty K., Dick K., and Ken for bringing their full lines of Aurora, Montegrappa, Delta, Filofax organizers, Lamy, Monteverde and Omas pens for everyone (including us) to drool over.

As far as doing another one of these in the near future, there may be a possibility, although very remote considering that our busiest time of year is coming up and we will be working some weekends just to fulfill everyone's orders for the Holidays. If anyone has a particular venue that they believe would be a great place to set up a pen show in New Jersey, please let us know and we will certainly consider it.


See Your Decisions Through

An article by Clive Thompson in the most recent issue of Wired Magazine inspired this post. In his article, titled "Think Visual," he explains that our society hangs its hat on using words to describe complex topics and decisions when it really should be drawing pictures.

He writes that "dynamic, complicated problems - like global warming and economic reform - often can't be boiled down to simple narratives." Since there are so many factors that effect / may effect the system, the explanation of the problem is not as simple as putting two dots and drawing a line between them. For someone to comprehend such a multi-faceted issue, the fastest way is a picture.

First thing that came to mind after reading the article was the expression, "should I draw you a picture?" I imagine someone turning around in frustration after verbally explaining a dire situation to the dolt walking behind them and berating them with that facetious, condescending question. Yes, drawing pictures is addressing the lowest common denominator. Think of airports. How many pictures do you see there that point you in the right direction of the baggage claim, taxis and to the nearest Starbucks?

True, it does seem childish to be drawing your ideas on paper. Example:  Jay & Silent Bob's plan to take down the stage in Mallrats (left). The example that Thompson used in his article shows how visual thinking can be applied in a much broader sense. He cites President Obama's inability to effectively communicate his ideas in the health care debate. I remember in the election, one of his criticisms was that he sounded too "professorial." Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin, drew a series of napkin pictures that visually explained the proposed models of healthcare. These pictures were wildly popular on the 'Net and he was even tapped by the Obama administration for help with their future public communications.

So, how does this apply to writing and pens? Well, the keyboard is still quite a "wordy" device, only capable of expressing ideas through prose and ASCII character art, if need be. Pen and paper is still the standard. After all, how did Dan write on all those napkins? I really enjoy Levenger's annotation notepaper because they give you ruled paper covering 3/4's of the page while the other part is plain, giving you scratch room for small sketches, notes and other nebulous ideas that don't fit in with the narrative structure next door. Notebook companies are also early adopters of this idea, offering not only lined, but gridded and plain versions of Moleskine and Rhodia papers in order to give the flexibility of describing your idea.

So, next time you have a big decision or a project to undertake, get yourself a plain piece of paper, a pen, a cup of joe and go for it. Get visual. See the final outcome you'd like to achieve and conceive all the steps to get there. Anyone out there have a similar process for planning and explaining things?


Pen Show Giveaway Raffle Prizes

Did you know we are having a pen trunk show this weekend? If not, check the info at the end of this post.
If so, did you also know that we are giving away free pen prizes in a huge raffle at the show?

That's right. And we have so many goodies that anyone has a great chance of winning. For example :
  • 8 Blue Waterman Men's Ties
  • 4 Gold Parker Pen Letter Openers
  • 3 Gold Paper Weight Desk Rulers
  • 2 Waterman Blue Leatherette Card Holders
  • 2 Waterman Polishing Cloths
  • 2 Parker Polishing Cloths
  • 1 Waterman Silk Women's Scarf
  • Special Give Away Pen from our Representing Manufacturers (yet to be determined exactly which models)
The only way to enter is to visit our show this weekend, Oct 9th & 10th and fill out a raffle ticket. We will pick the winners and mail them their prizes on Monday.

Goldspot Pens Trunk Show
Oct 9th - 10th 11am - 5pm
Wolf Fine Jewelers @ Monmouth Mall
180 Route 35, Eatontown, NJ 07724
Map to Pen Show


Poll : Are Paper Catalogs Preferred Over Shopping Online?

] I recently took a poll over at Fountain Pen Network, which is probably the most active discussion board about fountain pens there is, about the validity of paper catalogs versus shopping online when it comes to buying a new pen. The result was a small, but effective sampling with comments that I found to be very thought provoking and back up the evidence shown in the results.


The question I posed :
As an internet savvy person who loves to slow down the pace of life by writing with a good fountain pen, I often find myself living in a juxtaposition. I work for a company that sells writing instruments online, which is a communications platform build out of 1's and 0's, not paper and ink. The proliferation of the internet threatens the validity of the products we sell.

As an internet marketer and a fountain pen enthusiast, I find myself asking whether a paper catalog's validity is sliding due to the rapid rise of user feedback and reviews that can be found on nearly every item on the internet. I know there are a lot of folks out there that can appreciate turning the computer off and sitting down to enjoy page-flipping a real book in front of them. But is that where you really make your decision when it comes to shopping for a new pen? Or do you merely get the idea of what you would want to buy from a physical catalog, and THEN research it on the internet for reviews?
 Of course, to some degree, I am preaching to the choir. I have to know, asking an online community of pen lovers, that I was going to get an internet-friendly response. However, given that we are a pen store that exists in the same online ether, I have to take the results with a grain of salt.

My impressions from the results and comments:
  • We already get a lot of catalogs and other unsolicited marketing material in the mail.
  • Yet they are more pleasant to browse and absorb than the overwhelming internet.
  • However, when it comes to the final purchase, no one buys directly from a paper catalog.
Psychologically, I believe it comes down to getting a second opinion. When we know that we can research the company, the product and the service online and get other opinions before we pull the trigger, we believe that the best decision will be made, given the circumstances. I totally agree. The internet has given us the ability to prevent a lot of bad decisions. When we chalk things up to experience, we can let others know of our criticisms and inform future generations of shoppers before they make the same mistake. But how do we make a print catalog, which is a great format to relax, curl up with, bring to the john and doggy-ear, as informative as digging through the 'Net?

Anyone? Bueller?


New Pen Buying Guide

With our Pen Trunk Show weekend coming up next week (Oct 9th & 10th), we thought it would be helpful for those attending to get a few pointers from the experts when it comes to buying a new pen. Even the connoisseurs might pick up a tip or two when coming in to search for the perfect pen.

We here at Goldspot like for our customers to have the most knowledge up front so they can make an informed decision when it comes to investing in a new writing instrument. I couldn't tell you how many times I've made runs into the stock room to take a specific measurement for a client who wanted to know if the pen would be a good fit for their hand. So, with the selection of writing instruments that we will bring to the show, you can touch, feel and scribble with a number of pens that may be a great fit for you or a loved one.

Here are a few things you should take into consideration when shopping for a new pen:
  • Style - First and foremost, your eyes will experience a pen far before your hand will. If the aesthetic attraction is not there, then most likely, you'll never feel the urge to pursue it any further. If you like the overall shape and model of the pen, but the color doesn't sit well with you, most likely, we'll have that same pen in multiple colors. Ask us if it does come in any other finishes.
  • Pen Type - Ballpoint, Rollerball and Fountain Pen are your typical three choices. Of course, there are mechanical pencils, multi-pens and other variations, but the chief question to ask yourself is, "what am I using this pen for?" If you're out on a job site all-day or going door-to-door with a clipboard, you would want to consider the convenience of not having a cap. If you prefer a more fluid line or a more traditional pen to address invitations, journal or write the great American novel, you can easily consider a rollerball or fountain pen.
  • Weight & Size - Putting the pen in your hand, you need to imagine the scenario that you have a blue exam book in front of you and two hours to complete the Final Essay question. How is your hand going to feel lugging around a heavy metal pen as opposed to a lightweight resin? Increased weight and size are also indications of a more luxurious feel, which may benefit you more if you are giving it to someone whom you want to impress with your gift.
  • Writing Quality - Do you have to press hard to write with the tip? Does the ink flow nicely without skipping or smearing? Do you grip the pen uncomfortably, or feel that your grip is sliding as you write? Writing quality is a big make-or-break and don't be surprised if some less expensive pens write better than their luxury counterparts. By writing about a paragraph's worth of words, you can quickly get a feel for the tip or nib.
  • Refills - Are the refills for this pen going to be easy to get? Well, if you would like to get them through Goldspot they would be. But if you have a Staples close by, you would want to know what you can find easily there. Cross, Parker and Waterman are commonly found there, but their selection is shrinking and they don't tend to carry all the colors. For a fountain pen, you would want to consider your preference in filling system. Do you prefer disposable ink cartridges or would like filling your pen from a bottle?
  • Price - OF COURSE! How could I not mention this earlier. Searching for a new $20 pen offers a much different selection than if you have a $200 budget.  We'll have a large cross-section of pens on display that give you options at nearly every price point (even in the $1,000's!).  We want to make sure you'll get the most "bang for your buck," which is why we sent our invites to the show with a special coupon that you can use on your purchase.
The above guide should give you a good starting point to do your research and come ready to try out a few pens to make your decision. If there are any other pointers that I may have forgotten to mention which may be helpful for shoppers, please feel free to comment!


Starting a New Venture

Headed back to school? Want to start a new business? Want to create your own home office? We all have our reasons to hunker down and get busy. I was recently watching the first episode of the Food Network Show 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. The premise of the "reality contest" is two teams of two people face off against each other to prepare a menu, create a "front of the house" and get a fully working restaurant together in 24 short hours. The rules are explained to the contestants and the clock starts ticking. What's the first thing that happens?

Out come the notebooks and pens!

"Fail to plan, plan to fail." - old proverb

Before getting their hands dirty chopping, dicing and decorating, everything is listed, sketched and noted prior to action. This is essential when jumping into a new project or venture. There needs to be a strategy, a plan of attack that can be best laid out on paper.

Here's what you need:
  • A writing instrument
  • A surface to write on
  • Paper
  • Ideas
I would say that, based upon the project you're starting up and your own preference toward fine pens and stationery would depend on the types or brands of products that you would be reaching for in the brainstorming session. For the design oriented, focused on creating a product or website, go with a Rhodia graph notebook with at least on mechanical pencil, like the Caran d'Ache Metal collection. For the artistic, try a Moleskine sketchbook (large is a great size for scanning on a typical flatbed scanner or all-in-one) along with rollerball pen that can accept fibertip refills. The culinary inclined can make great use of a Passions Recipe Journal. Running a babysitting service? A Filofax Organizer is the tops for keeping track of all your appointments and client's requests. If you're planning on a start up company and have to fill out all those legal forms, do it with style using a fountain pen.

The most important part is to have a place to do your thinking and planning that can be your go-to escape from the rest of the world. Whether it be a desk or a part of the kitchen table, this spot has to be yours and it has to have all of your materials readily accessible so that you can get working at a moments notice to get those ideas out and on paper.

Has anyone started anything recently that they would like to share? Any particular office supplies and/or fine writing instruments assist in the creative process?


Quickest Review of Pelikan Edelstein Topaz Ink

I know most of you that read reviews and want to do your research before plunking down your hard-earned on a luxury ink will be looking at tons of other reviews of Edelstein on Fountain Pen Network and other pen blogs, so I'll make mine short and sweet.

Written review done on a Rhodia staplebound notebook with 80g paper with a Pelikan m215 fine point fountain pen. The Topaz color is rather unexpected up against the Sapphire. Smooth, soft in color, "Edelstein" is fun to say, nice shading, on the wetter side, bottle is gorgeous. Buy Edelstein Topaz at Goldspot and I will love you.


Retro 51 Harley Davidson Flathead Pen Review

Git yer motor runnin'. Retro 51 presents their licensed Harley Davidson line of pens, which are inspired by the brand's motor-head aesthetics. Don't take it for granted if you're not a fan of the motorcycle, these pens are much more than just a renown name. Take the Flathead pens for example. These compact ballpoint pens go beyond the biker appeal. The Flathead is a great take-along pen. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet has the weight of a solid writing instrument with its metal base. The push-top plunger ejects and retracts the mini D1 size ballpoint pen cartridge with a satisfying click. The rugged, hinged clip is a great feature that helps the pen clip on to thicker materials like a stack of papers or a leather jacket. Summary:
  • Writing Quality : Odd shape to that flat grip doesn't make it very ergonomic. (grade B)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The Harley licensing doesn't make this pen look cheesy. The design is actually very nice on its own without the Harley name. (grade A-)
  • Utility : Pocket sized, go anywhere type of pen. Clip is resilient and opens wide. (grade A-)
  • Price : Available for $23 on Goldspot.com and other competitor websites, the Harley Flathead is a fantastic price for a licensed pen that has great function style to boot. Great gift for the biker in the family. (grade A-)
Final Grade : A- Retro51 has been developing pens with the Harley and Disney license for well over a year now and have been leading the way for the rest of their brand with these new releases. Expect more exciting licensed Disney coming soon in the fall.