Lets do the Jitterbug!

Get your dancing shoes on! The new Bexley Jitterbug! has become the talk of the town and it is easy to get swept up onto the dance floor. According to The Bexley Pen Company, the Jitterbug! design arose from finding a small cache of 70-year-old art deco style clips. The gold clip is paired with 4 exciting acrylic resins to produce a sharp and lively pen design.

As many fountain pen collectors would know, the terms "fountain pen" and "pocket friendly" are usually not found together when discussing a pen design. The Jitterbug, with its 4" size (capped), aims to fill the need for a pocket-sized writing instrument that is high on quality and writing comfort.

For most writers, such a small writing implement is not very comfortable to write with, which is why the Bexley Jitterbug was designed so that when the cap is posted on the back, the pen is a manageable 5 3/8" long from nib to crown. Take a look below at the image of a Jitterbug when compared to a Noodler's Ahab Flex, which is known to be a slightly larger-than-normal sized pen.

Putting the compact features of this pen aside for a moment, lets talk about the acrylic resins chosen for these pens. They are absolutely gorgeous and fit the theme very well. In the case of the red acrylic model (shown below), the material is partially translucent, which adds to the depth and richness of the pen's visual appeal.

There were only two drawbacks to the Jitterbug! that were apparent when reviewing this collection. The first being the filling system. Due to its limited size, the Jitterbug can only use international size ink cartridges or eyedropper directly into the barrel. Sure, the eyedropper route will let you use bottled ink and enable a larger capacity that the pen will hold, but you may come into some excessive flow issues as the ink falls below 1/3 full. The second issue I noticed was more of a pet peeve in that the cap doesn't post as deeply and securely as I would have preferred for such a small pen. When the cap is posted on the backend, it has the ability to be posted on a slight slant, which doesn't feel fully secure. Some people may argue with me on that point, but I have talked with many customers in the past who value a deep, secure posting of the cap.

Despite my own reservations about the pen, the Jitterbugs! have been a hot seller and continue to waltz their way into writer's hearts. If you own a Jitterbug, we would love to hear your thoughts on the design in the comments below. Do you use cartridges or fill via eyedropper? How do you feel about the cap posting and the size in your hand? Drop us a line anytime.


Get those Grads Addicted

"Pen People" love sharing their addiction with others in hopes to bring more people to the "write" side. And more often than not, it works! When you've converted someone to loving a nice pen, there's a high degree of self-satisfaction, like you've just given an angel its wings. Sometimes, all it takes is one great pen gift, and what better time to get the young hooked than for their graduation.

The key to reaching out to a potential pen acolyte is to aim for smaller transitions (a.k.a. baby steps). What I mean by that is, if you give most non-pen people a fountain pen, they won't think it's working properly because it has no ink in it to start. You may as well have handed them a fork to write with. You need to get an idea of the writing implements they already use and enjoy, building off the qualities they are looking for in a pen to give them a better one that will WOW them. To help you get some ideas on where to start looking for that perfect pen gift, let us offer a few suggestions based upon the person's current "pen personality."

For those who write with disposable bank pens. Just because TD Bank gives away free pens to their customers doesn't mean you have to take one, people! Lightweight, non-refillable and made of cheap translucent plastic, the main appeal for people who use these pens is that they never have to worry about losing their pen since they can get a new one for free. These people are reluctant to buy any valuable pen because they can't trust themselves to take care of it. You have to work them up the ladder of value and give them something inexpensive, but durable and with a better, longer-lasting writing experience. Recommendation : Caran d'Ache Metal Ballpoint Pens

For those who have an iPod, iPhone, iPad and iEverything. Technology has made many of our daily communications easier and more efficient. Still, it has not replaced good ol' analog writing, especially when it comes to the intimacy and warmth that pen on paper gives the writer. Heavy tech users are really hard to convince that their new whiz-bang device is not capable of everything. When you can't beat them, offer them an analog writing device that also assists their digital addiction. Recommendation : Monteverde One Touch Stylus (for iPad, iPhone and other touch screen devices).

For those who think buying a pen over one dollar is pricey. Most college kids are used to living on a shoe-string budget, and look the best dollar value - buying used textbooks, picking up dozens of single subject, wirebound notebooks for two dollars, folders for 20 cents and that 36 pack of Bic ballpoints for a nickel. But, if we applied that type of mentality to everything else in life, we may as well be living in Soviet Russia. As the old adage goes, "You get what you pay for." When the Bic pens run out of ink and the notebooks become ratty and torn from a few weeks stuffed in a backpack, it will be clear that "cheap" is cheap for a reason. People of this mentality need to be shown what a real quality writing experience is all about and that it can still be affordable. Recommendation : Lamy Safari Pens

 For those who need a pen with a fuzzy adornment on top. Not much can be done here. Best of luck. (Photo courtesy of movie "Clueless")


Would You Hop a Ride on the Pen Express?

Are you from Northern / Central NJ (or New York) and would love to attend the Washington DC Pen Supershow this August?

We are looking to create the opportunity for you, and other pen lovers from the area, to take a day trip down to Sheraton's Premier in Vienna, VA to attend the United States' largest fountain pen exhibition on Saturday, August 11th. The proposed trip would depart at 6am Saturday morning from the Goldspot office at 1230 Highway 34, Aberden, NJ [Exit 120 on the Parkway] to arrive at the show around 10am. See the show, buy some pens, try some ink and go see the sights in DC. Come back to the Sheraton for a 5pm departure back to NJ. Depending on traffic, we would probably arrive back in Aberdeen around 9-9:30pm. It would be a nice, long day of drooling over pens, meeting folks who also love pens and...more pens.

We are currently sourcing and pricing charter buses in the area. In order to get an exact idea of price per person, we need your help to come up with an approximate head count. All we ask is for people who are interested in joining our pilgrimage is to comment below. There is no financial commitment at this point, we are just looking to gauge the interest of the local pen community. Once we have an idea of how many people we can expect, we will be able to provide pricing and flesh out the details. The timing and departure location is not set in stone, so if you are interested, but the schedule does not work for you, please advise what would best work for you.

You may comment here or leave a comment on the thread started on Fountain Pen Network.


A Tale of Two Heralds

Top to Bottom : Edison Production Herald, Edison Custom Herald
 Keeping with our new-found tradition of reviewing every new Edison production line pen that Goldspot carries, it is only expected that a write-up about the Herald would be done in the same fashion. Besides being a few months late from its initial release in January - the Herald isn't exactly new, is it? The Herald, with its long, torpedo / cigar-like shape that tapers at both ends - has been a staple of Edison's custom Signature line for years.

Back before we carried Edison on the website for retail, I contacted Brian and had a custom Herald made in a blue & turquoise acrylic. It was a pen that was made to commemorate the birth of my first-born. I was looking for something special, unique and that was a high quality writing instrument - certainly three qualities that made an Edison the easy choice. At the time, the Herald was the model he offered that posted the best, and that was the quality that led me to choose that particular design.

After writing with my custom Herald for two years now, it was easy to see why we were so eager to jump on board with a Edison / Goldspot retail partnership. With every pen that is made, you can expect top notch quality of writing, beautiful craftsmanship of the materials and unparalleled service (if ever needed).

Now, Brian has decided to move the Herald from the Signature line to the Production line, meaning that there will no longer be any custom Herald pens made like mine. The positive of the change is that the entry price for a steel nib fountain pen goes from $250 to $150. There are also a few design tweaks that, IMHO, has improved upon an already solid pen design. *[May 8th Correction : According to Brian, the custom Herald is still available as the original model, but with the higher price tag and you would not be able to choose the colors / styles in the production line. The custom version still has the original front grip section as well.]

When comparing the two by eye, the first obvious difference is the size of the pen. The production Herald is 1/4" shorter when closed, 1/8" shorter with the cap off and 3/8" shorter with the cap posted on the back of the pen (click writing sample below to see full measurements). The $7,000 question is : Do they write the same? Comparing apples to apples, the steel nib's writing performance on the new model is still top notch with a nice flow that tends to the wet side. Check out the writing sample below for a direct comparison between both nibs.

Top Half - Edison Custom Steel Nib , Bottom Half - Edison Production Steel Nib

While writing with the new Herald, the second difference is very noticeable in a most delightful way - the cap posts much more securely and doesn't make the pen as long. Brian had tapered the back-end of the barrel to a higher degree to make the cap post better.

The fingertips also notice a pronounced flare at the front section of the grip area. It offers extra stability while writing, keeping the digits comfortably in place during long writing sessions.

Another slight, but noticeable improvement is the threading of the cap. It takes about a half or 3/4 turn less to remove / replace the cap than it does with the older model.  It shows that Brian is constantly improving his own designs to make them more user friendly. Leave it to the Edison Pen Co to find ways to make an awesome pen design even better (and more affordable)!

Anyone else out there own both an Edison custom (Signature) pen and a Production model? Please comment below to share your experiences and feel free to gush about your pen(s).


Finally, A Finished Moleskine

The crowd was wildly untamed that late March afternoon. Preparations were made earlier that day for a celebration that would be remembered through the ages. Balloons were netted, confetti corked, the champagne put on ice. The police could hardly hold the barricades up as the climax of the event was about to take place.

I was about to write my final words in this God-forsaken Moleskine journal.

It was an event that was over two years in the making. You could blame a lack of daily writing for the sluggish pace. When I bought the Moleskine back in January of 2010, I didn't know any better, I swear. I was convinced, as many of the uninitiated are, that if Picasso, Chopin and other famous artistic minds had used this journal, then I should have one as well.

I was very wrong.

As a nearly-exclusive fountain pen user, I found out pretty quickly that the "1-ply" paper quality that Moleskine affords (don't you have another square to spare?) just doesn't cut it for most pen & ink combinations. Part of the fun in owning fountain pens is to write with the entire gamut of the visible spectrum, and the journal I chose to write in is color-blind. It would only "accept" lighter, less saturated colors. All other inks had a fair amount of bleed-through to the other side of the page. I'm not a wasteful person, so only using one side of the page was not an agreeable solution.

Making sure that there was always a pen loaded with Moleskine-friendly ink around, I drudged on through the journal. It wasn't until after doing some homework on the internet that I found many like-minded FP users to be complaining of the same issues with the paper. The ultimate solution - we started carrying Rhodia!

After my pen tasted the promise land of 90 gsm, French-milled, ivory silkiness that is the Webbie, the Moleskine's days became numbered. There was much unrest about how long it would take to finish the last 30 or 40 pages that remain in that wretched Mole, but it had to be done. There were principles to uphold.

Sensing the imminent transition, the citizens ordered the new Rhodia Webnotebook into the presence of the writer to push him to write more and faster. The new journal, wrapped in its thin layer of clear plastic and packaging, taunted him, made his hand quiver in regret as the last few pages were being written. The crowd became cross, frustrated and impatient.

5 sheets to go. 7 pages left. 2 pages. 1 more entry.

As the last word was laid to rest, the crowd erupted into relief and jubilation. The writer collapsed in tears and raised his arms to embrace the sky. It was done. That chapter is over.

Here are the pages that were used to catalog the ink & pen combinations that were used over the 2+ years. They are in order from the very last page of the journal going inward (in reverse).


Take my life lesson seriously folks - if you are an avid fountain pen user, you would be doing yourself a disservice by using a Moleskine journal. Go Rhodia and never look back.