Handwriting Gift Ideas

This time of year most of the people who know I love fountain pens and handwriting (see the pictures below) are asking me loads of questions about gift ideas. Having been in the fountain pen and stationery world for over three years I forget how intimidating it can be to select a pen, ink, or paper. Here’s my humble attempt to offer you some gift ideas for those interested in fine handwriting, fountain pens, inks, and stationery.

 

Shops:

Goulet Pens– I occasionally buy pens from Goulet because:

  • They are a Christian family business and I like that.
  • They go the extra mile when it comes to educating and serving customers.

Keep in mind they are a retailer and their prices reflect that reality.

Amazon- This is the cheapest place to buy pens, inks, and paper.

Pens:

Fountain pens come in different “nib” sizes which reflect different line widths (relatively). If you’ve never wrote with a fountain pen before I would recommend either an extra fine nibbed Lamy or a fine nibbed Pilot or TWSBI. These finer nib sizes will be gentle on a variety of papers without bleeding/feathering.

Entry-Level ($10-30)

Pilot Metropolitan- The #1 recommended beginner pen. Great quality. Great price.

Lamy Safari- My first fountain pen was a black Safari. This pen will encourage proper grip (some people don’t care for it, I love it).

TWSBI ECO– Pronounced “twizbee”, the ECO is a cool demonstrator pen (translucent) so you can enjoy watching the ink slosh around inside.

Mid-Range ($50-$150)

A mid-range pen costs $150?!?!?! Are you NUTS?!?! Yes, I realize that I just took someone’s breath away, but please understand that we are talking about heirloom quality tools here. And, except for the TWSBI, all these pens have a 14K gold nib. These nibs glide. Material cost, craftsmanship and rarity of these items make the price reasonable in my opinion.

TWSBI Diamond 580- Steel-nibbed, but a gorgeous and sturdy pen. I currently have mine inked with Sailer Apricot.

Lamy 2000- This is my current daily writer. This pen was designed in the 60’s out of the bauhaus school in Germany. I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Pilot Custom 72- My first gold-nibbed pen. A fine nib 74 does wonderfully on thin Bible papers.

Jonathan, I see an entry-level and mid-range section, how expensive can pens be? Well, I’ve seen hand lacquered Japanese pens that cost over $5,000. Those are obviously one-of-a-kind collector’s pieces. I would consider $300 to be the starting point of high-end pens. A $300 pen isn’t likely twice as good a writer as a $150 pen. The price difference represents materials and design.  Why would anyone pay $300 for a pen? I’d consider buying a pen in this range to mark an important achievement: graduation, an anniversary, or a business milestone. I haven’t listen any here because I doubt the average person reading this isn’t looking in this strata. If you are I can make some recommendations.

Ink:

When it comes to inks there are a couple things you need to know. 1. If you buy someone a pen and a bottle of ink check to see if their pen comes with a converter to be able to use bottled ink. Ink quality is important, and I get better performance out of more expensive inks.

Sailor Ink– As a general rule I will like any Sailor ink. The performance for the price can’t be beat. While some colors aren’t my favorite, I haven’t tried a Sailor I disliked yet. Sei Boku is my standard blue ink and has superior performance on thin Bible papers.

Iroshizuku- Pilot’s premium inks. The bottles are gorgeous.

Stationery:

Paper matters more than you ever thought. Ball point pens have a viscous gooey ink that sits on top of our modern, cheap, thin paper. Fountain pen ink is water-based bleeds and feathers into cheap paper. Even Moleskine isn’t that great (gasp). Here are two wonderful selections:

Rhodia– Offered mostly in notebooks and pads Rhodia papers are renowned for their smoothness. Their Web Notebook is most similar to a Moleskine, if that’s your thing.

Apica- My personal favorite. Apica makes a variety of notebook sizes to meet every demand. I use their whopping A4 Premium CD notebook for my sermon prep each week. If you follow me on Instagram that’s the one you see most often.

Anyways, I hope this post helps. I’d love to answer any questions you might have. Over the last 3 years I’ve benefited from the knowledge of others in this little world and I’ll help you make the write decision. (Dear, Lord. Forgive me for making pen puns. Amen.)

Merry Christmas!

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A Favorite Christmas Poem

christmas_piano

Adrian Plass has been a favorite Christian poet and humorist of mine for the last 15 years. I found him on an album I bought before a family vacation years ago. A portion of the following poem was read by Adrian on the album, and I go back to it every Christmas. Perhaps you’ll be blessed by it as well. Merry Christmas.

 

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be kites to fly,
The kind they say you can control,
Although I never did for long.
The kind that spin and spin and spin and spin,
Then sulk and dive and die,
And rise again and spin again,
And dive and die and rise up yet again.
I love those kites.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be friends to meet
In ancient oak-beamed Sussex pubs
Enfolded by the wanton Downs,
And summer evenings lapping lazily against the shore
Of sweet, familiar little lands
Inhabited by silence or by nonsenses,
The things you cannot safely say in any other place.
I love those times.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be seasons when the colors fly,
Poppies splashing flame
Through dying yellow, living green,
And autumn’s burning sadness that has always made me cry
For things that have to end.
For winter fires that blaze like captive suns,
But look so cold when morning comes.
I love the way the seasons change.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be peace at last,
That in some meadow filled with sunshine,
Filled with buttercups and filled with friends,
You’ll chew a straw and fill us in on how things really are.
And if there is some harm at laying earthly hope at heaven’s door,
Or in this saying so,
Have mercy on my foolishness, dear Lord.
I love this world you made—it’s all I know.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be Christmases without the pain,
No memories that will not fade,
No chilled and sullen sense of loss
That cannot face the festive flame
Nor breathe excitement from the ice-cream air.
Tell me how the things that Christmas should have been
Will be there for eternity in one long, shining dawn
For all of us to share.
I love the promises of Christmas.