Friday, May 28, 2021

What nib is write for you?

 A Comprehensive Guide to FP Nibs

    Possibly one of the hardest decisions about writing with fountain pens is what nib to buy and what the difference is between sizes, materials and compatibility between models, hopefully by the end of this blog post you'll be ready to pick the best nib to fit your needs. We will be taking a closer look at the sizes of the tipping on the nibs, the sizes of the actual nibs, the materials that they are made of, and the compatibility of these nibs between different pen models and brands. 

Nib Sizes for line width

    I'm going to talk mostly about what can be purchased from brands in the retail setting mostly so I won't really touch on custom nib grinds in depth. Most brands offer a standard range of sizes but before we get to those lets talk about the general difference between Japanese and western sizes. A general rule of thumb is that Japanese nibs are one size finer than western nibs and I can say this is definitely true for Sailor and Pilot but since it is highly personal what people prefer, just take that rule with a grain of salt.
  • Extra Fine- The finest nib size available from most brands is the EF and is great for fine margin note taking. I would suggest not using any shimmer or waterproof ink in an EF because the large particles in the ink are more likely to clog the small EF opening which can be frustrating to deal with. Since EF nibs also have less tipping material to make the line thinner they are more likely to have some feedback where you can feel the nib on the paper and is less likely to be glassy smooth like a Broad can be. EF nibs also tend to have very crisp lines and make the ink your using look pretty monochromatic which can improve legibility when used with some hyper-shading inks.

  • Fine- The next step up is the F nib which is a little more generous and usually are a little more smooth than the EF but can still be really fine depending on the brand you buy from. This and the Medium nib are usually where I would tell people to start because they are the middle of the road and can show you what your pens can do and I see the EF and B nibs as amplifying this to an extreme level. Fine nibs are also really good for note taking because the smaller the nib the more writing and notes you can get into a smaller space so I'd suggest EF and F for note taking the most because they also preform better on cheaper paper like the ones used in schools and offices because they put down less ink.

  • Medium- The true middle of the road nib is the medium and I think its also the most common nib that companies offer the most of usually because it is so popular. This is also where nibs can start to get super smooth and juicy, laying down a moderate amount of ink to get a bit more shading and character out of your inks, I would also recommend M or higher when using shimmer or permanent inks because it won't clog as easily. Medium nibs are really all around writers that are in such a size that they are pretty good for everything, some may be a little too wet to use on bad quality paper but they are great for journaling and writing on higher quality paper stock. I'd suggest Medium nibs as the best nibs for people getting their first fountain pen because you will have an idea of a starting point that you can either go down or up from.

  • Broad- My personal favorite is the broad nib which put down a really fat line and provided the best character and shading from your inks, especially when paired with Tomoe River paper. These are also usually the smoothest nibs because they have the largest amount of material on the tip to provide a thicker line. A downside to B nibs is that they can take a while to dry on the page which means they aren't the best for quick notes due to the smudge factor but when doing something like journaling where there is no rush and can air dry for a little bit they perform great. When I first got into pens I started on the opposite end of the spectrum with the finer nibs but have since grown to really love the broader nibs and once you see how well the ink looks coming from a B nib I guarantee you'll add at least one to your collection.

  • Stub- The last of the readily available nibs from most brands is the stub nib which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The nib tip is more squared off than the B nib and offers a similar thickness but with a varying line width depending on if you write straight down or if you write to the side. Stubs can be made a few different ways with some of the lower priced ones not having any tipping at all and just having the actual nib touch the paper, the other way is just like any other nib where there's a squared amount of tipping material to give it the stub shape. The varying widths make these a popular starting point for calligraphy practice or if you like your casual writing to have quite a bit of character and varying widths but are a little less common than the other sizes we've talked about so far.

Sizes of the actual nibs themselves

    This may be a little confusing based on what we just talked about but the sizes in this section refer to the actual size of the whole nib and not the line width that they put out. Different brands have different sizes but for this I'll be using the Jowo and Bock nib brands because they are the most common nib makers for brands that don't choose to make their own nibs. 
  • #5- The smallest size nib offered from Bock and Jowo is the #5 which can be seen on smaller pens like the Kaweco sport models or new Esterbrook J and is just a smaller sized nib. This doesn't really affect the quality of writing but I do find that its less common to find a pen that has a #5 nib made of gold for some reason. Generally speaking, the #5 nib is going to be on smaller pens and is usually an option between those two pens, an example of that would be with Sailor. Although they make their own nibs, Sailor offers two sizes on both their 1911 and Proper models with the small one having a #5 size nib and a #6 on the bigger.
  • #6- The most common nib size that you'll see on most modern pens is the #6 which is sort of thought of as the standard size where the #5 is small and the #8 is big. #6 nibs are kind of like the M nib where it offers a good starting point to see what you like because you can either go down or up depending on preference. This is the size that is featured on most mid to normal sized pens and even on a few oversized pens like the Leonardo MZG where you have a choice between #6 and #8. The good thing about #6 is that since it's a standard size its available in all materials including steel, gold, and titanium and is more than likely to be the size featured on your first fountain pen.
  • #8- Finally we reach the biggest nib size that is pretty much exclusive to oversized pens due to how large it is and how much space is needed to store it in a cap properly. To my knowledge, a #8 steel nib is pretty uncommon and they mostly are offered in either gold or titanium which makes the price of entry a little higher for the #8 size nib. These are often paired with an ebonite feed to keep sufficient ink flow to the large nib and they tend to be quite wet writers, at least all the ones in my collection are. The experience with writing with this size of nib is something that can vary because some people find them unwieldy and prefer the #6 but some people can't get enough of the larger nibs, it really comes down to personal preference.

Nib Material

    The last really big thing to consider when buying a pen or nib is what that nib is made out of because this can have some impact on writing and definitely an impact on price and value. Something else to keep in mind is that most nibs are tipped with some sort of material, usually Iridium, so the material really only affects the flexibility and spring of the nib. The reason for the tipping material is that gold is a little too soft to write with directly and steel is the opposite and may be too hard and scratchy to write with untapped in a size like EF or F.
  • Steel- The most common material used in lower cost pens is stainless steel because it is corrosion resistant and thus will not rust or get funky with prolonged use. These nibs are usually paired with a plastic feed which provides the nib with the ink flow it needs to write a reliable line. Steel is pretty stiff and limits the amount of variance you can get out of a nib because you can push the nib to a wider length so usually is you buy a Steel M nib its just going to write a M sized line which is not always the case as you'll see when we get to gold. Steel is the most affordable choice and some steel nibs can write very well especially in wider nib sizes, more likely than not everyones first fountain pen starts with a steel nib. 
  • Gold- Once you start getting into the higher priced pens you will notice a change from steel to gold in the nib material, some steel nibs will have gold plating to make them look god but that's not what we are talking about here. The true gold nibs are made from solid gold in either 14, 18 or 21 karat and can be paired with a plastic, ebonite or in rare cases an aluminum feed. The draw of the gold is that it is softer than steel and will usually be a little more flexible which allows for more line variation and expression in your writing. These are usually only on more expensive pens although there are a few reasonably priced gold nib pens that start around the $160 mark. 


    Compatibility is something that can really help out if you don't want to accumulate a bunch of pens in different nibs or if you just want to have extra nibs to switch into a pen. Jowo and Bock are the most commonly used nib manufacturers outside of brands making their own nibs which is nice because any pen that uses a Jowo nib can switch nibs and its the same for Bock. You do still have to account for the size because if I have a pen with a #5 Jowo nib I will have to switch it with another #5 Jowo whether its from a different pen or a spare nib, same for #6. A #6 sized nib can't go into a pen that uses a #5. Other than that it varies from brand to brand so always be cautious when taking nibs out or swapping and make sure that everything matches up before you do it, if you ever have questions feel free to give us a call and we'd be happy to try and help.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Become an Explorer with Aurora's New Collection

 Aurora Ambienti Glacier & Tundra

Specs (same for both colors):

  • Description- Two new special editions from Aurora based on the natural world, similar to the ocean series that they did a little while back.
  • Nib- 18k solid gold with ebonite feed
  • Material- Sterling Silver and Auroloide 
  • Filling Mechanism- Piston
  • Weight- 42g total, 28g body, 14g cap
  • Measurements- 5.1" closed, 6.1" posted
  • Ink Capacity- 1.4ml

History & Origin

    The Aurora pen brand was founded in Turin Italy in the year of 1919 by Isaia Levi and was originally known as "Fabbrica Italiana di Penne a Serbatoio - Aurora " but has since been shortened to Aurora. Despite the current catalog of colorful pen models that the brand has become known for, they originally only produced pens in black but a few years after their founding they began branching out with different colors. In 1929 the brand began to branch out to other European countries which led to an increase in production. A little later during WW2 due to the scarcity of gold, the brand was forced to change to a more economic alloy called Platiridio and a little later into the war the companies factory actually fell victim to a bomb attack which forced them to relocate and start from scratch. 
    However just a few years after the war in 1947, the 88 came out and went on to be one of the brands most well loved models alongside the Optima. Now that we've gotten the history lesson out of the way, let's take a closer look at these two new special editions from Aurora.

Packaging & Appearance

    Aurora has been around for over 100 years and this shows with the care they take when presenting your new pen, in fact, they have one of my favorite pen boxes that just really make it feel like a quality, luxury, writing instrument. The packaging for this special edition is a little different than usual and you'll see that a bottle of matching ink is provided with the pen but on regular editions of Aurora pens, ink is not provided. The box is made of a faux leather material that continues to the inside of the box to keep the pen scratch free in transit along with elastic that keeps the pen and ink in place. But the real star of the show is the pen of course and this one really stands out among Aurora's special editions and sports something rather cool and unique on the sterling silver grip section. 
    The sterling silver sections sport a small engraving that represents an ice glacier on the glacier model or a tree branch on the tundra model which is a really cool feature that sets this apart from their previous special editions like the ocean series which are in the same model but don't have any engravings. I really enjoy all the sterling silver on this pen and how it will tarnish over time and take on some personality, of course you can polish that away if you don't enjoy the look of tarnished silver. 
    The ink window in the Aurora pens is my personal favorite one because it is so crystal clear unlike a lot of ink windows and can reliably show you how much ink you have left. Lets take a closer look at this nib and how it actually writes!

Nib & Performance

    Another great aspect of this pen that sets it apart from the competition in this price bracket is the 18k gold nib featured on this pen along with the specially crafted ebonite feed. Aurora makes all of their nibs in house which is pretty uncommon now with most brands opting for either Jowo or bock but the benefit of making their own nibs is that they can control the exact specifications and quality control that makes the pen that much more special. The other aspect that makes these nibs so special is that they have custom fit ebonite feeds which some people say are superior to the more modern plastic feed because of how they handle ink.
    The ebonite is a more porous rubber material that acts sort of like a sponge so it can saturate with ink a lot better and keep the nib wetter more than plastic would, it is also a more traditional material that is seen on almost all vintage pens. Another nice thing about their ebonite feeds is that it has the nib grade right on the feed so that it doesn't clutter up the nib design and makes the nibs appear a little more uniform which may seem small but its nice to see even the smallest details taken into account. I find that Aurora nibs tend to be on the finer side despite being a European brand and I would suggest following the rules for the Japanese nib sizes and assume that they are actually one size down so an Aurora fine could be considered a western EF.


  • Great nibs made in house
  • Ebonite feed
  • Sterling silver hardware
  • great filling mechanism and clear ink window
  • cool engravings on the section
  • Great selection of nib options


  • May be a bit heavy for some people
  • Small limited edition so it will be hard to get in the future


    Aurora is a great brand with a rich history in manufacturing writing instruments for over 100 years and has kept up their attention to detail and quality standard well into the modern era. I'm quite confident that anyone that writes with an Aurora pen will understand why they are considered one of the top Italian pen makers but especially with the Glacier and Tundra special editions which are limited to 580 pieces each worldwide. Both of these pens can be purchased from Pen Boutique in a multitude of nib sizes for the price of $1,165, feel free to check it out on our website or stop by the store to see one in person but act quick because these will go out of stock in a heartbeat!
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Thursday, May 20, 2021

It's Time to Graduate in Style - Top Montblanc Pens to gift for 2021.

Best Montblanc Gifts for your Grad

Introduction & History

    Everyone, whether you are into pens or not, has heard the name Montblanc. It's one of those brands that has ascended the binds of being "just a brand" and is now a deep rooted Icon in not only the pen world but also in what it means to be luxurious. Montblanc has been around since 1906 with their Meisterstuck line being launched in 1924, they quickly rose to international acclaim due to the quality of their writing instruments. Before we get into the list I want to have a quick disclaimer that none of these items are in any specific order and are just in a top 10 list format. I've tried to pick things that leaves something for everyone whether you're into fountain pens, ballpoint or rollerball I firmly believe that anyone who receives something off this list for graduation will be very happy. Starting off the list is the 149 which is by far the most famous Montblanc model and is a contender for the most famous and internationally well known pen in general.

Montblanc 149

    Often referred to as the "diplomat" the 149 has been in the hands of some of the worlds most important leaders and entertainers which has resulted in its legendary status. The 149 is the flagship of Montblanc's Meisterstuck line and for good reason, it's their biggest nib which is a joy to write with and the classic black precious resin design makes it not only a classic looking writing instrument but also an elevated accessory for the breast pocket. The 149 is available in 3 trim options, yellow gold plating, platinum plating, and a newer rose gold option. Overall this is the Montblanc with the nib that I enjoy writing with the most because the #8 just feels so elegant gliding across the page despite it's rather large size. All 3 iterations of the 149 can be purchased from Pen Boutique for the price of $935 in the case of the rose and yellow gold or $985 for the platinum option. Since we are an authorized retailer it means that you also get Montblanc's warranty with every pen purchase you make.

Montblanc 146

    The 146 is like the younger sibling of the 149 and is essentially a smaller version with everything else being similar including overall design and filling mechanism. The main thing that sets the 146 apart from the rest of the Meisterstuck line is that it is available in a multitude of different special editions and is often used as the blueprint for things like the great characters lineup and other editions similar to that like their solitaire line which consists of precious metal work on the caps. The 146 is more of a regular sized pen whereas the 149 would be considered oversized so it may fit smaller hands a little better depending on preference. The base 146 is available in the same three trim colors as the 149 yellow gold, platinum, and rose gold but it comes in at a slightly lower price than the 149 and can be purchased at Pen Boutique for $710 for the yellow and rose gold or $720 for the platinum trim. There are also some more specialty editions available for a higher price. 

Pix Ballpoint & Rollerballs

    The pix holds a special place in my eyes because I just think that they are so fun due to all the bright colors that they are available in. Kind of the entry point for modern Montblanc writing instruments, the pix is a compact midsize pen that's available in both ballpoint and rollerball and I think it was really smart for them to offer both, I do wish that they were available in fountain pen but I understand that it may be difficult to keep an entry level price when introducing gold nibs and filling systems and all that. The biggest benefit of this pen is that you get to use all of Montblanc's fantastic BP & RB refills in all their speciality colors, my personal favorite is the Beatles special edition called Psychedelic Purple. The Pix can be purchased from Pen Boutique in a multitude of colors for the prices of $250 for the ballpoint and $285 for the rollerball variant.

Starwalker Fountain pen

    The Starwalker is Montblanc's modern take on the fountain pen and is quite a stark contrast to the classic look of their Meisterstuck line and that's a good thing. It shows that Montblanc has been open to the natural change and evolution of some peoples tastes when it comes to the writing instrument in recent history. The Starwalker is a little bit smaller than the 146 when un posted but has a good, solid twist to post mechanism on the end of the pen that keeps the cap in place for longer writing sessions. Overall a very intriguing looking pen that is made with the attention to detail and quality standard that Montblanc has been known for for over 100 years. The Starwalker is available in numerous finishes including sterling silver and even ceramic but the entry level model made of precious resin can be purchased for $500 and goes up to $2,000 for the ceramic model.

Gift Sets

    Another aspect where Montblanc shines is making comprehensive gift sets that include most if not everything to get you writing in style. Most of the sets we carry contain at least one pen whether it be FP, RB or BP and one of their premium leather bound notebooks which are sure to provide a quality writing experience. It's a good way to save a couple bucks and still have the reassurance that you are getting high quality luxury writing instruments and especially for gifts like for graduation or birthday, they make sure that everything to get you writing is included. We have a couple of gift sets available with different pens and notebooks that can be purchased anywhere between $500 to a couple thousand so there is something for everyone, check them out in store or on the site now!

Specialty ink

    Maybe my favorite part about Montblanc is how they make special themed ink that is immaculately presented and that is some of the best ink I've used to date, in fact, one of my top 5 inks is a Montblanc special edition called Pierced Sky that was an homage to king Moctezuma. The thing you'll notice is that the packaging and the ink bottle are very unique looking, the bottle itself is very understated and is actually fairly heavy with that classic snowcap on top and that's stored in a drawer style box with the color and theme on the outside along with the color. This is my favorite style of ink packaging, sure you pay a little more but it really feels like you are buying something special whether its for yourself or a gift, every time I fill a pen up with pierced sky it makes me happy opening the drawer box and doing the whole thing. Most great character inks and other special edition inks will set you back around $40 and they have a more classic ink line that is less expensive as well.


    Much like their specialty inks, Montblanc's notebooks usually are dedicated to some type of theme or come out at the same time as their special edition pens to commemorate the same thing, the Moctezuma notebook is really cool. Bound in leather with various designs or flat colors, they really do have something for everybody hither its for office use or if you just wanted to start a new journal. The pages in most of them are lined 85gsm paper that is silver cut meaning that when the notebook is closed, all the edges of the paper are silver which makes for a really cool vintage effect. We carry a ton of these in a bunch of different finishes so either take a look on our website by clicking the link or stop by to check them out in person and try the tester for yourself!
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Monday, May 17, 2021

Apollo Soyuz Retro 51

PBL Exclusive Apollo Soyuz Retro 51

The Soyuz as seen from the Apollo CSM
The Space Race, an era of fierce competition be
tween American and Soviet space programs which led to some of the most impressive and inspiring feats of human ingenuity ever seen, was bookended by two events: the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. After almost 20 years of breakneck progress from both sides, which gave us the first man in space, the first spacewalk, the moon landings, and countless other achievements unimaginable a generation before, NASA and their Soviet counterpart the Soviet Academy of Sciences worked together on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project to kick off a new age of international cooperation in space, the spirit of which lives on today in projects like the International Space Station.

In 1970, the administrator of NASA sent a letter proposing a joint orbital rendezvous between spacecraft from the US and USSR, and the next five years were spent training astronauts and building equipment from both countries to deal with the challenges created by the significant cultural, engineering, and design philosophy differences between the two space programs. The differences in how each organization approached spaceflight were profound, and led to significant difficulties as they worked together to integrate their respective systems.

The American space program we all know and love thinks of astronauts like pilots, "flying" their spacecraft with a similar level of involvement to a pilot flying a plane. In fact, NASA to this day teaches all astronauts who aren't already pilots coming into the program how to fly jets, because they believe having the mindset of a pilot is valuable in space. This approach requires highly trained and relatively independent crew members with an intimate understanding of their craft, but allows for creative solutions in dire circumstances like what happened on Apollo 13. This was diametrically opposed to the Soviet attitude towards their cosmonauts, who were treated more like passengers than pilots. Much of the involvement required of American astronauts in spaceflight was automated for their Soviet counterparts, which has the obvious benefits of reducing required training time and sources of potential human error, at the cost of significantly reduced adaptability.

Mission control in Houston
Another massive difference between the two approaches to spaceflight was their attitudes towards redundancy. In the American space program, a seemingly excessive level of redundancy is expected for all critical components where possible. As an example of this mindset, the computer that did the mission critical calculations for the space shuttle existed in triplicate; three independent computers would do every operation and vote to decide what to do. If one computer consistently voted against the majority, there was a fourth backup that the crew could hook up to replace the suspicious hardware. This was not an attitude shared by the Soviets in their space program. In Soviet craft like the Soyuz, everything had a specific purpose, and if there were any failures of critical equipment, the plan was to abort at earliest convenience. The obvious drawback to this philosophy is that an abort isn't always possible and there's potential for otherwise avoidable loss of life, but this is a less significant risk in the low earth orbit regime Soviet spacecraft operate in, as opposed to the long haul journeys to the moon and back the Apollo module was designed for. 

Perhaps most difficult to overcome from a technical standpoint was the incompatibility of the two craft's atmospheres. Prioritizing flame resistance, the Soyuz capsule had a mixed gas atmosphere similar to air at about sea level pressure, as there's a significantly reduced risk of fire inside the capsule compared to a pure oxygen environment with the addition of relatively inert nitrogen. Conversely, the Apollo command module used pure oxygen at 1/5th atmospheric pressure, because it's just as easy to breathe as normal air, but puts less strain on the walls of the capsule and allows for widespread weight savings. Had the two countries not worked together to build the Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS), a unique two-sided airlock that bridged the two spacecraft and served as an adapter between their respective docking standards, the Soyuz side would likely have gone up in flames, and the Apollo side may have popped like a balloon. 
The crew of the mission

On the crew side, the 3 Americans and 2 Soviets who would go on the mission all learned Russian and English respectively, and spoke the native language of the other side for the duration of the rendezvous. According to the oral histories of the American astronauts, while they were training in Russia, they suspected their hotel rooms might be bugged. To test the theory, one of them loudly bemoaned the lack of a pool table in their hotel's lounge. Sure enough, the next morning a pool table had conveniently appeared. While together in orbit, the two crews exchanged 5 flags from each country, addressed TV audiences from around the world, and enjoyed the company of their counterparts in an unprecedented display of unity between the two Cold War powers.

This was the last flight of an Apollo module, as it would soon be replaced by the Space Shuttle as NASA's primary launch vehicle. On the Soviet and now Russian side, the Soyuz is still flying astronauts and cosmonauts to the ISS to this day, and isn't expected to be replaced until at least 2023.

The Pen Boutique exclusive Apollo Soyuz Retro 51 commemorates this iconic moment in the history of space exploration in spectacular fashion. The sky blue upper section of the pen represents the Soyuz capsule, with its two distinctive blue bands. The bottom section's minimal markings, bare metal finish, and cross-shaped R-4D attitude control thrusters represent the exterior of the Apollo CSM, the same craft which carried the crew of Apollo 11 to and from the moon just 6 years prior. Bridging the two sections representing each spacecraft is a grey section representing the APAS, the most concrete example of the hurdles facing this mission and the inspiring efforts taken to overcome them. 

This is a limited edition of only 300 rollerballs, so act quickly if you want to own this beautiful tribute to international cooperation in space!
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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ready for your first fountain pen?

 Taking a Closer Look at Starter Fountain Pens

    *Speaking from my own experience* When I first got exposed to the fountain pen hobby I was a little intimidated by all the options and seemingly overwhelming knowledge I thought I needed to have in order to start using a fountain pen. In reality it is not anywhere near as complicated as I thought it would be and to hopefully help you with your decision for your first or second fountain pen. Seeing as how this list is aimed for beginners in the hobby I will be focusing on pens under the $75 dollar mark so that there is something for everyones beginner budget. The list is in no particular order other than by price and I have not ranked these in terms of performance or anything else like that, I'm confident that each one of these pens will serve a beginner well and will be a mainstay even in a growing collection. Now that the introduction is out off the way let's take a look at the first of 5 pens on this list from the Japanese manufacturer Pilot.

Pilot Metropolitan

    The Pilot Metro is a great example of how Pilot does everything from ultra-high end pens to starter pens very well and does not leave one for the other. The great thing about the metro is that they are built very strong with a metal construction which makes them great options for students that want a reliable writing instrument without it being overly precious. They also come in a wide variety of colors with some more toned down colors that would be fit for a professional setting or bright fun colors to brighten up your school pencil pouch. The pens fill with a cartridge converter system like most of the other pens coming up on this list and this is actually why I prefer it to the one-off platinum preppy or pilot varsity. 
    The reason for this is that by having the filling systems in the pen you can not only reuse your pen but it also teaches people (at least me) about the permanence that writing utensils can have which is not something I really thought about before getting in the hobby. The cartridge option also allows for easy refills of the pen when you aren't near an ink bottle or in a setting that the ink bottle may be too messy, for cartridges just take the old one out and pop a new one in if they are the same color. The Pilot Metropolitan is available in a Fine, Medium or Stub nib in 14 different colors from Pen Boutique for the price of $23.99 making it the least expensive option on our list and it packs a wallop for only 24 dollars.

Lamy Safari & Al Star

    Next up we have my personal favorite and the first fountain pen I ever owned and that is the Safari from the German pen brand Lamy. The Safari holds a special spot in my heart because it was my first pen but it also holds its own on this list through its iconic design and rugged construction. Something else that makes the Safari a great starter option is that the nibs are easily removable and can be purchased separately so people can try out different sizes to see what they enjoy before moving into the more expensive pens where an extra nib gets significantly more expensive. Much like the Pilot Metropolitan the safari is available in a number of different fun colors but also in more basic ones so that they can fit into any setting whether it's school or work. The picture above contains the two special edition models for 2021 which is another thing that makes the Safari a little more collectible than some of the other pens on this list, there are many many special edition colors to track down and collect. 
Now if you do prefer the metal finish of the Metropolitan Lamy gave their Safari a metallic makeover and called it the Al Star after the aluminum metal used for the body of the pen. Essentially the same function as the Safari, the only differences between the two models is that the Al Star is made of metal and also has a clear section which is purely aesthetic and since both pens use the same nibs they write the same and are interchangeable. The Al Star comes in a variety of colors as well but they tend to be a bit more muted as it is hard to get the saturated color of the safaris on the aluminum during the anodization process. Both the Safari and Al Star models can be purchased at Pen Boutique in a variety of colors and in nib sizes ranging from Extra fine, fine, medium, and broad for $29.60 if you get the Safari and $37.60 for the Al Star.

Twsbi Eco

    The Twsbi Eco is unlike any other pen on this list and after seeing the picture it should be pretty obvious why that is, it's completely clear! Not only is it clear but the filling mechanism is different from the other pens on this list as well, its a piston filler. This means that instead of using a converter you can think of the whole pen as the converter which allows for a larger ink capacity and the clear design allows you to keep an eye on the ink level. 
    As you can see the Eco is no stranger to a bit of color either and much like the Lamys, these come out in some special edition models and colors occasionally which makes them collectible as well. With this pen being a piston filler it limits you ink options to bottle ink so it may prove hard to ink up if it runs out away from home but since the pen is a demonstrator you can pretty easily keep an eye out for when its getting low and fill it up before you go out. The Twsbi Eco can be purchased in 12 different colors in nib sizes ranging from Extra Fine, dine, medium, broad, and a stub for the price of $32.99.

Sailor Compass

    The Sailor Compass was a fantastic choice and addition to the models of the Sailor pen company and this is because it is a significantly less expensive model than their most popular pro-gear, 1911 and king of pen models. By no means am I saying that those pens are too expensive or over priced but it is nice to see them offer a pen under $100 that is still produced with the quality and attention to detail that Sailor has been known for for over 100 years. If you haven't noticed the color pattern between all the pens on this list, the compass is no exception and is offered in 9 eye-popping colors that are sure to bring some festivity to your writing experience. Something that's very unique about the compass is that the plastic feed is actually clear which gives a really cool look to the pen, it captures the color of the ink that you are using. 
    Another really nice thing that Sailor has done is that they include both cartridges and a converter with the pen so you can get writing right away and the converters that they give you match the pen's color which is something pretty unique that gives the pen a cool look. This pen in short, is a great budget offering from Sailor that is sure to lead to one of their gold nabbed models that I mentioned earlier so be careful, you won't know what hit you until after you own one of their exquisite gold models. The Sailor Compass is available at Pen Boutique in 9 colors for the price of $39.20.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Walk in the Park

 A Closer Look at the Parker Pen Brand


    The origin of the Parker pen company is like that of other pen brands that are now con sided staples, George Safford Parker wanted to own a pen that was reliable and that didn't leak. The brand was established in 1888 by George Parker and he was able to patent his first pen just a year into the companies establishment. Parker became a big contender in the pen market around 1894 which is when they first patented the "Lucky Curve" feed system which would allow excess ink from the feed to flow back into the reservoir preventing leaks and prolonging ink usage. 
    1903 saw Parker expand their horizons to a global market and essentially went on a world tour to showcase what they were doing in the world of pens at the time. It wasn't till 1911 that the Lucky Curve system was actually patented after small improvements which saw more and more of them introduced to the market. In 1918 the Parker pen company would surpass an annual revenue of $1,000,000 which, adjusted for inflation, would be approximately $19,000,000 in 2021 which is pretty remarkable just coming out of a war. 1921 saw the brand release one of the most famous and iconic fountain pens to date, the Parker Duofold, vintage models are still highly collectible and sought after to this day. 
The company would continue to come out with pens that are now considered to be classic like the Vacumatic in 1933 and the 51 in 1941. Enough of the brands rich and flourishing history, lets take a look at their current offerings available through Pen Boutique.


    Originally released in 1933 the Parker 51 has a very interesting look and unique nib design that sets it apart from most other pen models of the time from Parker or any other company for that matter. The 51 was recently revived by Parker due to popular demand and they've stayed pretty true to the original design of the pen. When it first came out in the early 30's the 51 heralded multiple innovative design features with the most notable being the hooded nib, this was to keep the nib wet and provided a better ink flow with less chance for hard starts. Unlike the vintage 51 models the revival is a standard cartridge converter model which is disappointing compared to the vintage aerometric and vacumatic models but is understandable for a revival. 
    The new 51 is available in 2 different types, the first being the ones you see above with the silver caps, these all have stainless steel nibs and come in 4 different colors. The other version of the 51 comes with a gold cap which indicates the 18k gold nib under the hood and this version only comes in 2 colors. You can buy the new Parker 51 at Pen Boutique between $87.20-$248.00 depending on the nib choice you go with.

IM & IM Premium

    The Parker IM is a strong contendor from Parker as far as mid-range pens are concerned and does its job quite well for a respectable price that won't break the bank. The construction of the IM is of various finishes of metal giving the pen a strong feeling without adding too much weight that could throw off the balance of writing. Another benefit is that it is available in a variety of colors which could make them great gifts for students or for someone wanting to have a little fun at work to venture outside of the standard Bic ballpoint. The IM has a steel nib and can be used with either a cartridge or converter, Pen Boutique has 11 color options split between the standard and premium IM models. The Difference between the two is that the premium options have intricately designed metal barrels with patterns on them to just give them that extra push towards elegance and professionalism. The Parker IM can be purchased from Pen Boutique in a staggering 11 colors for a price between $43.56-$79.88 depending on if you choose the standard or premium model.

Sonnet & Sonnet Premium

    If you are looking to spend a little more dough than the previous two pen models the Sonnet may be for you. originally introduced in 1994 the Parker Sonnet is the picture everyone has in their mind when they hear the word fountain pen and this renewal of the design brings more colors and even some 18k gold nibs seen on the premium models. I like to think of the Sonnet as sort of the next step or big sibling to the IM because the design feels similar but something about the sonnet feels sleeker and more luxurious, especially with that 18k gold nib. The Parker Sonnet can be purchased at Pen Boutique in 19 different colors and finishes between the base and premium models at a price somewhere between $100-$379.39.


    And finally we arrive at the most iconic and recognizable name in the Parker lineup, none other than the legendary Duofold. Originally introduced in an abundance of sizes and shapes in the 1920's the new Duofold harkens back to Parker's breakthrough design but with a more modern take utilizing more modern and widely available mechanisms. The models pictured above are actually new and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the model in some very interesting patterned acrylic. Overall Pen Boutique has 6 different colors of the Duofold available in-between the price range of $538.64-$1040 and I would highly recommend stopping by to try one out if you have never seen or held one in person, they are wonderful pens and the jewel of Parker's rich history producing writing instruments!
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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Pen Boutique's Parisian Pen Brand

 A Closer Look at the Waterman Pen Brand


    The Waterman pen brand was started by Lewis Waterman after he noticed a lack of reliable fountain pens that held their own ink in the late 1800's. He began working on prototypes and designs of pens that would use capillary action in order to control ink flow and in turn, create a pen that could hold its own ink instead of being dipped. He filed his first patent in 1884 for a pen he called "The Regular" which was distributed out of the back of a cigar shop for the first year. Lewis died in 1901 and his nephew took over the business steadily increasing sales year after year. 
    Jif Waterman was the subsidiary of the American Waterman company that was in Europe and is widely credited for ensuring the continuation of the brand after 1936. Waterman is now recognized as the oldest manufacturer of fountain pens still in production today, over 135 years after the patent for "The Regular". Now that we know the origin of the Waterman pen company, let's take a look at the modern models available at Pen Boutique.


    The most budget friendly and coincidentally the most brightly colored option from the Waterman pen brand is called the hemisphere. These pens have a nice small-midsize silhouette making them a great option for students or people with smaller hands. The primary construction is metal that has been anodized or powder coated to give it a nice splash of color. All hemisphere models have steel nibs which makes sense seeing as how the Hemisphere is a very competitively priced pen. You can purchase the Waterman hemisphere in varying finishes and colors from Pen Boutique in prices that range from $68-$144.94.


    The Expert is the next step in terms of not only price range but also quantity in terms of what you get for your dollar. I think of the Expert as the older sibling of the Hemisphere because the design is essentially a scaled up version which includes the nib. The Hemisphere sports around a #5 size nib while the Expert has a #6 but it is still a steel nib so we have not yet reached the gold nib pens. There are considerably less color options available but still a good core collection consisting of black, brushed metal, blue, red, bronze and gold. The Waterman Expert in the previously stated variety of colors can be purchased from Pen Boutique for between $138.14-$151.19.


    This where Waterman starts to get funky (in a good way) in terms of design and offering a bang for your buck. The Carene is made of metal which gives the pen a very solid feeling however it is offered in only three varieties: black with gold trim, black with silver trim, and a very interesting amber color. The most noticeable thing about this pens design is the curved 18k gold nib that gives this pen a very sleek and stealthy look. I must say that the Carene in the amber waves color really is my favorite modern Waterman model due to its loose resemblance of Arco celluloid material and the warm compliment of the gold trim. The Carene can be purchased from Pen Boutique in the 3 options listed above for $233.05.


    Finally we come to the top of the line, the Exception is no Exception to innovative design (see what I did there...). The most obvious draw to this pen is the unique square shaped barrel that continues to the grip section for a more ergonomic grip. These pens, much like the carene, also have a very satisfying weight that takes the writing experience and elevates it just a bit more. These pens also have wonderfully smooth gold nibs and are sure to look great signing important documents or writing in daily journals alike. The Exception is available in black with gold trim, black with silver trim and blue with silver trim and can be purchased for $356.79 from the Pen Boutique website.

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