Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Father's Day is Fast Approaching!

Father's Day 2021 Gift List

     Father's Day is coming up pretty soon and you don't want to be caught out without a gift but your in luck because this list will go over some ideas to give your father the gift of writing this year! Whether it's a pen or something to go with it like paper or ink, we've got you covered. Please keep in mind that this list is in no way a definitive gift list and that the items are in no particular order, Pen Boutique carries a lot more than what is mentioned on this list so treat this as more of a starting point and check out our website for more options. I will be showcasing 6 different pens, 2 roller, 2 ballpoint and 2 fountain, and then go over a couple of ink and paper options as well so without further ado let's get into the list starting with the pens.

Fountain Pens

  • Pelikan M1000 Green Stripe- Pelikan's flagship model of their Souverän line is one of the best flagship pen models offered from any modern brand and just happens to be my favorite as well because it has a spectacular nib. The M1000 has an eye catching design that is classic but still has a bit of an interesting look which is pretty difficult to pull off, the clip is shaped like a Pelican's bill and the body has an interesting striped design that allows the user to see the ink level when the pen is held up to light. The green and gold color combination is also one that feels very regal and elegant and would be a fantastic addition to any shirt pocket or pen case! The M1000 is a piston filler which means that it has a larger ink capacity but can only be used with bottled inks which is something to keep in mind. The nib is comparable to the larger #8 size and lays down a rather thick and wet line which feels excellent but if you don't prefer a thick line I would definitely recommend going down one from your regularly preferred size. The Pelikan M1000 can be purchased from Pen Boutique for $832 and with this you get a fantastic luxury pen that is one of the best performing in it's price bracket!
  • Pilot Custom 823- My other favorite pen to recommend as a gift is this beautiful Vac filler, the Pilot Custom 823, which is one of Pilot's most cost effective pens and one of the best value pens in the whole hobby. This is another pen that doesn't stray too far from the classic look but also has a bit of an interesting design feature in that it is a massive demonstrator. The pen comes in the above amber smoke and a regular smoke that is more of a translucent grey color but both allow you to keep an eye out for your ink level before leaving the house which means you won't be caught out with an empty pen. Another nice aspect about this pen is that it comes in a very nice looking gift box and also includes a bottle of Pilot blue ink with your purchase so you can get writing immediately after opening the box. This pen is also an ink bottle only pen because it is a vacuum filler which allows for one of the biggest ink capacities outside of eyedropper and if you get a full fill the whole barrel can actually fill with ink which also adds a little weight to the relatively light pen. The Custom 823 can be purchased from Pen Boutique for $288 and for this price you get a fantastic gold nib pen with a huge ink capacity and a bottle of ink!

Rollerball Pens

  • S T Dupont Line D Firehead Guilloche- ST Dupont is no stranger to making luxury, eye catching pens and the firehead guilloche is no stranger to this with it's vibrant colors and meticulous guilloche work that is sealed with Urushi lacquer. The line D is also a substantial feeling pen coming in at around 64g but the ergonomic grip with ridges is sure to provide a good grip for comfortable writing sessions of any length. The snap cap design makes it a good option for quick notes as well because you don't have to spend a long time uncapping the pens like some other more expensive rollerballs. I mentioned a little earlier that this pen was coated in Urushi lacquer which is the hardest naturally occurring lacquer in the world, it is also fairly difficult to work with but is the only way for the guilloche to truly pop and stand out on this pen. Available in the amber color pictured above as well as an emerald green and amethyst purple, the firehead guilloche has a color for everyone for a variety of settings whether its an office or more causal setting. The Line D can be purchased from Pen Boutique for $700 and for this you get a hefty luxury pen that makes even the quickest note fun to write, check it out online or stop by to check it out in person!
  • Diplomat Aero- If you are looking for something that's a bit more unique in terms of design look no further because the Diplomat Aero is quite the piece of modern design. Manufactured from Aluminum and then either anodized or flame treated like the one above, the Aero is a very solid feeling pen and similarly to the Line D the cap is a snap cap which allows for easy and quick removal for notes. The grooves on the pen are not actually only for design but also remove weight from the pen without augmenting the overall shape too much, without these grooves the pen would be to slippery and heavy to use really well. The flame treatment is hand done which means each pen will be unique which is why I really enjoy the heat treatment above the anodized colors. The Aero can be purchased from Pen Boutique in 12 different colors for the price of $156 for the anodized models and $292 for the flame treated.

Ballpoint Pens

  • Visconti Homo Sapiens- The Homo sapiens is truly a unique pen and nobody really does it quite like Visconti because the materials in this pen are top notch along with the build quality which together make this pen a powerhouse for long and stylish writing sessions. This pen is actually made from lava rock taken from the Mt. Etna volcano in Italy which really reminds you of the brand's heritage along with the unique clip shape which is an homage to the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, the brand's birthplace. All the trim on this pen is brass which means that it will take on more personality the more you use it which is the same for the slightly hydroscopic lava material on the barrel of the pen. This is a twist action ballpoint which makes notes quick so it really is a perfect companion for everyday use. It is available with black and red trim but the lava can also be purchased in a red, sand or white color to add a pop of color. The Homo sapiens ballpoint can be purchased from Pen Boutique in six different colors for between $340-$380.
  • Lamy 2000- Inspired by the Bauhaus design principles, the Lamy 2000 is an exceptional example of when excellent function comes from a sleek and minimal design without unnecessary frills or things to take away from the use of the object, in this case it would be writing. The original model was made from Makralon, a form of plastic that is reinforced with fiber glass, the pen can also be purchased in stainless steel or even wood to suit any preference. Don't let the minimalist design fool you, this pen is one of the best performing in its price bracket and if cared for correctly, will last years to come. All of Lamy's pens are made in Germany which contributes to the exceptional build quality and feel of these pens so when you buy the 2000 you are buying a piece of German engineering! The Lamy 2000 can be purchased in all the materials above from Pen Boutique and the price ranges based on which finish you decide on buying. The base Makralon model can be purchased for $62.40, $199.20 for the stainless steel, $103.20 for the wood, and $79.20 for the multi pen.

Ink Bottles

  • Sailor- My personal favorite inks all come from Sailor and that's because most of the time when you buy a Sailor ink you are not only buying one color of ink but buying a color of ink that shades or sheens into a variety of other complimentary colors to make for a really stunning page of writing. Inside of the Sailor brand the Manyo line and their Ink Studio line are the ones that I find have the most character and shading, especially when used on a less absorbent paper like Tomoe River. The ink pictured above is Sailor Manyo Haha which is a great example of an ink with extreme color variance from purple to blue to green which is really amazing and changes the ink depending on what nib size you use it with! The Ink Studio line has around 100 colors, each one is unique and stands on it's own while the Manyo line has far fewer but still ones that hold their own against other similarly colored inks. The Manyo line will run you around $21.60 for a 50ml bottle and the Ink Studio will run you a little more per ml at $18.00 for a 20ml bottle but in my opinion you really can't go wrong with any Sailor made ink.
  • Diamine- With over 150 inks on offer Diamine is sure to have something for everyone and their inks behave exceptionally well, the price point and volume of their bottles also makes them the best bang for your buck in my personal opinion. Most of their standard line comes in an 80ml bottle but should also be available in 30ml if you just wanted to try a color out or split it with a friend or something like that. They also have a range of reasonably priced shimmer inks that don't really have too much of a clogging problem which is nice to see with a shimmer ink because the last thing you want is to ink your pen with your new ink and then have it clog on you mid writing session. They also have a very nice line of holiday themed inks that can be used year round, pictured above is candy cane which is a nice red that has just a little bit of a dusty look when dried. The standard 80ml Diamine bottles will run you about $15 from us here at Pen Boutique with the shimmer and special editions being a little bit more.

Paper

  • Montblanc- You may have seen their writing instruments but their notebooks are works of art as well, Montblanc makes some of the coolest looking themed notebooks available here at PB and the quality is top notch. Each notebook comes installed with a cloth bookmark to keep track of your place when picking up the book to write again or keep track of a page previously written on. The covers are made from high quality leather and can come with a theme like the homage to Moctezuma which is pictured above but are also available in solid colors for a more toned down and classic look. The paper performs well and the nature of this notebook makes me tend to recommend it for special things like a wedding book or a journal dedicated to one subject in particular because at this point it is more than a notebook. Another great aspect is that they are available in a wide variety of sizes for different uses, from taking quick notes to things that take larger pages like maybe a presentation plan or something like that. These are luxury products and they come at luxury prices, the Montblanc notebooks at Pen Boutique can be purchased for prices between $45-$150 depending on size and edition.


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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Sleek & Elegant designs shipped in from Germany

 Otto Hutt Design 7, A Closer Look

Specs:

  • Description- A hefty Sterling Silver pen that harkens back to classic German design but with a modern feel.
  • Nib- 18k gold (EF-B)
  • Material- Sterling Silver (also available with lacquer over the SS)
  • Filling Mechanism- Cartridge or Converter
  • Weight- 65 grams capped
  • Measurements- 5.5 cm capped
  • Ink Capacity- 1ml converter

History & Origin

    Founded in 1920 by Karl Hutt, the brand was originally focused on making Sterling Silver writing instruments which still rings true today, he only had 20 employees in the beginning but this didn't stop the growth of the brand. By 1962 the brand had eclipsed their old manufacturing plant and decided to move into a bigger facility in Pforzheim, Germany which its where the pens are still being produced to this day. When Karl could no longer run the company his son, Otto, became the head and the brand still bears his name to remind of the family beginnings of the business. 
    In 2006 the brand was relaunched under the new owners and is now being run by Marco Frei. Similar to some aspects of Lamy's design philosophy, Karl Hutt was an adamant follower of the Bauhaus school of design and decided to make pens that stood on their own with respect to quality of writing and function first but also looked timeless and unique. The Design 07 is the brand's flagship and its for this reason that I'm choosing to highlight it here today so without further ado, lets take a look at the packaging and design of the pen.

Appearance & Packaging

    The pen comes in what appears to be a regular box contained in a silver slip cover but when you open the box you are immediately reminded of the brand's Bauhaus design inspiration because you are met with only the pen surrounded by black cardboard. I think that it may have been nice to see some sort of softer material and the pen have a more snug fit but I don't fear that the pen will be damaged or anything like that while in transit. When you lift up the cardboard insert that the pen is housed in you are met with a variety of branded necessities to get you writing immediately out of the box. 
They included a pack of cartridges with black ink, a standard international converter for if you want to use bottled ink, the use/care guide along with the warranty information and a nice pen sleeve to protect your pen when it's not in use. As far as the actual pen goes, each Otto Hutt writing instrument is serialized similar to Montblanc in order to stop fakes and keep track of lost or stolen pens which always gives peace of mind when making a decision to buy. This pen is made with a solid sterling silver construction and OH says that the pen has 36g of silver in each pen and with the sufficient heft of this pen I have no trouble believing them. I really enjoy the stripping on the cap and barrel because it feels very well done and isn't so extreme that it's distracting during a writing session. 
Another one of my favorite aspects is that the silver Hallmarks are designed to line up in one of the cap orientations which really shows the brands attention to detail and reassures me that they've gotten everything else correct. The pen is equipped with a really nice feeling spring loaded clip that isn't too firm and won't get worn out with continued usage. The cap band sports the brand name along with Germany and the unique serial number for the individual pen. Enough of the packaging, lets see how it actually writes!

Nib & Performance

    The Otto Hutt Design 07 features a #6 sized Jowo compatible nib in 18k gold and on this model it is two toned which I really enjoy the look of on this all silver pen. You can get the nib in your choice of EF-B and since the nib is in a Jowo housing, you could even switch it into other pens that are Jowo compatible. As far as the writing, it is very smooth with just a hint of what I like to call "good feedback" and that just means that you can feel the writing as opposed to it just being silky smooth gliding across the paper and I personally prefer a little feedback so I really enjoyed writing with this pen. 
    The body is big enough to store an extra short international cartridge behind the one in use or you could use a converter for ink bottle fill. With all the silver and metal in this pen it would be inadvisable to eye dropper fill. The section of the pen has a lip to also keep your fingers from slipping off and onto the nib during writing sessions and I found that due to this feature, even with the kind of heavy nature of this pen, I wasn't experiencing hand cramping or anything like that even after a longer writing session. Alright now lets take a look at what I like and dislike about the pen and then talk price.

Pros

  • very solid construction
  • cool minimal design
  • 18k gold nib that's also removable easily
  • each pen has a serial number
  • sterling silver
  • a lot of thought was put into the design and it was executed very well

Cons

  • nib is on the smaller side of most flagships which have #8 nibs
  • no option for piston fill
  • may be a little too heavy for some
  • fingerprint magnet

Final Thoughts & Price

    Overall I think that this pen is a great value for the price, you are essentially getting a chunk of sterling silver that has been shaped into a luxury writing instrument and luxurious it is! The Otto Hutt is not an oversized pen but is a thick pen and the weight really helps it feel solid and well built. The nibs are also very well tuned out of the box and have good ink flow so you just get a very nice quality silver pen that is a great example of Bauhaus design principals. The pen can be purchased from Pen Boutique for the price of $796, $636 for rollerball and $340 for ballpoint, feel free to ask us any questions you may have in the comments section or stop by and take a look in person!
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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Fountain Pen Q&A Part #1

 Frequently Asked Fountain Pen Questions

    We get a lot of questions about fountain pens simply because they are less common and a little more complicated than ball-points and rollerballs and this blog is meant to address those lingering questions and give you a better knowledge of how to care for your pens. I have written a couple blogs already aimed at people who are just getting into the hobby so this will be a less in depth look at some other questions rather than focusing only on the beginner topics. 

What are the differences in material other than plastic?

    Fountain pens come in a variety of materials based upon older models because pens were around before the creation of modern plastic and some brands like to either pay homage to these vintage pens or just like the unique materials. The other popular materials outside of modern plastics are ebonite and celluloid, both of which can be seen in a variety of vintage asian and western pen models. Both of these materials are a little more fragile and need a little extra care than plastic pens because the material itself is prone to things like discoloration and warping over time or in the case of celluloid it can start to deteriorate if not cared for correctly.
Celluloid- This is a highly sought after material that can offer some great color combinations and depth due to each rod being unique from the next but it is significantly more difficult to find which makes the cost a little higher. Part of the reason its so elusive is because it's significantly more difficult to make with some variations like Arco being completely outlawed due to the combustible manufacturing process. The material itself is considered a plastic but one that is made out of layers of Camphor. When using a celluloid pen it is very important to make sure that your hands are free of anything like soap or lotion and that they are dry to prolong the body of your pen and ensure it stays free of warped spots. You also should never use any sort of alcohol based cleaner on these pens as that will do nothing but speed up the process of the surface material breaking down. To avoid discoloration of the material it's important to keep to away from UV light when not in use so keeping it on a desk for a long period of time isn't recommended. Now it is almost impossible to avoid some very slight discoloration with prolonged use but by taking these steps you will prolong the lifespan of any celluloid pen in your collection. With that being said, if you buy a vintage celluloid pen that has already started showing signs of discoloration or surface wear it is almost impossible to reverse these things and the only thing that can usually be fixed aesthetically is the clip plating. 
Ebonite- This material was actually being used before celluloid and is a form of harden rubber that they used for a bunch of other products like bowling balls and lining for storage containers. The material really feels like no other and is often described as being softer than plastics and warm to the touch, to be clear, I don't mean that they are so soft they bend or anything but the surface is just a little less dense than plastic. The look of ebonite is something that can change pretty drastically from just a plain black to various colors but one of the most classic combinations is the black and red of the Waterman 52 you see above. A good example of jet black ebonite would be Sailor's King of Pen which also happens to be one of their most popular KOP finishes. It's important to keep ebonite out of the sun and direct sunlight to avoid color fading but just like with celluloid, a little bit of fading is ultimately inevitable. Another problem is that ebonite can react with different chemicals so best to use these with clean lotion-free hands as well, there was an instance of older Parker Duofold changing color because the ink sack on the inside was off gassing sulfur, leading to a lot of discoloration which is why its quite rare to find a very bright vintage duo fold in the vintage market now.

What is Urushi Lacquer?

    When getting into higher price Japanese pens you will often hear the term Urushi thrown around but it can be kind of hard to understand the significance unless you see them in person but I'll try my best to explain the wonderful nature of this material. Urushi is actually concentrated sap from a poisonous tree in Japan that can only be harvested for so much lacquer making it pretty expensive for the raw material cost alone and then it has to be applied to the pen by an artisan that has usually dedicated their whole life to the sole purpose of painting with Urushi. The nature of the material means that artisans have to be extremely careful when applying it if they are allergic to poison ivy because one drop could land a very allergic person in the hospital, the material also takes quite a while to dry which means that pens often have a 3 month minimum production time depending on the details in the pen. Once it dries, Urushi is considered the hardest naturally occurring lacquer which makes it a good option to seal Han painted Maki-e designs with so they don't rub off with continued use. They can also provide very bright colors which is amazing in the case of the Pilot Custom 845 in the Vermilion color. 

What pens can be eyedropper filled 

    A lot of pens can be converted to eyedropper fill but aren't necessarily advertised for it so sometimes people don't always realize that they could be getting a lot more ink capacity from their pens. Eye dropper fills allow you to use the whole barrel as the ink reservoir instead of being limited to just a cartridge or converter. The only pens that can be eyedroppered are ones that take a converter or cartridge because piston filling systems usually can not be removed but this isn't the only qualifier to make sure your pen can be eyedropper filled. There has to be absolutely no metal pieces in the barrel of the pen were ink would touch because this can have a corrosive effect on the metal and irreversible damage or destroy your pens. You also don't want to do it with any sensitive materials like celluloid and while ebonite is usually ok its always best to heir on the side of caution when getting into more expensive pens. There is one last step to ensure that your pen can be safely eye dropper filled and that is to apply pen safe silicone grease to the threads that hold the nib in and the threads where the section and body connect so that ink can't leak out of the cracks there. It can be a little daunting at first but you will soon find out that eye dropper filling pens is really worth it in the long run if you plan on using the pen for longer writing sessions. 

Why use a fountain pen over a ballpoint or rollerball?

    This question is highly subjective but I do get it pretty often so I guess I'll talk about why I use fountain pens and why they've trumped the roller and ball point when I write for myself. The short answer is that they are a lot more customizable and fun than the other two options (again, this is all my opinion) because you can choose your nib size, ink, even the paper changes the characteristics of a pen. Fountain pens also become deeply personal objects the more you write with them, they come in a variety of different nib sizes to fit any writing style and also give your writing a bit more character which is something that can't really be achieved with ballpoints or rollerballs. Yes, its true that BP and RB write and achieve the purpose of a fountain pen in a more convenient way but fountain pens aren't all about convenience and instead, offer a much more personalized writing experience that I feel connects with me more and actually makes me want to write more. 

Feel Free to submit more questions to us and we'd be happy to answer them!

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