Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Favorite Pen Dealers

by Tony Thomas

As many of us look for places to shop for gifts this holiday season, I thought I would take a few minutes and share some of my favorite pen dealers:

The Goulet Pen Company: I have followed Brian and Rachel since they were selling fountain pens, paper, and ink out of their house. In recent years, Goulet has grown become the one of the premier fountain pen dealers in the United States, with a strong emphasis on customer service and education. They have a You Tube channel with an exhaustive library of videos on fountain pens, ink, paper, accessories and tips. Goulet also has one of the broadest ranges of products of any fountain pen dealer.  Their website is top notch with plenty of custom tools to help you find the best pens, paper and ink for your needs.  In addition, they offer great service with a personal touch. 
I only wish they offered free shipping options and faster fulfillment when they are backed up with orders.

Jet Pens: Jet Pens is another great dealer that offers all kinds of writing instruments (fountain pens, ball points, roller balls, dip pens, pencils, etc.) as well as paper, ink and more. Most of their products come from Japan, and I have a great affection for Japanese products. I love the fact that they offer free shipping for all orders over $25. I also really like their online product guides and have found them to be helpful. Jet Pens offers prompt shipping and most of my orders ship the same day or the next.

iPen Store: I have probably done business with iPen Store longer than any other dealer. They sell a wide variety of writing instruments, including ballpoints, rollerballs and mechanical pencils. Aside from the brand names, they also sell their own line of quality pens under the "Rosetta" brand name. IPS has an ebay store under the name "Streetfair" and I believe that is where I bought my first Lamy Safari many years ago. As they are in the next state (MI) and they ship First Class USPS, I have found them to be a quick and reliable source.

Pen Chalet: Pen Chalet has also become one of my go to dealers for fountain pens, although they also sell rollerballs, ball points and mechanical pencils. Their web site is easy to navigate, their prices are very competitive and they offer fast and friendly service.

Anderson's Pens: I have only placed one or two orders with Anderson's, but Brian and Lisa are well known and respected in the fountain pen community. They have a brick and mortar store in Appleton, WI with a wide range of products and I have found their customer service and shipping speed to be exceptional. They also have a lot of knowledge about vintage pens, especially Esterbrook.

I hope you will check out these dealers and give them a try.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

TWSBI Eco Review

by Tony Thomas

I know I am late to the party, but I finally bought a TWSBI Eco fountain pen, made in Taiwan. Due to its amazing popularity, the Eco has been a difficult pen for me to score. Every time I was ready to pull the trigger, it was on backorder. Now I see why.

To their credit, TWSBI is company that puts a lot of thought into the design of their pens. They are always experimenting with new and innovative designs, building prototypes and getting feedback from the fountain pen community. You can always see what they are working on by checking out their Facebook page. A pen like the Eco is the result.

"Eco" is short for "economical", and at less than $30, this pen is pretty amazing. Aside from some cheap fountain pens from India, this is the least expensive piston filler you can buy. The main advantages of piston filler pens are their large ink capacity and ease of use and cleaning.

In the case of the Eco, it is easy to disassemble and clean using the handy plastic wrench provided with the pen. (The only caveat is that you need to be careful not to completely disassemble the piston assembly when you remove it because it can be a bear to reassemble correctly.)

Speaking of plastic, TWSBI reduced the price of this pen by reducing the number of metal parts of the pen to just three: the nib, the clip and the metal band at the base of the clip. The rest of the pen is made of plastic, although I do not think that this fact diminishes its quality in any way.

I find the pen to be very attractive. The Eco I selected has a black hexagonal cap, red finial with TWSBI logo at the top of the cap, silver-colored clip and matching ring at the base of the cap, transparent body for monitoring the ink level, and black filling knob at the base of the pen. It sports a 1.1 mm italic nib that writes a bit thinner than other identically-sized italic nibs in my collection.

I found the nib to be very smooth and well adjusted right out of the box. This is unusual, as I find that many stub nibs need a bit of work on a micro mesh pad to write as smoothly as I would like.

Bottom line: I think the Eco is one of the best low-cost fountain pens that you can buy. This pen will be in my EDC arsenal for the foreseeable future.

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