(EDC? EveryDay Carry - the stuff we carry with us to better deal with all a day can bring)
For most people who share the obsession with EDC, and care very much about what pocketable tools they carry, a pen is included, and it’s usually a ballpoint. To be honest, we get it. They’re convenient and reliable. For something that’s going to be knocking about in a pocket or bag, why risk a fountain pen?
But some people do love fountain pens. And they don’t want to be using a pen they don’t love. Your EDC pen will probably be your most-used, so why not have something you enjoy? And fountain pens really can be practical enough for this kind of use, as long as you choose the right pen.
Of course, as with any ‘best’ list, this will be very subjective - if your favourite isn’t listed, don’t let that stop you using it! But we have a few picks for pens we think work especially well.
Maybe one of the most obvious picks for this list, but that’s with good reason. It’s tiny and pocketable, and tough. We’ve had them knocking about in a pocket with no care whatsoever given, and they stand up really well. They only use cartridges, but there are plenty of choices of short International cartridges, and it’s more practical to keep a spare cartridge in your pocket or bag than a bottle of ink, so we think that’s a pretty reasonable compromise to make in a pocketable pen.
Add in a good range of finishes, so you can pick a Liliput that suits your style, and it’s a pretty compelling little EDC pen.
Maybe not one of the more expected choices, and will need a bit more careful carry than many people would find acceptable for ‘EDC’. But some of you will be willing to use a case or just take a but more care in order to have the convenience of a retractable fountain pen with this wonderful Pilot Capless nib.
TWSBI Diamond Mini
Another one that may need a little more care than some people would want to take, but the payoff is pretty nice with the pocketable TWSBI Diamond Mini. No cartridges, and no converter - it just fills from a bottle of ink. And it has a big ink capacity, so you won’t need to fill so often - and that clear barrel means you won’t get caught out needing to refill, because you can always see at a glance how much ink remains.
OK, this one is maybe an odd pick - a bit more at the luxury end of the market than you might expect for EDC, but hear us out. Some people just love their nice, classically-styled fountain pens. And the Estie JR combines that with a nice compact size that can still slip away easily. You’ll want to take a bit more care with it, but is it worth that to you? If you love it enough, maybe it is.
Sailor Pro Gear Slim Mini
Sticking with a theme, you might not want a Pro Gear Mini to be shaken about in a pocket with your keys, or getting squashed between Swiss Army knife and power bank in the bottom of your bag. But they’re just so nice, you might be ok with keeping it inside a pouch or case where it will be kept safe. And in return, you get to use a Sailor 14k gold nib.
Back to the toughies - the Sport manages a trick even the Liliput can’t quite pull off - becoming full-size in use, but still nicely pocketable when capped. It also manages to fit a converter if you want to use bottled ink, though it is a tiny converter. There’s even a nice range of finishes, including some great value plastic pens that are still impressively sturdy, and a range of metals.
Lamy Safari (or AL-star)
Tough ABS plastic for the Safari, or in the case of the AL-star, aluminium. One of the most-loved fountain pens out there, well-known for its reliability. All good arguments for EDC. It’s not a small pen, though, which is usually, if not a requirement, at least quite desirable. But if the pen part of your EDC is important to you, why not allow a bit more space for something comfortable? You can probably find space in your bag for a Safari.
The emphasis in most EDC setups is stuff that lasts, solid and reliable. Things you’ll buy once and keep forever. But this could be a different approach - a fountain pen that’s cheap and disposable. They’re still pretty reliable, so it’s unlikely to let you down, but if it gets damaged? Grab another.
The lack of a pocket clip might exclude it for some people, but if you don’t need a clip, most YStudio pens are pretty metal. They could only really be more metal if they were a red panda screaming karaoke. And YStudio fully lean into the idea of their pens looking better as they get worn from use, which is very EDC.
The down side of the Diplomat Aero for EDC is that it isn’t very compact, but it definitely has the right style - beautiful and metal, in a way that just looks better as it gets used and worn. If you don’t mind a full-size pen in your EDC, it definitely adds some solid style.
It's very hard to pick a Top 10 when you have as many products as us. But we did it. No doubt there'll be disagreements. You can't please everybody. But we've given it our best shot. So... from the top...
- Cult Pens Exclusive Sport Silver by Kaweco - subtle, silvery, semi-translucent
- Cult Pens Christmas Crackers - bangin'!
- SUCK UK Skull Desk Tidy - the best use for a skull we've found
- BENU Santa Hand-Painted fountain pen - coming soon and very limited!
- Sailor Dipton Hocoro Dip Pen Set - a fude nib to show off glitzy inks
- Pilot 60th anniversary Capless - as innovative now as it ever was - now sold out! See the rest of the Pilot Capless range.
- Derwent Inktense new colours - you can never have too many coloured pencils
- POSCA set of 54 - versatile, mark-almost-anything markers
- Caran d'Ache Keith Haring - subway art-inspired pens and pencils
- Cult Pens Ink Subscription - get a monthly ink fix!
If those didn't seem to be quite what you're looking for, we have plenty more ideas in our full Gift Guide.
Best might not be, well, the best word to use here. After all what one person thinks are the best inks, the next person might disagree with, or they might be second best rather than top of the list for others.
I’m Louise, a calligrapher and member of the Cult Pens Customer Service team. I have been practising calligraphy both for work and in my own time for close to 10 years now and I’ve built up quite a collection of inks in those years - working at Cult Pens and being a keen stationery addict is highly dangerous, I can’t resist a new calligraphy pen or ink colour! In Customer Service we get lots of questions about inks so I’m going to share with you some of my favourite tips and inks for calligraphy practice in particular.
One of the first and most important things to consider with calligraphy inks is what calligraphy you’d like to practise, as this will determine what pen or nib you’ll need to use and in turn, which ink. For example, for modern calligraphy or Copperplate type scripts (handwritten letters are scripts, not fonts which are digital), we would recommend a dip pen and a flexible nib. Indeed a flexible nib is crucial to achieve both the thinner hairline strokes and thicker downstrokes on these scripts. You can achieve a similar style with a non-flex nib of course, a fine or medium fountain pen nib for example, or even a biro or pencil, but it won’t look quite as good as nibs which are designed to achieve both thin and thick lines. Alternatively, are Old English and Gothic scripts more your thing? If so we would recommend the Pilot Parallel Pen for this work, which is a fountain pen – this time we can safely use the word ‘best’ as it really is the best pen for these scripts.
Dip pens and fountain pens use different inks so understanding which you’ll be practising is key. Of course if you fancy both then great, more excuses for ink shopping!
The second most important thing to consider is the paper – not all inks work well on all papers. Even if the paper you use usually works well with your fine, medium or broad nibbed fountain pen, or ballpoint/rollerball, nibs as found on the Parallel Pen are much wider than standard nib sizes, so will put down a lot more ink and therefore you might find they don’t work as well on your usual paper. Dip pen inks are much thicker than fountain pen inks, so again they might start to bleed or feather on your usual paper.
So let’s dive into some recommendations on what I would use for each style.
Modern Calligraphy / Copperplate
For dip pens, as we would recommend for these scripts, you’ll need a thicker ink than fountain pen inks. Fountain pen inks are water-based dye inks and as such are quite watery. You can get thicker and thinner inks, depending on the brand, but generally speaking they need to be thin to be able to flow through fountain pen ink feeds without clogging the feed. The majority of fountain pen inks are too thin to use with dip pens, they will just slide off the nib into a puddle on the page, or otherwise they’ll flow so quickly they’ll write one letter perfectly fine then blob on the next. Some inks will be so thin they don’t stick to the nib at all. Of course there are always exceptions, some colours or brands will work great so if you have some at home feel free to give them a test and see how well they work on your dip pen nib, but we wouldn’t invest in buying new ones specifically to use with dip pen nibs as you might find it a wasted investment.
What we would recommend investing in, though, are calligraphy inks. It might sound obvious but as stated above calligraphy inks aren’t always suitable for all types of calligraphy. Calligraphy inks are thicker, especially designed for use with dip pens. Being thicker they will sit on the nibs nicely, without pooling on the page (assuming you haven’t over-dipped of course) and will flow at a better speed. Calligraphy inks are not suitable for fountain pens, they are too thick and will clog fountain pen feeds, they are only suitable for dip pens and brushes.
Top tip – brand new dip pen nibs often have oils on them from manufacturing and handling, which can affect the ink flow. Be sure to clean nibs thoroughly before use to ensure they are free from oils. I use a flame to ‘burn’ the nib which removes oils but we’ve heard sticking the nib into a potato has the same effect, or you can just clean it with some soapy water.
Some of our favourite Calligraphy inks are these:
For coloured inks Diamine Calligraphy and Drawing Inks are some of the best. Great value and a nice bottle size which lasts and is easy to fit most dip pen nibs into.
Black and White
For Black and White colours my favourite are KWZ inks, a little more pricey than Diamine but as Diamine don’t offer a white and it’s quite a popular colour among wedding calligraphers in particular, or for writing on darker papers, it’s a good option to have in your arsenal.
Metallic inks are another popular choice among calligraphers. I use Gold a lot for wedding calligraphy, weirdly Silver is hardly ever requested, but Herbin have both options, as well as Copper, for good measure:
Old English / Copperplate Scripts
You can buy dip pen nibs for Old English and Gothic scripts as well as for modern calligraphy and Copperplate scripts, if so, the calligraphy inks above will work just as well for Old English as they will for Modern Calligraphy. If, however, you’re using a fountain pen like the Pilot Parallel Pen or an italic nib fountain pen, you’ll need a fountain pen ink. As previously mentioned, calligraphy inks will not work in fountain pens and can cause considerable damage to them. This makes it easy to advise on; as you’ll know if you’re a Cult Pens fan, we have A LOT of fountain pen ink available, so it’s really down to what brand or colours you like the look of.
Again it’s got to be Diamine, they offer the widest range of colours available, from standard to sheen to shimmer inks they really do have something for everyone:
- Diamine fountain pen and drawing inks, made in Liverpool
Now, this is not to say that other inks are low quality, but some ink brands do tend to be a little too watery, which can give the impression of low quality. Watery inks are also more likely to bleed and feather on cheaper papers. Pilot Iroshizuku Ink is very high quality – they don’t offer as many colours as Diamine for example, but each and every one they do offer is the highest quality and really well saturated to achieve the best colour possible:
If you follow us on social media you’ll probably have seen some of my calligraphy letters or monthly banners posted online, using the Pilot Parallel Pen and a mix of different ink colours – when you have as many inks as I do, why just use one? One of my favourite things to do with my calligraphy is to dip the nib of the Parallel Pen into one colour, write a bit and then dip the nib into a different colour to create a watercolour-type effect. You can create a really beautiful finish with this, creating a truly unique colour that you won’t find anywhere else. Ecoline inks are great for this, they are liquid watercolours so they mix wonderfully but be warned, they are only suitable to dip the nibs in – they are not fountain pen inks so cannot be inked in the pen itself:
The final point to consider is paper; as mentioned some papers will not work well with thicker calligraphy inks or nibs. Certainly try whichever paper you use or have at home if you have some handy, but don’t be too surprised if it causes feathering or bleeding. I like to use Rhodia papers for practice, which are usually good enough quality for most calligraphy inks. Otherwise I’ll opt for a watercolour paper for final pieces I’d like to sell/frame, which is much thicker and designed to take more ink/paint than most papers. I’ve found the Goldline Watercolour Pad below from Clairefontaine a recent favourite, it’s nice and big with lots of sheets and has a little bit of texture to it as well which I like:
I hope this has been a useful read for those keen to get to grips with some calligraphy. Playing with inks is lots of fun but it can be frustrating when the ink you have isn’t doing the job you want. Hopefully this will help narrow down your choices. The best advice I can really give, though, is to just get stuck in and have a play! Try some inks you have at home, order some new ones if you feel it’s needed or wanted, give them all a go. There are no rules that must be followed really (other than don’t put calligraphy inks in fountain pens!), just guidelines, and it’s quite fun to break them if you can!
Not the tastiest type of jam, to be honest. This little guide is taken from our more complete and detailed Guide to Mechanical Pencils, as a quicker answer to this common question, without so much to scroll through!
If you use mechanical pencils, at some point you're likely to have a lead jam. It happens. A tiny bit of lead gets stuck somewhere in the mechanism, and stops it from working. Lead might not click forward, or it might click forward but slide back in when you try to use the pencil.
Most mechanical pencils can be dismantled to some extent to clear a jam. Usually, the part near the tip unscrews, which lets you see the mechanism. If you then push the button down against your desk, the clutch mechanism pushes up. There's a brass ring around the clutch jaws, holding them shut - push it down, and it will release the jaws. Once they've sprung open a bit of sideways tapping should dislodge any tiny bits of lead.
If the mechanism can't be opened up, blockages can usually be cleared by holding the pencil tip-up, with the button held down against your desk, and feeding a cleaning pin in through the tip to push any little bits of lead out from where they're stuck. Some pencils include a cleaning pin, usually attached to the eraser, but many don't. If you don't have one to hand, another piece of thin wire or a pin may fit, but don't force anything too wide into the tip. At a push, a spare piece of lead can do the job, but it takes a steady hand to feed it in without snapping it!
With all that done, you should be up and running again. If you're having trouble with leads snapping or jamming your pencil, and you're using cheap lead, you might find better quality lead is worth it for the extra strength then can bring. See our full range here. We'd especially recommend Pentel Ain Stein leads as being very strong and smooth.
A fountain pen that doesn't have a cap? A retractable fountain pen? It's unusual now, so back in the 1960s when the Capless was launched, it must have seemed really outlandish; either a case of 'it'll never catch on' (just as TV was thought to be a flash in the pan) or perhaps an assault on tradition, a bit like the newly-coined words 'selfie' and 'defo' could be seen as detrimental to the English language.
How could it possibly work, after all? A retractable ballpoint is fine; it contains oil-based ink that - at worst - will just get a bit sticky, but will become less so after a few initial strokes to get it going again. But a fountain pen uses water-based ink that is notorious for drying out: how can retracting the nib into the barrel stop the ink feed from clogging with dried ink? Surely you'd have to go to the trouble of emptying the pen of ink once the day's writing has finished? How inconvenient! And who'd want a retractable fountain pen anyway? The cap is part of the overall appeal - and it's where the pocket clip sits! What if you wanted to attach it to your pocket?
Despite any opposition Pilot may have encountered, the Capless - or Vanishing Point as it's known in America - did take off. For those of us who like fountain pens but dislike posting them (putting the cap on the back when using them) for whatever reason: too long, too weighty, just too unwieldy - a retractable fountain pen is a godsend. No putting down of a cap, only to realise that while you've been busily scribbling away, it's... gone. Fallen on the floor, rolled under a pile of paper, stuck between the cushions on the sofa - who knows? With the Capless, it's just a case of clicking the push-button, writing to your heart's content and then clicking again to tuck the nib safely away.
It's a bit like a ballpoint - only a fountain pen. But not quite. Retractable pens usually work by simply withdrawing the refill into the barrel. If you look down that barrel, you'll see the tip. And that's OK with an oil-based ink pen. But it's not OK with fountain pen ink. Why? Because despite being up inside the barrel, the nib is still open to the air, and that means... yes - dried ink on the nib and in the feed. And fountain pens don't like that.
The solution? A little spring-loaded door, for want of a better word. When the nib is extended, this door opens to allow its exit, and when the nib is retracted, the mechanism closes that door and - thanks to a rubber gasket - creates an airtight seal. It's had its improvements over the years (and tweaks! One being the LS version (luxury, silent) that clicks to extend and twists to retract) and the result is a very smooth operation indeed. After all, when it's a (mostly rhodium-plated) 18 carat gold nib you're seeking to protect, it's worth an investment in innovation.
So, if it's capless, what do you do when you want to clip it to your pocket (or indeed anywhere else?) Well, you can still do that; the clip is on the barrel, towards the nib end, which necessitates some careful positioning when it comes to fingers.
Now that we've dealt with the how it works bit, let's get onto how it looks.
Few fountain pens - let alone retractable ones - have the range of barrel colours offered by the Capless. If you're of the Henry Ford persuasion, there are plenty of black ones to choose from: matt black, stripy black, black with rhodium trim, black with gold... And if you like a brighter spectrum there's plenty of choice there too, from rose pink to purple. Like the look but wish it was lighter? The Decimo might be for you. It does everything the 'normal' Capless does, but with less heft. And if plain is not your thing, the Carbonesque, with its carbon fibre-inspired finish, just might be.
And we all like a limited edition, don't we? Pilot does not disappoint. There are annual editions, which have seen the Black Ice of 2021 and the Red Coral of 2022. But the 2023 Limited Edition is very special. Why? Because its sophisticated red satin barrel and definitive matt black trim - including a black 18 carat gold nib - celebrate 60 years of the Capless. 6 decades of innovation. Over half a century of everyday classiness. Almost 22,000 days when you didn't have to wonder where on earth you left the cap.
When they arrived on the scene, their attention to design details made Ferris Wheel Press fountain pen inks an immediate hit. The beautifully round bottles, the intricate designs on the packaging, the inspiration from a combination of fairground rides and printing presses. People loved it all.
But what many have missed since then is that Ferris Wheel Press have turned that same eye for good design details to pens. They now make a small range of fountain pens and ink rollers, with the same quirkiness that so many people love in their inks.
Take the grip sections, for example. For most pens, the grip section is either plain, or maybe has some simple lines engraved into it to add some grip. Ferris Wheel Press have taken a different approach, reasoning that if there needs to be some sort of engraving done to improve the grip on that section, why not use grab the chance to make it look good too? Why just add some lines or a simple pattern when they can add a fancy and intricate custom pattern, inspired by vintage Underwood typewriters?
The fancy engraving doesn’t extend to the more basic plastic pens, but in pricing, these are competing with some of the most popular entry level pens from the big names like Lamy and Kaweco. And they make a very nice alternative for those who just want something a little more unusual.
As with most people, we mainly knew of Ferris Wheel Press for their inks, so we asked them what made them start making pens too. They told us:
Here at FWP, we are stationery lovers and we are constantly using writing instruments in our day to day. From project planning to creative ideation, the pen is at the forefront of what we do. In a world where digital technology often takes the spotlight, we are here on a boundless mission to create the most enchanting stationery imaginable. Through the magic of storytelling, we seek to inspire a newfound appreciation for stationery culture.
Ferris Wheel Press's first product was actually a fountain pen. The first version of the Brush Fountain Pen was created out of a passion to help the world fall in love with writing again. Our design philosophy is about creating beautiful objects that beg to be picked up and utilized, everyday.
At the heart of stationery culture rests the fountain pen. It is the most enjoyable tactile experience that helps us connect our hand, heart, and mind. In our mission to inspire an appreciation for stationery culture, we endeavour to create gorgeous writing instruments that inspire people to write, create, take action, starting with a pen that yearns to be picked up.
The story of the Ferris Wheel Press universe is continuing to be told with new adventures, experiences, and endearing characters that come to life through our products. From the intricate details on our writing instruments, to the hidden Easter eggs on our packages, our aim is to bring our customers on a joyful expedition and further their appreciation for stationery.
We believe a good fountain pen is one that is put to use. Our goal is to create stunning instruments that resonate with those who value life's finer details. Beyond using high-quality materials and careful crafting processes, our designs aim to bring joy through hidden details, making the act of writing a delightful experience that excites both new and experienced writers.
As we expand our product offerings, we're developing new styles, colors, and finishes. We're also introducing new nib options and enhanced functionality. Our objective is to provide accessible products that stand out in their price range, inspiring the next generation of stationery enthusiasts.
Join us on this journey, where we celebrate the beauty of writing, one pen at a time, with Ferris Wheel Press.
While the name ‘Kaweco’ didn’t exist until later, the story of Kaweco goes back to 1883, with the founding of the Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik, or Heidelberg fountain pen factory. A few years later, in 1889, the company was taken over by Heinrich Koch and Rudolph Weber, who used a modified version of their own initials to create the Kaweco name. The Perkeo name was also used at this time.
Jumping forward to 1911, they designed a handy pocketable fountain pen, which was the birth of the Kaweco Sport, one of their most popular pens to this day.
In 1930, the name, machinery, stock and patents were all bought by a smaller pen maker, which gave us another part of the Kaweco story - the current circular logo with KA/WE/CO divided into thirds. This company was still going strong until the 1970s, but the brand faded after that.
Fortunately, along came Michael Gutberlet. He ran a successful business mainly producing cosmetics for big brands, but he had a passion for pens, and especially loved Kaweco’s designs. When the brand name became available, he snapped it up, and worked with Diplomat to produce a range of new pens under the Kaweco name, using his pen expertise and manufacturing experience to make quality products that people loved, echoing the classic Sport design.
These were very popular, leading the new Kaweco to success in its own right, with the range expanding ever since.
As an aside, it may sound odd to most people that a cosmetics company would also make pens, but it’s surprisingly common - quite a few big names in the pen and pencil world also make cosmetics, often for other brands or under a different name. Many cosmetics are made in the form of pencils, and there’s some crossover of techniques between making cosmetics and making inks, pencil lead and pigments. They often start as high quality pigments, usually in powder form.
One of Michael’s favourite things to do is scouring his own collection of vintage Kaweco pens, and old catalogues, looking for inspiration. This process has given us some of the most popular modern pens, including the handy pocketable Sport range. The same sources led to the tiny Liliput, and the comfortable and fashionable Perkeo. For the latter, their ties to the cosmetics industry has helped too, letting them make pens in up-and-coming colour combinations, bringing a touch of modern fashion to a classically-styled pen.
But even after all these years, that 1911 design, the Sport, remains one of the most popular pens around, especially as a pocketable fountain pen - some things never change.
140th Anniversary of Kaweco
If you’ve managed to reach the age of 140, you have something to celebrate, so Kaweco aren’t letting the anniversary pass by. And of course, they’re celebrating the best way they know how - with a special edition pen that brings back their own history.
It’s made from Ebonite - a form of hardened rubber that was commonly used for pens back in the early days of the Kaweco brand, but is now usually considered too difficult to work with, not fitting in with modern manufacturing techniques. But it’s a special material, named for its similarity to ebony, often showing a lovely marbling or striped patterning, reminiscent of exotic wood. The hardening process leaves a characteristic sulphurous smell, and the material ages nicely, picking up a patina that can be polished away if desired. Care instructions are included.
It's supplied in card gift packaging, with a set of all ten colours of Kaweco ink cartridges, and a pocket clip. At the time of writing, it's available to pre-order, due out in October - the Kaweco Ebonit Sport Fountain Pen Set 140th Anniversary Edition.
Yes, we're doing it again. Our very own advent calendar, full of top quality and useful stationery items! As with previous years, the contents will be great value, worth way more than the price of the advent calendar, and most people will probably want to just trust us on that, and keep each day as a fun little surprise.
But maybe that isn't you. Maybe you want to know all the details. If so, keep reading, but be warned! Spoilers ahead! Your advent calendar may be considerably less fun to open if you already know what's in it.
If you'd rather the contents be a surprise, as intended, stop reading now, and go and order your advent calendar!
Still with us? You're sure you want to know? OK, well, here goes...
- Platinum Stainless Steel Ballpoint Pen - all metal, totally reliable, what's not to like?
- Lihit Lab Bloomin Stand Pen Case - bloomin' good for storing your pens 'n' pencils and acting as a pen pot too!
- Pentel Retractable Colour Gel Pen - sparkly barrel (non-sparkly ink)
- Copic Ciao Marker - brilliant graphic marker in a brilliant colour!
- mt Washi Masking Tape - 'we're dreaming of an mt Christmas, a low-tack tape that's versatile. It will decorate and stick, prettify right quick, and make your Crimbo awesome by a mile...' Sorry Bing (and Mr Bublé).
- Tombow Irojiten Colour Pencil - top quality wax-based Japanese pencil in a beautiful colour.
- Midori Aluminium Ruler - no bending, no warping, just straight-up straight lines.
- Pentel GraphGear 300 Pencil - superior mechanical pencil with a metal fixed sleeve and 0.5mm lead.
- Zebra Z-Grip Ballpoint Pen Celebration Union Jack - one of Zebra's most popular pens, with a bit of British flair!
- Gelly Roll Metallic Pen - no feathering or bleed-through, no smudging or fading... oh, and the ink's metallic! And you get red and gold!
- Midori D-Clips Mini Box - they're mini, they're metal, they're animal-shaped and they clip things!
- Pelikan Jazz Elegance Fountain Pen - metal-barrelled, glossy-lacquered loveliness from Pelikan!
- Uni-Ball Eye Ocean Care Rollerball Pen Blue 0.5mm - Eye, eye! A favourite for a decade, this one's 75% recycled plastic.
- Iwako Eraser - make mistakes go away with a cute eraser. Who says they have to be rectangular when they can be penguin-shaped? Or koala-cuddly? Or turtley awesome?
- Pilot G2 07 Gel Ink Rollerball Pen BLG207 - a best-seller for a reason - it's great!
- Life Noble Notepad B7 - it's life, Jim, but not as we know it. Because it's a notebook.
- Pilot BegreeN B2P Ecoball Ballpoint Pen Medium - go green with a BegreeN! It's 86% plastic bottle, 2.5% of which comes from what's been chucked in (and retrieved from) our oceans and waterways.
- Tombow MONO 100 Pencil - perhaps the ultimate in a graphite pencil, supplied unsharpened for maximum minimalist style.
- Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen - highly versatile, dual-tipped pen that'll handle calligraphy, painting, sketching and writing. Have two!
- Midori Mini Cleaner Limited Edition II - clean your desk with a car! Not a real one; that would be really awkward. Just zoom it over the surface (you'll need to provide your own sound effects) and watch pencil shavings, eraser dust and biscuit crumbs disappear as if by magic!
- Uni POSCA Marker Pen PC-3M - a fine pen for fine art projects
- OHTO Sharp Pencil APS-280E - it looks like a pencil, and it is a pencil! But it's a mechanical pencil!
- Platinum Ink Cartridges 2 Pack - hold onto them, because you'll need them for...
- Platinum Curidas - a retractable fountain pen. Need we say more?
Harris Tweed® is a bit like Stilton. A woollen cloth can only be called Harris Tweed® if it's been hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides, just as a pungent blue cheese can only be called Stilton if it's been made in either Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire (yes, a bit more widespread than the cloth). Our new pencil cases and pouches are a bit Stiltony too, because they are made exclusively in Scotland from Harris Tweed® (but not Stilton) by the amazing Amy and her team at Britton Scotland.
These are right in so many ways. They are made with recycled parts and they're practical, sturdy and very handsome. Not only are they primarily made from a natural material that will NEVER go out of style and is incredibly resilient, the other bits and pieces - zips, linings, labels, even the thread - have evolved from something - plastic bottles, coffee cups - that would have otherwise gone to landfill or played a plasticky part in pollution. They're made to last, and they're the way they are because they've been made by a small team of enthusiasts led by a dedicated artist and designer whose goal is to create environmentally-conscious things of beauty that reflect the remarkable country that is Scotland.
At the root of her designs is wool, specifically Harris Tweed®. It's the ideal material to enjoy Scotland's unique weather because it's water-resistant, warm in winter and cool in summer, and it has anti-microbial properties. So it's not just perfect as a woolly jumper or an overcoat (or on a sheep), it's also spot on for keeping all your everyday bits and pieces safe and dry. And the fact that it's biodegradable and recyclable fits in perfectly with Amy's objectives.
She's a woman on a mission. Making use of a sustainably-produced, locally-sourced and woven woollen cloth is only part of the story. She is terrier-like in her dedication to ensure that every other material that goes into creating her products is sourced in a way that respects the planet. 'Getting it right', not just in terms of how it's made, but what it's made from, where and how those materials were sourced, and the conditions for workers along the supply chain, is paramount. She's ably assisted in her mission by a small team of 6 flexible workers, whom she's gathered as much for the people they are, as for what they can do for Britton Scotland. It includes Pauline, her 'right- and left-hand woman', whom she relies on when it comes to production; Alexander, a business and management student who is passionate about Net Zero and is helping with carbon accounts and ESG; and Olena, a Ukrainian who's learnt to sew under Amy's tutelage and wanted a 'creative job'.
There's no mass-production at Britton Scotland; it's small batches and 'on demand' manufacturing. Multiple prototypes are a thing of the past. 'Years ago,' says Amy, 'we used to make many prototypes, which was a waste of time and resources.' So now she thinks long and hard about how a product will be manufactured, makes a single prototype, and then proceeds straight to production. And it works. 'Apart from once,' she admits! Designs are conceived with minimal waste in mind, and any offcuts go towards the development of a zero waste range. They use locally-sourced materials as much as possible and work with local suppliers, who are constantly being re-assessed for their work ethos.
Their packaging is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. All paper is FSC-certified and 100% recyclable, and only used when necessary. The only plastic in their products has been made from recycled material.
Amy and her team have put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into making sure their products are as easy on the environment as they are easy on the eye, but are they resting on their laurels? Absolutely not. There are some interesting forthcoming projects and exciting developments, and they are preparing to apply for B Corp certification, which measures a company's entire social and environmental impact. And in the midst of all this, we're extremely grateful that she's taken the time to design some bits and pieces especially for us!
We sell pens, so we have pen pouches and pencil cases. The outers are all 100% wool while the inners are 100% wax cotton which has been rescued from going to landfill, and even the zips are 100% recycled. There's something for everybody. The pen pouches are exclusive to us, thanks to Amy and her team's combined talent. They'll keep your favourite pen as snug as anything wrapped in Harris Tweed® is likely to get (which is very). There's a slim, space-saving pencil case for a small selection of writing instruments, the sort of things you like to carry with you everyday. Or trade up for a medium-sized case, perfect for work or college. And if you're the sort of person who doesn't like to leave anything behind, make yours a large one!
Of course, it's not just pens they're good for. Art materials, make-up, glasses (of the eye kind, not the sort you put in the dishwasher), first aid items or medical necessities, your phone, money and cards... Anything that's on the small side and likely to disappear into the recesses of a cavernous bag will benefit from a Harris Tweed® Cult Pens exclusive from Britton Scotland.
It's good stuff: good to look at, good for your peace of mind and good for the planet. Thank you, Amy!
In 1872, innovator and photographer Simon Tissot Dupont founded S.T. Dupont, a Parisian maison dedicated to producing 'exceptional goods for exceptional people'. Initially offering leather briefcases to businessmen, he progressed to luxury travel trunks and cases coveted by the European elite, and he supplied no less than the likes of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. His sons Lucien and André took over in 1919, and continued the extraordinary success put in place by their father. The number of workers increased from 50 to 250, comprising craftsmen ranging from trunk- and casemakers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, engine-turners and enamellers. Simon Tissot Dupont died in 1922 and shortly afterwards his sons moved the atelier from Paris to the family's home town of Faverges at the foot of the Alps. This area, one of France's most beautiful natural environments, still influences the company's environmental and sustainability ethos today.
By the end of the 1920s, S.T. Dupont had gained a reputation as being the foremost manufacturer of the most luxurious of luxury travel goods. And then the Wall Street crash happened. Undaunted, Lucien Tissot's reaction was to cater only to the very wealthy, reasoning that they were the least likely to have been affected by the crash. ‘Make it more beautiful,' he said. 'Make it expensive. Make it innovative.’ His extraordinarily bold decision was justified, as over the next 20 years his clients came to include Coco Chanel, John D Rockefeller and Louis Renault.
The 1930s saw innovation in Lucien's invention of a tanning technique that used diamond powder. This lent the S.T. Dupont leather extraordinary durability whilst still remaining supple, and is still used today. With the advent of more widespread air travel luggage also had to be lighter, so the art of lacquerwork was introduced. This meant that the heavy cut-glass crystal flasks incorporated into certain travel cases could be replaced with lighter, lacquered containers which were - as a bonus - available in a multitude of colours.
In 1935 the Maharajah of Patiala ordered 100 Chinese lacquer clutch bags for the members of his harem, with each one containing a solid gold lighter. The order took S.T. Dupont three years to complete but inspired the introduction in 1941 of the world's first luxury petrol lighter. It was made of aluminium. Further research led to the creation of a gas lighter: the Ligne 1 became an instant success, coveted by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. Solid brass replaced the aluminium, and the designs became increasingly sophisticated.
Along with lighters, S.T. Dupont continued their innovations with luxury bags. They created the Bogie, a travel bag for Humphrey Bogart, and in 1953 André Dupont created his first ladies' handbag - the Riviera, with Audrey Hepburn being perhaps his most famous client.
In 1971 Jackie Kennedy Onassis casually mentioned to S.T. Dupont that she'd rather like a ballpoint pen to match her personalised Ligne 1 'J' lighter, and so the team got to work. Their efforts saw the production of the company's first luxury pen, the Classique. It was made of brass, with its design influenced by the ignition roller of the Ligne 1 lighter. The Museum of Modern Art in New York even selected it for one of its exhibitions.
And so the S.T. Dupont maison added luxury writing instruments to its ever-expanding portfolio. The Classique was followed in the new century by the Défi line - its unique design combines a metal-injected frame with a palladium finish and carbon fibre composite body. Then came the Liberté collection with a choice of palladium or natural lacquer finishes, closely followed by the traditionally elegant Elysée. Karl Lagerfeld collaborated with S.T. Dupont in 2011 with the launch of the Mon Dupont line.
S.T. Dupont has spent over 150 years designing, innovating and recognising opportunities. They have catered to the famous, the wealthy, the influential and the controversial through speculation and without compromise. Clients have ranged from royalty - kings, maharajahs, queens and princesses, dukes and duchesses - through to entrepreneurs, designers and artists; icons, secret service agents and gangsters. In terms of luxury, they can provide it all, and will probably continue to do so well into the next century and beyond. They've weathered conflict, crashes, crises and changing fashions - in considerable style. Just like their products.