Holiday Gift Guide for Fountain Pen Lovers (When You Don't Know Anything About Pens)
It's that time of year! I feel like I know enough super organized people in my life, the sorts of people who buy their Christmas gifts in September when something goes on sale, that some of it should have rubbed off on me. I'm working on it. It's still early December. But for those of you that may be starting to look around, here are a few ideas related to stationery and fountain pens for someone in your life who loves writing. A fountain pen is a great idea for someone who writes a lot in their job or is a student, or just someone who might something on the analogue side of things - and for these folks, generally a good quality, entry level, fine or medium nib pen, such as the Lamy Safari or the Pilot Metropolitan, is perfect. They are good enough quality that the new user won't be turned off by mysterious leaks, they are reliable and easy to use, and a way to learn about fountain pens without spending a lot of money. If they want to spend more later, they'll have learned a bit about what they like or don't like in a fountain pen. Sometimes, though, it's hard to know what to get someone who already has a lot of pens, because chances are good that this person already has very specific tastes or nib sizes or pen brands that they like. This is especially difficult if you don't know very much about fountain pens yourself. Fountain pen people are not really known for being 'easy-going' about their pens and preferences. This blog post is for people shopping for a fountain pen nut, but who are not fountain pen crazy themselves. As someone who works in a bricks & mortar fountain pen shop, we've had our share of visitors who have husbands or friends or co-workers who just love fountain pens! But they just need a bit of guidance on what exactly to get, since it's hard to know where to start if you are not a fountain pen user yourself. Here are some good ideas:
- I know this is a bit crazy, but you should try to take a picture of their pens altogether. Fountain pen users who have more than one may have them on their desk or in a pen case or in their briefcase, but try to take a picture of a bunch so you can show it to your local shop. This will help narrow down firstly what pens they already have, and as well give an idea to the types of pens or brands that they like.
- Take a really good look at the nib or tip of a few of their pens. If you can see markings that say "EF" for extra fine, "F" for fine, "M" for medium, "B" for Broad, or have a number like "1.1" or "1.5" for an italic nib. If you like to be ultra prepared, do a few writing samples to bring in to the shop!
- Consider getting two matching sets of correspondence stationery, some stamps, and give them the gift a year long snail mail correspondence. Bonus points if you pre-address some of their envelopes to kick start the letter writing. No excuses! Some folks may love it right off the bat, and other may feel like they don't have time for it, but I'm betting by year's end, those letters will be something treasured for a long time.
- b) If you live together and it seems a bit awkward to write letters to each other (even though it's totally not), consider pairing up some correspondence stationery with signing them up for a pen pal matching service, such as International Pen Friends.
- Contact a nib repairman and arrange a visit so the pen user can get their pens professionally cleaned and tuned up, and maybe a bit of nib tweaking as well. This might be something you arrange for after the new year, as a fountain pen nut may lose it a bit if they discover their pens mysteriously gone, and they can also give the repairman some information about their writing preferences.
- A nice stack of paper, like Rhodia pads, is always a great gift. It seems a bit boring to give someone pads of paper, but this is a gift that they'll definitely use, and probably really thank you for, especially if they are a practical person by nature, since office or copy paper is sometimes too low quality for fountain pen ink. There's nothing like having a good supply of quality, fountain-pen friendly paper and not having to worry about running out. I think I could honestly hug a big stack of fresh paper.
- Also on the paper side, another idea are a few of these Tomoe River paper notebooks. Tomoe River paper is imported from Japan, and is ultra thin paper that is amazing for fountain pens, so there won't be bleeding or feathering on the page, which is important for people who like to use fountain pens.
- Ink is also a great consumable. You can't go wrong with something like Pilot Iroshizuku or any of the J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary inks - both are beautiful bottles with beautiful shades ink that are a little on the pricey side. If it happens to be a shade of ink they already use all the time, it's always nice to have a back-up; if it's something that's more of a treat for them, all the better since sometimes people won't splurge on themselves. There are also these little Iroshizuku Minis that are just too cute. And are also good for travellers.