Pen Views


Buying a gift for person who uses fountain pens includes a range of options beyond just a pen.

Pen Views

Buying a gift for a person who uses a fountain pen, lots of options


I receive e-mails from individuals asking my thoughts on the type of gifts for a "pen person". With Christmas season approaching, selecting gifts becomes one of the challenges of the time. Although, gift-giving, as a way of showing appreciation takes place all year round.

The time an effort an individual puts into the selection of a gift was very evident when Karen and I visited Plume & Bille, a great pen store in Paris. It was September, so the purchase had nothing to do with the holiday season. Store owner, Brigitte Courson, was with a customer who was selecting a pen. I found it interesting to watch the process of Brigitte helped the gentleman select what would be the right pen. Near the end of the process he turned to me and asked me what I thought of the two pens he was looking considering. I too asked as few questions and he concluded his choice.

He explained the pen was a gift for a person he works with, an individual who has helped him, and he wanted the gift to be perfect. That is a goal we all have when selecting a pen as gift, that it be perfect. I hope the person who received the pen values it as much as the gentleman did in its selection.

I am often asked about particular brands, or should the gift be a fountain pen, roller ball or ball point. My comments back on giving someone a fountain pen as a gift, is to consider if the person would want and use a fountain pen, or is there another pen, or another gift that a person who uses a pen would want? Check the return policy of the store in case the individual would rather use a different style.

People who write with a fountain pen are typically specific about what they like and dislike in a fountain pen. Not only the style, but the size, weight and nib size are all considerations.

Another option is to buy a companion pen. If you know the person has a fountain pen they use frequently, perhaps a ball point or roller ball pen is available. I can always use a ball point pen, but often do not buy one when selecting a fountain pen.

But there are a range of other items that most users of pens would enjoy and they avoid the issues of which type of pen, nib, size etc.

Pelikan 205 Highlighter PenPelikan Highlight Pen

This is a fountain pen, but it is used for highlighting. When Patrick Arabian of Styl'Honore in Paris showed me this pen, well I was very impressed.

Since returning to Vancouver, any meeting in which I have used this pen, there has typically been a moment where people come over to see the bright, bold pen.

The body is the 205 size, it is transparent and in bright yellow. You can see the inner piston mechanism and the ink supply. The clip and rings are silver tone metal, and the stainless steel nib comes in a bold "BB" thickness. Great for highlighting and writing.

The ink is a special bright yellow. It can not be used in other pens, although you can use other ink in the pen itself.

Even if the person uses a ball point or roller ball, this could be just the fountain pen they would use!

Pen RollPen Roll

Anyone who has more than a couple of pens, needs a pen case, and the pen roll is a great way to carry up to six pens safely. The roll pictured to the the right is by Ashton. I purchased it att World Lux. I have rolls in both brown and black leather. Other than an oversized OMAS 360 Magnum, all the pens I have fit in the case quite nicely. The leather is of a good quality and the strap secures the pens in the roll so nothing falls out. You can drop this and your pens are safe.

Pen Cases

Pen casesIndividual pen cases are another consideration. When you spend a couple of hundred dollars on a pen, there is simply no way it will be just thrown into a brief case. It needs a good leather case. There are numerous styles of cases. The major brands also make their own lines.

What I look for is flexibility in terms of size of pen the case will hold. The pen cases with individual compartments should be of enough width that a good-sized-fountain will fit. The open style is the safest. Ask the store to put a large Montblanc or other large fountain pen in the case to check out which pens will fit. I have bought cases when travelling, to get home and find a M800 is tight fit!

Pen storingThe other type of pen case to consider is one that can be used for storing pens. They basically look like a leather binder and they come in a variety of sizes. The inside can have leather pr elastic straps that are used to hold the pens in place. Case cases like these hold 20, 40, 60 or up to 80 pens. Some have a padded divider that prevents the pens from touch each other when closed.

This type of case is a consideration for someone who has more than a couple of pens and needs a place to store them. As you can see from the picture above, you can't have enough Pelikan fountain pens!


No one who uses a fountain pen can ever have enough ink.

Now there is cheap ink and good ink. At the high end, giving a bottle of Iroskuzuki ink is like giving a bottle of French Champagne. This is expensive, but it is wonderful ink. It comes in a elegant bottle that looks great on a desk, and is also flat enough to fit in a briefcase. Good quality ink and a good rank of colours.


Paper & Cards

Crane PaperOf course the reason someone owns a pen is to write. So good paper or note cards are the perfect considerations.

Last year I received note paper and cards made by Crane. The quality of the paper Crane is outstanding. It makes writing a personal note an enjoyable experience for the person writing the note, as well as the person who receives it.

A gift of note paper or cards is not just something for home. Most office supplies these days have a good percentage of re-cycled paper. Nothing again using paper to re-cycle, but the paper tends to be not suitable for writing with a fountain pen.

A note book by Rhodia or Clairefontaine is another consideration. Very good paper, and the nib of a fountain pen will effortless slide across the sheets.

Jam Jar that is an Ink WellJam Jar to Ink Well

Okay, here is a long shot, if you happen to be in the South of France, and you are wondering if you can pick up something for the pen person don't think you can only look in a pen store.

Near Avignon we stepped inside a store that sold jams and olive oils. There was a series of jam and condiments, sold in jars that look like something else. The jams, olive oil, condiments etc all come in interesting shaped jars. Olive oil for example comes in a large Channel No 5 bottle. Jams came in the jars pictured above.

The company, Moulin du Calanquet, of Saint-Remy de Provence, manufactures the products. They are available in a variety of small shops that sell olive oils, condiments etc throughout the South of France. When we walked over to the hams, well I saw only an ink well! By the way, we loved the jam. Now the jar is an interesting ink well on my desk!

Pen Magazines

Back in 2009 when I wrote about gifts for people who use pens there were a number of different magazines to consider. Now there are basically two: Pen World and Penna. My wife always asks why I subscribe to the magazines as they are primarily ads. Well that in part is why. People who use fountain pens like to read about what is new in terms of different lines. They have some particles also.

Pen World and Penna are very different magazines. Penna is Italian, with English translations of the articles and concentrates on the different brands of pens. It is available as on on-line edition, or a physical copy that can be sent to your house. The on-line option avoids the hefty shipping costs.

Books on Pens

Pen BooksBooks on pens are another item to consider. Most books are organized by company brand, or era of pen production. Anyone who has any interest in vintage pens will typically find the books very interesting.

Many chain book stores are hit and miss in terms of selling pen books. In Canada, one year Chapters Indigo had a great pen book in its clearance section! Some of the major retail on-line pen stores sell the better known titles.

Desk Accessories

Ink blottersDesk accessories are another consideration. I have a couple of these and enjoy having them on my desk.

A blotter can come in handy for blotting your signature after you sign a letter so that the ink does not smear when the next piece of paper is placed on top, or a hand draws across the wet ink.

Buying blotting paper to go with the blotter is more of a challenge!

There are some ideas and as you can see, there are plenty of options.

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Your pen, an expression of you.