With the constant advancements of technology and computers continuingly shaping our future, it’s easy to assume that the pen & paper are things of the past: old fashioned, or even obsolete! Why write when you can type, print, copy & paste, change fonts, all at the click of a button?
With everything becoming more and more digitalised it would seem that the pen has a rather dim future…
Of course at Webster’s Pen Shop, we have complete faith in the future of the pen!
Firstly, writing instruments have certainly made their mark on history, whether it’s the strokes of the first ever hieroglyphics, or the signing of world-changing legislations, or even perhaps the first written lines of our favourite classic novels… Did you know that President Obama used 22 different pens to sign the health care bill? Pens have and will continue to shape our history.
Emails and texting have transformed our world by making communicating easier than ever, whether its Blackberrys, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter or Skype, but does it lack the personal touch?
Does a love letter or a heart-felt thank you or even sincere condolences still read the same when typed in comic sans on a computer, or does a pen on paper express more affection? Do you ever find that you instantly recognise a hand-written note from a loved one or a friend based on the interesting quirks of their handwriting?
Lastly, pens have become an extension of one’s personality. Their use in a modern world has led to pens becoming more about image, ergonomics and style, more than just function. Pens are no longer just writing instruments but a modern executive tool expressing choice and individualism.
So, how do I use this guide?
“The pen is mightier than the Sword” Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but what type of pen is mightiest?
Trying to choose the right pen can be rather confusing especially when considering appearance: a lot of pens can look somewhat similar not to mention all the different labels such as ballpoint, rollerball, fountain, not forgetting the inks such as liquid ink, gel ink, bottled ink, ink cartridges or even hybrid inks!
Although choice is good, and it’s fair to say there is certainly plenty of choice, it means it can also be slightly overwhelming or confusing when choosing the right pen for you or as a gift.
At Webster’s Pen Shop, we’ve put together this easy-to-read buyers guide to help you as best as we can.
We pride ourselves on our experience and knowledge of writing instruments so we’re certain that we are able to help you to make the right choice in pens!
We’ll even answer those questions before you’ve asked them without all the unnecessary jargon.
Whether you need more knowledge on nibs, or you’re confused over what refills you need, or simply where to even get started on the different types of writing instruments we have to offer; this easy-to-read guide will certainly point you in the right direction! We’ll even offer suggestions to make your decision even easier!
With thousands of writing instruments at our disposal, we’re sure to find the perfect pen for you!
More than any other writing instrument the fountain pen is a very personal choice favoured by many users for their comfort, elegance, penmanship and effortless writing experience.
The fountain pen is a nib pen which uses ink cartridges or a converter. Some fountain pens are designed with an integrated piston filling system such as the Lamy 2000 fountain pen or certain Pelikan fountain pens, which draws the ink from the bottle via the nib straight into the body of the pen.
A fountain pen also requires little or no pressure to write with. The ink is drawn to the nib through a ‘feed’ via a combination of gravity and capillary action. The nib should then glide across the page using the ink as a lubricant.
Fountain pens are still a very popular choice of pen despite some opinions of them being the least practical when in fact many people find writing with a fountain pen very satisfying. Many use them as their primary writing instrument over rollerball and ballpoint pens because of the comfortable and effortless writing experience. This includes even writing the shopping list with a fountain pen!
It’s even worth mentioning that pen enthusiasts have great fun in collecting those hard-to-find fountain pens which become great investments for the future.
Fountain pens can be inexpensive but in general, the sky is the limit! The most expensive pen sold in auction was 6.3 million euros! Thankfully we are not asking you to pay such prices. However, thought and consideration should be given to your purchase of a fountain pen as the durability and writing experience of the pen depends greatly on the price you wish to pay as our more expensive fountain pens are of course fitted with a higher quality nib and so offer a more comfortable writing experience.
Our more inexpensive models, sub -£30, will offer you a great every-day useable pen, ideal if you are particularly prone for losing pens. They are usually made from plastic and are fitted with a stainless steel nib.
“Inexpensive” doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality though! All our less expensive pens are still great choices and some of our most popular fountain pens we have for sale, for example the Lamy Safari and the Lamy Al-Star, are under £30!
Those who have a larger budget may be more interested in our sub -£100 fountain pens benefiting from higher quality material ensuring a more durable fountain pen.
These pens are mostly fitted with a stainless steel nib, either gold or rhodium plated to match the clip and other fittings.
However, for those who are truly seeking a luxurious pen may like to consider our more deluxe brands such as Mont Blanc, Conway Stewart or Yard o led, to say but a few.
The nib is the heart of a fountain pen.
Steel & Gold nibs.
The metal used in the construction of the nib itself can be important. Generally speaking a sub £100 fountain pen will feature a stainless steel nib, either in its original form or plated. This will be a hardwearing nib suitable for everyday and intense use. Stainless steel nibs also feature a much firmer feel than that of a solid gold nib. This is due to the properties of the steel itself: it has much less flex than a solid gold nib. This is neither a plus nor a minus. Some of our customers prefer a firmer less “flexible” nib others prefer the flexibility afforded by a solid gold nib it all comes down to personal preference. Stainless steel nibs would be particularly suitable for someone who likes to press down hard when writing although a high degree of pressure is not required and not advised.
On pens in the post £100 bracket you are going to start finding solid gold nibs. Just as with jewellery solid gold nibs vary in the type of gold used in their construction. Yellow, rose and white gold are all used and depending on the manufacturer, these will be of varying carats, but as a rule of thumb, the higher the number the softer the nib. The most popular karats used for a fountain pen nib is 18K and 14K, you may find variants but this is generally on vintage units/ writing instruments.
A fountain pen with a solid gold nib is going to give you years of use. Solid gold is an excellent choice for a fountain pen nib. Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of 1 square meter, or an ounce into 300 square feet! This means that your fountain pen nib is going to be flexible; this will help with fatigue if you are going to be writing for long periods.
A solid gold nib is going to be less suitable for someone who likes to write with a high degree of pressure, as gold is a much softer metal. A stainless steel nib would be much better suited to those individuals, as it is far less malleable.
Solid gold nibs are often plated with a hardwearing metal to increase your nib’s usable life. Rhodium is a commonly used choice, hard, non-tarnishing and silvery in appearance, Rhodium is a durable metal that has a high reflectance and is a member of the platinum group. It will ensure that your nib stays looking its best and will reduce the wear and tear of the precious gold underneath.
Two tone nibs are solid gold nibs partially plated with a white metal, such as palladium or platinum for aesthetic purposes. These nibs can be very flexible and fashionable and offer a writing experience similar to that of a solid gold nib so this choice would be suitable again for those who do not write with a high degree of pressure due to the softness of the material from which the nib is made.
Vintage “cut” nibs and newer fountain pen nibs, and the issue of left handed nibs.
For many years fountain pens had nibs that were “cut”, which is the angle the tip of the nib is fashioned to.
This means that you would have needed a particular angled nib if you were a left or right handed user. Fortunately almost all newer fountain pens are fitted with a “pellet” which is smelted to the tip of nib allowing an easy flow of ink when writing regardless of being left or right handed. As a result, very few brands now provide a left-handed alternative nib.
What nib width should I go for?
The nib width is referring to the width of the writing line and for the majority of our customers, fine and medium nibs are by far the most popular. As a general rule, broader nibs suit larger handwriting or even faster writing styles. A fine nib produces a ‘sharper’, clearer line and of course a medium nib is suitable for most writing styles. Although we offer nib widths in extra fine and extra broad, they should be purchased by those who are familiar with how to use them. The choice of nib size depends largely on your hand writing size and the speed at which you write. Our in-store staff will be more than happy to let you ‘test drive’ a pen so that you can make a more informed decision.
What about nib styles?
So, not only are nibs made from different materials and have different nib widths, but they can also differ in nib styles too!
The term ‘style’ refers to the shape of the nib tip itself and although we would likely suggest using a regular rounded nib style for everyday use, you may wish to use a more stylised nib such as an italic or oblique or even an Oblique-Italic! These nibs are only available in certain brands- please ask in-store.
Italic nibs are shaped like a chisel and write on a flat and broad edge producing italic writing which makes the difference between broad (up-and-down) strokes and its narrow strokes (sideways); very similar to a calligraphy nib, yet not necessarily as wide.
Italic nibs are slightly more difficult to write with but are extremely rewarding when you are used to them.
An oblique nib is ground in such a way to suit users who prefer to tilt their pen at an angle when they write. The tip is slanted one side so that the writing tip contacts the paper properly only when the pen is rotated in the user’s hand. As with a regular rounded nib, you would hold the pen straight, with an oblique nib, you would purposefully rotate the pen so that you are writing with the nib almost on its side.
Ultimately, every person will have their own writing style and the correct nib for you is determined wholly on how you write so our advice would be to have fun and experiment with the wide variety of nibs that Webster’s can offer you until you find that perfect nib!
Whatever your choice/preference, Webster’s Pen Shop is sure to have the right pen with the right nib for you! Our in store staff will be able to offer guidance and advice when making your purchase.
Please note that Webster’s offer a 30 day nib swap policy. If the nib is undamaged, you may exchange the width or style of the nib within 30 days of purchasing your pen.
Fountain Pen Refills
There are many ways to fill your fountain pen. Often this is dictated by the model you choose.
The traditional style fountain pen with lever and rubber bladder is now almost extinct. Although favoured by some purists it was a messy and clumsy way to fill a fountain pen.
This has changed considerably with the development of piston fill ink converters and ink cartridges.
Fountain Pen Ink Converter (piston fill converter) & Bottled inks:
Fountain pen inks are water based inks and bottled inks are indeed the choice of refills most notable of fountain pens with a huge range of colours at your disposal, you can’t go far wrong!
Though ink cartridges are a very easy and convenient way of refilling your fountain pen, using a bottle with an ink converter gives the user a whole new experience to using fountain pens and is often favoured by fountain pen enthusiasts.
A fountain pen ink converter is essentially a suction tool that allows you to “draw” ink from a bottle of ink into your fountain pen replacing the need for ink cartridges.
The piston fill fountain pen remains a simple and elegant piece of precision engineering and is often employed on many high-end models for this very reason.
Ink converters are extremely easy to use but please note that most pen brands have their own converters designed specifically to fit their own pens so some will differ in size and insertion methods. I.e. some converters require you to screw them into the nib unit whilst others you may only have to push in. Our in-store staff will be able to give further guidance on the correct ink converter for your pen.
Although bottled inks are still the more popular choice of refill amongst pen enthusiasts, the plastic ink cartridge has made the use of fountain pens more accessible to everyone due to their very easy ‘click-in’ and write system!
Simply remove the barrel of your pen, firmly push the plastic ink cartridge into the nib unit until it “clicks” into place, re-attach the barrel and finally write a few lines and there you have it, a fully loaded fountain pen which is ready to glide across your page!
Ballpoint Pens & Multifunction Ballpoint Pens
The ballpoint pen is quite possibly the most popular used modern writing instrument of today, widely known as the “Biro”, named after its inventor Laszlo Biro.
The ballpoint pen writes by using a ball at the tip of the pen to feed the oil-based ink from the ink cartridge to the page, which dries almost immediately after contact with the paper preventing those irreversible smudge marks!
As the ballpoint pen relies on the use of gravity to direct and dispense the ink onto the ball, this means that the ballpoint pen is somewhat impractical when writing upside down!
However there are certain brands of ballpoint pens that avoid this problem. The Fisher Space pen uses an innovative gas pressurised piston refill which forces the ink to dispense at any angle: This means you can even use this pen in space if you were thinking of planning your next venture to the moon!
There are two types of ballpoint pens, the disposable and the refillable. Disposable ballpoint pens are typically made of plastic and are also fairly inexpensive. Disposable ballpoint pens are designed that when the ink runs out, simply throw the pen away and buy a new one!
Refillable ballpoint pens on the other hand are very different; these types of ballpoint pens can be somewhat more expensive, but are made from more durable and higher quality materials which can last you years of writing enjoyment. In fact, some of our ballpoint pens, in particular those made from Sterling silver, can be fantastic life-long writing instruments.
Not only are ballpoints easily affordable, they also come in some of the most interesting and innovative designs. As mentioned, some are designed for space or underwater (Fisher Space Pen), some retract to half their sizes (Zebra Expandz), and some are even able to change ink colour at a click of a button! (Lamy 2000 multifunction pen)
Although Ballpoint pens can be fun, they can also be the most sophisticated pen in the office. The sleek designs of the Cross Townsend offer a very professional expression of the ball point pen.
Fountain pens & rollerball pens write with minimal effort, the ballpoint pens require a certain amount of pressure to be applied to the paper when writing so some users may find it difficult to use a ball pen at first. However due to their durability and convenience, you can be sure to find at least one ballpoint pen in any work place, any school and even in any home!
Ball point pens can be even more convenient than you thought possible! Multifunction ball pens offer the user a very affordable option of having either two pens in one such as the Lamy Studio which is and ball pen and mechanical pencil or even 4 in 1 such as the Fisher Q4 Ball pen.
Whether it’s the combination of different coloured ink, or the addition of a pencil or a highlighter, multifunction balls pens are a great way to meet all your writing needs in just one pen.
At Webster’s, we’re confident that we’ll find the perfect ballpoint pen matching your writing needs and also your budget!
If a fountain pen was your first choice but is not practical for you, and a ballpoint pen is not really what you’re looking for, then the rollerball pen is perfect for you!
Rollerball pens are designed to combine the convenience of the ballpoint pen and the smooth “wet” writing qualities of a fountain pen.
Using a ball point writing mechanism but with a free flowing water-based ink, instead of the oil-based viscous inks found in ballpoint pens, the rollerball pen literally glides across the page offering the user a smooth and easy writing experience similar to that of a fountain pen.
Likewise, only a slight amount of pressure is required when writing making it less stressful on the hand so it’s ideal if you have huge amounts of writing to do!
To prevent the ink from drying out or leaking, rollerball pens are required to use a cap and is always recommended replacing the cap when the pen is not in use although there are exceptions to this rule such as the Lamy Swift or the dialog 2, which are all capless retractable rollerball pens.
Rollerballs are in general, offered by our more expensive brands and are a great alternative to the fountain pen.
Whether it’s choosing a pen for school with a soft and comfortable grip (Stabilo), or a professional & stylish chrome finish for the office (Cross), or even a simple yet innovatively designed everyday pen (Lamy); at Webster’s we offer a wide range of rollerball pens sure to fit any budget and any writing style!
Choosing between a Ballpoint pen and a Rollerball pen?
“Aren’t they essentially the same type of pen though?”
There has always been a certain amount of confusion over these two writing modes and customers often refer to the same pen as either a ball point pen or a rollerball pen and are unaware of the vast differences between the two.
In fact, the only similarity that these pens have in common is that they both employ the same ball writing mechanism which we admit, can add to the confusion of choosing the right pen.
So, what are these differences you ask? Well, it’s all about the ink...
Making the choice between a ballpoint pen and a rollerball pen is all down to the type of ink that will suit your writing needs best.
Ball point Pens:
Ballpoint pens use a thick, highly viscous, oil-based ink. The ball at the tip of the pen picks up the ink from the cartridge and presses it onto the paper when in use.
- Dries quickly avoiding you to smudge your writing
- Unlikely to run
- As the ink is dispensed in small amounts, the ink lasts longer
- Click or twist mechanism deployment
- The ink is not water-based and so is less likely to bleed through the paper
- Can leave blobs on paper
- Scratchy feel when writing
- Less comfortable to write with as more pressure is required
Rollerball pens rely on a thinner, water-based ink with a consistency similar to that of ink, which is why they often referred to as liquid ink pens. The ball dispenses ink very similar to that of a ballpoint pen; the ball “rolls” the ink onto the paper.
- Writes extremely smooth like a fountain pen
- Distributes ink more evenly
- Will not blob or skip allowing a constant writing line
- Considered more upmarket than ballpoint pens
- Slower to dry and so more prone to smudging
- Shorter refill life span as ink flows faster
- As the ink is water-based, ink bleeding through the paper can sometimes happen
If you still can’t quite make that decision, then perhaps breaking it down into 3 easy steps will help you? It’s literally easy as A,B,C…
Appearance: Gel pens are ideal for those wanting a line quality that is bright, vibrant and clear, limiting blobs and smears on a page but still benefit from a smooth writing experience that you would get from a rollerball pen. If the appearance of the ink on paper is what is important to you, then with a wide range of richly coloured inks, gel pens are the pens for you!
Budget: If you have a smaller budget, but still want a ‘premium’ pen then Ballpoint pens may be your better option. This is mainly because ballpoint pens use less ink, which means buying fewer refills and in turn kinder to your wallet or purse! The ballpoint pen is a great inexpensive every day pen.
Comfort: Roller ball pens glide across the page nearly as smoothly as fountain pens enabling the user to use them for long periods of time quite comfortably. For those who desire the free flowing writing style of a fountain pen but none of the upkeep and not quite the costs, then Roller ball pens are definitely a good choice to consider!
There’s no ‘best’ pen; the right choice really depends on what will suit your own personal writing needs, whether it’s a matter of cost, how comfortable it is to write with or if it’s the appearance of the ink on the paper. Each model has its particular strengths so feel free to visit one of our stores to try one out!
Mechanical pencils are great alternative for many. The refillable graphite lead is not attached to the outer casing so that you extend the lead as it wears away meaning you do not need to sharpen the lead unlike a wooden pencil where the lead is built into the casing which becomes easily blunt.
Mechanical pencils are known by many alternative names such as lead pencil, propelling pencil, automatic pencil, drafting pencil, technical pencil, clicky pencil and clutch pencil.
Although not all brands offer the pencil model on all their ranges, mechanical pencils are still a great, and often an inexpensive writing tool, with very affordable graphite lead refills coming in all thicknesses and sizes including .3mm/ .5mm, .7mm, .9mm/ 1.4mm and 2.0mm depending on the brand or model.
Propelling pencils are mechanical pencils that clasp the refill in place but also “propel” the lead forward at a push of a button. They tend to have lead refills of .5mm or .7mm lead thickness and you can usually fit a few inside the barrel of the casing. These types of pencils are ideal for more precise drawing work.
Unlike Propelling pencils, clutch pencils have a jaw-like mechanism which only clasps the lead in place preventing it from falling out the outer casing. They are generally fitted with thick lead, measuring 1.4mm in thickness.
At Webster’s we offer a wide range of mechanical pencils to suit all budgets, such as our more affordable pencils like the Lamy Safari and Vista, or our slightly more premium brands such as Faber Castell and Cross.
However for those who intend to purchase a truly remarkable writing instrument, then a mechanical pencil from our Mont Blanc or Yard o Led ranges may be more suitable.
Choosing a pen
“The perfect gift at your fingertips…”
Learning to write is no easy feat, but with the right pen or pencil, you’re sure to get it “write” in no time!
Stabilo offers a wide range of innovative pens and pencils specifically designed for children who are just starting to write as they have an incorporated ergonomic grip to encourage users to hold the pen or pencil correctly.
Available in right and left handed models, a wide array of fantastic colours, and at very affordable prices, the Stabilo EASY range is a great writing instrument for children and adults alike!
Secondary school can be difficult enough without trying to get the stationery right! Our Lamy selection has a fantastic collection of brightly coloured pens perfect for younger people who want to impress their friends.
The Lamy Safari and the Lamy Nexx in particular are the perfect fountain pens ideal for first time users. A comfortable grip, a smooth writing style and an affordable price, these are great pens for long periods of writing such as essays and exams! Who knows…home work may even start becoming fun!?
Or if you’re prone to making mistakes, why not try the Pilot FriXion Erasable Rollerball pens? Write- Erase-Rewrite! No correction fluid needed! How does it work? Metamocolour technology! 'Metamocolour' is a word entirely made up by Pilot marketing people, but basically it's a type of thermo-reactive ink. The heat generated by the friction causes the ink to become translucent. Likewise, if you stick it in the freezer, your scribblings will re-appear, albeit slightly faded.
Is someone you know starting a new job? Or perhaps someone is leaving an old job and you need a leaving gift? Or maybe you just need a pen that gives others the right impression of you in the workplace? A suitable pen would of course be the ballpoint pen and we have a wide selection of brands to choose from…
Lamy is a great brand that expresses ‘simple, bold and innovative’, in particular the Lamy 2000. Introduced more than thirty years ago, it captivated writers with its design and shape. Today, the 2000 is still one of the most highly sought after pens for the same reason. With an extremely comfortable grip, the precision engineering and stringent quality control that can be felt in every push and pull, the Lamy 2000 certainly stands out on any desk.
Parker also offers a wide collection of professional looking, durable and highly stylish pens for the office. Whether it’s the classic designs of the ‘Jotter’ or the classic style of the ‘Sonnet’, Parker writing instruments balance price and design perfectly, and Cross offer a range of pens suitable for engraving.
If you’re forever switching between pens because you require a different coloured ink, or you need a pencil, then why not consider a multifunction pen? With great brands such as Parker, Lamy and Fisher, you’re certain to find the perfect multifunction pen to suit all your writing needs in the office!
Weddings, Christenings and special occasions:
If you’re looking for that perfect gift which expresses elegance, beauty, and delicacy, then at Webster’s Pen Shop we can certainly offer you a wide selection of truly extravagant and luxurious pens very fitting for that extra special day. Offering an extensive collection of sterling silver pens such as the Cross Century II, Cross Townsend, Caran D’ache Ecridor, Mont Blanc Solitaire and almost all of our Yard o Led writing instruments, you are sure to find the perfect wedding gift that will certainly last a lifetime.
Finding the right pen for him isn’t as easy it might seem at first. Trying to find the perfect gift that they will treasure and genuinely appreciate is a challenge! Whether it’s for a boyfriend, brother, friend, father, grandfather or co-worker, we have such an extensive selection of writing instruments, you’re sure to find the perfect gift that truly suits his personality and meets all his writing needs.
Although writing instruments aren’t particularly gender specific, there are of course designs that we recognise as more masculine, usually more oversized pens, deeper in colour and less ornate in design.
The imposing Mont Blanc Le Grande, with its piston filled barrel, 14K gold & rhodium nib and it’s timeless gold-plated appointments, is a great pen for any man.
If luxury isn’t quite your man’s appeal, then why not get him something inspired by the sports cars he cherishes? The turbo-charged performance and cutting-edge designed Cross C-series is an industrially designed writing instrument with wheel nut appointments, lever clip and a screw on cap.
And likewise, we have a great selection of Pens designed by Porsche some which even use the same stainless steel braidings as used on their performance cars giving these unique pens a suitably high-tech look.
Whether it’s imposing oversized pens, or high-tech gadget-like pens, at Webster’s we’re sure to have the right pen for any man! Our in-store staff will be more than happy to show you some of our other more popular writing instruments amongst men.
Choosing the right pen for a woman is as important as choosing the right piece of jewellery! Luckily, that also means you know what she likes! As a general rule of thumb, the perfect pen is similar to the type of jewellery she wears. Is she more prone to wear gold earrings? Then our suggestion is to choose something from our more elegant gold plated range of writing instruments.
A combination of grace, style, distinction, delicacy and beauty, the Montegrappa Piccola collection is the prefect way for any woman to show off and stand outside the crowd. With Piccola, Montegrappa redefines the role of the pen, which is no longer solely a writing instrument but a glamorous, personal accessory.
Likewise, if she wears more colourful jewellery then consider something from our more vibrant pen selections. The Cross Masquerade ballpoint pen is a fashionably designed pen inspired by the art Nouveau era, with swirling vivacious peacock-feather patterns shimmering over ivory pearlescent lacquer. Accented with lustrous polished chrome appointments, the Masquerade is perfect to add colour to her stationery collection!
With a wide range of feminine pens, there’s sure to be the perfect gift for your wife, girlfriend, mother, grandmother, co-worker or friend.
If you are a company enquiring about purchasing multiple writing instruments, then please visit our website or call us to retrieve a quote. We always aim to offer the best competitive discounts providing the highest quality customer service at the very best value for money.
We offer a very affordable engraving service to personalise your pens so that no matter how many you order, every single pen you purchase is unique! Whether you wish to engrave the pen with a very important date, a memorable phrase, your name or the name of the recipient, Webster’s can definitely help you to truly give your pen the personal touch!
Engraving is only available on selected products and you may choose between two fonts. The amount of characters allowed varies from pen to pen. See in-store for more details.
If your message is too long for engraving then perhaps consider having a plaque engraved. This is a great affordable alternative to truly personalise your gift!
This is attached to the exterior of the box and comes in chrome or gold plated plaques. Perfect if your message needs to read along the lines of “Merry Christmas from Webster’s Pen Shop”.
Engraving is again available in two fonts.