A chart of UK shops online

This is a chart of UK pen shops, designed to help find elusive brands of pens and ink to compare prices or complete your collection. I’ve concentrated on fountain pens (highlighted green) and ink for fountain pens (highlighted blue unless it’s already green).

UK pens and pencils - a guide to online shops.
preview of the chart

Legend: f=fountain pens;  r=rollerballs;  b=ball pens;  d=drawing pens;  p=pencils;  i=ink.

Download as PDF;  CSV.

This is a companion post to my earlier, larger list of UK pen, ink and paper shops! on which you can find links to the web sites. The list also contains brands only available at one outlet—many marques have been moved out of the chart into this list for size reasons.

I’ve probably made a few mistakes, so please let me know of any errors or omissions. I’ll be adding some more sites soon, but I think I’ve covered the larger ones. Good quill hunting!

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My mate: Pilot AM-82G-M

I selected this Pilot pen at random from my collection using random.org on 30/7/15, filled it with purple Murasaki-Shikibu ink and expected to have it reviewed long ago! Pens are still an interest of mine but so are other things and I got sidetracked as usual. Yak-shaving is one term for it. Procrastination, prevarication, prestadigitation…plotting_pilot_pen_purchasesMy prognostication was that Pilot ink in a Pilot pen should be a perfect pairing. However, I got bad flow—gaps in lettering—and hard starts. This led me to an examination of the nib. I found the slit was narrower at the tip: the tines were almost touching.82G nibI’ve read so many pen articles now that I know what to do: grasp the nib by its shoulders and pull sideways. (The tines seemed to be well-aligned otherwise: if one is higher then that should be pulled down, rather than moved up, to keep it in contact with the feed.) It worked like a dream: I must have been lucky because I have never done this before. It can be a good way to ruin a nib. Pen Habit video: Adjusting Your Fountain Pen – Part 1: Ink Flow

Pilot AM-82G-MFixed, with a good wet flow of ink, the pen has been at my side for six months and it has been dependable. Lightweight, sturdy, reliable. What is it with all these lists? As you can see, this 82G has a dark green plastic barrel with a semi-hooded nib. Although the nib is gold in colour, it is not marked 14K or 585 and so it is probably made of steel; gold-plated at best. The cap is formed of a thin, light metal with an inner sleeve and posts nicely onto the barrel, which is adorned with a gold-coloured finial. When not in use, the cap snuggles onto the barrel securely. Pull off, push on. Altogether with a convertor the pen weighs 14 g.

Pilot AM-82G-MThis is a vintage pen about fifty years old; another of my many eBay purchases. There is very little information online on this model. It was also available in black, blue and red. In India it was known as the Pilot Superior.

Pilot AM-82G-M and notesWhat adventures we have had! Well, I usually keep the pen in my trouser pocket and thus I caught it against a doorjamb and bent the clip out. I pushed the clip back into place while gripping the top end with my teeth. This was not a good move because now there are tiny tooth marks. The M label you can see in the first photo is worn. I lost that notebook! In the first photo you can see I was plotting more Pilot pen purchases. What I do is put eBay auctions on my watchlist and record the ending price, to give me an average. Then I can use Goofbid to get a below-average price. I’ve only got this digital photo of the notebook now. The Sailor and Platinum pages are lost to me forever, along with some diary notes, and I think there was a second page of Pilot prices. Before you ask: no, I don’t know where I lost it. Ah well… I’m not buying any more pens at the moment because I have too many in boxes. My idea was to review them here, then half of them would go back on eBay, but in use they reveal their personalities and they all end up being “keepers”, so far. Lovely fountain pens.

IMG_2588 pilot 82GThe medium nib is firm, without flex or line variation, and writes smoothly and consistently. It worked well with the Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-Shikibu ink.

Later I switched to Emerald of Chivor ink and this wrote smoothly too.Pilot 82G posted with inky nibThe 82G is a fine pen, like most Pilot pens, and when I say fine I mean very good indeed. I got mine for $29.00 from eBay. If you want to try one, I found some “new old stock” models PILOT AM-82G Fountain Pen US $25.00 available in red (and gold).IMG_4784 82GThis seems to be the only other review of this pen online: My First Review Of A Fp – Pilot Fp Am 82G

The photos are from Em’s, Cafe Fresco, Heddon’s and Coffee Culture cafés in Barnet and Enfield, North London. I hope you enjoyed the review although it could be my most unstructured yet!

Asa Stellar Galactic in a Diamine Steel Blue sea

The landing itself was nothing. We touched upon a shelf of rock selected by the automind and left a galaxy of dreams behind. As I emerged from the reverie I saw Piloto 4 slouched among the nav screens: the shifting patterns of space largely replaced by chat windows. I made a note of it in my log.

Note-taking is but one function of the Galactic, one where it excels. When you get over its space-age looks and the resemblance to the much more expensive Franklin-Christoph 02 or 66 Ice, the real utility of this pen starts to shine. At 32 g with ink it is heavy but because of its large size it feels lighter than it is.
Asa Galactic unposted
It comes with a great German nib. In use it is like a trusty needlepoint that gets grabbed when something needs to be scribbled down. I don’t even worry too much about making sure the nib is level before writing. It can handle it! No hard starts. Because of the wide girth of the grip it also reminds me of the old metal-cased marker pens of the 1960s that were similarly reliable.
Asa Galactic stock nib
The pen is gorgeous. On the brushed acrylic cap is a clear polished jewel that catches light. This unscrews to allow replacement of the stiff clip. It would be great if the jewel (a pen term for any shape of material at the end of a pen) focussed on the end of the nib inside, but it doesn’t. The cap also unscrews, a characteristic of more expensive fountain pens.
Asa Galactic uninked
The steel nib is firm, almost hard, with practically no line variation, but very smooth and reliable. The feed is transparent so the end of the nib and the section inside can be seen, both coated with ink. This is an eyedropper pen, designed to be full of ink sloshing around and it looks pretty good with the Steel Blue ink I selected at random. It can take a lot of ink: about 4 ml. The long barrel is also brushed acrylic with a solid, polished, rounded end that looks like glass.
Asa Galactic lens
The barrel unscrews for filling and a small eyedropper (supplied) or syringe will be needed to transfer ink from a bottle. The threads are lightly greased to keep the ink inside.

The Diamine Steel Blue ink behaved well. It flows fine. But it looks green on the page! Definitely the green side of teal. There is not much shading and no sheen.

Asa Stellar Galactic with Zig CocoiroTwo main problems: the pen does burp a little from around the nib. Some ink, just a drop or two, will blob out and transfer to the threads of the cap and the grip section. Mostly this is when the pen is still in my discarded trousers and they are flung around but this doesn’t happen with other pens. It does not look good.

The other problem for some people is going to be the thickness of the grip, exacerbated by a squared-off lip near the nib. I don’t mind the grip, in fact I can use any pen so long as the grip is not slippery, tacky, sharp-edged or brushed aluminium.
Asa Galactic on cafe table
Overall I recommend this pen. The burping could be obviated by storing the pen upright when not wearing it. It’s an ever-ready note taker that also looks great. Picture: Wality 69T / Asa Galactic / Pilot Volex:
Wality 69T / Asa Galactic / Pilot Volex.
I paid £20.33 for mine from AsaPens in India. They say the Galactic is the first of the ASA Stellar series. I chose the stock nib and asked that they test the pen. There is also an option for another (Jowo?) nib instead of the stock nib. The pen was supplied in a handsome black bag with golden drawstrings.
Asa Galactic with Steel Blue ink
Something was wrong: my hands felt clammy. I was holding the pen but it wasn’t ink on my fingers. A clear liquid… it must be the silicone that Asa used to seal their pens, which could only mean – pressure drop! I turned quickly and saw the meteorite hole punched through the ship wall. Nearest to hand was Piloto 4’s spare head which sealed the breach nicely. Calvert opined they might have to give me another medal, but I knew it was the Asa Galactic that deserved the award.

Pelikan 120 fountain pen and Pelikan Royal Blue ink

I hate to take you on a “journey” like every other Hollywood film or television documentary but as the events depicted in this pen and ink review are of no import whatsoever you should be fairly safe.
Pelikan 120 (centre)

I selected pen and ink at random: the pen is a German Pelikan 120 school pen although it has the same coloration of black, green and gold as their more expensive models. The green is a solid colour without stripes or striations. According to the excellent blog The Pelikan’s Perch, I have the 120 Mark II produced 1973-77. In this picture the 120 is shown between a Senator 47 and a Pilot G-TEC-C4.

First Impressions

It’s light at 14g. The end of the barrel twists to move the piston. It’s a bit stiff but fully functional and on a hot day in London (no really) slippery to turn. I filled the pen without fuss or getting inky fingers. The ink window is tinted green but clearly shows the ink within. The grip section tapers towards the nib and has no lip which is unusual but works for me. Anyone who has a really low grip might find their delicate digits daubed by the long nib.

The pen feels good, comfortable. Because it is light, I like it better with the cap posted. The nib is really fine, more like a Japanese fine than a German fine.

Pelikan 120 posing

My ink is another Pelikan product: 4001 Royal Blue ink (Füllhaltertinte 4001 königsblau). I selected a bottle with gothic script on the label, which came in a gift box with another pen. This ink was a bit of wash-out. It’s more like a light blue-black colour, with a mauve tinge.

Pelikan Royal Blue inks

While ink flows well enough, the line left is so thin at times with my light touch — thinner than the printed grid on the Rhodia paper — that a light ink like this does not make the cut. I switched to the bottle with the modern label. Flushing out the pen and refilling was no problem. This worked much better for me because I got a faster flow from the new ink which produced slightly wider lines, and it was a proper blue. Both these inks would benefit from a wider nib. The two inks are shown here:

Royal Blue ink x 2

As you can see this nib flexes! I can get quite wide lines with a little pressure. I shall have to be rougher with it: press harder and get wider, more legible strokes. My years of using a fountain pen at secondary school have honed my precision so that I use the minimum force of pen on paper. This nib is so fine that I might need to use only dark ink in it to make fine lines visible.

Pelikan 120 - Fine nib

There’s bite from the nib, some feedback which sounds scratchy but is not unpleasant. I have not attempted to realign the tines yet.

Maybe it was the flex of the nib that drove me to spend £45.87 including postage? This was in October last year. I would look to spend around half of this price now. Granted, there are only three of these pens on eBay right now and one has just gone for £48.75 but patience is a virtue. I should have waited for a cheaper one to come along.

As I mentioned before, this is a school pen. Not to be sneered at: quite the opposite because it means the pen was built to last and to be used daily. The 120 was eventually replaced by the Pelikano. Here are two Pelikanos and a 120:

Pelikan Pelikanos and 120

The Pelikan’s Perch also informs me that Merz & Krell were the makers of this pen. The 120 was one of only two Pelikan models that were ever outsourced. Merz & Krell were known for their Melbi, Senator, and Diplomat pens. By a remarkable coincidence, the other pen I have in daily use, shown in the very first picture, is a Senator 47!

So we have arrived at journey’s end. I paired pen and ink and then found a pair of inks, a pair of school pens and a pair of Senators. Thanks for making the trip(let).

Eight pens I forgot about

Eight pens I forgot aboutI sorted out my pen boxes last week. A shoe box and a cake box filled with the accumulated stationery of my lifetime. Among the gel pens and rollerballs (which are now going to Oxfam) I found these:

  1. Lamy Joy black and red pen, 1.5 nib.
  2. Platignum black desk pen, medium italic nib.
  3. William Mitchell dip pen with spare nibs.
  4. Pilot V-Pen, blue ink, medium nib – recent.
  5. French Tintin pen with broken clip, from a holiday in Paris.
  6. W H Smith calligraphy pen with twist converter, broad italic Platignum nib.
  7. Pilot V-Pen, turquoise erasable ink, medium nib – older.
  8. Campo Marzio Minny orange (mandarin)/gold pen, German iridium nib, turquoise ink cartridges, from an Italian holiday.

I’ll add these to my collection and review them some day, paired with a random ink.

This reminds me of the last time that I cleared out some pens, ten years ago, gripped with minimalist zeal. One of the first to go was the purple fountain pen that I filled with turquoise ink and then used to fill many notebooks and “rough books” in my teens. Yes, I still have the notebooks! I thought a photo of the pen would substitute for the real thing. I wish I still had it.
Old pens - KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA There is also a scan:
scan of old pens 2005
This in turn reminds me of a similar effort at clearing out my LPs when they were replaced by CDs. No Pussyfooting I had Fripp & Eno’s No Pussyfooting and loved it, but the disc got a lot of wear and accumulated dust and crackles so I was very happy with the CD release in about 1985 on Editions EG, but the cover was a cropped version of the original with larger text; not the same, not gatefold either. I miss the vinyl, especially the typography of the label, as an object, as art and design and guess what: I did not replace many more LPs with CDs. I got both. So much for sacrificing one’s darlings and meaning to carry on decluttering with less regret.

I just watched a little of ‘Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners’ on television in which a hoarder stated that she did not want to throw any memories away. Of course, we’re both wrong. We will always have the memories, but not the objects that trigger them.

Senator 47 Krome / Stormy Grey ink

This is an old German fountain pen I bought through eBay for £12.46 including P&P. It’s “new old stock” (NOS) which is unsold shop goods, later offered for resale. The box was water-stained. Senator 47 Krome
The pen was as-new — it still had the silver E.F (nib size) sticker attached to the barrel. All I know about Senator pens is from Google: “Merz & Krell made Senators and some pens under licence for Pelikan.”
Senator 47 Krome labelThe seller promised: “EXTRA FINE SOFT SENATOR IRIDIUM POINT NIB. SMOOTH WRITING, INK FLOW ORDER.” “GOOD PEN SOFT WRITING FOR DAILY USE.” I’ve been using it for a few months and it is indeed smooth with a good flow, so reliable in fact that it is now my favourite pen, just edging it over the TWSBI 580. (The sticker is still legible but now only half attached.)
Clairefontaine paper - Stormy Grey ink - Senator 47 KromeThe barrel is a hard black plastic or resin, the cap is thin steel (not chrome?). The nib is gold-plated steel with an iridium extra fine tip although it writes more like a medium size with a bit of flex. The nib is partly hooded, with a diamond emblem. The 47 is a piston-filler, with a ring of transparent ink windows around the barrel in the same arrangement as the standard Noodler’s pen, except this Senator pen is dated around 1970. The grip is fine; the weight with the cap posted is still light at 11 grams and is well-balanced for me.Senator 47 Krome - Stormy Grey ink
You may well find these pens on eBay or Etsy shipping from Istanbul, with burgundy or black barrels. I recommend them! As I picked up one of these NOS Senators cheaply, I thought it would not be too much of a risk to fill it with Stormy Grey 1670 Anniversary ink made by J. Herbin.
Stormy Grey inkThis ink was new at the time and the inclusion of real gold flakes in the ink had many pen bloggers concerned with the possibility of clogging. This has not been a problem at all. Sometimes the gold will not appear if the pen has been resting: the appearance of my script is then a normal, albeit lush, black ink. Simply inverting or rotating the pen will usually stir up lots of gold. Arrrrr, real gold, me hearties! Obviously the ink bottle needs shaking immediately before filling the pen because the metal quickly sinks to the bottom. The ink is well-behaved and quite wet, ie wetter than some other inks! It feels lubricated. And when it is dry it is dry — no smearing — after about twenty-five seconds, when the glistening black line will dry out to reveal the gold specks sticking to the paper.

Stormy Grey ink
Stormy Grey 1670 Anniversary ink on Clairefontaine paper

Grey seems to be a misnomer: this ink is dark. The colour is similar to Noodler’s Kung-Te-Cheng ink but the gold flecks make it appear lighter. Without a reference point one might assume it is black but when compared to a really black ink such as Noodler’s Black we can see it is grey.

Senator 47 Krome - Stormy Grey ink
Senator 47 Krome – Stormy Grey ink – Bloc Rhodia paper 

The ink bleeds slightly on Field Notes Finch Paper but is fine otherwise, on Rhodia for instance.

I inked the pen on Halloween last year and it’s just run out, so I added some water. Now it’s writing pretty much as before, with a lot of extra gold! Amazingly the ink seems to be just as dark.
Senator 47 Krome - Stormy Grey ink boxed
So, there are pen bargains to be had on eBay. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing of course: I have bought a few duds as well. I’ll be writing a post about fountain pens on eBay soon to let you know what I have learned.

Stationery for Beginners

I’ve noticed a few introductory articles recently: here are some that helped me.

Pens

Top 7 Beginner Fountain Pens under $25 NB the Pilot Metropolitan is called the MR in the UK.

Recommended Products & Retailers in the UK. Top 5 lists of pens, paper, pencils and inks.

Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders Dip pens, not new-fangled fountain pens.

Resource: The Pen Chalet Infographics Pens and ink – the basics

Paper

Different Types of Paper – Information on paper and inspirational art.

Paper Notebooks Explained

Inspiration

Leigh Reyes. My life as a verb.

Gourmet Pens – Colourful penmanship, particularly the Ink Shots.

80 calligraphers and hand lettering artists to follow on Instagram

Lettering and Illustration by Matthew Morse, who deserves to be in the Instagram list above.

I hope you liked those links! A great resource to find and search fountain pen blogs is Pennaquod. (Two of the links on this page are via On Fountain Pens, the rest are from my Feedly. The Well-Appointed Desk blog found three of the same links this week!)

Maintenance

The Fountain Pen Tool Kit – other bits and bobs you might need.