Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Gift guides - pens for her

It's that time of year again: what do you want for Christmas?

I know I will get one badly-knitted jumper in a colour I detest. I know that although I'm trying to lose weight, half the people I know will buy me chocolates. And I'm pretty sure that one of my French relatives will buy me foie gras... to which I'm allergic. (If I'm lucky I will get a couple of nice fountain pens too. Life isn't all bad.)

And I know I will see lots and lots of adverts saying "gifts for him" (all the stuff I want, like Nakaya black decapod and Lie-Nielsen woodworking tools) and "gifts for her" (boring stuff like bath salts and frilly underwear). Worse, in the pen trade, I will see lots of pink pens, slim pens, pens with Hello Kitty... (I don't like pink, unless it's qualified by the term 'fuchsia', slim pens make my hands ache, and... actually I do like Hello Kitty pens very much, particularly this one.) Even worse, in some publications, 'he' gets fountain pens and 'she' gets rollerballs.

Okay, rant over. My purpose with this post is to be helpful to those who'd like to buy a fountain for an acquaintance of the female persuasion.

Don't assume she wants it pink!

Look at what she wears; what colours and what kind of jewellery, and what kind of handbag. That's your best steer to what kind of fountain pen she might like.
  • Tribal jewellery. Lots of bright colour. Big tote bag or bright coloured leather holdall. Perhaps a bit Bohemian in style. What about a bright acrylic - Laban Mento, one of the Edison Colliers (Persimmon swirl for instance?) or a Bexley Jitterbug?
  • Understated elegance, 'black is the new black', one or two pieces of good gold or silver jewellery, black shiny clutch bag. Someone like this will appreciate classical values - maybe a Pelikan Souverän, maybe an MB146 or 149, maybe the Japanese black-and-gold pens (Sailor, Platinum). Or maybe a Waterman Expert or Carene - very French elegant looks in a large number of colour and finish options. Or maybe the Faber Castell Ambition series, with wood barrels and chrome trim.
  • Dainty - she wears pastels, whimsical jewellery, likes soft colours and fabrics, might have a Cath Kidston flowery bag or a little drawstring pouch. Again Japanese pens present some good options - Sailor LeCoule comes in Rose Quartz or Pearl, and there are some lovely Platinum celluloid pens such as Sakura (cherry blossom) and Koi (goldfish orange and white). Kaweco Sport Art is another option, tiny handbag-size pens in delightful swirly acrylics.
  • Fashion, glitz, sequins, high heels and patent leather. She's easy to help! She will love Italian pens like Visconti and Montegrappa with their wonderful celluloid colours and shiny metal furnishings. Those come at a fairly high price point so the Platinum Cool in ice blue or fuchsia pink might be another option.
  • Slightly Gothy - dark eyeliner, dark clothes, quirky jewellery, and who needs a handbag when you have such big pockets? Get her a skeleton pen or a demonstrator - the Platinum 3776 Nice for instance. She might even like the much maligned Montegrappa Chaos!

What kind of interests does she have? That's another way to find the right pen present.
  • Steampunk, tech, urban girl - will probably like something like Lamy Dialog, or maybe Pilot Capless, retractable nib pens where the cleverness and precision of the retraction mechanism is part of the enjoyment. Or she might appreciate the funky design of the Faber Castell School Pen.
  • Design-led. Someone who has a minimalist flat, visits galleries to look at Mondrian, Rothko, Warhol, likes modern architecture, is probably going to fall in love with a Lamy. Lamy 2000, or perhaps to bring a bit of Pop Art colour to her life, the Lamy Studio Wild Rubin edition. (Really, it's the antithesis of Hello Kitty pink - or perhaps its Nemesis.)
  • Rough stuff - outdoorsy girls who like a tramp in the woods or a hike up a mountain are still possible fountain pen nuts, but will appreciate something robust like a Kaweco Al-Sport or Lamy Al-Star that can bungee-jump off a bridge, climb a couple of cliffs, run 5k and still have a bit of ink left when they get home. Or perhaps at a higher price level, might appreciate the wooden pens made by the Japanese pen makers.
  • Very much a homemaker - cooking, baking, always in her kitchen. That might not seem like a fountain pen recipient but I can't help noticing Bexley Corona comes in Blueberry Cream and Lemon Meringue options, and there's also a Bexley BX802 in Cappuccino!

And do remember to ask what style of nib she prefers! Those of us who love fountain pens quite often have very decided preferences, and 'medium' is nearly always the wrong answer.

Of course the best and simplest way is simply to ask her what she'd like. If you want to keep a little surprise, why not ask her to create a 'wish list' at Goulet Pens - and choose one of them. (Though the best surprise of all might be to buy the whole darn lot. If you have an unlimited budget...)

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