Giveaway: Baron Fig Lock & Key Set

Giveaway: Baron Fig Lock & Key Set

It has come to my attention that the Baron Fig Lock & Key set is no longer available. While the “Lock” notebook is still available, the brass “Key” pen is sold out. So…

I thought I might be a generous soul and give my set away to one lucky reader. The set has been opened for review but has not been used. You will receive the box, all paperwork and packaging as shown in the review.


All you have to do is tell me a “I got locked out” story. I’ll pick one winner from entries who PLAYED BY THE RULES in this giveaway. Let’s do this!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Thursday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

Book Review: Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

Book Review: Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

Before there was the Pantone Matching System, there was Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours: Adapted to Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Anatomy, and the Arts. According to the wrap around the cover, this was the book (not this specific edition or copy) that Charles Darwin took with him aboard the HMS Beagle on his journey to research species evolution and natural selection.

The book is a slim volume with wide margins (for notes?) and reproductions of paint chips and descriptions next to each of the colors as well as lengthier descriptions included in the text. It was the first known attempt to create a unified language for describing color for science and art using materials available in the animal, vegetable and mineral world available to folks in England and Scotland in 1821.

It’s interesting to see the range of colors and descriptions. So many of the color names live on today in the names of paint colors for art like Sap Green and Gamboge Yellow that I’m hardly surprised by the naming. That Gamboge is compared to the mineral Sulphur is very interesting though.

There’s some weird references to colors being the “sky blue of Werner” and such which is odd as if he couldn’t be bothered to add an actual sky blue suggesting he might have been a bit of a primadonna about his color palette.

Regardless of which colors were left out, whether they could not be found in the natural world of 19th century England, or because Werner was a bit of a fuss bucket, the book is fascinating and currently in reprint for less than $15.

Link Love: Overloaded

Link Love: Overloaded




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Arkansas Pen Show Recap


The one thing about the Arkansas Pen Show that makes it different than almost any other pen show that I attend is that I set up my own table. Last year, Bob and I did what they call in the industry a soft-launch of the Col-o-ring. This year, we decided to continue the tradition and we soft-launched our newest product in Little Rock too (more about that a little further down).

We drove down on Thursday which, for us, is about a six-hour drive depending on how many times we stop. We rolled into Little Rock, specifically the Vanness Pen Shop at about 4:30pm.

Since last year, Vanness Pen Shop has undergone some interior renovation so that even more of its shop space is dedicated to pens, ink and stationery product so its even more of a mecca to pen enthusiasts than ever. I was tickled to see the Col-o-ring Ink Testing Books on the counter by the cash register.

I pretty much started shopping like a maniac. Luckily, Vanness has shopping baskets. I needed one. We waited for Brad and Matt to arrive and then we all helped (or distracted, depending on your point of view)  the Vanness crew load up the van and head over to the hotel to start setting up for Friday morning. In our frenzy, ink was sacrificed to the pavement gods and Brad baptized his Nikes in DeAtramentis Magenta. Later in the weekend, it rained and the parking lot looked like the scene of a grizzly event.

I was also able to share the 2018 edition of the Lamy Safari vs. AL-Star pins that Brad and I made last year… much to Brad’s chagrin. I also got my Lamy AL-Star engraved for the occasion by the fine folks at Vanness Pens to read “Pink hair don’t care”. I think that was the right choice, don’t you?

We stopped at Whole Hog Cafe on the way to power up on some BBQ before heading to the hotel. We ate a whole pile of BBQ and it was GOOD.

Between 7-10pm, vendors could set-up and unfortunately, it took Bob and me about that long to sort ourselves out. Everyone else was much more organized.The Vanness crew is a well-oiled machine and had their displays set up in about an hour and all hung around chatting.

Finally, we all trundled out and crashed in our respective beds.

@wellapptdesk at the #arpenshow2018 👏👏👏👏

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Friday was the Opening day of the show and I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Unveiling a new product always makes me nervous but, this time, was worse. With the Col-o-rings, we made something that I already knew people wanted and liked, I just hoped that people liked the revisions we made. This time, we were making something wholly different. It was making me queasy.

So… with my fingers crossed, I hoped it would go well. Of course, I’d let Brad and Cary see it the night before and the two of them had grabbed samples and posted them on social media so fast it made my head spin so I was equally nervous to open Instagram.

So, here it is world, the Col-o-dex!

Everything has happened so fast, I haven’t had a chance to take any photos of my own yet. We literally packed them up and took them to Little Rock as soon as the ink had dried.

The idea is that we took the same paper we use for the Col-o-ring and die cut it to fit into a rotary file (AKA Rolodex) to make it easier to sort and thumb through larger ink inventories. We introduced tabs to help organize your collection which we left blank so you can choose how you want to organize (alphabetically, by brand, by color, by region, its up to you!). And we are packaging the Col-o-dex paper separately from the tabs so you can decide how many of each you’ll need. And finally, since we know a lot of people will already have one or more Col-o-rings, we made sure that the Col-o-ring pages fit inside the plastic sleeves that Rolodex sells so you don’t have to re-swatch all your inks. We recommend the large 400-card capacity Rolodex with 200 plastic sleeves from Amazon to get you started. Or you can hunt through your office supply closet, local thrift shops, or antique malls for a vintage gem.

We also took a bunch of typewriters with us to Little Rock this year, plus notepads, prints, cards, vintage office supplies, vintage colored pencils, rubber stamps and more. We probably had more than could legitimately fit on one table.

Fountain Pen Day brought great St. Patrick’s Day themed buttons for the show.

Forever acting like grown ups. #arkansaspenshow2018 #arpenshow2018 #shipleysdonuts

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Luckily, Shipley Donuts kept all of us sugared up for the show which helped me calm down and enjoy the show.

@papier_plume at the #arpenshow2018

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Our table neighbor was the amazing Papier lume from New Orleans. They make the best wax for wax seals. And Patrick was charming and fun.

@franklinchristoph at the #arpenshow2018

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Just like any pen show in the US, we all come for the Franklin-Christoph protoypes and to admire Audrey’s manicure.

Cary shared the new Montegrappa Monte Grappa in the purple color. I was seriously tempted.

@liz_newton_designs and @newtonpens with all of the goods on display. #arpenshow2018

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And we all love to see what Shawn Newton brings besides his awesome wife Elizabeth and her pen cases.

Friday Night Open House:

After the Pen Show, Vanness Pen Shop hosts an Open House which is one of the best things about the Arkansas Pen Show. Folks get to go over to the store and shop, eat and mingle in the store for some late night shopping. Brad, Matt and I became de facto employees for the night and I pitied the poor customers who got stuck with us. We know our inks and pens but we didn’t know where in the store anything was! So there was a lot of time spent trying to locate stuff. Pretty much by the end of the night, we had all finally figured out where stuff was. At least we knew what everything looked like if we knew which direction to look in. The store is just so big!

We all gorged on homemade chili and beer and shopped some more. We got to check out all the nooks and crannies in the shop and find treasures from the long history of Vanness Pen Shop. Eighty years of business means there were lots of cool things to discover.

Cary was able to reach the goodies squirreled away on the upper shelves like vintage bottles and signage and get all the best photos.

Bob and I goofed off when he wasn’t getting great stories from Michael Sull and I wasn’t participating in the ink sniffing party. Vanness stocked almost all the DeAtramentis scented inks and we took it upon ourselves to smell almost all of it. I now know what Horse, Unicorn, Boarding School and Witch smell like, just to name a few.


Day 2. Trying the peach pie! #arpenshow2018

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Our friend Travis is notorious for finding all the best places to eat, no matter where he is and Little Rock was no exception. He managed to find the pie place as evidenced from the photo above. Yes, that’s a mini peach pie in March. It was so good he insisted on bringing us a whole peach pie to share which we ate covetously all weekend. I’m hard pressed to remember when I’ve had a better peach pie. It was more peach than sweet with a delicious buttery crust. If Travis ever recommends a place to eat, go!

Lisa and I got a brief moment to ham it up before the morning crowds arrived. It was weird to not work side-by-side at a show but we still got to hang out and cause trouble.

Handsome devil! #arkansaspenshow2018 #arpenshow2018 #franklinchristoph

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Jim Rouse, nib grinder extraordinaire of Franklin-Christoph dressed up for St. Patrick’s Day and looked especially dapper. He’s always such fun at any show and guaranteed to make me laugh.

@hinzepen at the #arpenshow2018

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One of the most-talked about newcomers to the show was Hinze Pens. They have recently started making acrylic pens and they went home empty-handed this weekend. Folks couldn’t snap them up fast enough.

@thenibsmith at the #arpenshow2018

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Dan Smith of Nibsmith was booked all weekend and there was lots of excitement that he is now a Sailor dealer. As if he wasn’t already a popular vendor and nib grinder, now there’s one more reason to go see him at a show!

Michael Sull is always a treat and Arkansas was no exception. This is proof positive that calligraphers have fans!

Jeff Powers was hard at work all weekend repairing pens. Unless you went to see him or get a pen repaired, it was unlikely you caught sight of him. He was a busy man.

@thedesideratapencompany at the #arpenshow2018

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Pierre Miller of Desiderata Pen Company brought many beautiful new pens to show and sell.

Ok ok .. a quick selfie with the Dolive’s of @thepenshow at the #arpenshow2018

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And Jimmie and Suzanne Dolive with Cary Yeager are a pen show staple.

After the show wrapped up, Brad hosted a Pen Show After Dark party in the hotel bar. It was a very casual affair with tables group into small clusters allowing folks to mingle, share their purchases, their favorite pens and get to know one another. I met the Wests from Oklahoma, and shared my Jinhao Shark pens along with my Sheaffer Skripserts, Haro glass pen and other gems.

And, of course, there were giveaways. There were lots of great giveaways like Colorverse inks, Hinze fountain pens, a set of Col-o-dex cards and tabs, a Pilot Vanishing Point and much more but then things got silly. Following Friday night’s ink sniffing shenanigan’s the three most stinky inks were chosen to be given away at the party. The giveaway prize of the night was the jokingly customized bottle of SBRE Brown Akkerman ink engraved with the message “Find out more at”


Sunday was  much slower day but it gave us all a chance to mingle and do a little shopping.

Mike and Tim Byler with their favorite customer. #arpenshow2018

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Photos like this one prove we can have fun, even on a slow Sunday.

Mike Vanness was always entertaining on Sunday in his gumball suit when he decided to hand out blue towels to each vendor. You could tell where he was in the ballrooms because you could hear the laughter.

After we packed up, we went out for a celebratory Mexican dinner.


We loaded our tired selves into the car and said bleary,teary good-byes and headed back to Kansas City to our lonely cats and reality. We have Col-o-dex orders to fill and jobs that need attending.

We hope to have more detailed information about the Col-o-dex up by this weekend and actual product available to order in the next week or so. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive and patient. We’ll send out emails to everyone on the Col-o-ring waiting list.

Fountain Pen Review: Pilot Prera

Review by Laura Cameron

In my quest to review more entry level fountain pens, I decided that next up on the review docket should be the Pilot Prera ($56 via Pen Chalet).

The Pilot Prera is a clear demonstrator pen that comes with a variety of color accents.  I selected Pink, but models are available in Red, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Black, Light Green and Orange.  The Prera is also available in solid color bodies of White, Vivid Pink, Lime, Royal Blue, Soft Blue and Yellow.

The body of the Prera is clear acrylic, with white detailing including the Prera logo.  As I mentioned, the finial and end cap on the pen are available in transparent colored acrylic, and the remaining details (clips, rings) are chrome.
Pilot Prera

The Prera comes with a converter, as well as a few cartridges.  It also has a steel nib in Fine or Medium.  I selected Fine.

Pilot Prera

The Prera is a lightweight pen, coming in at a weight of 14g.

The Prera has a snap cap and the cap is postable. It is also rather short – a maximum of 5.3″ with the cap posted, and 4.9″ from body to nib tip.

In comparison to other pens, it is probably closest in size to the Sailor Pro-Gear Slim, and a decent amount shorter than Pilot’s other entry level model, the Pilot Metropolitan Pop.

Pilot Prera
Left to right: Pilot Prera, Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Cosmos, Pilot Metropolitan Pop, TWSBI Eco

Pilot Prera

Overall, I enjoyed testing the Prera. It wrote smoothly from the first fill. The nib was quite fine; it’s a Japanese nib so it is definitely finer than a Western fine nib. The pen was lightweight and the size is such that I think it would be a great every day carry pen. I do have to say that in terms of feel in my hand, I think I have a slight preference for the Pilot Metropolitan Pop, both because it is slightly longer and because the aluminum body is slightly weightier. I don’t usually post my pens, but I found the Prera too short and slightly awkward to use without posting the cap.

My biggest quandary in my review of the Pilot Prera is the price.  The Pilot Prera pictured was generously sent to the Desk by Pen Chalet for the purposes of a review.  Pen Chalet lists the retail price of the Prera as $70, and the sale price as $56.  So I was entirely flummoxed when I googled the Pilot Prera and found it for sale at JetPens for $38.  I make it a habit to support a variety of retailers, particularly those who support The Well-Appointed Desk, and I usually don’t quibble over a few dollars, but the difference between $70 and $38 is pretty stark, and frankly even the difference between $56 and $38 would buy me an additional Pilot Metropolitan Pop.  I bring up these prices because I have to say that for $38 I think the Prera is a neat little pen that I would encourage people to try. But that I’m not sure I would be as encouraging at $56 or $70 given that I personally like the performance of my Pilot Metropolitan Pop just as much, and I  like the feel better.

Pilot Prera

Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Waterman Tender Purple

Review by Laura Cameron

When I purchased my first Esterbrook at the LA Pen Show, my friend Jessica at the Vintage Pen Shop recommended that I use an established, reliable ink in my new vintage pen.  She strongly recommended Waterman inks, and let me fill my pen up from her bottle of Inspired Blue at the table.

One of the reasons to select an ink like Waterman is that it has excellent performance across a wide variety of pens. While there is nothing that says you can’t use whatever ink you want in whatever pen you want, many people choose to stick with tried and true inks for pens that are older, more difficult to clean or might clog easily.

When I came home and perused my choices, I selected a bottle of Waterman Tender Purple (50ml for $12.00) to add to my collection.

Waterman Tender Purple

The amazing thing about Waterman Tender Purple is that it is an ink that has been around for a while, and it has an incredible sheen that has become so desired these days.

Waterman Tender Purple

Tender Purple is a violet, blue leaning purple that in heavy applications has a bright green sheen.

Waterman Tender Purple

You can’t see the sheen unless you apply the ink fairly heavily; otherwise it writes in a beautiful dark purple. I tested it in my Esterbrook as well as my Pilot Metro Pop (F nib).

Waterman Tender Purple

As it turns out, despite my recent explorations into purples, I don’t have very many purples that look like Tender Purple. I tend to purchase more red purples. So when I went through my ink samples I could only come up with a few that were similar in tone to Tender Purple.

Waterman Tender Purple

As you can see, Faber Castell Cobalt Blue is definitely blue, not violet. J. Herbin Violet Pensee gets closer, albeit much lighter than Tender Purple. I also recently got to try a sample of Robert Oster Viola which is a lovely purple, although again moving towards redder tones.

Waterman Tender Purple

Overall I’m loving this ink and will happily use it in my Esterbrook indefinitely!

Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Cases and Places

Link Love: Cases and Places

This week, in Other Interesting Things, we have Cases and Places! Its pen show recaps and pen and notebook cases.




Notebooks & Paper:

Other Interesting Things: