Friday, June 30, 2006

Le Stylo Jaune Sale - Just in Time for the Tour de France!

The Pear Tree Pen Company, in keeping with the time honored tradition of awarding a yellow jersey to the leader of the Tour de France, is proud to announce its first ever “Stylo Jaune,” or yellow pen sale. During the Tour’s three week run from July 1 – July 23, every yellow item sold at the Pear Tree Pen Company will be sold at 10 percent off the already low prices. This sale includes all yellow pens from Sailor, Bexley and Waterman, as well as inks in shades of yellow from Noodler’s and Private Reserve.

The inspiration behind this event comes from CEO and founder of the Pear Tree Pen Company, James Partridge. An active cyclist and bicycle advocate, Partridge has turned what was once a means to get in shape into a passion he has incorporated into his daily life. His enthusiasm for cycling has come a long way from its humble beginnings when he didn’t know the difference between a departments store’s “clunker” bike and the high-end carbon-fiber road bike at his local bike shop.

Partridge has now developed a keen eye, not only capable of procuring fine writing instruments for his thriving online business, but also bicycles to suit his every need. At present Partridge is the proud owner of seven bicycles.

“Each bike I own is designed for a specific purpose, like cyclocross, road racing, or mountain biking,” said Partridge, “you need to have the right tool to do the job.”

Partridge goes on to explain that like bikes, not all pens are created equal. “One would not expect the same performance from a pen that comes in a blister pack, as you would from a pen that comes with a hand-tuned nib made from solid 14, 18 or even 21K gold and carries a lifetime warranty.”

Partridge explains that like a bicycle, a pen should fit its user’s needs. While an artist may prefer a finer nib for the clean lines of drawing, a lawyer signing documents may prefer a broad nib for a bolder signature. A high-quality pen can actually lend flair and distinction to one’s handwriting, just like a good bike may help improve one’s cycling.

Alongside the yellow pen sale, The Pear Tree Pen Company will be running a contest. The person to correctly predict the winner of the 93rd Tour de France will become the proud owner of a new Waterman Charleston fountain pen, valued at $155. The pen is, of course, available in yellow. The Waterman Charleston comes equipped with an 18k gold nib in the winner’s choice of Fine, Medium or Broad size.

Both the sale and the contest will run their course with the Tour de France beginning July 1 and ending July 23, 2006. Entrants should email their predictions to In your entry please include the name of the rider you think will win the Tour, and the winning margin.

For more information about the Pear Tree Pen Company, the Stylo Jaune Sale, and the contest, visit

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fountain Pen Review: Sheaffer Intrigue

I decided to purchased a couple of NOS Sheaffer Intrigues after reading about its new-fangled filling system. I had heard several people comment that the complexity of the filling system contributed to the pen's demise in the marketplace, so I had to see what the fuss was about. It is the first Sheaffer fountain pen I've ever had, although I have owned other varieties of Sheaffer pens in the past.

I received the pens yesterday afternoon. Both are the "Silken Bark" pattern and are equipped with Sheaffer's very nice looking medium sized 14K gold inlaid nib. So far, my overall impressions have been quite positive.

Before I inked one of the pens, I gave it the old visual "once over." The packaging was a little on the chintzy side. Futuristic looking, but an overabundance of flimsy plastic. The pen itself is solid-looking and it has the heft to back up its appearance. It is a heavy pen for its size and is fairly top heavy when posted. Removing the cap from the barrel end cures that problem, and the pen feels much better balanced when writing unposted. But it's still no lightweight.

The fit and finish are good. The seams are visible where Sheaffer attached the cartridge/converter drawer (blind cap?) and the "piston" knob, but they're not obtrusive. I do wish that Sheaffer had taken more care to align the lines of the "bark" on the barrel with their counterparts on the knob where the drawer unscrews. No matter how I try to align them, they're still a bit off. But that's a pet peeve of mine with several pen lines and odds are I'm the only one who'll ever notice or care.

The inlaid 14K nib looks great. I really like the streamlined look such a nib gives a pen and I'm glad that Sheaffer has continued that look with its recent Valor pen as well.

The section is smooth and provides a fairly comfortable grip, with no slippage. It is a hair fat for my smallish hands, though, and I felt my hand becoming a little fatigued as I wrote my review.

But you all want to know how it writes, don't you?

Exceptionally well! I understand MSRP was around $140.00 for this pen. It can be had for considerably less if you look around. So far it has written better, smoother and more consistently than several pens costing several times as much.

I filled the pen with Lake Placid Blue from Private Reserve, my current favorite blue ink. A word about the the filling system. Despite what I'd heard, it really wasn't that complicated - You just insert the converter through the drawer that slides out of the top of the pen instead of by removing the section. And, rather than have the twisty-knob built into the converter, Sheaffer put it on the pen itself so it works and looks more like a traditional piston-filler. Pull out the little knob on the end and twist. Snap it back into place when you're done. Nothing to it!

The pen lays down a smooth and somewhat wet line. After I inked the pen last night, I scribbled a few lines and let it sit in my pen tray overnight (capped, of course). When I picked it up this morning, it started right up with out a moment's hesitation. I even left the pen uncapped for 40 minutes this morning and the pen performed without missing a beat. Well, actually there was a brief skip on the down stroke of my first letter, but the Intrigue recovered quickly.

The nib is rigid - there's nary a hint of flex here, and the line is completely uniform - this isn't the pen for you if you're looking for line variation. Although I'd be willing to bet that a qualified nib meister can make this nib quite expressive.

Overall, I'd have to give this pen good marks. It looks good and writes even better. The filling system worked without a problem. It is a bit on the heavy side, so if you're sensitive to that, this pen may not be for you. But otherwise, I'd suggest looking into picking one up, especially since they seem to be going for around half of their original MSRP.

NB: The Pear Tree Pen Company is not a retailer of Sheaffer pens.

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Am I an Old Dog?

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Over the next few weeks, I'll be conducting a little experiment to see if there's any truth to that statement.

For the purposes of this experiment, we will, of course, have to make some factual assumptions that don't necessarily comport with reality. For example, (a) I'm not a dog, and (b) I'm not really old.

By now you're proably wondering, "what is this new trick?" The answer: Penmanship. Ever since I was a child, my handwriting has been the subject of much derision. In elementary school, I routinely received the politely euphemistic grade of "N" (for "Needs Improvement") in the subject. My parents, ever the optimists, eagerly prepared me for a career in medicine. To their chagrin, I went to law school instead. Throughout my career, my assistants insisted upon additional insurance for optical coverage to repair the damage my illegibile scribbling caused to their eyesight.

Fortunately for me, and my law partners, that all changed when I discovered fountain pens. I'll save the story of how I got started down the path from respectable local barrister to proprietor of The Pear Tree Pen Company for another entry. For now, suffice it to say that fountain pens are irrefutably responsible for those small improvements to my handwriting in the past few years. I readily admit, however, that my handwriting would likely still merit the grade of "N."

Last week, though, I took a step that I hope will help bring that grade out of the basement. I enrolled in a series of classes by noted handwriting expert and instructor, Kate Gladstone. While I have been familiar with her work for a few years, I had never seriously considered enrolling in a handwriting improvement program. But she recently began auctioning her services on eBay and I do love a good auction (Maybe one day I'll tell the story of the Salvation Army, George the Giraffe and the Children of Washtenaw County. But you have to ask nicely and promise not to tell the I.R.S.). So I placed a ridiculously low bid for a one-hour lesson and, lo and behold, a few short hours later, I was declared the auction winner.

Yesterday, I finished my first session, which was conducted by telephone. I can honestly say that I got far more than I bargained for in the auction.

Kate (whose eBay handle is KateGladstoneItalicLady) reviewed a sample of my handwriting I had previously scanned and sent to her by email. She graciously told me that my handwriting isn't actually all that bad for short stretches. The problem, it seems, is that my form deteriorates as my writing speeds up or as I get tired. So one of the things we worked on was ways to be more consistent.

I realize that handwriting repair is not something that can happen in a single one-hour session. It is something that I'm going to have to work on and practice. I'll continue to consult with Kate over the next few weeks, sending her handwriting samples as we progress. I'll do this publically, too, posting examples of the scans I send to Kate, so you can let me know if you detect any improvement over time. So, let's see if this old dog can't learn a new thing or two about handwriting.

If anyone's reading this thing, I'd love to hear your comments, both about this experiment and the blog in general.

Thanks for stopping by.

James Partridge