Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Initial Impressions of the Cross Affinity Fountain Pen

A few weeks ago, The Pear Tree Pen Company received its first shipment of Cross Affinity pens. I've been playing with one of the fountain pens ever since and I'm not merely impressed with its quality - I'm blown away. In my line of work, I find that a fine or extra-fine nib is most suitable, since I tend to take a lot of notes and write marginalia. One of the biggest problems with most "european" style fine nibs, is that they're actually pretty wide. That's one of the reasons I really like Sailor pens and other Japanese makes - their nibs run pretty true to size. With the Affinity, Cross seems to have taken a page from its Asian counterparts because the the fine nib writes a much finer line than I thought it would. It is NICE! Fairly smooth, with enough feedback to know you're using a pen and not an ice cube. Excellent ink flow, with no false starts, skips, streaks, or any glitches whatsoever. I filled my Cobalt blue Affinity with one of my favorite inks, Diamine Sapphire Blue, which also compliments the pen's resin finish beautifully. So far, I've written on a variety of different papers to test the nib, including Rhodia, cheap Office Depot legal pads, Post-it Notes, and 20# copy paper. So far, the Cross has performed excellently on all of them.

Cross Affinity Fountain Pen
The pen is nicely weighted - like the Waterman Phileas, it has a resin base with a metal insert for some heft. The Affinity t looks and feels much more solid than the Phileas, however. It is a much more elegant pen and would be at home in a purse, in school and even in a corporate boardroom. In retrospect, the nib doesn't look as small as I thought, but it's not going to leap out at you as being big, either. In length, the Affinity is equal to the Full Size Sailor 1911, but it's girth is more akin to that of the 1911M; a nice balance, in my opinion. The fit and finish really is first rate. It's a bummer that a pen at this price point doesn't include a converter, and comes with two dinky-sized ink cartridges, but at $80, it's still a very good value. But since the Pear Tree Pen Company includes a free converter with every Affinity fountain pen, that should not be an issue for most buyers.

Cross Affinity Selectip Rollerball Pen
The Cross Affinity is available both as a fountain pen and as a Selectip rollerball. The fountain pen has an MSRP of $100, and the Selectip rollerball has an MSRP of $85. They are on sale at the Pear Tree Pen Company for $80 and $65, respectively.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Design for the Pear Tree Pen Co. Ink Sampler Bottle

Recently, the Pear Tree Pen Company decided to re-think the ink sampler bottles we've used for the past few years. Although they were very attractive and we receive many compliments for their style, they had some critical limitations. The most notable of those was the inability to fit all but the skinniest pens into the bottle to withdraw the ink. Many of you wrote to us about this issue, and we worked to try to come up with a variety of creative solutions, like filling the converter rather than through the nib and introducing the eye-dropper cap. But still, it wasn't quite right. And you let us know.

After a lengthy search for a suitable replacement, we finally found something that seems to work well. These new bottles are taller than their predecessor, with a slightly wider mouth. While not every pen's section will fit inside the bottle, I've been able to fill a Sailor Naginata and other pens of similar girth with absolutely no problem. These bottles are considerably more expensive than the ones they replace, but we've made a decision not to raise prices on the ink sampler at this time. Let's face it - fountain pen ink samples are not a huge profit center for us at the Pear Tree Pen Company (in fact, the opposite tends to be true). But we offer the service because we think it's a valuable service to the community of fountain pen and ink enthusiasts of which we are a part.

Before I started the Pear Tree Pen Company, I was a huge ink-hound. I bought bottle after bottle of ink, hoping for the right color, the right shading, the right drying time. But all I had to work with were color swatches or photographs on a computer screen. As I'm sure most of you know by now, neither method is even close to adequate.

A color swatch, even if you're staring at an actual sample of ink on a page, can only tell you so much. But important information is missing - how long did it take to dry? Did the ink flow well? Will it appear the same coming out of my pen, on my paper?

A computer-based image is even worse. Computer monitors need to be calibrated to display color correctly, and not every monitor displays color the same way.

After being frustrated by these problems in my own search for the perfect ink (which I still haven't found, by the way), I devised the ink sampler to help others avoid the same pitfalls I encountered along the road. From the overwhelming response we've gotten since I introduced the ink sampler, I can only surmise you've all found it as valuable as I do.

Anyway - back to the new bottles. Above is a photo I took with my iPhone to give you all an idea of what they look like. What do you think of them? We're always looking for feedback, positive or negative.

FYI, one of the bottles is filled with De Atramentis Steel blue (stihlblau) by Jansen. The other contains Noodler's invisible ink (;-))

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cyber Monday is so Last Year

Howdy, folks!

Sale time at The Pear Tree Pen Company! Starting today, we're offering a week-long sale-a-bration - Get 15% off of your entire order if you use the promo code "holidays1209" (no quotation marks necessary when you enter it in the code box)! It's a one-time use code for every customer (and it won't work with other promo codes), so when you're shopping for that pen person on your list (or for yourself...), make sure you check your list (and then check it twice)! The offer is valid until December 7, 2009, and is valid on all items in our store, including a wide selection of Lum-Tec watches.

We're still fairly well-stocked with Webbies, 2010 Rhodia planners, other notebooks and journals, lots of inks (still a few bottles of De Atramentis left, too!), and some great pens...and more stuff is arriving by the day!

Come 'n get it! :)