Don’t be alarmed: this is not the usual Christmas gift guide that is basically a wishlist in disguise.
We’ve all been in the position of having to buy a gift for a friend or relative that is really into a particular hobby. You want to buy them something that they’ll enjoy and get value from, but you know that anything you pick is likely to be wrong, and anything they want is probably out of your gift-buying budget.
Buying for pen geeks is particularly tricky. Sure, you can cop out and buy ink, but how can you tell it’s not a shade they already have, or one that they’d like? Buy a notebook and chances are they won’t like the paper. And don’t even think about buying a pen unless they’ve told you exactly which one to get (including nib grade).
So, here are five things that:
- I think that any self-respecting pen lover would appreciate
- Most pen addicts probably don’t already have
- Won’t break the bank
- Are unlikely to offend any writer’s aesthetic preferences…
A glass pen
A glass pen — I like the ones from Herbin, which come in all kinds of sizes and colours — will set you back less than 20 quid and will completely delight your pen lover, even if they already have one. Glass pens make it trivial to try out a new ink (or an old favourite) with a dip, and are perfectly clean after a quick swirl in water.
Herbin blotting paper (roller optional)
Even if your pen-loving recipient is a right-hander, blotting paper is still a great gift. I use a sheet basically as a giant bookmark in every notebook I use, which not only helps me find my page, but ensures that any wet spots in my writing are safely tamed instead of smudging all over the facing page. Great for letters too. And because sheets eventually become tired and have to be thrown away, even if your recipient has some already, they can always use more.
OK, this one might be a bit practical, but… an ultrasonic cleaner is great for cleaning stubborn pens, as well as jewellery and other household objects. They’re about the size of a loaf of bread and you can pick one of a million different generic models on Amazon for about 20 quid. I shan’t sully this post with a picture of one.
A good quality loupe
You don’t have to be a nibmeister to benefit from a loupe. This walnut-sized gizmo brings the power of magnification to tired old eyes, making it trivial to spot misaligned tines and a host of other pen problems. Nobody should attempt any kind of nib tuning without being able to see what they’re doing. I did a load of research before buying mine and settled on a Belomo 10x model for about $30. I use it all the time.
Col-o-ring ink testing cards
Sure, you can use normal paper sheets, notebooks, word cards or other paper products to catalogue your inks, but in my humble opinion the Col-o-ring from the Well Appointed Desk is the best option. The paper’s great, it’s got plenty of sheets, and it reeks of good design. All for less than 15 quid.
So there you go. If one of my friends and family bought me any of that stuff, at any stage of my pen addiction, I’d be mightily chuffed. Do you have any other smart gift ideas for pen lovers? Let me know in the comments.