25 11 2009

You be the judge…

Sorta stands out, doesn't he?

The crime has been committed...

Caught at the scene...

The guilty party...

Remember kids…only YOU can prevent nefarious malfeasances towards unsuspecting inks.

(Noodler’s Firefly is SO cool, isn’t it?)


Big news!

12 11 2009

For quite a while now, many of you have known that I’m good friends with James Partridge, owner of The Pear Tree Pen Company…but here’s something that’s probably new to you!  I’m delighted to announce that effective immediately, I’ve assumed day to day management of operations for The Pear Tree Pen Company!  Yep…you read that right.  The Pear Tree has been re-planted in the middle of Corn Country!

The Pear Tree Pen Company is pleased to announce that Ryan Roossinck has assumed management of the day-to-day operations of the successful online retailer. Roossinck is known among fountain pen and ink enthusiasts for his popular internet blog, Brassing Adds Character, where he reviews writing instruments and accessories such as pens, pads, and inks. He is also known for his role as a moderator on the Fountain Pen Network, the largest online community of fountain pen and ink lovers on the internet.

Pen collector James Partridge founded the Pear Tree Pen Company in 2006 as a part-time home-based business. Following the introduction of the Fountain Pen Ink Sampler later that year, business began to boom leading the fledgling operation to seek larger quarters. Pear Tree Pens moved, literally, from the kitchen table to the basement, and shortly thereafter opened a larger retail and order-processing facility just north of downtown Ann Arbor. Despite the tough economic times, the Pear Tree Pen Company continued to prosper, and even hired several staff members to help ship packages to thousands of customers around the world.

Unfortunately, splitting his time between his full-time career as a corporate attorney and managing the burgeoning online establishment began to take its toll on Partridge. “I realized that it’s impossible for me to do it all. I can’t excel in my legal career, grow the Pear Tree Pen Company, and spend as much time with my family as they deserve.” Partridge began to explore selling the business, and even considered simply shutting its doors.

Partridge soon had a few offers on the table, but ultimately found the best option lay closer at hand – in Roossinck, a friend and fellow pen collector. “One of his best attributes may well be his talent for ‘reading the minds’ of our customers.” Partridge said. “Several times already, Ryan has helped me choose new products that soon became extraordinarily popular. He possesses tremendous knowledge and expertise, and his enthusiasm for the pens, inks and papers we offer is second to none. Add to that his dedication to outstanding customer service and it became clear to me that Ryan would be an asset to the Pear Tree Pen Company – and the pen community.”

“James and I hit it off right away,” Ryan said. “One of the things I really enjoy most about James is his creativity, and his ability to trendspot. We’ve had a lot of great conversations over the past several years that will undoubtedly lead to some really cool new products that we think that our customers will love.”

The future for The Pear Tree Pen Company looks very bright, and includes a lot of great new products and ideas that customers are sure to love, and both Ryan and James are really excited for what comes next! “We’ve got some cool things up our sleeves,” says Ryan, “stuff you won’t be able to find anywhere else! The addition of Lum-Tec’s fantastic line of watches is just the start!”

In anticipation of the future, both James and Ryan have their shades ready. Get yours out.

So…what happens now?  Well, for me…lots of things.  I’m still intending to run Brassing Adds Character as a semi-separate entity, and I’ll still be covering lots of the same topics that you’ve seen from me before; features on vintage pens that you may not have seen before, hacks & how-to’s, and the occasional review of a pen that strikes my fancy.  You might see a few more product announcements here and there, but my intent is to keep Brassing operational as a non-commercial site.  If/when I do another roundup/best-in-class feature, etc., you’ll still find links out to eBay and other sites that sell the pens & products that I review.  If it’s something that we sell in our store, or it’s something that you can’t get anywhere else…you’ll find links for that stuff, too.

I would ask that in the interim, while I get used to “minding the store”, that you’d be patient with us.  Our dedication to a great customer experience remains the same, but let’s face it…there’s a bit of a learning curve that I’m going to deal with, and I’d appreciate your cooperation!  Along those same lines, I’d also ask that we keep Brassing conversations focused around Brassing topics, and go back-channel for Pear Tree stuff.  Thanks!

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’ve got ink samples to make! 🙂

Crowdsourcing with nifty prizes!

10 07 2008

James, at The Pear Tree Pen Company, is about to launch his company’s new website, and he needs your help.  The new site has the capability of adding reviews for products that he sells.  If you have a few minutes, he’d probably appreciate it if you went and took a look around.  If you own something he sells, and you’ve got some thoughts on it…share ’em!  He’s planning to choose a random reviewer per week, and spiff them a nifty little prize of some sort provided that there are 5 reviews/week.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

For the record, I don’t stand to benefit from your participation, and I’m not on The Pear Tree’s payroll; I am, however, a friend of his as well as a repeat customer.  Just to set the record straight…:)  And if my name happens to get pulled out of the hat for a nifty spiff, I’m going to give it away to one of you deserving readers.  You’ll see a post from me with some sort of contest if that happens.

I put in my review (of a Visconti Van Gogh Maxi in Sandal Red/Brown).  What are YOU going to review?

Click the link in the first sentence to get to the new site.  Good luck!

Get ’em while you can!!!

10 07 2008

Like these inks?  Get ’em quick…they’re being discontinued, and from what I understand, they’re not going to be re-ordered. 

Click the picture to go directly to Levenger.

What about these colors of the TrueWriter?  Same story…get ’em while you still can.

Happy shopping!

Paging all of you Minneapolites!

15 02 2008

Or those of you who are traveling there in the near future. 

Just got an email from a good friend of mine, Barry Rubin, owner of Ink.  For those of you who don’t know the store, or haven’t been there, let’s put it this way.

Pen heaven. 

This is a seriously remarkable place.  Patrick Rhone once referred to the Levenger store that he visited as “Mecca”; this is the pens and writing instruments equivalent.

Located atop one of the tallest buildings in the city, Barry’s “store” (personally, I think that the word “gallery” would be a better choice, but Barry is far too modest for that) is, without question, the nicest pen store that I’ve ever shopped in.  For fun, here’s a picture (that I borrowed from his website).

The glass display that you see in the far left of this picture is about 30-ish feet long, and it’s one of four that he has (the others are to your right, arranged in a back-to-back fashion).    In the center is a very comfortable place to lounge and chat with Barry, who I find to be a very engaging guy. 

The coolest thing, though?  The range of products that he carries.  You can walk in there and by a $15-20 Lamy ballpoint, or a $5,000 limited-edition Visconti fountain pen that’s one of twelve that are known to exist.  There’s truly something for everyone at his store.  His ink section is killer, by the way.  Nearly every major brand, and nearly every color. 

At any rate, I digress.  Back to his email.

Barry’s celebrating the launch of his new website with a sale!  Make an appointment with him to visit the store, and through the 15th of March, he’ll give you a 20% discount if you spend $100 or more, 25% if you spend $200 or more, and 30% if you spend over $400 (and believe me, you can spend that kind of money without batting an eyelash on a visit there – it took every ounce of strength I had to keep from killing the AmEx card while I was there on my last visit). 

The discounts are good on everything in the store that’s not limited edition, and believe me, if you stop in, there’s plenty of great stuff to catch your attention that’s NOT limited edition. 

For the record, I’m not on Barry’s payroll; he’s just a friend of mine who’s doing a terrific thing for those of us who really enjoy nice pens, and his store must be seen to be believed.  Take your camera when you visit.  The view is outstanding out of those windows, and there’s plenty of great eye candy in the store.

(And bring your checkbook.  You’ll want it.)

Review: Field Notes cahier notebook

25 10 2007

Had a really nice dinner with Patrick Rhone last night (Ryan Rasmussen, thanks for helping me make that connection!).  I really enjoyed getting together with him and learning a little more about what makes him tick. 

And we geeked out on office prOn.  He’s new to pens, and I’m constantly searching for new and cool writing surfaces.  He wrote with a handful of my weapons to do battle with, and I got to mull over 8 bazillion pages of papery goodness. 

Lots of fun.

About a third of the way through our dinner/geekout, he pulls out the shrink-wrapped 3-pack of Field Notes that he’d recently gotten and handed one to me and said, "Here.  Enjoy."

Totally blown away!  Thanks man! 

I’d heard about these things through several different arenas, most notably Notebookism’s and Lifehacker’s coverage, but hadn’t ever seen one in person.  To say that I was amped up to try them…well, that would be an understatement.

– Fast forward to the end of the evening –

I’m home and giddily (is that a real adverb?) opened up the notebook and pulled out a couple of pens to see how they wrote on it.  Many folks who use fountain pens and Moleskines have often ranted about how horribly spotty the paper quality is; I’m no exception here.  I’ve got good ones and I’ve got awful ones.  Either way, it’s entirely maddening to fork over the loot to buy a fresh notebook, crack it open, and start writing only to discover three sentences into the first page that this one is from a bad batch.  Ink feathers, bleeds, doesn’t dry (I know that’s more ink-related, but hey, I’m ranting here). 

At any rate, I started with the pens I typically use on a daily basis (a Lamy 2000 custom ground to a needlepoint, a fine-pointed Vanishing Point, and a Cross Solo XF).  Each of these pens is typically a fantastically smooth writer and gives me exceptionally nice fine lines, the VP being the broadest.  I also pulled out the Pilot Prera that I talked about in this post.

To my utter astonishment, they all wrote absolutely perfectly on the paper!  No feathering, no bleed, no nothing!  Just crisp and clear!  Using Waterman Florida Blue, and even Omas Blue (which doesn’t always dry real fast), they all dried quickly, and didn’t smear at all! 

I was so dumbfounded that the paper in these notebooks (full specs are given on the back cover, which is really nice) took ink so well that I decided to pull out a very broad Greg Minuskin stub italic that wrote on the wetter side, and it didn’t even flinch with that! 

I swear, this stuff is golden! 

So, for those of you looking for a good Moleskine cahier alternative, give these a try.  They’re not necessarily the easiest things to get, nor are they cheap, but they’re worth every penny in my book.  Click the link to order them directly from Field Notes (at present, the only place you can get them), or if you’re after some pictures and such, check out some of the photos tagged in Flickr (like the one above on the left).

Now…if we can just get them to make some different sizes, we’re in business!

Moleskine & Pens: The search continues…

16 10 2007

Still looking for the perfect Moleskine pens for a lefty who tries his best to write as microscopically as possible.  I’ve tried dozens of fountain pens with little or no luck.  They all feather or don’t dry fast enough, leaving me with cracked-out looking handwriting, or a blue hand and smears. 

Looking for some of these Japanese uber-fine pens like the Hi-Tec C, the Uniball Signo Bit, and others.  Unfortunately, I’m suffer (to a certain degree) from instant gratification syndrome, and I want to actually buy these things locally. 

No dice, it seems.  And I’m just impatient enough that I’ll not want to place an order from JPens or JetPens.  Horrible, isn’t it?

If you’ve got one of these that you don’t want/need/like, drop me a line.  Otherwise, what’s your favorite?  Leave me some commentary, please!