Shiny stuff sometimes slips by. If you’d been looking at the right time, you’d have noticed its glistening newness, but you might have looked away. So we’re giving them another chance to slide by here, so you have another chance to spot the shinies. Or, to put it another, simpler way, here’s some new stuff this year you might have missed. It’s ok, there’s been a lot going on, hasn’t there?
We didn’t let all of this stop us from finding new stuff to share with you, though.
The thing that’s always interesting with putting these lists together is that we don’t really set out with a plan for what new stuff to get - we grab what looks interesting and appealing - the things we think you might want. But when we look back at it, it’s surprising how often themes emerge. So what themes appeared this year?
We didn’t plan to get lots of art materials this year specifically, but we’ve always wanted to have more, and quite a lot turned up. Our artistic talents at Cult Pens are pretty variable. Some, like Louise and Amy in Customer Service, have some real skills. Others, like, say, Michael (hey! That’s me!) really can’t draw much at all beyond the odd cubic shapes when testing out pens and pencils.
But we do love to see what other people do with the art materials we sell. That’s why we recently started the hashtag #CultPensCreative - so people could tag things, and we could see them. I produced a roughly shaded cube. They produced a beautiful drawing of Miles Morales. Or, sometimes, they also produced a roughly shaded cube, but they had fun doing it, and that’s really nice to see too.
So what did we get this year? Well, there were art markers from Chameleon and Spectrum Noir. Paints and paper were new from Derwent, and Uni added a range of pastels and pencils to their POSCA range. Also from Uni were some extra sizes and colours for their popular PIN drawing pens. And before we get too far from the subject of pastels, we also added the beautiful naturally pigmented pastels from L’Artisan Pastellier.
A couple of great ideas came along, too. Tracedown was made for getting the outline from an existing drawing or photo by tracing it onto paper - like carbon paper, but made for drawing. And the Isosketch is a wonderfully simple little tool, like a template or ruler for isometric drawings, helping you to get the angles right, and keep them consistent - and helping with the hardest part - drawing isometric circles!
This one isn’t too surprising, really. Brands like Lamy, TWSBI and Pelikan are always bringing out new limited editions of their pens, so there are new editions and colours every year.
One of the most eagerly awaited limited editions each year is the Lamy Safari. While some limited editions cost a fortune and are really only for the most dedicated collectors, Lamy keep things a bit more accessible with the Safari. This year’s Safari was a bit different, though, because it was three Safaris. Three different candy colours - some had to have them all, while others picked the one that really appealed to them. At the time of writing, there’s still stock available, so it’s not too late if you want some candy of your own.
A couple of brands we added this year are things you’ve probably seen before, just not at Cult Pens. Sometimes we don’t have to look far for new things to add, they’re already sitting on all our desks! Yes, of course we’ve been usingPost-it notes for years, we just haven’t been selling Post-it notes. So that had to change.
And so it was with Black n’ Red notebooks. We’d used them, and they were good - nice paper in good quality, sturdy bindings. But somehow, we hadn’t got around to selling them. So we did.
Then Leughtturm1917 told us they’d decided to do something interesting. The were bringing back a ballpoint design from the 1920s. It’s a lovely quality pen, with decidedly retro styling (is it still retro when the design is actually from the 1920s?) and it’s made from milled aluminium and brass, giving it a really nice feel. And it’s called the Drehgriffel - twist stylus.
And finally for this section, we have a brand that would be familiar to fans of vintage fountain pens - Esterbrook. Many years ago, they were known for one of the most popular American low cost fountain pens, commonly known as the Estie. They were relatively cheap, but so well made that many are still in use today. But they went out of business.
Well, Kenro Industries brought them back, to make a range of pens using the Esterbrook name. They weren’t moving too far, even - Esterbrook was based in New Jersey, while Kenro is in New York State, just 120 miles to the north (which sounds like a lot on this little island, but in the USA, 120 miles is more equivalent to nipping down the road to Tesco for some milk).
These things can be hit and miss, but this time it was a hit. They usually go best when brought back by people who have a real love for the original brand, as well as enough business and manufacturing knowledge to make a success of it. Think of Kaweco - some of the best pen designs around in recent years, all as a result of someone with a passion for those old designs bringing them up to date, while still caring about what they used to be. The new Esterbrook is a similar case - beautiful new designs, taking some inspiration from the older pens.
They’re so beautifully made, in fact, that they could easily have gone into the next section...
This is still a bit of a work in progress, but we added some new stuff at the more luxurious end of the market too. After being asked about them many, many times, we finally got a range of Montblanc’s refills and much-loved fountain pen inks. We also have some of their rather lovely leather notebooks.
Before that, we’d also started stocking a range of S.T. Dupont’s luxury pens. Like Montblanc, they have a long history with pens, all started way back in 1971, when Jackie Kennedy Onassis mentioned how much she’d love a pen to match her favourite S.T. Dupont lighter. Their long experience with crafting high quality luxury goods with intricate mechanisms turned out to be very well suited to making pens!
We have more to come in this area, with some exciting new products in the pipeline, so keep an eye on our site and newsletter if you like a bit of luxury!