The Journal of Writing Culture
deep roots and
Graf von Faber-Castell’s
Pen of the Year is
a new Dynasty
Trends in 2020:
clearly visible elegance
0 74851 08282 9
Volume 33, Number 1 38
ON OUR COVER: Franklin-Christoph Model 40 46
Diamond Tree limited edition maki-e fountain pen.
54 the F-C experience
With its new Diamond Tree limited edition
maki-e fountain pen, Franklin-Christoph shows
how deep its roots go.
30 working portraits
Photographer Michael Fiedler captures people
at their jobs through his photographs and
34 pocket pens, sixth edition
Richard Binder highlights Japanese long/short
pens from lesser-known brands.
38 on Point
What happens when a distribution company
becomes a curated online shop?
42 it’s in the bag
From pen sleeves to totes, Rickshaw Bagworks
products are stylish and reliable.
46 a new Dynasty rises
Penlux pens are made in Taiwan to the highest
50 more than the 300
With its Pen of the Year 2020, Graf von Faber-
Castell gives a crash course in Spartan culture.
60 trends in pens
See what’s in store for 2020 in PW’s second
annual “Trends” section.
14 6 view
mark your calendars
L.A., Toronto, Ohio, Boston
Haute Creation, auction,
Fred Krinke, PW fountain pen
brand contact information
January 17 – 19, 2020 Barry Gabay: PW ’s O.G.
Philadelphia 201 Hotel
BY NICKY PESSAROFF
201 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 This magazine is only as good as its contributors, and fortunately for me, I have
a cadre of talented, insightful writers, each of whom brings a level of expertise
Public Show: and experience to their work that always leaves me better educated than when
Friday and Saturday I started. Some are fluid in technology, others have great knowledge of the trendy
world of social media. Some writers are collectors of the most luxurious of writing
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. instruments, while others prefer the every-day-carry category.
Sunday The sub-interests of each of these writers creates a holistic wholeness in each
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. issue of PW: science and engineering, art and entertainment, history and marketing—all
these elements thread through the pages.
Registration $13 online And all those elements are evident in this issue’s special section, “Trends in
2020.” From Akkerman to Artus, Visconti to Santini, Sailor to Retro 51, Colorverse
before Jan. 17 to Kaweco, a slew of pens and inks are on display. The variety is amazing: one-of-a-kind
$15 at the door artistic pens from the likes of Phoenix Lacquer Art along with reliable every-day-carries
from KACO. The just-relaunched LeBoeuf appears alongside the newest Caran
Weekend Pass: d’Ache Ecridor. Artisan David Broadwell and German ink brand De Atramentis both
January 17 – 19 show their versatility.
9 a.m. early entry
Registration $35 online Expertise glows from each page in this issue thanks to the strengths of our
before Jan. 17 writers: Richard Binder’s encyclopedic knowledge of vintage pens in the penultimate
$40 at the door piece in his continuing series on Japanese pocket pens; Suzanne Lee’s adeptness at
translating culture and history in her piece on Graf von Faber-Castell’s 2020 Pen of
PhiladelphiaPenShow.com the Year; Azizah Asgarali’s knowledge base in pen accessories in her article on San
Francisco, California’s Rickshaw Bagworks; dare I say my own capacity to thread the
stories behind the pens in my pieces on Points online pen shop and our cover
Not present in this issue but just as important to the voice of this magazine are
Contributing Editors Reinhard Kargl, with his unparalleled understanding of the science
and technology of fountain pens, and Julian Kreeger, whose unique point of view has
graced these pages for over 10 years.
But I’d like to take a moment to bring your attention to two of our writers.
First, PW is proud to welcome back calligrapher and Contributing Editor Deborah
Basel after a long sabbatical. She returns with a vengeance, reviewing a fascinating
new photo-essay book by Michael Fiedler, Working Journal. Her knowledge in the
calligraphic and visual arts forever changed this magazine when she became a
contributing editor, and already, PW feels more complete with her distinct point
of view back in these pages.
Secondly, I’d like to pay tribute to Pen World’s O.G. (“Original Gabay”), Barry
Gabay, who just passed a major milestone: this fall, he celebrated his 20th anniversary as
a continuing contributing editor to Pen World. In 1999, then-Managing Editor Nancy
Olson and Barry hatched a column in which he reviewed and tested new fountain
pens, work that continued under my predecessor, Laura Chandler. He hasn’t stopped
writing for us since.
[continued on p. 8]
From top left, clockwise—PW Contributing Editor Barry Gabay and his wife, Downy
Roberts-Gabay; Barry and Downy (middle) with their sons, Barry Jr. (left) and
Robert (right); ﬁlling pages on the beach; Barry teaching English, circa 1979.
For me, the import of Barry’s voice is both personal and We’re both at different points in our lives, but Barry has
universal. In terms of his effect on our community, I would changed little through the years. He still has that distinct
argue that the extremely useful “tests” of writing instruments Virginia drawl, and he still always seems to be smiling. He’s
and inks in the blogosphere are the inheritors of Barry’s work. still happily married to the love of his life, Downy, but his
Deep descriptions of the aesthetic aspects, breakdowns of the sons, Barry Jr. and Robert, are fully grown. He recently
internal mechanisms, reviews of nib responsiveness alongside retired from his long-time positions as a high school and col-
writing samples—Barry did it first, along with other legends like lege-level adjunct English instructor, and he’s more interested
the late Susan Wirth and our own Deborah Basel. in culling his robust pen collection these days than growing
it, but his passion and kindness are constants.
On a personal note, I’ve been editing Barry’s pieces for
nearly 20 years now. It was 2001, I was a young pup out of He’s still writing for Pen World—in this issue, he
college, it was my first job as an editor, and I was writing explores the new Taiwanese brand Penlux—he’s excited as
about these funky writing instruments I’d never seen before ever about the subject matter, and his writerly voice only gets
called fountain pens. Managing Editor Marie Picon started me stronger with the years.
editing Barry’s pieces on purpose—I remember clearly, it was
his comprehensive series on his favorite pen of all time, the Congratulations, Barry, on 20 years with Pen World. As
Montblanc 149. Marie told me that working with Barry would much as any of us, your work has shaped the character of
be the best crash course in fountain pens I could take and this magazine. May we be blessed with your insights for 20
that Barry was nothing short of a class act. more years!
She was right on both counts. Working with Barry in those Read Barry’s original piece for Pen World at penworld.com,
early days was all the education I needed both in terms of the and leave him your congratulatory messages on Instagram,
subject matter and the art of editing. Since I took over editor- @PenWorldMagazine, or via mail (Pen World Magazine, 7220
ship in 2016, I’ve been blessed to continue my work with Barry, Wynnwood Drive, Houston, TX 77008).
a partnership that is as enriching as ever—more so, even.
Fortitudo et Fides
BY NICKY PESSAROFF
For U.S. brand Franklin Christoph, “strength and honor”
is a family motto that grew into a business strategy.
Scott Franklin of Franklin-Christoph designed the graphic for his company’s newest maki-e writing
instrument, Diamond Tree, on a Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Panther clipless body.
Looking at the new Franklin-Christoph Diamond Tree fountain pen on the cover of this issue
of PW, one sees a pen that utilizes traditional Japanese urushi and maki-e techniques. On a
background of lush, black lacquer is a platinum-powdered, hand-applied tree with many
branches running from barrel to cap end. Rhomboid diamond chips of mother of pearl are applied
along the branches like the most priceless of fruit.
Like so many maki-e fountain pens, Diamond Tree has no adornments, no clips. The Model 40
Panther body, with its long cap, features the typical Franklin-Christoph beveling at the cap and barrel
ends. It is highly limited, 51 pieces total, each one hand painted by maki-e artist Katsunobu Nishihara
of Okinawa, Japan.
Like all Franklin-Christoph writing instruments, the Diamond Tree is both traditional and mod-
ern. For Franklin-Christoph owner/founder Scott Franklin, the new Diamond Tree is a natural mani-
festation of his accessory company’s myriad global influences.
From left—Diamond Tree
features a black lacquer body
and a classic Asian tree motif
hand-painted by Katsunobu
at the cap and barrel ends;
mother of pearl diamond
chips along the pen cap.
“I wanted to do something that was true to us, not just put someone else’s cultural artwork on the base of our pen. To
me, that seems incongruous,” Franklin says.
But let’s be clear: the new Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Diamond Tree is a revolutionary product in its own way—
arguably, a new category of product that has emerged over the past few years, American maki-e. In this globalized world, the
category is an inevitability as cultural influences become more and more fluid.
The tree graphic is Asian inspired but designed by Franklin. The artist, Nishihara, feels comfortable working with both
Japanese and U.S. companies. The pen body design seems more European-inspired than Japanese—again, look at the beveling and
at the deeply-set cap—which makes sense, as early in Franklin’s career as a pen producer, he was directly influenced by his ties
to Italian and German pen brands.
If Franklin-Christoph is the most influential U.S. pen brand on the market, it is because Franklin-Christoph understands the
melting and melding boundaries of cultural influence.
Or as Franklin puts it, “We started with an idea about a global market and have continued our development with a global
mindset to production, even if our core product, fine pens, we have made in the United States for a long time.”
In a literal sense, Franklin is referencing his company’s burgeoning markets: India, Japan, the Middle East. In a figurative
sense, Franklin is talking about something more: a culture he has created over nearly 20 years in business.
He is notoriously private. When asked to talk about himself, Franklin begins by joking, “No comment...ha ha,” before
explaining, “I’ve always had this belief for the brand not to be about me, but about itself. Personality-driven businesses are
He points to his company’s Latin motto, Fortitudo et Fides, which translates to “strength and honor.” More than a tagline,
the motto is the Franklin family creed, and it is the crux of the Franklin-Christoph ethos. In spite of his wishes, there is no
separating Franklin-Christoph from Scott Franklin’s ancestral and personal experiences.
Above, left to right—NWF (Natural Wood Fiber) Penvelope 12 in dark denim blue; NWF Vagabond notebook cover in dark brown.
Below—NWF Penvelope 12 in dark brown, olive green, cranberry, and dark denim blue.
Bottom, left to right—NWF Penvelope 3 (closed and open) in dark brown.
Franklin says, “In the long run, a brand has to be about
something—an aesthetic, a philosophy, a set of principles. Those
have sustaining power. That might come from my being the fifth
generation to work in a family business, when we made ceramics.”
Franklin’s childhood in Marietta, Georgia was family-focused
in a way that resembles a Norman Rockwell painting or a
Thornton Wilder play. The Franklin ceramics factory, his family’s
home, generations of his extended family all resided on the
same street—Franklin Road, in fact. Through generations of
stable family leadership, the ceramics business survived for nine
decades, including the Great Depression.
“This was essentially because of the principles everyone lived
by—doing your best work, working hard, treating everyone fairly
in every instance,” Franklin says. “It’s ingrained in me.”
So it is established: the Franklin family ethic determines
the corporate identity of Franklin-Christoph pens and accessories.
But that raises another question: how and why did Franklin
transition his family’s company from ceramics to pens?
From left—the new Model 33 Abditus in black and
Diamondcast green with black-oxide coated,
stainless steel nib; Model 02 Intrinsic in Maya Blue
acrylic resin; Model 55 in IPO black with clear
antique glass. Below, left to right—antique
glass pen sheath on modern glass; the
new Model 55 in lavender antique
glass and Purpuratum resin.
It started in 1996, with a part-time job during graduate school as a driver for legendary Atlanta-area pen and office supplies
store Total Office Products Service and the tutelage of owner Jimmy Dolive.
Franklin says, “The Dolives were a lot like my family. Jimmy and his brother Earl had started the business, but their father was
around the business as were the children. I was comfortable there in the family environment.” Moving from driver to shop salesper-
son, Franklin learned the ins and outs of pens and accessories and made connections in the national pen market. While toying
around the internet, Franklin began exploring the new concept of e-commerce and saw the global potential for his family’s business.
“When I later took this to my family, [the global reach of e-commerce] was a major selling point,” Franklin says. “My
father and I reconstituted the business, moved up to the mountains and got started.”
Franklin was one of the first pen brands to try direct selling fine pens through e-commerce and claims to be the longest
continuous-selling e-commerce pen brand. From a corporate point of view, Franklin-Christoph reached a national and global audience
through direct representation—no distributors. Further, Franklin maintains complete creative control of his products from beginning
to end—no boards of directors, just a staff of long-time, extremely loyal employees who share Franklin’s vision.
Franklin-Christoph Fortis sling bag, front and back.
From the beginning, Franklin thought in terms of “branding,” meaning a consistent aesthetic and associated culture that
can translate across platforms and products. There are certain design and engineering principles that constitute a Franklin-Christoph
pen: the trademark beveling, nib choice, quality materials, vintage inspiration, the option of an eyedropper-filler.
But as Franklin says, that is only part of the story: “The other part of the equation was the vision for what the brand would be.
I can sort of describe it in the abstract—calm, sometimes quiet, focused, the color black, innovative yet classic, simple yet unique. I
did not include the word ‘pen’ in the brand name in any way because I always envisioned the brand expanding to a lot of things.”
And he’s not joking about expansion: inks, pen cases and “penvelopes,” paper, leather products, belts, bags, watches, and
even F-C hats and shirts are on sale at the Franklin-Christoph website. The Franklin-Christoph Fortis Sling Bag is a canvas and
leather shoulder bag with multiple pockets, and the Fortis Backpack is a canvas and leather undersized backpack meant to handle
all the user’s pen-related accessories and other office ephemera.
But it’s more than variety of products that are available; it’s also variety in material.
The new Franklin-Christoph NWF (“Natural Wood Fiber”) pen and paper accessories are made from paper yet are as durable as
leather goods, washable, meant to last, and are environmentally friendly. The German material was discovered by Anirundh Kumar
along with his father, Arun—another family business, this one based in Mumbai, India—who also create Franklin-Christoph’s leather
goods. The redesigned Penvelopes have a slightly smaller and thinner exterior but the same amount of room internally, including
cotton inserts that keep your pens from knocking into one another. Current Penvelopes carry three, six, or 12 full-sized writing
instruments and come in dark brown, olive green, dark denim blue, and cranberry.
Franklin underscores, “I named the material Natural Wood Fiber so that people realize that this is not like the ‘paper’ we
think of. NWF holds up against wear and tear. We think materials like this are a big part of the future.”
While all Franklin-Christoph IPO (initial public offer) fountain pens are only available in black, the company is known for
fun barrel colors. One of the newest colors is Maya Blue, offered as a barrel color in the popular Model 02 Intrinsic line. The
externally sleek, internally textured acrylic captures the color of clear summer skies.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 55 premiered in the 2019 Fall Preview of Pens (October 2019) and sold out quickly. The
Model 55 encapsulates the Franklin-Christoph design principles of modernism married to classicism. The two-part black barrel
features a piece of occluded, antique glass. Model 55 in black is slated to return to rotation soon, but in the meantime,
Franklin-Christoph just premiered a new Model 55 with lavender antique glass and Purpuratum (purple) acrylic resin.
IWO mechanical watch
features four beveled
diamonds at the quarter hour,
Swiss movement, and a black
or brown leather buckle or
deployant strap (shown with
black buckle strap).
Below—the new Franklin
Christoph ﬂexible stainless
steel nib. Both nib and watch
are shown on a brown leather
holder with embossed “F” and
Choice is key to Franklin-Christoph, so in
addition to its myriad standard stainless steel
nibs, its 14 karat gold nibs, its in-house S.I.G.
(stub italic ground) nibs personally ground by
new nib master Audrey Matteson, its multiple
music nibs, and the sometimes-available
Michael Masuyama exclusively ground nibs,
Franklin-Christoph recently released a stainless
steel flexible nib.
The addition of this new nib, and the
elevation of Matteson to Franklin-Christoph’s
in-house nib master, marks what Franklin
calls a “youth movement” in his company:
“Head Engineer Brian St. Laurent has
excelled in the last year, effecting the crazy
things I throw at the shop. For the important
nib work, we have several employees includ-
ing Mandy Reed and Dustin Proehl, who work
internally and at pen shows. Audrey
[Matteson] stepped into the main nib chair
with Jim Rouse’s untimely passing, and she
has really flourished in that role. The key is
cross training and developing skill variation. Mandy started as a polisher and has also been a machinist, worked in shipping,
and now does client service, inventory, pen shows, phone work, cleaning, nib work, and is handling our new F-C Gear department,
all with the title of Director of Operations.”
But for all 11 employees of Franklin-Christoph, individual glory is less important than success for the brand. It comes down
to that Franklin family motto. The fortitudo (“strength”) comes from the quality of materials and production. The fides
(“honor”) lies in Franklin-Christoph employees, who are dedicated to quality production and service.
For Scott Franklin and Franklin-Christoph, Fortitudo et Fides is more than a motto, it is a creed—something almost
sacred, developed by a single family through a century of experience.
In Japanese, Ishime means “stone path,” and these beautiful Urushi pens
feature a unique, stone-block pattern etched onto the hand-layered lacquer
finish of the cap and barrel using the kawari-nuri style of maki-e. Offered in
four striking colors, each pen features an 18-karat gold nib crafted with the
renowned quality and writability that Pilot is known for throughout the world.
Available in Fine, Medium or Broad nibs to suit your writing preference.
IN A WORLD OF EXCESS,
CHOOSE PRECIOUS METAL.
OWN FEWER, BETTER THINGS.
MADE IN ENGLAND
HAND HAMMERED & ENGRAVED
925 STERLING SILVER/18KT NIBS
Mooresville, NC 28117 • Toll-free 866.833.7797 • Fax 888.423.0036
NOW AVAILABLE AT AUTHORIZED RETAILERS
AIRLINE INTERNATIONAL ALTMAN LUGGAGE APPOINTMENTS
El Paso, TX • (855) 565-1818 New York, NY • (800) 372-3377 Cincinnati, OH • (513) 421-7430
airlineintl.com altmanluggage.com 411pens.com
ATLAS STATIONERS BITTNER DROMGOOLES
Chicago, IL • (866) 892-4515 Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA • (888) 248-8637 Houston, TX • (713) 526-4651
atlasstationers.com bittner.com dromgooles.com
FAHRNEY’S FOUNTAIN PEN HOSPITAL NORDSTROM NYC/BEST GIFT EVER!
Washington, DC • (800) 624-7367 New York, NY • (800) 235-7367 New York, NY (212)295-2000
fahrneyspens.com fountainpenhospital.com On Level One, 225 W 57th Street
VISCONTI srl | Via dell’Osservatorio | 120 - 50141 Florence | Italy | Tel. +39 055 45652.1 | www.visconti.it
Coles of London | Official USA Distributor | www.colesoflondon.com
Vintage Fountain Pens & Tools For Restoring Them
MORE THAN A PEN STORE Shop at our website and email your
The South West premier fine writing and mens store. requests to [email protected]
Pens • Cutlery • Wet Shaving • Airguns Presenting Eschenbach, Acculux, and other well made Illuminated Loupes
16211 N Scottsdale Rd #A3 (480) 575-0729
Scottsdale, AZ 85245 www.penchetta.com
paintings by SDuesnagnoR’sicchlaasrsdesson
h. iTs hVeivaarrtiisutms’ co series of letter-based
Rediscovering Cassiodorus and
Gemma O’Brien Found / Recovered . Radha Pandey and Cheryl Jacobsen
Pandey & Jacobsen
LR32-3 $14.50 LR32-2 $14.50
Subscribe to the preeminent magazine for calligraphers & lettering The Journal of Writing Culture
artists to enjoy the engaging articles and revel in outstanding
H[DPSOHV RI WKH ÀQHVW FDOOLJUDSK\ DQG OHWWHUDUW IURP
every corner of the world. | www.letterartsreview.com
The Journal of Writing Culture Pen World 1987-2019 Readers’ Choice Awards
clear waters: Order back issues featuring
your favorite topics. $9.95 Celebrating the Best of the Best from 2019
Japan’s Pilot plus S&H. Rare issues, $15.95.
Discounts for bulk orders. Pen World’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 calendar
at 100 years is currently available in limited supply.
David Oscarson We hope you’ll consider purchasing our 12-month,
pen-themed calendar from your favorite magazine about
commemorates a collectible and vintage writing instruments, Pen World.
Swedish hero penworld.com • 713.869.9997
enjoy the harvest
0 74851 08282 9
Contact [email protected]
or call 713.869.9997.
P.O. Box 2276 • Cypress,TX 77410
Proudly handcrafted in Texas
Save 10% off
[email protected] • www.hinzepens.com
• Specialists in Montblanc Sales, Parts, Repair, & Consignment The Journal of Writing Culture PEN WORLD
• We'll buy your old collection, contact us for an immediate estimate.
• Very Fast Nib adjustments, Pen Repair, Engraving Removal- past meets present: Digital Subscriptions
1 week turn around the future of Available at
• Located in North Chicagoland, visit by appointment
Sheaffer Pens Magzter.com**
[email protected] • www.nwfinejewelers.com
repurposing history: **Current PEN WORLD
subscribers qualify for a free
History Salvaged digital subscription. Contact
pens of substance(s):
mixing it up:
0 74851 08282 9
PEN WORLD in Digital Format: A convenient,
affordable and eco-friendly alternative to
print—especially for people on the move or
residing outside the U.S.
To a Creative Summer
BY TOM GAUNTT
Creativity ebbs and flows through my life like the seasons, although not
on the same predictable schedule. Sometimes it happens over a few
days, and sometimes the process lasts for months or years. Creativity’s
summer is a live outdoor rock band with fireworks exploding in sulfuric
reaction, coconut-smelling suntan lotion, and ice-cold beer as the promised
adventure yields new tools, skills, and creations.
As a maker of custom pens, nothing makes me happier than creating pens
that connect people to something meaningful in their lives. As our world moves
inexorably toward the digital and virtual, those things that are analog and real
mean more to us than ever.
The problem is, as the author Tom McGuane warned, that “[a]ll true
artists are bound to change, if not doomed to change.”
Making the same thing over and over stops being creative at some point
and begins to become something else—the autumn of the creative process,
probably. This period of the creative cycle often leads to an odd resentment of
the very avenue I just spent time and treasure exploring and perfecting. I find fault with the smallest of flaws; I grasp onto negative
reasons, many imaginary, to hasten the end of the creative cycle—to put me out of my misery.
All creatives, whether they’re writing or painting or even pen making, follow this process in some way, I think. We are driven to
this cycle because we know with every winter, there is a spring. And the creative spring, the rebirth, is what artists live for.
It is seasonally autumn here on my little island in the big Chesapeake Bay, but I have provoked my nemesis once again and can
see the green shoots emerging in another creative spring. For years I have been fascinated by the ancient Japanese art of urushi. It is
somewhat mysterious, like a treasure map that leads to other treasure maps rather than to the treasure itself.
The substance that creates the breathtakingly beautiful finish, urushi lacquer, is derived from the sap of Toxicodendron
vernicifluum and contains the compound urushiol, which is highly toxic when applied and then, in a beautiful contradiction,
becomes completely safe to touch when cured. Urushi is applied in coats from five to 50, and each coat must cure for a day or more
before the next one is applied. The most fascinating thing about urushi is the striking contrast of just how fussy and finicky it is to
apply versus the extremely hard and durable finished coating.
Urushi is traditionally dried in a special cabinet called an urushi-furo [or buro or muro] that controls for the specific tempera-
ture and humidity requirements that are necessary for the urushi to have its various natural and organic molecules cross-link in the
deeply rich and beautiful polymer layers. Urushi is one of those finishes that can’t be mimicked: either it is or it isn’t urushi. In our
virtual and digital world, a handmade urushi item is as real and analog as it gets.
The critical tool in urushi is the furo, which I’ve just finished making and now contains the ideal curing environment, just
waiting to go to work. I have the toxic and hard-to-get urushi paste in carefully-gloved hand and special brushes ready to go.
Undoubtedly, and perhaps ideally, there will be failure and frustration as creativity sends me on a new adventure. I’m ready for
the springtime of rebirth, for learning new techniques and making new tools.
I’m ready this time for those potential failures and setbacks, because if I persevere and reach my summer of creativity, there’s
bound to be a fantastic rock band, fireworks ,and an ice-cold beer (or three).
When not sailing for fun on the Chesapeake Bay or flying Share your pen experience, insight, or memory with PW
commercial airliners for a living, Tom Gauntt spends time in readers in approximately 500 words and mail to Pen
his shop on Kent Island, Maryland creating custom pens. See World Editor, P.O. Box 2276, Cypress, TX 77410, or
his work on Instagram, @chesapeakepenco. email to [email protected]