Points Welcomes Additive Pens

Points is proud to welcome Additive Pens

These amazing fountain pens are a union of past and future: these are the world’s first 3D-printed fountain pens! Additive Pens are made in Canada by the Additive Collaboration Project. These stunning, clear pen barrels are 3D-printed and contain a pattern, and the barrel’s pattern takes on the color of your ink - so get ready to show off your favorite ink in one of these gorgeous pens! This is a great new twist on a demonstrator fountain pen: not only are you showing off your ink, you’re also showing off the barrel’s pattern! Points is now stocking the Double Helix and the Ribbon patterns. Want to change your ink? Additive Pens use a proprietary ink-resistant coating to minimize staining, so you may clean your pen and swap ink colors when you’re ready.

All Additive Pens feature a stainless steel #6 JoWo nib. These are eyedropper pens, and come with silicone grease, a syringe for inking your pen, and a use and care guide to get you started. Additive Pens has gone with a laboratory look and feel for their packaging; this seems perfect for this pen! Additive Pens fully guarantees their products and stands behind them, offering repair or replacement if needed.

Pen Show Tips

The 2019 Atlanta Pen Show is underway! We didn’t sign up for it this year, so here I sit in my quiet office on a rainy Friday, finding it hard to focus on my work because my mind keeps wandering as I imagine the bustle of the show. I’ve really come to treasure these shows over the years; once you’ve attended a few, they’re practically family reunions: you’re going to run into old friends, and make new ones every time! The great thing about a pen show is that it’s an event anyone who’s into writing can enjoy. The challenge of a show, especially as a newcomer, is that they can seem somewhat vast and endless. A customer recently confessed to me that he found his first pen show a bit overwhelming. I reassured him that it’s completely normal to feel that way, and then I thought this might be a great chance to share a few of my personal tips on getting the most out of your pen show experience. I hope you find this helpful!

Tip #1: pen shows are for ANYONE interested in writing! You might have seen an advertisement for a pen show and been intrigued, but wondered if it was for you. If you’re into writing, IT IS. It is! Pen show crowds are a wonderfully diverse group of folks who are simply brought together by a love of writing. You’ll see all ages, races, genders, abilities, and walks of life. It’s an inclusive and welcoming crowd!

Tip #2: “ANYONE” includes kids! Kids are enthusiastically welcomed at pen shows. In fact, one of my favorite sights at any show is a family. I love seeing parents who want to encourage their kids to write in our increasingly digital world! Pen shows typically have a scavenger hunt just for the kids, which is a great way to keep them engaged, sponsored by the Pen Collectors of America. The scavenger hunt will encourage your kids to be on the lookout for things like a bottle of ink, a mechanical pencil, and so on. They’ll learn and have fun as you browse the show!

Tip #3: be prepared to be in a crowd. Pen shows are not overly crowded, but you should be prepared to be around a lot of people. A lot of kind and well-mannered people, for sure, but if crowds are a challenge for you this is an important aspect to bear in mind. If you want to check out a pen show and specifically want or need to avoid being in crowds, I highly recommend going to the Sunday afternoon hours of the show you’re attending. Sunday afternoon is typically the lowest-traffic time at a pen show. Early afternoon (say, 1pm) is a good time to target: shows often run until 4 or 5 pm, but some vendors may need to pack up and scoot out earlier than that in order to catch their flights home.

Tip #4: think about your bag. You’ll want to have a great way to carry your personal belongings. I’d recommend a cross-body style bag. Since you’ll be in a busy venue, this will help you navigate the rooms with the most ease. If you wear a backpack, you’ll likely find it rather clumsy to get through the aisles. If you carry a traditional purse, you might need to set it down to look through it, and there aren’t always easy places your purse could perch.

Tip #3: take breaks. If I had to give anyone just ONE pen show tip, this would be it. Take breaks frequently! There are SO MANY wonderful products to feast your eyes on. If you don’t take breaks, you’ll glaze over. 5 or 10 minutes sitting in the hotel lobby or stepping outside will help you process what you’ve just seen, and give your brain a moment to “reset” before you look at more. You’ll absorb more information and will likely be happier with your purchases if you work in some good breaks. (And your feet will probably thank you, too!)

Tip #4: wear comfortable shoes. Speaking of feet: make sure to keep them comfortable. You’ll be standing a lot, and you’ll have more fun if your dogs aren’t barking!

Tip #5: bring your own paper. Do you have a favorite notebook, journal, or planner that you love to write in? Or even favorite loose leaf? Whatever it is, if a certain kind of paper is your go-to, you should bring it with you, and keep it handy in that cross-body bag I referenced earlier. Many vendors will have test pens you can write with. They’ll have testing paper out, and this will give you a good idea of how the pen performs, but the true test is writing on your own paper. Papers can be so different, so you want to know how that new fountain pen, ballpoint pen, or rollerball pen performs on the paper that you use every day. At this year’s Baltimore Pen Show, in fact, a customer asked me if I could get him some cheap copy paper to test a pen on, since that’s what he knows he’ll write on at his office. I was able to scavenge in my office supplies and find a piece, and then he was reassured that the pen he was considering would be a good fit.

Tip #6: ask questions. We want to talk to you! For me, the best part of a show is talking to the attendees. I’m willing to bet most vendors agree. My day is more fun and interesting when I get to chat with you! I love to learn what brought you out to the show, what you’re looking for, and just what kind of day you’re having. I’m happy when I have the opportunity to answer your questions and help you find what you’re looking for. As the saying goes, the only bad question is the one you don’t ask! So ask me anything!

Tip #7: take a class. Or take a LOT of classes! Most shows have a wonderful array of classes and workshops throughout the weekend. Some are free, and some have a modest fee. Be sure to look at the show website or talk to the organizers ahead of time so you can sign up! You’ll find classes on calligraphy, journaling, sketching, handwriting forensics, hand lettering, and more. Are you new to fountain pens? Check out a “Fountain Pens 101” class! Bringing your kids to the show? Make sure they try the “Pens for Kids” class! This year’s Baltimore Pen Show had a particularly impressive roster of classes; you can check it out here to see an example of the class variety you might find at your next pen show: https://baltimorepenshow.com/events-copy/

Tip #8: Give your purchases a test-drive before you leave the show. This is particularly easy if you’re staying overnight; you just have to make a point of doing it. I think it’s worthwhile because if there happens to be an issue with your purchase, it is so much easier to work it out with the vendor while you’re all still at the show. I’ve run into this a few times, and I’m so grateful when I can make an issue right for someone in person, in a timely manner.

Tip #9: Think about payment. Most vendors will take credit cards, but everyone definitely takes cash. Bringing cash will ensure that you can smoothly make any purchase, and will also help you set a budget and stick to it. Just be careful with it, as you would in any crowd. If you prefer credit cards, they will also be a great option with many vendors. It might be worth a quick call to your credit card company before the show to let them know they’ll see an unusual purchase pattern (since you’ll be making transactions with vendors from all around the country). Fun fact: I used to work in the fraud call center of a credit card company, and I have a lot of first-hand experience with how inconvenient it is for you as a customer when the card company flags your account for possible fraud and places a hold on your card until they can verify that it’s really you and everything is valid. The intent is good, but in addition to feeling inconvenient, it’s also been known to ruin many surprises… so give them a call beforehand, so your significant other doesn’t get wind of their special gift by way of a call from the fraud department ;-)

Tip #10: create a strategy before the show. You’re going to walk into a wonderful, bustling scene… it’s so fun, but without a good plan, you could get home and realize that you forgot to look for that pen that had been on your mind before the show. Think about the products you want to see in person. Make a note of them. Want to take classes? Pre-register for them. Do you have pen friends on social media? Message them and, if they’ll be at the show as well, arrange meet-ups ahead of time. Do you plan to enjoy the late-night #penshowsafterdark hangouts? I’m not a night owl, but I’ve heard they’re a blast. They can run pretty late into the night, so consider avoiding early morning plans the next day ;-)

These are the best tips I can think of for now. I hope you find them helpful! I hope I’ll see you at a show sometime. Until then, what are your best pen show tips? Do you have a favorite show to attend, or a favorite show activity? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Happy writing!

Hillary

Fountain Pens and Sustainability

It’s a bit of a tough time right now if you’re a recycler. The recycling industry is in trouble. China doesn’t want the US’ recyclable goods anymore, and manufacturers have fewer incentives to use recycled materials. I’d been reading a little bit about this in the news, but it hadn’t affected me; our city has had a long-standing curbside recycling program, accepting glass, cardboard, aluminum, and plastic. But then, the industry issues got personal: about a week ago, our city announced that as of today, April 1st, we can no longer recycle plastic. The reason? Our area’s sole recycling processor has stopped accepting plastic AND glass. Our city will still collect glass; they’ve found a way to repurpose it. But our ability to recycle plastic is completely gone.

This has hit me hard. I’ve had images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, littered beaches, overflowing landfills, and more filling my mind. As a family, we’re taking a really hard look at the disposable plastics in our home, and finding ways to reduce or eliminate them. It seems like the best thing we can do immediately. We just started buying local milk in glass containers that we can return to be reused. I’m swearing off of single-use plastic bags; I’ll take my own reusable canvas bags to the grocery store every time. I’m also looking at things like reusable zip bags, beeswax reusable food wraps, mesh produce bags, and shampoo bars. And, I’ll be the crazy lady at the restaurant with a big purse that can accommodate a few reusable containers, in case we’re dining out and need to take leftovers home. The fact that this last one will embarrass the kids is just a bonus ;-)

So as you can tell, I’ve been feeling a bit of despair and scrambling to problem-solve; but then I found a silver lining: good pens are a model of sustainability! YAY! My business, which I already love for making an effort to preserve the writing culture in an increasingly digital world, also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle. So, three cheers for all of you out there using good pens… even a good, refillable ballpoint pen, rollerball, or mechanical pencil is far better than a single-use disposable one. And if a fountain pen is your thing - especially if you’re using a piston converter and bottled ink, or a pen you can eyedropper: you get bonus points! You’re making sure the world has fewer cheapo pens in the landfills. It may seem like a small thing, but think about a lifetime of using one really great pen, as opposed to tossing a disposable pen(cil) every time the ink or lead runs out. So: keep writing with good pens, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. It won’t solve all the world’s trash problems, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

One final note: you won’t be seeing bubble wrap in your orders from Points anymore. I’m swearing off of that, too. We’ll be using packing paper from now on!

Baltimore Washington International Pen Show 2019

March got off to a great start with the 2019 BWI Pen Show. This show is always a favorite, and this year’s may have been the best yet! We had fun and we even got to see a little snow fall, but thankfully it didn’t disrupt the show or our travel (this is the best kind of snow, right?!)

The Baltimore show is always full of friendly people, vendors and customers alike. It’s truly a pleasure to take part in this show. We met so many wonderful people - if you came to see us at the show, we enjoyed it and we are grateful! If you made a purchase from us, we do hope you’re enjoying it. We know you have many choices when it comes to fountain pen retailers, and we appreciate your business!

One reason the Baltimore pen show has such a great atmosphere is that it is run by a stellar team of kind and thoughtful folks. Kudos to Bert, Adam, Corinne, Maggie, and I’m sure many more for finding a great venue, putting together an interesting array of classes, fun giveaways, and so many more touches that made it a fun and memorable weekend.

One great bonus for Points was that a giveaway we were running on Instagram wrapped up while we were at the show, and it just so happened that the giveaway winner was present at the show to claim his prize in person. This was the first time we’ve gotten to hand over an online giveaway in person, and it made the experience much more fun! We hope Eric is still loving his Franklin-Christoph 31, in Points’ exclusive Ruby/Navy combo!

We’re already looking forward to next year’s Baltimore show. Is the Baltimore show one that you like to attend? What do you think about it? What’s your favorite pen show?

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Diplomat Aero

If you’re among those who love the look of the Diplomat Aero and you’d like to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place! Diplomat has been making pens in Germany since 1922. The Aero line was launched in 2012 in commemoration of Diplomat’s 90th anniversary. When introduced, the Aero came in two colors: a dark matte brown, and a matte silver – which of course, represented its inspiration, the zeppelin, perfectly.

The Aero was an instant classic, and quickly became Diplomat’s most sought-after line. In the years since 2012, more colors have been introduced: black was the first to follow, then orange, then the bare Diplomat Factory, and most recently, blue, and red have been added. All of these Aero models are aluminum, and all except the Factory are finished with anodization. The finish has evolved from matte to a smooth and shiny metallic, and Diplomat has taken all the steps needed over the years to perfect the quality of the Aero: the logo, first painted on, is now engraved, and the cap mechanism has been improved for a soft-click closure, as well as secure posting.

The Aero is offered in fountain pen, ballpen, rollerball, and mechanical pencil. Points of Distinction is proud to offer this great line. If you have questions or comments on the Aero line, just let us know!

Points welcomes TWSBI to our family!

Points is proud to now be an authorized TWSBI retailer! We think when you’re choosing a new writing instrument, there are three key factors to consider: style, quality, and value. TWSBI brings all these elements together in an impressive way!

TWSBI pens start at $18.99, making them an incredible value. Their designs are fun and modern, and there’s so much enthusiasm in the pen community for these pens as great writers. Here’s a little more about the makers of TWSBI:

After 40 plus years as an OEM manufacturer for different global brands, Ta Shin Precision decided to start selling under their own brand, and thus TWSBI was born.

TWSBI's name stands for the phrase "Hall of Three Cultures" or "San Wen Tong" in Chinese. The character "Wen" translates into language and culture. The phrase "San Wen Tong" also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The initials of the phrase "San Wen Tong" was reversed and thus turned into "TWS". The last letters "Bi" was added with its literal meaning of "writing instruments". Thus combining the two segments, creating TWSBI.

Love Letters at Ox Eye

This year for Valentine’s Day, we hosted a love letter writing event at one of our favorite local tasting rooms, Ox Eye Vineyards. it was so much fun! This event was inspired by looking through some family keepsakes: love letters written between my great-great grandparents during their courtship, over 100 years ago!

For this event, we created our own stationery (which we configured to become its own envelope), set out a wide range of fountain pens for people to write with, and had live acoustic music and light refreshments. The atmosphere was warm and relaxing. As our visitors finished writing their love notes, we provided the finishing touch by sealing them with a wax seal. It was a lovely afternoon! Enjoy the photos. Just click to scroll through the gallery below!

Points welcomes Magna Carta!

Points is proud to welcome Magna Carta Pens to our family!

This beautifully crafted line out of India comes from a 3rd generation pen maker. Everything about these pens is so well-done! Many in the line are metal pens with a PVD finish, which is a long-lasting and beautiful coating. Whether you’re looking for a fountain pen with subtle style or one that makes a bolder statement, there’s a Magna Carta pen for you! The Oxford and Cambridge lines stand out in the crowd, while the York and Falmouth offer more subtle distinction. All the Magna Carta fountain pens carried by Points have either a Bock or a Schmidt nib. Each fountain pen comes in a beautiful gift box, includes a piston converter, and is backed by a 5-year warranty!

Holiday Card Class (our first class!)

We had our first class this past Saturday morning, 12/8/18, at Staunton’s Innovation Hub. It was so much fun! Our instructor Diane did a beautiful job planning and teaching how to craft 4 adorable winter-themed greeting cards. Our crafty students were really into their creations, and found fun and creative ways to add their own personalities to each design. They made 2 kinds of snowmen, a penguin, and (maybe my favorite?) a caroling reindeer! Diane’s thoughtful prep for this class meant that the kiddos got to do all of the fun work, while she had taken care of anything that might be too frustrating or time-consuming ahead of time. This meant that all the kids creations were fully completed in our 90-minute class! Their crafting included cutting, gluing, drawing, and even learning to use a special machine that embosses your paper (the clear crowd favorite. Who wouldn’t love turning plain paper into snowflake paper?!) All the kids had fun - so much fun that they didn’t even want to take a break when it was offered. It was a great time, and we can’t wait to host more classes at the Hub in 2019, for kids and adults alike!

Inktober

Hello pen friends! Are you participating in Inktober? 2018 is its 9th year! Anyone can participate. The idea is to do an ink drawing each day for the month of October. What a great way to work on your drawing skills, pull some pens and papers into your rotation that might otherwise get overlooked, and just have a little meditative time each day. It’s so therapeutic to sit down with a pen and paper, but so often we think of them just for writing. What a great time to test your hand at drawing. If you’re new to drawing and inking, you might enjoy seeing your progress over the course of the month! Not sure what to draw? You don’t even have to think about it. The official Inktober website gives you 31 prompts… 1 per day! Draw, ink, post, repeat. When you post your drawings on social media, use the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2018. Check out the Inktober website for all the details: https://inktober.com/

Happy inking!