In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about MSRP, factory tours, and his and Rachel’s day-to-day!

This week:


Sami QR- Facebook (05:17)

What is preventing acrylic maker to emulate the Omas Arco Verde or bronze, or even the vacumatic celluloid ? Is there any other material out there that may emulate this at reasonable price which does not involve explosive compounds ?

  • there are some physical properties of celluloid that allow for certain patterns/colors to really pop
  • there could be ways to emulate these in acrylic resin, but the techniques may be different and not yet mastered in the same way
  • it’s often more than just matching a color, it involves multiple steps of breaking or cutting into pieces, adhering back together, then turning in a specific pattern
  • it’s entirely possible to get pretty darn close, it just depends how “mad scientist” a company wants to get to develop an exact match
  • the difference you have today is few pen manufacturers are making their own cast resins
  • cast resins are pretty challenging to make, especially mastering certain techniques
  • I would argue it’s not practical for most pen companies to cast huge lots of resin themselves, they’re usually getting from a supplier for the eyewear/jewelry industry, or other turned/manufactured goods (like vapes)
  • huge resin manufacturers will make a host of different colors, but since the pen industry isn’t the primary market for these resins, they’re not making colors/patterns to specifically match vintage pen materials
  • it’s possible to emulate though
  • Pineider has their Arco, which is a modern take on Arco celluloid
  • Dante specifically designed this to be similar, but with his own flare


Dyuti G- Facebook (20:21)

What is the difference between J.Herbin and Herbin inks? Any reason for the name and bottling variation?

  • They’re in the middle of a rebranding effort, so their names will be a little transitional
  • instead of everyhing J. Herbin, they’re breaking out into two lines
  • Herbin will be their standard line, like the 30ml bottles, sealing wax sticks, stuff like that
  • the 1670 and 1798 ink colors will be Jacques Herbin, more of their premium line (like Pelikan Edelstein, Lamy Crystal, Pilot Iroshizuku)
  • more may be in development on a Jacques Herbin line that’s being tested right now in France
  • No word yet on what that might be for us here in the US
  • keep in mind, Herbin started in 1670, so it’s 349 years old!! They’ve undergone a lot of branding efforts, I’m sure!

prrfecone- Instagram (30:36)

I often find the colour of the ink changes considerably depending on how long it has been in the pen and which pen it is in. This change is usually for the worse, the colour is not nearly as nice. Any way to alleviate this?

  • this is fairly normal, the water is evaporating out of the ink (more common in winter due to lower relative humidity) and the dye stays behind, leaving a darker, more saturated color
  • not letting it sit there more often
  • water down your ink a bit
  • dip it in a little bit of water if it’s been sitting a while
  • use a pen that seals really well (some are better than others) like Platinum 3776 Century, TWSBI, Pilot Custom 74/823
  • this is entirely subjective, I actually love more saturated colors so I like when this happens!


colors_and_beads- Instagram (38:08)

What’s the point of MRSP if all retailers have the same “discounted” prices? Should that one be the MRSP?

  • MSRP is manufacturer suggested retail price
  • It’s the price the manufacturer sets as “full retail”, and is what you’ll often see in print advertisements, at company stores, flagship retailers, and the like
  • manufacturers often set their wholesale price off of MSRP, so it impacts the margins that both they and the retailer will get
  • because discounting can happen all over the place with certain brands, it helps manufacturers to have an MSRP so they have a target to shoot for in terms of positioning themselves in the marketplace
  • retailers can of course discount below that, but you’ll almost always see the manufacturer (when selling direct) sell at full MSRP
  • online you see a lot more discounting, because competition is a lot stiffer, and there’s a degree of separation (risk) when buying online that incentivizes lower prices than in-store
  • Not to say all B&M’s charge full MSRP or all online retailers discount, but you get the idea
  • manufacturers can’t dictate what retailers sell for
  • manufacturers CAN dictate what is publicly advertised, through what’s called MAP (minimum advertised price)
  • when you have authorized retailers, they respect the MAP pricing (which is set regionally) or else they’re in violation of the manufacturer’s wishes
  • we could debate why MAP and MSRP are relevant, but largely it’s for of branding and consistency
  • what makes it so tough online is if you see it at full MSRP some places and discounted elsewhere, you naturally tend to think that the discounted price is the true value and that everyone else is charging a premium
  • in fact, most retailers in a given region are paying (around) the same price for their goods, so when they discount they’re taking a hit on their margins
  • you’ll often see smaller retailers (sometimes a company of one person) with extremely low overhead offer or sell a product below MAP, which they may only have one or two, or even none of! But online you have no idea how big they are or how much stock they have
  • it can wreak havoc online, especially in marketplaces where algorithms are triggered to price match or show lowest price first, so it can really go haywire quickly when people go too low
  • B&M stores are more cut off from the outside world, so if they are deep discounting one or two pens, it really doesn’t impact anyone else
  • you’re still seeing some adjustments in the ecommerce landscape from traditional B&M
  • MSRP and MAP help give a floor to the discounting, give consistency in branding, which ultimately provide reliability and stability to the manufacturers and retailers, which is required for growth


Joseph J- Facebook (53:10)

I liked the Lamy plant tour. Any chance on doing others, maybe Visconti?

  • I did shoot footage of Stipula, Pineider, and Nettuno, but I have yet to edit it together!
  • Others could certainly happen, but I don’t have it planned at the moment
  • It’s quite time consuming and requires a lot of effort and coordination, but it’s certainly something I’m thinking about!
  • So yes, this could certainly happen, but I can’t promise when


elisaldez- Instagram (56:27)

What’s your favorite non pen-related podcast?

Elizabeth D- Facebook (01:00:21)

Does “a day in the life of Brian & Rachel” stay pretty consistent, or does it change a lot every day depending on what’s going on? We over at the Nation have surmised that you two spent more time signing cards lately

  • Oh my gosh, it can change a lot!
  • We have some regularly scheduled meetings we try to keep consistent, but there’s a lot going on
  • we have young kids that are now getting into activities, we’re involved in our church, there’s a lot in our personal life that affects our schedule
  • work stuff is a mix of regular work and project work, so we’re always djing our schedules together
  • we have been signing more notecards, though, partly because of our increased volume through the holidays
  • we want to help out our team and lead by example, so we’re signing more notes as we can!

QOTW: What pen color/material would you like to see revived? (01:08:03)

Write On,
Brian Goulet