In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about demographics of the average pen enthusiast, the most popular color of pen we sell, and which pen he’d resurrect from the past!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) __inkskein__- Instagram (16:51)

Who is the average fountain pen enthusiast? And how would your description of a pen nerd today differ from one ten years ago?

  • there are so many assumptions to be made here, because there is honestly such a spread!
  • working professional, generally higher educated
  • 25-45 years old on average, however, there’s a large group of older individuals who were exposed to fountain pens when they were younger, they’re not necessarily “enthusiasts” today
  • geographically disperse, but often congregate in more metropolitan areas
  • these are generalizations, of course, but this will hit the peak of the bell curve
  • there are no official studies on demographics of fountain pen enthusiasts that I’m aware, so this is based mainly off my assumptions, observations, and analytics from our own followers
  • the biggest difference I’ve seen has been in age, getting younger due to the education and social connections thanks to the internet and social media, like this video!!

2) brendle.spin2rinse- Instagram (24:29)

Wood vs celluloid which one will stand the test of best material for most popular fountain pen and why?

  • neither? there are other materials more ideal for other reasons, so neither of these is the optimal material
  • I love wood, I’m a woodworker and started out making wood pens
  • but wood is not the ideal material for pens because wood stains, it moves with moisture, dings/scratches, it’s one of the more delicate materials you can have in a pen (but boy is it pretty!!)
  • celluloid is dangerous to work with, and takes a long time to cure so it’s impractical and expensive today
  • there isn’t a lot of celluloid readily available for pens today, so most of what you see is material stores in pen company’s vaults and the price will only go up because there isn’t new stuff being made
  • it’s more durable, scratch resistant, can look like all kinds of different patterns, it’s a versatile material
  • celluloid was designed originally as a replacement for ivory, tortoiseshell and horn, in the late 1800’s
  • it started to lose favor around the 1920’s to cellulose acetate, a more synthetic alternative
  • now you are seeing alternatives like thermoplastic, PPMA (poly methyl methacrylate), acrylic acetate, aluminum, brass, stainless steel
  • between these two options, I would rate celluloid as the best all around material for a fountain pen, though, as much as I love wood!!

3) newatthisig- Instagram (33:28)

I see many colors of fountain pens at your website. What color fountain pen is the best seller with Goulet Pens? What color is the least sold?

  • there’s a lot of ways to slice this up, by quantity, revenue, etc
  • I didn’t go into a full blown report writing excursion to pull this but I’ll show you what I did
  • go to GouletPens.com and go to Fountain Pens, All Fountain Pens
  • Sort by popularity
  • just look at the colors, what you’re seeing there is what’s most popular
  • Clear (demonstrator) is the most popular
  • black is next
  • turquoise is next
  • then blue
  • this is probably pretty skewed towards GouletPens specifically, I don’t know if this is on trend with the entirety of the fountain pen world
  • we are VERY ink focused here, so demonstrators do the best for us because people like to see their ink! And we skew towards newbies who think this is cool
  • black is more universal, like vanilla ice cream, and is probably globally most popular
  • turquoise is more of a trend, hasn’t always been most popular
  • blue is our brand color, and we probably offer/promote them more and it’s also a popular American color

4) @jazz2midnight- Twitter (38:04)

Some nibs are curved (from tip to feed), some are mostly flat across, some are large or tiny or odd like the Falcon — what are differences when writing with them?

  • there is definitely a correlation between nib design and writing feel, but it’s not always just about the shape, that’s a factor
  • you really can’t just look at a nib and determine how it’ll feel on the page, unfortunately
  • Falcon is a soft nib, and the “beak” helps reinforce the nib where it has the most pressure when flexed
  • larger nibs sometimes offer more spring to them, but not always
  • Platinum nibs are very stiff because they have a high gold content
  • Vanishing Point nibs have a bit of spring even though they’re tiny
  • Lamy 2000 nib is about the size of the VP nib but is stiff as a nail
  • smoothness of the nib has little to do with the shape, but more of the grind, so don’t concern yourself with nib shape when talking about smoothness
  • the only thing shape is likely to impact is springiness, and flow (if it’s a flexible nib)

5) Elizabeth- Blog (42:41)

When you introduced the Conklin Endura, it was a limited production run, which you would consider extending. I have been shopping for a pen to mark a work related milestone and I am considering the Ebony and Mahogany Enduras. It would help me to make a decision knowing if this is my last chance with the Endura since I noticed the “out of stock” button for the Ebony Endura in most nib sizes. I find the wood turned pens very attractive and this is by far the best priced one around. However, the Edison Nouveau Premieres in Cranberry and Juniper are also contenders, and I know they won’t be around for much longer either. Has GPC made a decision yet to carry the Endura regularly?

  • The Endura is an exclusive of ours, and the way these sometimes work with us is we commit to a certain quantity of each color/nib, and we buy up a run of them (called MOQ or minimum order quantity)
  • it may take a certain lead time for whatever manufacturer we’re working with to make them, which of course we’re keeping secret before a release
  • the big challenge is when we’re introducing something new, not knowing how well it will sell, wanting enough stock to see through the lead time on a reorder, but not being stuck with tons of stock if it doesn’t sell
  • we’ll sometimes lean a little conservative because we don’t want to sit on dead stock
  • what this means though is we have outages like you see now with the Endura on the more popular colors/nibs
  • these specific pens, right now, Ebony has been most popular, Mahogany next, so we’ve reordered these
  • Sandalwood hasn’t been as popular, so we haven’t reordered these as we’ll have stock of them for a bit
  • if the pens continue to sell, we’ll keep offering them, but they surely will taper off at some point, and then we’ll stop ordering
  • this of course is torture for you, because you never really know if we’re going to have something ongoing or not, because we don’t know!
  • With something like this, the better it sells, the more likely we are to carry it ongoing, which is different than a limited/special edition, where there maybe isn’t a chance for reorder
  • In this case, you have time, we’ve ordered more of the two you want, but it’s not a guarantee we’ll stock them regularly, it all depends on how well they sell!
  • The Premieres you should jump on sooner though, they’re seasonal, we have all we’re going to have on those and we may only have a few weeks left on hand, which is honestly pretty rare we have it past the end of the season at all!

6) Ink

ealtindisli- Instagram (55:43)

I’ve heard from different retailers and fountain pen enthusiasts that MontBlanc and Pelikan Edelstein inks have a lubricating component in them to keep the pen somewhat “safe”. Is there any truth to that? Do different producers add something similar? #gouletqa @gouletpens

  • there might be some mixed marketing messaging in here, lubrication is a property that can have some benefit to your writing experience, but it’s not necessarily correlated with “safety”
  • Montblanc and Pelikan have been two companies to lean pretty hard into the “use our inks only in our pens” messaging, prompting “safety” towards the pen as a reason to use their ink, I don’t think that has anything to do with lubrication, it’s a CYA thing for their warranty service
  • Ink companies in general are pretty vague about the composition of their ink, few will actually advertise lubrication
  • Noodler’s Eel ink and Monteverde’s “ITF” technology are the only two that distinguish, the rest are just generally known from users in the community (Iroshizuku, Herbin, many De Atramentis, some Diamine)
  • we could open up a can of worms about what makes an ink “safe” or not, and people will debate that, even those influential in the pen world
  • I really want to find out some objective way to measure ink lubrication, any scientists out there know how to do that? Would measuring viscosity help? I’ve struggled for years with this, and would love an answer. Please answer in the comments if you know something about how to figure this out or you have heard of a scientist who has, I wanna know! Leave a comment or email me at brian@gouletpens.com

7) Personal

@alphacitybill- Twitter (1:04:18)

Of all the fountain pens of Yesteryear…which would you choose to come back–of course with a modern flair?

  • Pilot M90. Bring back as is. It’s perfect.
  • honorable mention to Parker 51
  • admittedly, I don’t have a vast knowledge of vintage pens!

QOTW: What pen would you resurrect from history if you could? (1:06:39)

Write On,
Brian Goulet