In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about why nice pens are so large, if pens appreciate like art, and if he really believes in the products we carry. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) Pooja C- Facebook (3:57)

Why are luxury pens so large ? I have very small hands (pilot stargazer is my ideal size). I want to try high end pens with luxury materials 18K and 21K nibs but cannot as they are not available in smaller sizes. Why doesn’t the industry cater towards people with smaller hands?

  • they don’t necessarily have to be
  • a lot of times, they’re using nicer materials or artistic/intricate theming that looks more impressive on a larger “canvas”
  • there is a perception in parts of the world of size/weight and worth (certainly in the US)
  • other parts of the world, Japan especially, cater more to these, but they don’t bring a lot of these over to the US (Sailor and Pilot come to mind)
  • in order for nibs to feel “bouncy”, it helps to have leverage, which means a bigger nib, which means a bigger pen to accommodate the nib
  • some of it could be tradition/manufacturer bias, but there’s probably an element of supply and demand, too
  • Platinum Century “The Prime” is pretty good for smaller hands
  • Namiki Nippon Art
  • Pelikan m400, even m600
  • Lamy CP1 Platinum

2) Mackenzie H- Facebook (18:06)

Heading into summer always makes me think about vacations and traveling. The Goulet name has gotten you the VIP tour at some brands’ facilities but are there any pen locations/experiences you know of that are available to the average joe? I’d love to add some pen destinations to my travel bucket list

  • I know Pelikan gives tours in Germany, you can even watch them grind a specialty nib
  • I’ve known a few people to finagle a Visconti tour
  • Aurora has a museum, I’m not 100% certain if it’s open to the public, you’d want to reach out
  • Graf von Faber-Castell I think gives tours
  • These are the only ones I know without some kind of special connection
  • Some of it’s practicality, some of it’s trade secrets/safety/security
  • I’m not one to judge, we don’t have a public part of our building!
  • It takes a lot of planning, commitment, and staffing to accommodate public visits, and most manufacturers just frankly aren’t set up for it
  • Wherever you go, there are probably retailers you can visit, though, that’s still a pretty neat cultural experience

3) daveminer- Instagram (22:11)

Do you prefer a canvas style (Rickshaw) pen sleeve or a leather sleeve for your EDC pen?

  • I’ve been carrying the same Aston leather sleeve for 8 years or so now, and it’s just a part of my setup
  • I’m a fan of Rickshaw, for sure! But just being real it hasn’t unseated my leather one
  • I’m just one person with a slight preference, but pen carrying preference vary as much as pen preferences do!
  • All that said we’ve really expanded our pen case selection over the last 1-2 years, and you all have responded and like it, so we’re going to keep on the lookout for cool stuff you like

4) mike_puckett- Instagram (23:57)

I’m currently in the stage of the hobby where I’m shifting from acquiring a mass of pens and inks into finding pens/inks I really love, and stepping into my next level of pens (2k, VP, 3776). I‘d really love to try an architect nib. What are your thoughts on having a Goulet (or other #6 nib) Broad nib ground into an architect vs having the grind done on a pricier nib (like a 2k BB)? My thought is that with a general #6, I could swap it into a variety of my pens rather than just having one pen with the architect. Is that nuts? #gouletqa

  • not nuts at all, actually, it’s pretty smart
  • it really all depends how you want to do it
  • architect nibs aren’t ones that particularly benefit from the aspects that a gold nib provides, so you can 100% get it done on a steel nib and love it
  • because custom grinds cost real money you might be inclined to get it done on a pricier pen, but that’s sunk cost bias
  • I like your strategy and think it’s a good one
  • Check out Mark Bacas at NibGrinder.com, he does nice architects on all kinds of nib types and sizes (no affiliation)

5) pnwnaturenerd- Instagram (28:57)

In your opinion is collecting rare and valuable pens a sound addition to an investment strategy? Do pens tend to appreciate over time like art?

  • sound? No.
  • Some pens will appreciate, sure, just like some art will
  • some art won’t though, and a lot of pens probably won’t appreciate
  • I’ve never been a huge fan of buying pens purely for their investment value, it’s just so niche for that, you’d have to really have the right pen and find the right buyer to make a return
  • you’d 100% be better off, strictly financially, investing in diversified, safe (relatively) financial vehicles than pretty much any collectible, at least for the average individual
  • however, pens are a lot of fun to use and you’ll be able to recoup a lot of your investment even on used pens if you keep them in good shape, so there’s certainly “value” there that’s hard to put a dollar value on

6) Supakorn R- Facebook (34:28)

Is it safe to transfer ink between pens?

  • generally speaking, sure
  • there’s always a slight risk of something contaminating the ink in use, but if you have two clean/untainted pens, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to transfer ink from one to another (I’m thinking specifically like a cartridge or converter)

Personal

7) Glenn M- Facebook (36:15)

Do you feel like you’re giving your stamp of approval, either as a company or personally, to every product you sell? Would you ever sell anything you weren’t 100% behind? I feel like I’ve seen you “dance” a little at times.

  • This is an honest question and I’m going to give an honest answer
  • Our mission statement is: “To provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.”
  • The “products we believe in” part is hitting right on this topic
  • Now, there’s a HUGE difference between products that meet my own personal preference and ones that I believe in as a product that we should sell in our store
  • This is where I’ll sometimes dance a bit, because I’m having to speak to the value that I see that others might find in a product, versus my own enthusiasm for it, and others might just have a different preference than me and that’s okay
  • Other times I’ll dance is when I have notions about how a product will perform or be enjoyed in peoples’ hands without entirely knowing (this is especially the case when carrying a new brand or model), but the feedback that comes back about it is mixed and hard to sort out (flex nibs of pretty much all brands come to mind here)
  • in these instances, it’s difficult to get clear answers about what’s actually going on, especially with a lot of impassioned, contradictory feedback from the community (what, on the internet? NO)
  • The truth is there’s often a lot of gray, as not everyone has the same preferences, same funds, same notions of what makes something “worth” whatever it costs, so I can’t use a 100% baseline for a product as nothing is perfect
  • I and my team do use our gut very strongly, combined with feedback through all channels and data like rate of returns and defects, and we have a lot of debate and conversation about if we believe in a certain product or not
  • If I (we, really) can’t stand behind a product, then it’s either something we’re not going to carry at all or something we’ll discontinue as soon as it crosses that threshold for us

QOTW: If you could tour any pen factory, what would you like to see? If not in person, then virtually? (49:16)

Write On,
Brian Goulet