In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about differences in Pilot nibs, women pen makers, and if his kids will takeover Goulet Pens. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) esbe5687- Instagram (5:57)

Besides cosmetic, is there any difference between the nibs on the Pilot 74, 92, and 823 or is the difference in the pens just the filling mechanism?

  • the Custom 74 and Custom 92 are the exact same nib, from what I can tell
  • Custom 823 is slightly larger, but performance is very similar, so largely it’s aesthetic

2) forgetmenotstl- Instagram (11:35)

When do I do maintenance on my TWSBI 580s and how do I know when it needs it. (Referring to the tools that come with it)

  • when the piston doesn’t move very easily anymore, then it’s time to regrease it
  • this time might vary quite a bit depending on usage, but you really shouldn’t need to do it for at least 6 months to a year, maybe longer
  • exception would be if you disassemble the pen and clean it, then you should regrease

3) gnomes_journal- Instagram (14:01)

What is the minimal required nib size for an alteration such as a stub or architect grind?

  • that depends on who’s doing the work, what they feel comfortable with
  • the finer you go, the less you’ll be able to really see a difference in line variation, so you generally want to go broad
  • architect especially, fine is about as fine as you wanna go, but broad is the sweet spot
  • stub, broad or medium is good, but you can go F or EF if you have really small handwriting
  • talk to your nibmeister/see what they recommend, assess your own writing size/style

4) jaydddeee- Instagram (17:06)

Recommendations for pens for FP’s for doctors / med students / people who need a solid everyday pen to slip into a pocket / clip to a lanyard which is easy whip out and write with on the go, is reasonably durable but not too expensive in case someone nicks it!

  • Criteria, greatly usable clip, nice colors  (these all meet):
  • Lamy Safari is good, easy to clip, workhorse pen, not too expensive, snap cap, $30ish
  • Jinhao 51A, SUPER cheap, EF nib, C/C or eyedropper, snap cap, $8
  • Pilot Metropolitan, F nib is great, durable, snap cap, $23ish
  • Pilot Varsity, VERY cheap, disposable (but refillable with a hack), decent writer, $3ish
  • Platinum Preppy, eyedropperable, EF/F are very fine, clip is not the best, $4ish
  • Diplomat Magnum, nice nib options, fun colors

5) m_mca_3- Instagram (22:47)

My pen dried out is it OK to suck some ink from the bottle into the converter or am I damaging my pen.

  • eh….I don’t really recommend this, but you can do it in a bind, if it’s not TOO dried out
  • the problem is that dried ink can cause a blockage in your feed, that may or may not resaturate in a refilling
  • it’s best to clean it out if it’s dried up, then ink again
  • If you have no choice, then give it a shot

Personal

6) jennybyhand- Instagram (26:17)

What was the very first fountain pen you ever owned? Which pen was your wife’s first? And did you both love pens the same or did one of you “penable” the other 🙂

  • the VERY first one I ever owned was my own, in a kit conversion from my own handmade pens (cool, right?)
  • the first “commercially made” fountain pen I ever owned was actually six of them
  • Lamy Joy, Kaweco Classic Sport, Pilot Petit1, Pelikan Script, Pelikano, and another I can’t remember
  • Rachel’s first was…
  • I definitely loved them first and penabled her, no question
  • She’s always loved the business, loved me, and loved using pens, but I’m probably more into the actual writing and using of pens than she is (though she’s still pretty into it)

Business

7) GLenn M- Facebook (32:44)

It seems like all hobbies have ebbs and flows. For instance, vinyl records are really having a resurgence right now. Where do you think fountain pen, ink and paper are at these days? Is this a high tide moment or are we in an upswing or downturn?

  • I don’t know that there’s one definitive answer for this, it’s kind of yes and no
  • online pen retail is definitely on the upswing, B&M, across the board, not on the upswing most likely (no hard data here)
  • in some countries it’s booming, others it’s retracting
  • Established brands are having a tougher time in the US, like Cross, Sheaffer, Waterman, Parker, because there just isn’t the innovation there anymore, and gifting is changing
  • newer brands like Noodler’s, TWSBI, lots of independent pen makers are cropping up
  • I think all in all, the rise of communication and education has helped grow the fountain pen industry, though it’s still a very mature market with uncertainty in its future….this is what motivates me!!!

8) Lindsey C- Facebook (39:12)

I’ve noticed most pen designers and makers seem to be men. Do you carry any pens designed by women? Would love to support them!

  • Great question! I’m pumped to see so many women into pens, using them regularly, sharing them on social media, for sure
  • 10 years ago fountain pens definitely had much more of a ‘boys club’ feel, less so today
  • on the manufacturing side, some of it I honestly just don’t know because I don’t really know who specifically is designing pens at the larger companies (Pilot, LAMY, Pelikan, etc), they tend to keep most of their designers pretty behind the scenes
  • There are a lot of women involved in many of the pen companies we retail, though I’m not sure how deeply they’re involved in the design aspect, as I’m not always privy to that
  • I would love to see more women designing and making pens, I think that’d be amazing, so I’ll at least participate in the conversation here
  • We do see a lot of women involved with our smaller pen makers
  • Andrea Gray from Edison Pens for sure, she’s designing and manufacturing pens full time right along side Brian Gray, but she doesn’t want the lime light so you see her less
  • BENU– we’re not 100% clear on exactly what their design process is there, but our contact there in Russia is through a very helpful lady who I’ll keep anonymous, but we worked directly with her when collaborating with our Titan
  • Karol Scher from Kanilea Pens, collaborates with Hugh (no affiliation)
  • Renée Meeks with Scriptorium, sells direct (no affiliation), makes great pens and is worth supporting
  • Gotta recognize Rachel! She has a fair amount of influence in pen design with our various manufacturers, she’s known around here as the one who knows color!

9) emiliovillegas24- Instagram (49:38)

Would you pass your business operations down to your kids (assuming they would like to) or hire a new manager when it’s time?

  • I’d love to pass it on to my kids, if that was what ended up being best for them and our team
  • I have basically no ego tied up in whether or not my kids join the business, honestly, I want what’s best for them
  • My goal was to start this business so my kids had the opportunity to learn work ethic and see passion and entrepreneurialism exemplified at home, not so they would have their future decided for them
  • Sure, it’d be cool to work together, but they’re going to have to earn it, and it’s too early to tell how that’ll play out
  • I’d be perfectly okay hiring a more qualified manager to run things and have them be less involved or not at all, I really want them to find their own path and this is just one option
  • though they are certainly being raised knowing where their food comes from, that pens and writing and this community puts bread on our table! So they will respect that, at a minimum

QOTW: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? (57:20)

Write On,
Brian Goulet