The Journal of Writing Culture
AP Limited Editions:
Luxury Brands gets it:
and Benu Pens
inspiration from Kanilea:
results of the 25th annual
PW Readers’ Choice Awards
0 74851 08282 9
True Writer ® 20th Anniversary
The Extraordinary, Everyday Pen
20th Anniversary Pen
The trusted source for fine
writing instruments, with
paper worthy of fine pens
Levenger.com | 800.544.0880
Volume 32, Number 5
ON OUR COVER: AP Limited Editions
Legendary Double Dragon fountain pen.
Whether maki-e or Russian lacquer,
bespoke or limited edition, all AP
Limited Editions writing instruments
are infused with passion.
and the “Penny” goes to…
The 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards were
more competitive than ever. Meet the
the Platinum experience
John Mottishaw reminisces on his
experiences at the Platinum Pen Co.
100th anniversary celebrations.
Luxury Brands’ Growing Family
Learn about the U.S. distributor’s
newest acquisitions: South Korea’s
Colorverse Inks and Russia’s Benu Pens.
yes we Kanilea!
The U.S. pen company finds inspiration
in the Hawaiian Islands and wants to
share it with you.
Pilot’s long/short pens
Richard Binder’s history of Japanese
pocket pens continues.
in full Plume
Point Plume of Paris is more than a
shop: it’s also an accessories brand and
a multi-generational passion project.
rainbow, rainbow, rainbow
mark your calendars
new pens and accessories
St. Louis and Colorado
cursive, Intellectus, Ex Libris, roosters
collectible pens of the ’80s and ’90s
Kaweco long pens
brand contact information
…make an ink swab
Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow*
BY NICKY PESSAROFF
Driving on I-10 with my family, we raced along the outer edge of a heavy monsoon. To the west, a scorching bright sun;
to our right, charcoal gray clouds pendulous with rain. As the highway curved around mountainous terrain, we drove in
and out of downpours.
We entered an open valley, verdant greenery and umber soil all around us. To our right, truly suddenly, was a rainbow, and
then another one—two full prismatic arches. They say you can’t get to the end of the rainbow, which is true. You’ll never actually
get that stupid leprechaun’s Lucky Charms®. But I could see where the rainbows ended, just to our east, bleeding into the
grassy field. They stayed with us, those rainbows, until we headed into the next mountainous pass and another deluge.
Creating ink is an attempt at bottling the purity of color.
Perhaps that’s why the names of ink colors are so fanciful. Perhaps you would have called the gray of the clouds I saw “charcoal”
or “smoke.” I call that color “ominous gray dappled with sun-speckled yellow that portends a rainbow,” which works well
enough for my artistic purposes, I suppose. What you call the color isn’t as important as what the color inspires.
If this issue has a thesis, it is that inspiration comes in Technicolor.
AP Limited Editions, Colorverse Inks, Benu Pens, Kanilea Pen Co., Graf von Faber-Castell, Point Plume—nearly every brand
shown in this issue has remarked on the inspiration they find in the colors of the natural world.
In addition, each one of these brands admits just how difficult a task it is to capture a landscape, a scene, a color. The look
of effortless creativity requires years of practice and exceptional discipline. You’re going to get drenched in the rain before you
capture that rainbow.
So as you look through the vibrant accessories on the following pages, consider the amount of effort it took to create those
objects. As you note that Pelikan has won “Pen of the Year” honors in the PW Readers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a
row, consider all the R&D that went into such a feat. As you note that Kanilea just won back-to-back “Best Artisan Pen” awards,
consider that Hugh and Karol Scher work on Kanilea on evenings and weekends, after their day jobs. As you note that, once
again, Retro 51 took top honors in “Best Non-Fountain Pen” and Sailor won in “Best Writing Experience,” consider the decades of
work it took for those companies to get to this pinnacle.
And as you look at the pens of other winners like Laban, Armando Simoni Club, Pilot, Ryan Krusac Studios, Franklin-
Christoph, Graf von Faber-Castell, and Point Plume, remember and appreciate the work that goes into creating such masterpieces.
It’s easy enough to be inspired; it’s a lot harder to do something about it.
*Title inspird by Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, “The Fish.” Send your letters to email@example.com.
BY BARRY GABAY
Writing instruments from AP Limited Editions are a blend of influences and
techniques, reflecting our multicultural world.
Top two rows—examples of AP Limited Editions urushi and maki-e writing instruments. Bottom two rows—the company’s work in Russian lacquer art.
We must reserve the use of adjectives for
them to have any meaning or substance.
We hear “amazing” countless times—so
often, in fact, that it has entirely lost its original
meaning of “being overwhelmed by sudden surprise.”
Today, the word merely signifies “very good.”
I hesitate to make the claim that follows, but from
a long lifetime of usage, I have encountered a fair
number of fountain pens. So here goes: the pens offered
for the eyes of all and the hands of a fortunate few by
AP Limited Editions are among the most beautiful and
functional pens in the world. Period.
Approaching an AP Limited Editions pen is entirely
different from grabbing a favorite daily writer; but these
gallery-quality art pens are meant to be used. Anuj and
Smita Poddar, founders and owners of AP, are serious
pen users and collectors and want to share both those
aspects of writing culture. Why should a luxury model
intended for writing sit unused on a shelf?
The fountain pens and rollerballs produced by AP
Limited Editions are among the greatest in their
category, a realm that merges fine art and utility.
These pens are exquisite but are also meant for writing.
The fountain pens are eyedropper or cartridge/converter
fillers (with new bulk fillers recently released) fitted
with 18 karat gold nibs in a wide range of grades from
Bock, the famed German nib maker.
Left—The Benevolent Chenrezig is a bespoke piece that honors the Avalokitesvara Buddha, the patron Buddha of Tibet.
Top—AP Limited Editions CEO Anuj Poddar.
Right—our cover pen, The Legendary Double Dragon, is a new Connoisseur-series writing instrument with a greenish-gold backdrop
representing the majesty of the cosmos, crafted in the specialized bokashi nuri technique of mixing different urushi pigments with gold.
An elderly golden dragon on the cap and a young blue dragon on the barrel gaze at each other, both composed in taka maki-e. Smita
Poddar says, “This creation speaks to the cycle of life” and echoes circular cultural legends in which the end leads back to the beginning.
AP pens are created not only as objects of beauty but as fully-functional
writing instruments. There are not only images designed for all tastes but
also pen shapes suitable for each hand. Some recent design shapes include a
tapered bulb, a traditional balance with tapered ends, or straight and flush.
Presently, the most popular body style is cylindrical with pedestals or
finials. Separating the barrel from the cap seems to form the twin handles
of a scroll, revealing truths each time the pen is opened and put to use.
Floral, faunal, and geometric designs characterize some models, including
hand-carved shell inlays and gold-dust sprinkles. Others contain extremely
intricate paintings from the history and culture of many nations. As one
interprets art and then fashions a personal view, the AP pen becomes a
canvas—a source for inspiration and understanding for the viewer.
AP’s professional philosophy is different from most pen manufacturers,
even from those also producing art pens. Anuj Poddar began his passion for
writing instruments at age eight, using fountain pens at home and school.
Anuj retains his desire to find the “near perfect” pen. He qualifies “near perfect”
by saying he continuously aspires to do better.
“We believe in listening to our customers’ ideas and desires. This helps
us approach perfection in the eyes of our customers and for ourselves as well,”
Now in its second decade, AP presents two art forms from vastly different
cultures—Japanese maki-e and Russian lacquer art—and several specific
techniques within each category, an example of AP’s willingness to experiment,
to merge different designs and art forms in the constant search for elusive
perfection. Some of AP’s pens incorporate unique techniques of urushi and
maki-e that are closely guarded by artists whose expertise and skills have
been handed down from one generation to another.
Over the years, Anuj and Smita have received letters from writers who
appreciate AP pens but are unable to afford them. Anuj comments, “Given our
inherent desire to create an awareness for the importance of handwriting, our
effort in recent years is to bring forth collections of affordable yet beautiful
writing instruments carefully crafted using heritage art forms. At AP, we
believe that emotion can be more fully expressed through a handwritten note.”
An important feature of AP’s service allows customers to realize a personal
vision through the company’s customized bespoke service.
There are custom pen makers who have a conversation at a pen show or
online, discussing features the customer would like on an individualized,
bespoke pen. With AP, the process is different and considerably more personal.
Extensive conversations occur, including discussions of budgetary concerns;
designs and sketches are exchanged; images are refined, and a final decision is
made. Not only the principals and customer are involved; the artists who
will create the actual art on the pen are a part of the exchange. This highly
customized service is one appreciated by all who have participated.
Left—the bespoke Immortal Dragon is a Writer-bodied fountain pen with a bamboo-style
clip in bright red lacquer. The traditional golden Chinese fire dragon on the barrel is
composed in taka maki-e and features flames on the cap, abalone inlay on the cap and
barrel crowns, and gold flaking at the barrel and cap ends.
Right—the Writer series Majestic Mount Fuji and Dragon, limited to nine editions, features
a maki-e golden dragon on the barrel looking up at Mount Fuji on the cap.
Upon receiving the ideas, the design team, headed by Smita,
prepares initial drawings and information on suggested techniques,
as well as recommending a certain form of art or craft to be
applied on the pen.
Smita explains, “It is after a series of discussions that a final
concept is approved, and we then start working on the pen with a
50-percent deposit from the collector. The bespoke pen may take
anywhere from two to four months, sometimes much longer,
depending of the complexity of the artwork and design.”
The bespoke pen is a unique, one-of-a-kind pen that is not
repeated. Anuj reveals his personal delight: “We take immense
pleasure in the entire process and the sheer glee and wonder we
see in the eyes of the collector when receiving a bespoke pen. This
is truly gratifying and satisfying for us. The more involved a client
gets and the more open they are with what they want, the more
beautiful the resultant pen becomes.”
Smita clearly conveys her devotion to her pens and those who
own them: “Our products honor and celebrate the traditional
stories, figures, places, and customs of a multicultural world
through different periods of history. Our products also explore
real and imagined personal stories and experiences. We hope our
fine writing instruments build bridges among cultures and uplift,
question, reflect, educate, and spread a greater concept of respect
and understanding. We also seek to strengthen the spiritual
connection with nature, its fascinating flora and fauna, and the
spatial forms that comprise our cosmos.”
Below—AP Limited Editions logo and the brand’s
standard 18 karat gold nib with engraved logo.
Right—Writer series Mount Fuji and Crane maki-e
fountain pen, limited to nine editions; Great
Generals of the Desert, limited to nine writing
instruments, is a seamless composition of varied
Above—Writer series Giant Pacific Octopus and Goldfish writing
instruments (limited to nine editions each) both use taka, togidashi,
and raden maki-e techniques to capture visions of the deep.
Left to right—examples of abstract maki-e compositions: Writer series
No. 7 shows an abstract display of the number “7” in various
languages; The Pearl is a Writer series pen with a meticulous display of
abalone and mother of pearl; The Skull, part of the Writer series, uses
traditional maki-e for a modernist abstraction of human skulls. All
limited to nine editions.
The emphasis in the coming months is to create a seamless online
experience for customers who will be able to purchase pens online as
well as place bespoke orders. There are several types of urushi lacquer
art (produced from sap of the urushi tree) that AP Limited Editions
makes available through its Urushi and Sakura Lacquer Art collections.
The Sakura pen series is dedicated to first-time AP collectors—rollerballs
or fountain pens with 18 karat gold nibs that are meant for everyday
use and simpler design schemes that allow for lower price points. The
Urushi lacquer art series is similarly priced and features urushi lacquer
bodies with different textures and finishes.
A visit to the AP website is an education not just in this company’s
products but also in urushi, maki-e, and Russian miniature art techniques.
Because AP pens are each unique and contain such beautiful art, some
customers want to see and handle the pens prior to purchase, so Anuj
and Smita attend major U.S. pen shows. Because of the new emphasis
on online purchases, the company incorporates special considerations
regarding customer satisfaction and the free flow and exchange of ideas.
The convenience of online shopping and online conversation allows a
new generation of AP customers and collectors to see and order pens
from the website. Feedback has been positive regarding this renewed
The opportunity to acquire fine writing instruments online
through the AP website has already logged legions of devoted writers
and collectors. The Writer fountain and rollerball pens belonging to the
Urushi lacquer art and Sakura lacquer art series are available online at
affordable prices (starting around $650). The Writer series includes
fountain pens and rollerballs with or without a clip; these pens come
with either a converter or piston filler designed and produced by Conid.
This new partnership with Conid Pens of Belgium is a
major area of excitement for AP. In recent years, the buzz
among fountain pen cognoscenti is that Conid makes the
most high-tech, patented filling mechanism now on the
market. As the manufacturers of their own pens (the famed
Conid Bulk Filler), Conid is pleased to partner with AP in
creating a unique filling system that will complement the
The new filling system for AP Connoisseur and Writer
series fountain pens will house more ink than any converter
and is based upon the bulk filling system invented by
Conid’s industrial engineers for Conid-brand pens. This
partnership’s creation of a brand-new filling system will
allow for the maximum amount of ink to be housed in an
AP fountain pen, insuring a constant flow of ink to enhance
the writing experience. In this partnership, traditional
artistry merges with exceptional technical expertise.
So what does the future hold for this remarkable
company? AP is developing more geometric and abstract
designs for the Middle East, where non-representational
art is preferred. The stunning images of Russian miniature
art and maki-e will continue on many models. The company
recently added Itoya in Tokyo, Japan’s largest fine pen
retailer, to its portfolio of dealers. Other fine pen shops
carrying AP models are found in Singapore, Hong Kong,
Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In the
United States, Airline International
(airlineintl.com), Dromgoole’s Fine Writing Instruments
and Stationery (dromgooles.com), and Fountain Pen
Hospital (fountainpenhospital.com) represent AP. There
are plans for more dealers in new markets.
AP Limited Editions marries traditional art techniques
from several cultures and explores their application,
experimenting with new themes and creating a unique
form of varied images and blended techniques. Some
remarkable pens, for example, incorporate both maki-e
and Russian lacquer art.
These visual expressions are hand crafted onto writing
instruments by skilled artists devoted to keeping heritage art
forms alive. The pens celebrate multi-culturalism and
reflect a philosophy of unity through both harmony and
contrast. In essence, the writing instruments of AP Limited
Editions celebrate life, capturing moments of timelessness in
a transient world.
Barry Gabay is a PW contributing editor.
Left to right—Liberty Enlightening the World
combines maki-e on the cap and Russian
lacquer art on the barrel; Serendipity
captures a lion and his reflection mid-roar
in the Palekh school of Russian lacquer art;
The Mystic Owls shows a “parliament” of
owls on the cap and barrel in Palekh-style
Russian miniature art; Shakyamuni Buddha
uses Russian lacquer art to display the
Buddha and his aura. All limited to nine
Maki-e Lacquer Art
A Limited Edition of Nine Pens
Life on Mars
Allan Hills 84001
Map of Mars
Proudly Distributed by
Luxury Brands of America
Bringing color to your
fountain pens since 2004
the latest of
Noodler’s 140 inks,
is the D.C. Pen show
ink for Noodler’s.
Tokyo Gift is a water
ink that is hand
bottled in the
Proudly distributed by Luxury Brands of America
MORE THAN A PEN STORE
The South West premier fine writing and mens store.
Pens • Cutlery • Wet Shaving • Airguns
16211 N Scottsdale Rd #A3
Scottsdale, AZ 85245
intage Fountain Pens&To
ols For Restoring Them
Shop at our websit
e and email your
Presenting Eschenbach, Acculu x, and other well made Illuminated L
Detroit Pen Show
32:2 The artists’ co Dengo’s cla ses
Rediscovering ing Ca siodorus and his Vivarium A series of le ter-based paintings by Susan Richardson
Subscribe to the preeminent magazine for calligraphers & lettering
artists to enjoy the engaging articles and revel in outstanding
every corner of the world. | www.letterartsreview.
Found / Recovered . Radha Pandey and Cheryl Jacobsen
Pa andey & Jacobsen
Friday Oct 18th—Sunday Oct 20th
$7.00 daily admission • $25 weekend pass
Special Room Rate:
$107/night guaranteed until 10/1 or booked
Four Points by Sheraton
27000 S. Karevich Dr., Novi, MI 48377
0 74851 08282 9
Save 10% with
Proudly handcrafted in Texas
• Specialists in Montblanc Sales, Parts, Repair, & Consignment
• We'll buy your old collection, contact us for an immediate estimate.
• Very Fast Nib adjustments, Pen Repair, Engraving Removal-
1 week turn around
• Located in North Chicagoland, visit by appointment
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.nwfinejewelers.com
email@example.com • www.hinzepens.com
“KNOWING WHAT’S WRITE SINCE 1922”
Fred P. Krinke
Tuesday–Friday, 9:30-4 • Most Saturdays, 10-3 • Call to Verify
2640 S. Myrtle Ave, Unit 12
Monrovia, CA 91016
Phone: (626) 294-9974
The Journal of Writing Culture
past meets present:
the future of
pens of substance(s):
mixing it up:
Digital Subscriptions Available at Magzter.com**
**Current PEN WORLD subscribers
qualify for a free digital subscription.
PEN WORLD in Digital Format: A convenient,
affordable and eco-friendly alternative to
print—especially for people on the move
or residing outside the U.S.
...make an ink swab.
Anderson Pens has a reputation for extensive ink sales and for its collection of organized, standardized ink swabs
(sometimes called “ink swatches”) for every color in the shop’s inventory. Here, Lisa Anderson explains how she and
her team create the perfect ink swab collection.
1. Get your swab cards ready! For the ink books you've seen at pen shows and in our stores, we use specialty cardstock. For social media and
promotional use, we also use Skylab Letterpress Col-o-Ring and Col-o-Dex cards. For a professional-looking ink catalog, we like to create several
copies of each swab and choose the one that turns out best.
2. Gather any additional supplies, including a dip pen or glass-nibbed pen for the writing sample, Q-tips for the ink swab itself, scrap paper to keep
your desk or table clean, a glass of water, and a towel.
3. Dip the Q-tip into the bottle or sample of ink. Be sure to fully saturate the cotton tip!
4. Swab the ink onto the cardstock or Col-o-Ring. Go slowly to make sure that the ink flow is consistent. If you swab too quickly, the color will be
patchy and lighter than it will be in real life usage.
5. Use the dip pen for a writing sample, such as our preferred zig-zags and loops. For our ink books and online ink tool, we prefer to print out the
brand and color name for ease of reading.
6. For your own ink swabs, writing the ink’s information out by hand will give you both a writing sample and a label for your swab. Some people also
prefer to write the same phrase on every swab for comparison. For consistency, use the same nib and stock paper for all your swatches. Be creative,
and make it your own!
Sailor Jentle Kin-Mokusei ink shown on this page. Visit andersonpens.com to shop its line of inks and to try its online “Ink Comparison Tool” of virtual