Christmas Calligraphy with Angela Reed

We have been collaborating with professional Calligrapher Angela Reed over the past few months to help customers learn more about the traditional handwriting art of Calligraphy. The latest guest post from Angela brings us a Christmas theme to help get us in the festive spirit.


Christmas is a great time to get your calligraphy pens out. Whether it’s writing a card, adding a name to a gift tag or addressing an envelope, there are plenty of opportunities to get fancy with your handwriting.

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You can also get pretty creative with your lettering and make your own Christmas stationery, turn your envelopes into works of art and make hand-written gifts for your loved ones.

Christmas is probably one of the few times of the year that people still make the effort to write – and calligraphy can add that extra special touch. It has always been one of my busiest times of the year as a calligrapher.

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This is my third Christmas in business and my calligraphy skills have been called upon for a range of projects over the festive season.

I have been asked to create bespoke gifts, such as hand-written poems, written messages in cards and personalise gift tags and baubles. I’ve even been involved in a Christmas proposal!

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I’ve made and swapped cards with fellow calligraphers and this year I have been involved in a ‘Secret Santa’ lettering project with a group of calligraphers on Instagram.

I had a lot of fun creating a card for the calligrapher I was matched with and adding a few gifts to the envelope, which I also took great delight in decorating. It’s that personal touch that people appreciate and brings such joy at this time of year.

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You can use calligraphy pens to design your own simple cards – like these snowman and Christmas tree ones – or add festive greetings to store-bought cards and tags. Or you could use broad-edged pens to give a bit of texture to your ordinary handwriting.

Calligraphy pens also make great gifts for the creative people in your life. Check out the range from The Pen Shop in my previous blog here.

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If you’d like to get to grips with calligraphy in time for your Christmas projects, I can help!

I’m holding a Christmas calligraphy workshop at Dappers Tea Rooms in North Shields on Wednesday, December 14, from 10.30am to 1.30pm. The cost is £20 per person, including materials and refreshments. A £5 non-refundable deposit will secure your place. E-mail info@creative-calligraphy.co.uk to book.


We have been collaborating very closely with Angela over the past few months, you may recall her Question and Answer session where we took the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy. In another guest post, Angela explored the different Calligraphy Pens and Sets we offer. In one blog Angela looked at How to get started in Calligraphy and the latest featured Popular Calligraphy Styles.

If you want to learn more about Angela and the services she can provide then head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

The Pen that destroyed an AK-47, from Cross

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This Cross special-edition rollerball pen supports Fonderie 47’s efforts to help stop gun violence in war-torn regions of Africa by removing assault rifles from circulation. The design is inspired by the AK47 itself. Each pen features black PVD plating with 23KT gold-plated appointments, a moniker disk of transformed steel from an AK47 destroyed in Africa, and the unique serial number of a gun destroyed to create it. Your purchase funds the destruction of one more AK47. Carry, use, and display it as a symbol of hope and change.

In the last 20 years, ongoing wars on the African continent have resulted in the loss of millions of lives. This conflict has largely been enabled due to widespread availability of assault rifles. Cross has partnered with Fonderie 47 to help make a difference by reducing the supply of assault rifles in these war-struck areas.

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Fonderie 47 envision an Africa free from the fear of assault rifles. Today, millions of assault rifles plague Africa. Responsible for countless deaths, they enable and exacerbate violence against women and children, cause mis-allocation of resources and prevent economic growth. Global and local leadership must be fostered and inspired to address the presence and use of these weapons.

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While traveling on business in Africa, social entrepreneur and Fonderie 47 creator Peter Thum saw firsthand the effects of this war and witnessed a world where it was normal for children to carry guns. This inspired him to take action. His purpose: to get significant numbers of guns out of circulation in Africa and to engage influences around the world to join him. Many said it could not be done.

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In 2009, Peter founded Fonderie 47, a company dedicated to transforming AK47s into beautiful and exclusive luxury objects. To date, Fonderie 47 has helped to destroy over 50,000 assault rifles in Africa.

The first step to creating beautiful objects to fund the cause was to procure the AK47 guns. The Fonderie 47 team spent a year and a half in the Kivu province of Africa negotiating to take legal possession of confiscated assault weapons. After encountering barrier after barrier, their perseverance finally paid off.

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The next step was to find a local blacksmith to melt the AK47s down into smaller pieces. Once these guns had been destroyed the team carried the pieces back to New York in their luggage.

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Back in Brooklyn, they built a forge and had a local blacksmith reconstitute them. From there, a micro-foundry rolled the steel into sheets that could be transformed into signature Fonderie 47 pieces.

The craftsmen at Cross used this blackened AK47 gunmetal to create the fine detail work in the cap inset of the Peerless Fonderie pens.

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Features

  • For every pen purchased, one gun is taken off the streets of Africa
  • Pen body featuring unique design cues taken from an AK 47
  • Each pen is engraved with a unique serial number from an AK 47
  • Gunmetal PVD with 23 Ct gold plated appointments
  • Width: 0.52 inches / 13.2 mm, Length: 6.16 inches / 156 mm, Weight: 1.5 oz / 43 grams
  • Comes with a single black refill
  • Luxury Gift Box with a Fonderie 47 themed sleeve and authenticity card
  • Lifetime Mechanical Guarantee

View the Fonderie range >

St Pancras International: Learn the art of Calligraphy

St Pancras International is inviting visitors to learn the century old skill of calligraphy this weekend under the guidance of our experts. Covering the basic principles of calligraphy through demonstrations, the art of beautiful penmanship will be explored over an exciting and hands-on an hour an half session.

Our handwriting experts, including calligrapher James Fazz Farrell, will also be on hand to offer practical advice on how to improve your handwriting and how to transfer impressive mark making, that can take a life time to master, into everyday use through simple and easy to follow techniques.

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Calligraphy by James Fazz Farrell

The one-off tutorial, on Saturday 3rd September, will mark the launch of the station’s Back to School activity programme where commuters will be encouraged to learn a new skill or even take up a new hobby. The session will take place at The Betjeman Arms on the Grand Terrance of the station from 11:00 to 12:30 (BST).

Book tickets, but be quick, places are limited and will cost £2.60 per person to attend.

Two pounds from each ticket sale for the Back to School activity programme will go to YHA, the charity that creates opportunities for young people across the country to grow through adventure and discovery. Through exploring the countryside and historic cities, the charity opens the door for young people to develop a greater knowledge and love for England and Wales.

Book Tickets >

Yard-O-Led Demonstration: Edinburgh

The Pen Shop, with leading pen manufacturer Yard-O-Led, will hold a demonstration of chasing (engraving) on silver pens on Friday, 19th August 2016 from 10.30am – 4.00pm at the Pen Shop Edinburgh branch at 21 Multrees Walk, Edinburgh.

The Pen Shop Limited is the only chain of writing instrument specialists in Europe and has a long association with the Yard-O-Led brand; both companies were originally founded in the 1880s.

Yard-O-Led branded pens are the only brand to be exclusively handmade in the UK, being based at the Imperial Yard factory in the jewellery quarter of Birmingham, where skilled crafts people work silver to hold ‘a yard of lead’ refills included in the original pencil design.

Image of Jessica Mobley, and Workshop Manager Alexander Roden

Image of Jessica Mobley, and Workshop Manager Alexander Roden

The most recent Yard-O-Led ball pen and pencil designs to be launched are the Elizabeth XC range, issued in a limited edition of 90 units each ball pen and pencil to mark the 90th Birthday of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. These are available to buy at selected branches of The Pen Shop at a retail price of £475.00 each.

Jessica Mobley who will take part in the demonstration, has worked at the Imperial Yard factory since May 2016. Before this, she studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 2009-13 to gain a BA (Hons) Jewellery and Silversmithing and she also worked in the Edinburgh Assay Office until July 2015.

For further store information see our website >

Angela Reed explores our Calligraphy Pens and Sets

We have been collaborating very closely with Angela over the past few months, you may recall her Question and Answer session where we took the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy. In this guest post, Angela explores the different Calligraphy Pens and Sets, regardless of your Calligraphy expertise.

Having been invited to write a series of blogs for The Pen Shop, I thought it would make sense to start by examining their range of calligraphy pens.

Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced calligrapher, The Pen Shop caters for all aptitudes, styles and budgets.

I was keen to try the Lamy Joy and Safari fountain pens, as they appear quite frequently on my Twitter feed, although I’ve never used them before.

Both are beautifully packaged, particularly the Joy gift set, and I was very pleased with the bright yellow barrel colour of the Safari.

The Pen Shop Calligraphy products

The Pen Shop Calligraphy products

It certainly brightened up the dull morning that I decided to get my practice pad out!
Made in Germany, Lamy is regarded as a pioneer in the manufacture of top-quality writing instruments, offering a functional, imaginative and modern design.

It prides itself on achieving high levels of comfort and the Joy is described by The Pen Shop as “the ideal writing instrument” whose ergonomic design sits comfortably in the hand.

Meanwhile, the Safari is one of the company’s best-sellers – and a personal favourite of a friend of mine!

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Lamy Safari Yellow

I have been using the Safari for anything and everything since receiving it.

I write quite quickly, having achieved a shorthand speed of 120wpm while training to be a journalist, but the pen kept up with me beautifully.

The ink flow is perfect – and I found it the same for the Joy.

The Joy set comes with three nibs – 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm – and can be used as a calligraphy pen or just to add an extra dimension to your handwriting.

Lamy Joy

Lamy Joy

I gave them a good workout at the calligraphy workshops I have been running in South Shields for the Cultural Spring and the larger nib is great for demonstrating with.

If Lamy is, perhaps, a touch too modern, or you prefer a traditional dip pen to write with, the Coles Calligraphy range stocked by The Pen Shop is for you.

Coles Calligraphy offers beautiful Italian handcrafted quills and calligraphy sets.
I was particularly taken with the wooden pen set with eight nibs – some of them rather unusually shaped – and two bottles of ink.

The nibs were easy to place in the holder, which was light and comfortable to use.

My summer project is to give modern calligraphy a try and the pointed nibs in this set will certainly give me some motivation!

If you want to learn more about Angela and the services she can provide then head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

#PenAmnesty 2016 National Stationery Week

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We love writing, so we know that a good pen is a pleasure to use. It feels comfortable, writes well and looks great.

We want to share our passion for pens with you. That’s why we’re offering a pen amnesty for one week only during National Stationery Week 2016.

Trade in any pen and we’ll help you to upgrade to something better with a 10% discount.

10% Discount at the Pen Shop

All you have to do is take your old, chewed up and battered pen into any of our stores to receive your discount.

If you’d like a discount to use online, simply tag us in a picture on Twitter or Facebook and we will send you a discount code. If you aren’t social then you can email us a picture at marketing@penshop.co.uk and we’ll get your discount code straight to you.

Our #PenAmnesty will run for the whole of National Stationery Week which is 25th April – 1st May.

To find out more about the history and our involvement in National Stationery Week to see our previous blog post.

National Stationery Week 2016

National Stationery Week was launched in 2013 and is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery. The aim is to get more people putting pen to paper and writing by hand more often. This year National Stationery Week is running from 25 April – 1 May and we want to involve as many people as possible.

The truth is, technology has merely distracted us from the joy and importance of writing, it hasn’t replaced it. There is still something special about stationery and receiving a handwritten letter or card. According to YouGov research commissioned by National Stationery Week, 92% of adults think that writing by hand is important and 97% think it is important for children to be taught to write.

For 2016 at The Pen Shop we will be running an exclusive #PenAmnesty both online and in all our stores. Details for this exciting new venture will be launched first thing on Monday morning!

Last year in 2015 we ran an art competition with a theme of “Talking is for now, writing is forever” and asked for pen and paper interpretations of it. The diversity of ideas was astounding and it was amazing to see the creativity and thought given to each entry.

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For a bit of fun we also ran a poetry competition on Twitter. We asked our Twitter followers to help us write a poem by coming up with a next line each day. Expectations were high, but undoubtedly exceeded; we never knew that the resulting poem would be so good! It was especially nice that so many of the entries were handwritten.

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For National Stationery Week 2014 we had an amazing response to our Doodle Competition. The competition was to unleash your inner doodler to show how George managed to capture the dragon. We were absolutely blown away by the amazing variety of doodles and ideas.

George Doodle

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To celebrate the launch National Stationery Week in 2013 we invited people of all ages to indulge their creative streak by writing a short story. You can still view our winning entries by clicking the links below.

Winners Age 8 – 12 Category >

Winners Age 13-18 Category >

Winners Age 18+ Category >

Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about our 2016 #PenAmnesty

Newsletter Sign Up >

Brand History: Montblanc

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Thinking about leading creators of luxury writing instruments, the brand Montblanc immediately comes to mind. At The Pen Shop, we are proud to promote our status as a Montblanc Authorised retailer and are stockists of a wide selection of Montblanc writing instruments and refills, notebooks and other accessories.

As a global leader in luxury accessories, Montblanc have been operating for nearly a century, having diversified into other areas of the luxury goods market over those years. The unique White Star logo on the tip of each piece and accessory, ensures the Montblanc name is strongly identifiable.

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The name Montblanc was registered in 1910, and was said to have been based on an analogy between the great writing instrument and the highest peak in the Alps, the Mont Blanc. The shape of the logo itself represents the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc.

Montblanc expanded quickly, and by the end of the 1920’s, the company was already operating in over 60 countries. Their attention to some striking advertising campaigns at that time, ensured they caught worldwide attention.

The consideration given to the detail in Montblanc products is evident in all of the products they produce. But especially in the early production of their iconic Meisterstück fountain pen in 1929, they inscribed ‘4810’ in the nib. Representing the height of the Mont Blanc mountain, this is a traditional detail that continues to this day. Meisterstück remain one of the most popular lines that we sell today at The Pen Shop, with the range covering fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens as well as mechanical pencils, all available in a range of colours, sizes and finishes.

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Following the success of the Meisterstück, Montblanc went on to develop other exciting new ranges with more more designs. From the ‘60 Line’ range in 1955, up to the current New Editions of today, Montblanc remain at the forefront of design and technology in the world of writing.

1986 was the year that Montblanc would create their famous phrase “Montblanc – The Art of Writing’, as well as being a time for the company to engage in many art and cultural collaborations, strengthening their support of the world of the arts. Developing a range of Limited Edition writing pieces, Montblanc continue to celebrate the great renowned artists and writers of previous generations.

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Montblanc expanded its empire into the Asian market in 1990, the beginning of their openings of Montblanc stand-alone Boutiques. The success continued with more boutiques opening in Paris and London, a number today which now stands at over 350 boutiques in over 70 countries.

The Boutiques stock a range of Montblanc pieces including the writing instruments the brand are most known for, as well as watches, leather goods, accessories, jewellery, eyewear and fragrance. In the various Pen Shop concessions and stand-alone stores around the UK, we stock some of the most popular Montblanc Collections and products; a perfect gift for loved ones or yourself, to be cherished for years and generations to come.

Contactless Card – Safety Wallets

There has been a lot of mention in the press lately about contactless card fraud. Contactless cards are now wildly popular, and used in one in seven sales. The contactless cards can be used for purchases under £30 and do not require automatic authorisation from banks. It is sadly too easy for thieves to steal card details using widely available Point of Sale (POS) devices. There has recently been a widely shared Facebook post of this happening on the London Underground. All the thieves have to do is key in a price less than £30 on the POS device and then touch the device on the pocket that contains the victims wallet/card and the payment goes through.

Until people check their bank statements they may not notice these small transactions at first however the thieves will continue to use the card at will until stopped. It is then up to the victim to report the theft and try and claim a refund. A member of our team at The Pen Shop head office sadly had their card details stolen this way and a significant amount of money was taken from their account. Fortunately they did eventually receive the money back but it involved a great deal of hassle and stress.

This has raised serious issues about card protection but a number of brands including our own Pen Shop brand Kingsley have already taken steps to try and combat this problem. Our Kingsley and Secrid RFID blocker wallets protect your money and cards from electromagnetic radiation, illegal RFID-scanning and other outside influences.

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The Cardprotector is the core of the Secrid product line. The aluminium Cardprotector protects your six most important cards, both against bending and breaking and against your RFID cards being scanned if you don’t want them to be (such as the transportation pass, ID card, the latest credit cards and business cards).

What does RFID Blocker technology do?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that can be embedded into a range of items including bank cards and passports to allow the wireless transmission of information (such as contactless pay points).

Information can be extracted from RFID equipped items without your knowledge with hand-held devices (known as skimmers).

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RFID blocker technology impairs the extraction of data from any RFID item enclosed within the product. Protection is provided by a special material enclosed within the leather and does not effect the normal use of RFID item.

With the growing popularity of contactless cards then crime against them will also continue to rise. To combat this we would advise people to invest in wallets with RFID blocker technology to make sure their cards are safe.

Mother’s Day Sunday 6th March

Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is early this year on Sunday 6th March. If you are struggling for inspiration then our hand-picked collection of beautiful and indulgent gifts will ensure that you find the right present. So let her know she’s loved this Mother’s Day with the perfect gift from The Pen Shop.

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Cross Botanica is a chic collection with floral designs, beautiful colours and metallic highlights. No lady should be without one. Eye-catching colours are used to artfully illustrate the floral design making them boldly original.

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This beautiful Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen and Ball Pen set is an elegant & sophisticated slim set for every day & every occasion. Using a variety of materials, colours, designs and styles, Waterman remains more than ever the epitome of individual French elegance.

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We have a large collection of Calligraphy pens which are perfect for elegant handwriting including writing sets from Coles Calligraphy. This set comprises of an oversized wooden pen, 5 differently sized nibs and a bottle of ink where the top is made of pewter.

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We have three lovely new designs from Filofax called Butterflies, Denim Dots and Geometric. These new organisers feature striking and stylish patterns as well as all the paper inserts and accessories you can expect from a traditional Filofax.

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Caroline Gardner is best known as one of the UK’s leading and most prolific stationery and gift designers. Her distinctive designs now stretch across various product categories, including paper, accessories and lifestyle, all linked by her design hand print of quirky use of colour and placement.

View more gift ideas for Mother’s Day HERE