How to Get Started in Calligraphy

The latest guest post from professional Calligrapher Angela Reed offers helpful tips on how to get started in Calligraphy. This is a question that often comes up from customers so we asked Angela to provide some specialist guidance on the subject.

Calligraphy is a fairly inexpensive hobby to get into. All you really need is a pen and a piece of paper to get you started!

The type of pen you need depends on the type of calligraphy you want to start learning. Most calligraphers start with the foundational, or Roman round hand, script. It’s certainly what I introduce people to first in my workshops. A broad edged pen is what you would need for that and many other traditional calligraphy scripts. You can then decide if you would prefer to use a cartridge pen, or dip pen and ink.


The Lamy Joy from The Pen Shop is a lovely, quality pen and comes in a range of nib widths. I would suggest the 1.5mm to get you started. You can also buy the gift set featuring all three nibs, which would be a sound investment.

The Coles Calligraphy range would be for you if you are comfortable with pen and ink. A variety of nibs can be fitted to a straight or oblique holder. Some will need a reservoir to hold ink, while others, such as pointed nibs, do not require one.

Pointed nibs are used for copperplate and modern calligraphy styles, where pressure, rather than pen angle, creates the thick and thin strokes.

Loose sheets of good quality cartridge paper are good for practising on, but you may want to use a notebook of some kind so you can keep track of your progress. Just make sure the paper is not too thin, as the ink will bleed.


A pencil, ruler and eraser are also essential parts of a calligrapher’s kit, for marking out guidelines. Lettering height is dictated by the style of calligraphy and width of the nib you are using.

There are many calligraphy books available and you may be able to find some in your local library. The best seller on Amazon at the time of writing this was The Calligrapher’s Bible: 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them, by David Harris. I have just invested in a copy of Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe after it was recommended to me by another calligrapher.

There are also countless tutorials and downloadable worksheets available online. Scribblers is a great starting point.

But I think the best thing you can do is find a workshop near you for personalised tuition and peer mentoring.

The Calligraphy Lettering and Arts Society has an interactive map of tutors and groups at


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 her next blog Angela will be looking at different Calligraphy styles – keep an eye on our blog for the latest update.

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.

Celebrities and Their Pens

Last week David Dimbleby visited our Regent Street store to purchase a Parker Sonnet Black Lacquer Gold Trim Fountain Pen which he used on BBC Question Time. This made us curious as to other famous people and which pens they used. After researching this we were delighted to discover we are not the only pen lovers, here we have listed a few fellow celebrity collectors.


1.    Robert Patterson famously bought pen collector Kirsten Stewart a $46,000 limited edition Tibaldi Bentley Crewe fountain pen for her birthday. From a limited edition of 40 the pen has a two-tone 18-carat yellow gold nib covered in rhodium and ruthenium.

2.    Stephen King used a Waterman Fountain Pen to write his novel Dreamcatcher and even mentioned this in the Author’s Note: “One final note.  This book was written with the world’s finest word processor, a Waterman cartridge fountain pen.  To write the first draft of such a long book by hand put me in touch with the language as I haven’t been in years.  I even wrote one night (during a power outage) by candlelight.  One rarely finds such opportunities in the twenty-first century, and they are to be savored.”-Stephen King


3.    Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his later Sherlock novels with a Parker Duofold Fountain Pen. The new BBC Sherlock series pays homage to this when Holmes comments by looking at a letter that it was written by a Parker pen.

4.    Anne Frank apparently wrote her now famous diary with a Montblanc Fountain Pen. When her pen was destroyed after she accidently threw it into the fireplace she was so devastated she wrote an ‘ode’ to her pen.

5.    The Queen has used a Parker 51 for personal use since 1959 and both HM The Queen and The Prince of Wales have given Royal Warrants to Parker.

6.    Walt Disney himself was often seen in pictures with Sheaffer pens. A well-used Sheaffer Balance Fountain Pen was found in Walt Disney’s desk in 1970 when his office was being inventoried.


7. Sylvester Stallone loves Montegrappa pens so much he is now the brands ambassador and collaborated with the company to produce the Chaos pen range which he used in Expendables II. Sylvester Stallone’s “Chaos” pen is fashioned from precious materials and produced in limited numbers.

8.    Author Neil Gaimen is an avid Fountain Pen collector telling the BBC: ‘My current favourite is a Visconti because it has a magnet in the lid which goes clunk when I put the top on – I am easily satisfied. I probably have between 40 and 60 fountain pens, which is a bit silly, but once people are aware that you like them, they like to give them as gifts.’

9.    Dragons’ Den regular Peter Jones is thought to favour a Yard-O-Led Viceroy, which is hand made from English Hallmarked Sterling Silver.


10.    Albert Einstein used both a Pelikan 100 N and a Waterman Taper-cap Fountain Pen which he used to develop the Theory of Relativity. The Waterman pen is on display at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden.

11. Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar’s adviser in the BBC series The Apprentice, is often seen chewing on the end of his Lamy pen as he takes notes on the misadventures of candidates. In an interview with the Daily Express he said: “I’m not one for ostentatious treaty-signing type pens but I do think in business making an effort with the little things sends out a signal that you are serious about what you are doing.”

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North East Pen Show

The Pen Shop was proud to be able to take part in the first ever North East Pen Show on Sunday 2nd of September in Newcastle upon Tyne. This event was held in the beautiful Copthorne Hotel on Newcastle’s historic Quayside and showcased over 10,000 vintage pens and writing instruments. The show also offered visitors the opportunity to get free expert valuation of their heirloom pieces as well as free advice on pen restoration and repair.

The North East Pen Show featured exhibitors based both locally and internationally with collectors traveling from as far as Scotland and London to attend. As a locally based business we were thrilled to take part in the show and meet so many people who are as passionate about pens as we are at The Pen Shop.

This was a new event held by UK Pen Shows who own and organise five out of the six pen shows that are currently staged in the UK. UK Pen Shows are owned and organised by two friends who share a love of fountain pens. Jeremy Collingridge and Ian Williamson are both members of the Writing Equipment Society having both served the organisation as council members for many years. UK Pen Shows is a labour of love and the aim for each show is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for both visitors and dealers. If you would like to learn more about the world of pens you can buy Art: Pens & Culture magazine Edition No 8 through our website which many collectors bought from us at the show.

The show was opened by local personality and Olympic torch bearer Claire Paczko. Claire has raised thousands of pounds on behalf of many various charities and she spends her free time helping Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Crisis and St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle.

We would like to thank everyone who organised and attended the North East Pen Show and we are looking forward to attending more of the UK Pen Show’s in the future.

Visit for more information on upcoming Pen Show’s.

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Back To School

Back To School

The school holidays are almost over and it is once again time to start thinking about stationery supplies for the next school year. If you are a returning student, or simply looking to find the perfect gift for someone starting school we have a range of exclusive offers now available.

We have a selection of pen sets on offer from Faber-Castell, Kingsley, Sheaffer and Cross with reductions of over 50%. To see the full range of back to school offers click Here.

The Kingsley pen range has been specially selected by the Pen Shop team, who have used over 150 years of experience in finding the perfect pen for our customers to source this exclusive range. As part of our back to school offers save 50% on our Kingsley Commodore Matt Black Fountain Pen & Ball Pen set. Presented in a red Kingsley gift box both pens feature shiny chrome trims and come with a free leather pouch. This exclusive set was originally priced at £80.00 but is now available for only £40.00.

Faber-Castell celebrated its 250th anniversary last year making it the oldest manufacturer of writing instruments in the world. The founder of the company was Kaspar Faber (1730 – 1784) from Nuremberg who originally worked for local traders before setting up his own pencil making company. From these humble beginnings Faber-Castell has become one of the most recognised writing manufacturing brands worldwide. In 1870 the name A.W. Faber was officially entered in the US Register of Companies, as the fifth name in the first ledger. Since the four companies ahead of it no longer exist, A.W. Faber is the oldest brand name in the USA. With our back to school offers you can save £50.00 on a Faber-Castell Ball Pen and Pencil set.

Sheaffer was founded in 1912 and this year celebrates its 100 year legacy as one of the leading companies in the pen industry. The Sheaffer Prelude collection is used the world over and is revered for its high level of comfort. Its wide profile and smooth finish make it a favourite for those desiring an easy and pleasurable writing experience. As part of our back to school offers we have two Sheaffer Prelude sets available for £55 reduced from £118 which both feature a twist action Ball Pen and Cartridge Fountain Pen.

Go back to school in style this autumn with The Pen Shop.

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