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.

Popular Calligraphy Styles

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 talks us through the different Calligraphy styles.


There are many forms of calligraphy out there and it can be daunting for beginners. But don’t feel you have to master everything! I tend to dabble in more traditional styles, with Copperplate being my favourite.

Calligraphy Style: Foundational

Calligraphy Style: Foundational

The first script I introduce people to when they come along to my workshops is foundational hand, which is quite rounded and widely spaced. Developed at the beginning of the 20th century by Edward Johnston, it is based on the circle and vertical straight line. I usually pair its lower case alphabet with Roman capitals, a script based on the lettering from the stone inscriptions of Ancient Rome.

Calligraphy Style: Roman Capitals

Calligraphy Style: Roman Capitals

Uncial is also a good hand for beginners to get to grips with. Like the foundational, it has roundness to it and round shapes are easier to form. The script itself is traditionally a formal book hand used from the 4th to 8th centuries, but there are many variations.

Calligraphy Style: Uncial

Calligraphy Style: Uncial

Italic was developed during the Renaissance in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, hence its name, and was used for papal documents. It is flowing and rhythmical, with springing arches, a forward slope, compressed forms and relatively steep pen angle. Italic capitals are narrower than Roman capitals, based on an oval rather than a circle, and are often elegantly flourished.

Calligraphy Style: Italic

Calligraphy Style: Italic

Copperplate, or English round hand, was prevalent in the 19th century. It is written with a pointed nib, rather than a broad-edged one, with the thickness of the stroke determined by the pressure applied when writing. It is a sound basis for anyone wanting to go on to explore modern calligraphy, which is less rigid than more traditional styles.

Calligraphy Style: Copperplate

Calligraphy Style: Copperplate

The best thing to do is try a few styles and see which one suits you. Eventually, you’ll end up developing your own variation of a style, just like handwriting!


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 last blog Angela looked at How to get started in Calligraphy.

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.

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 >

New Store: St Pancras International

We are delighted to announce we are opening our 20th shop in St Pancras International railway station on Monday 9th May.

Set within one of the most famous Victorian buildings in London, the flagship shop is intended to provide a convenient way for shoppers and commuters to browse products and collect orders reserved online.

The shop, which is open from 7.30am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 7pm on Sundays, will stock a full range of luxury brands including Montblanc, Chopard, Caran d’Ache and Graf von Faber-Castell and premium brands Parker, Waterman, Cross, Lamy and our own brand, Kingsley.

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Situated alongside Fortnum & Mason and Jo Malone, customers can reserve products online and pick them up on their way home from work the same day. We also hope to appeal to tourists and holiday-makers using the Eurostar.

The shop opens almost a year to the day The Pen Shop underwent a management buyout after our three directors purchased the group and its retail outlets in May 2015 from the Allan family for an undisclosed amount.

The MBO, which transferred ownership from the Allan family shareholders to the newly-formed Fountain Group, moved the business to a new stage in the development of its successful omni-channel shop operation and wholesale business.

The Pen Shop managing director, Colin McClymont, says: “It has been an exciting year for The Pen Shop and the opening of the new St Pancras shop firmly marks the beginning of the next stage in The Pen Shop’s history.

“Our customers show us that they want different ways to shop that are most convenient for them and this has turned bustling transport terminals into real retail destinations. The Pen Shop St Pancras is our latest shop that will combine a convenient shopping location with our online reserve and collect service to meet our customers’ evolving needs and serve the station’s travellers.”

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The shop’s opening coincides with the launch of Marvel’s latest film Captain America: Civil War and Cross’ new range of Marvel Cross Century and Cross Tech pens. To celebrate, Marvel’s famous superheroes Captain America and Iron Man will be available for photographs all around St Pancras on Monday 9th May.

#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.

New In: Chopard Gifts & Accessories

Here at The Pen Shop we’re always keen to work with new brands, and those that are rich in history (a bit like ourselves) especially peak our interest! So it is with great pleasure that we are launching a great selection of accessories and gifts from luxury brand Chopard this week, both online and in selected stores.

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Chopard have built up a tremendous reputation since 1860 in the fields of watch and jewellery making and remain an independent family firm to this day. They have developed and maintained their family spirit over the many years the company has been in existence, training their personnel to ensure the highest quality in their products.

The Pen Shop will stock a selection of Chopard pens, in Ballpoint, Rollerball and Fountain Pen styles. As well as a selection of small leather goods such as wallets, passport and card holders, iPad cases, belts and briefcases. Chopard clocks are also being presented for both the home and travel, as well as cufflinks and key rings for the perfect Christmas gift. Treat your loved ones to something special!

Shop the full range of Chopard HERE.