If you are looking to make an impression through a gift, there is no shortage of options in the shops and department stores that litter every town and city. However, no gift makes an impression more so than one of style, sophistication and reminiscent of the cultured society of the past. While there is a vast variety of unusual gifts for men and women, amongst the most commonly appreciated are writing artifacts, not just because of their design and worth, but because of what they communicate.
The fact is that such items reflect well on both the giver of the gift and the recipient. While modern, ball-point pens are impressive in their own right, with silver, gold and stainless steel finishes, and with some even wrapped in skins as exotic as snake, the pens of yesteryear suggest the kind of polished civility that is missing from the world of today.
Fountain pens, in particular, represent the worldly and the learned. They require a technique in their use that is both skillful and masterly, and are themselves designed to smoothly run across the page. Such a gift suggests that the giver’s impression of the recipient is that of a person of maturity, a learned and solid being of the world. And as far as the recipient is concerned, the person from whom he received such a striking gift has shown care and consideration in their choice, something only those with true taste can display.
Add to that the accessories that can complete a writing set, and the image grows. Such items are ink blotters, writing desks, ink wells and ink sets, quills for the antique effect and portable writing boxes. The list of writing artifacts that can be added to the pen is long, each one with a specific worth beyond the figure written on its tag.
In both cases, there is an array of options that any buyer can peruse before actually making a purchase. Any stationary store will have a wealth of pens for sale at a variety of prices, and while this may be sufficient for most people, a more discerning purchaser will seek out something extra special.
Often, it comes right down to the nib – literally – as pens can come in either ball-point, rollerball and fountain nib designs. Preferences are also decided on the barrel of the pen, which can vary in thickness and shape, or the pen’s weight in the hand, with some of the heavier models preferred for their seamless movement.
When it comes to fountain pens prices can run into thousands of pounds, with caps made of solid sterling silver and nibs that are as intricately engraved as they are engineered. Nibs can be made of 14k sold gold, steel or plated in chrome, and can be broad or fine in width. Barrels come in a variety of metals, carbon fibre and even wood.
Of course, writing boxes add a truly authentic feeling of old-world and the timeless sophistication that it imbues. These items contain everything needed to store pens, ink, paper and envelopes, all neatly organised in a box that is available in a variety of types of wood. These boxes are specifically designed to reflect the elegance of the Victorian age, with special contents including a range of pen nibs with reservoirs, and paper of the highest quality. Inks are available in a selection of colours, with wooden blotters often sporting brass knobs and finishes.
Designs can range in size quite dramatically, but the most impressive is probably the campaign lap desk, a portable box which, when its lid is lifted and unfurled, becomes a writing desk that sits comfortably on the lap of its user. Quality paper, ink wells and, of course, pens that suit such a classic design, are all packed inside to provide the refined writer with everything that he needs.
It may be true that to give such items is unusual, but unusual gifts for men – and of course for women – say a lot. Whereas the more traditional types of gift can be appreciated, the unusual, such as the sort of beautiful fountain pens and writing boxes discussed here, is treasured as a reminder of shared respect and gratitude.