Vanness Pens have been on my radar for quite sometime now. I see them in all of the awesome pen show recaps and am reminded every once in awhile that they have an online store too. In the time of becoming aware of them, I was at a point where I slowed my pen purchases down to almost zero, so I never got around to ordering from them until now.
If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you will have missed the fact that I am slowly getting into other forms of writing besides fountain pens. Don’t worry, I still use my fountain pens everyday, but I still require a non- fountain pen every now and then, so why not use a good one? I am also discovering good wood cased pencils, but I will leave that to another post.
A good non-fountain pen is not what drew me into their web store, it was the search for a Nock Co Sinclair since I didn’t own any Nock products and felt that the Sinclair would be very helpful for me. Since they have gone retail, I had a few different options to pick up a case. Since shipping to Canada isn’t cheap, I decided to base my decision on what else I could add to the order to spread that cost out a bit. I took a quick look at Goulet Pens, but I spent so many hours in my early fountain pen days browsing their site that nothing really excited me. Jet Pens and Anderson Pens are the other two retailers set up to sell Nock products, but I will admit that I never really considered ordering from them. What really drew me to Vanness was not only the Nock cases, but also a brand of ink called KWZ.
Before diving into what I got, I just want to mention that this is not a sponsored post and that I purchased everything with my own money. I just like what I have seen from Vanness Pens so far, in their shop and in the community, so I talk about them quite a bit! Now what did I get?
Let’s start with the product that made me buy anything to begin with. I knew I wanted a Nock case the second I heard about them directly from Brad Dowdy on the Pen Addict Podcast. Again, the problem was a weak Canadian dollar and high shipping costs, so I would have to buy multiple things to make it worth it in my mind. I was on board with this, but never pulled the trigger for some reason. Once the Sinclair was announced, I knew it was something that would be useful to me with the slot for holding a pocket notebook, a few slots for pens, and a zippered top!
The next question was what colour to buy. This was easy since I have always been partial to brown. Brown ink, brown pens, brown leather, brown furniture, so when I seen the coffee and amethyst colour pattern, I was sold. The other two released to retail are pretty cool too (Raven & Aqua/Peacock & Coal) and I may have to pick up a Brasstown in one of those, but I couldn’t say no to the coffee.
Initial thoughts? I love it! I have two Field Notes in there (Lunacy & Black Ice) and 6 pens at the moment (Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Karas Kustom Ink, Karas Kustom Bolt, Pen Addict Retro 51, and my Pilot Vanishing Point). This is probably overkill since I usually don’t use all of them in the same day, but they fit so why not!
The only negative of the case is how the material is kind of a dog hair magnet. It’s not a huge issue, but my golden retriever is shedding right now and it is finding it’s way onto my Sinclair!
Now this was a last minute addition to the shopping cart. I knew I wanted a nicer non-fountain pen (besides my Retro 51s) for work, but didn’t know which pen that was going to be. As I looked online more, I decided that I wanted a Karas Kustom, but haven’t decided on the model or when I was actually going to buy it. As I was browsing Vanness Pens to see if there was anything else I could toss in my order. The Bolt stood out to me, so it was tossed in!
Picking out the colour for this one was a little more difficult. Olive green is probably my favourite colour that they make, but one of my Inks is in the finish so I wanted to mix it up a bit. I also have the “Iron Man” (red with brass section) Ink, but I wasn’t really considering red anyways. I had it narrowed down to stonewashed grey, brown, or stonewashed orange. I was taking too long to decide, so I said screw it, I’m getting the orange and I’m not changing my mind! Looking back, I kinda wish I would have got the brown, but I am still super happy with the orange.
Although I am really enjoying using this, I wish I would have read a review or two. I say this because apparently I wasn’t 100% aware of how the bolt mechanism worked. Up until me using it for the first time, I was under the assumption that when you pressed down on the nock, it would twist on it’s own, kind of like a regular retractable pen. It does not do that and you have to turn the top manually, so it is kind of hard to use with one hand. I’m not saying that this is a negative of this pen since that is probably how they had to make it to work and look they wanted and I didn’t do my due diligence before buying. I was considering offering this up for trade for an EDK or Retract, but after using it for awhile, I am beginning to like it more and more.
I already mentioned this above, but KWZ was the primary reason why I chose Vanness Pens over other Nock retailers. A newer Canadian company in Knight’s Writing Co also carries the brand, but I haven’t got around to making an order with them yet. I will likely do so in the spring/summer since it is getting a bit cold to order ink online.
Why am I drawn to KWZ inks though? It is because they have interesting colours that I have never see before, iron gall options in those unique colours, and they have pretty good reviews, so I just had to try one. I shied away from the iron gall options for this first purchase, but still got one that caught my eye a long time ago, KWZ Honey.
What I like about this ink is how it almost the exact colour I have been searching for. A yellowish ink, leaning towards gold/brown, but still readable for everyday use. This checks all of the boxes. The lighter side of J. Herbin Lie de The (it shades a lot) is the closest before I came across this, but it wasn’t quite perfect. Another yellow that I have is Rohrer & Klinger Helianthus, but that is a screaming bright yellow that is not meant for writing in my eyes.
This was a true last minute toss in just because I always thought they looked neat, it was cheap ($5), and I wanted to support a friend (Matt Armstrong from the Pen Habit). I most definitely didn’t need another place to record my inked pens since I already have 4 places I write this down. It’s a tad ridiculous, but I enjoy doing it and it allows me to try my pens instantly on different types of paper.
I’ve add this to the lineup for when I ink up a new pen and so far I am really liking it. The paper is a bit rougher than a coated paper such a Rhodia, but handles fountain pens nicely. I haven’t done a full swab in the “ink swab” section, so I don’t know how it will handle so much ink at once, but it works well for my needs.
Purchasing a Nock case was a long time coming for me. Brad mentioned when he launched into retail that he left international shops out for now because he wants to be able to offer them to countries such as Canada and the UK at a fair price where consumers won’t feel ripped off just because they live outside the US.