The Hamilton Pen Founder, Nigel, on the Pens and Stationery which inspire him.
The Hamilton Pen Company is the brainchild of Nigel, a man known for his impeccable eye for incredible products - almost as much as his wicked sense of humour! The Hamilton Pen Company team are an eclectic bunch of admirers and enthusiasts of all things stationery, whose mission it has been to bring everything from the humble and everyday necessities, to the extravagant and otherworldly treats to lovers of writing equipment, notebooks and accessories across the globe!
We wanted to get the inside scoop on The Hamilton Pen Company so dragged Nigel away from his happy place (his office desk surrounded by a treasure trove of products and inspiration!) to pick his brains. Here is what he had to say...
Hi Nigel, Thank you for taking the time from your busy day to chat with me, I'll jump straight in - What was the catalyst for your interest in stationery?
Nigel - Well, it all goes back to one of my first jobs, I worked in an office and always enjoyed a trendy pen! The biggest thing was in 1990 when my mum got run over by a car on a zebra crossing and was badly injured... Thankfully she made a full recovery. I wrote all of her letters to solicitors, insurance companies etc. (before the days of email!) and when she got compensation through, she bought me a Parker Duofold fountain pen as a thank you. The model at the time was the fluted silver version which was rather fortuitous as it was only produced for a short period of time.
Sounds like that was a very special pen to you! What was the first fountain pen you bought for yourself?
Nigel - I can’t remember but I had a Sheaffer fountain pen at school and a Cross Classic Century ballpoint. Both of which were heavily bashed and dented through years of intense use!
For a modern take try:
I remember being absolutely thrilled in school when I was allowed to upgrade from pencil to pen and got hold of my first fountain pen! Here is a bit of a head scratcher for you, What would you say are your three favourite fountain pens?
The Pilot capless fountain pen is a brilliant design, so much so that very little has changed with the workings of this pen in over 50 years! With the simple cap end push-button to retract the nib and the airtight seal preventing drying, it's an excellent blend of technology and elegance.
Why not try one in Red?
Parker Duofold Bumblebee
This is one of the rarest Parker limited editions with only 87 pens available worldwide! The design was created for the London Pen Show in 2007 and the colour and design meant it quickly became known as the bumblebee rather than the ‘London Parker Duofold’ as it was originally branded.
Inspired by the 1930’s laminated design of the Parker Vacumatic, the same lamination was incorporated in the design with white outlined yellow rings alternating with transparent rings. I think it is absolutely stunning - but it comes with a pricetag!
Parker Duofold Maxima with a beautiful oblique nib.
The Parker Duofold Maxima is a vintage classic from the 50’s/60’s which is often overlooked due to its simplicity. In terms of design, the Maxima was generally only available in black, green, red and blue but the iconic styling of Parker's clips and detailing bring this pen to life. Its curved barrel and large size make it a joy to write with and the addition of a beautiful oblique nib make this pen something quite special in my opinion.
Definitely a lifelong Parker fan then! That probably answers my next question actually, what is your go-to pen for daily use?
Nigel - I can never find a specific pen so i always use whatever first comes to hand, if you saw my desk you would understand! I have multiple pen holders and stands on my desk which are filled with various pens, from ballpoints and fountain pens to Biros and gel pens, I have a few Blackwing Pencils and Stabilo graphite pencils with very little life left in them alongside various shades of the Platignum Tixx ballpoint and more than a few pens which are spent but I daren't throw out! There's definitely a Parker or two on my desk as well as some models from Cross and Lamy in a drawer.
That's quite a lot to choose from! I bet it's difficult to resist all the different writing instruments you stock- i’d have gone broke by now! If you had to write a letter for a loved one, what materials would you choose?
Nigel - Hmmm, well i would have to say that my go-to paper for letter writing would probably have to be Three Candlesticks. The paper from Three candlesticks is luxurious and thick with a smoothness which really enjoys the flow of ink. The pale cream colour of the paper is classic and I like that the writing paper from three candlesticks comes with blotting paper and matching tissue lined envelopes, it's just effortlessly sophisticated without being fussy if that makes sense. In terms of which pen I would use, that's an easy answer, for anything a little bit special I like to get out the Duofold from my Mother which is just so wonderful to write with - not just because of the sentimental value attached to it but because it is a brilliant fountain pen. Ink is a little trickier because there are so many brilliant ones at the moment that I am enjoying but I would say you can't go wrong with Pilot Iroshizuku ink, they are just excellent inks and look great on your desk too! I really like the medium brown, slightly purple undertones of Ina-Ho. The way the warmth of the brown ink compliments the creamy tone of writing paper feels special, there's a great many shades of the Pilot Iroshizuku bottled ink that i'm a fan of but im often drawn to writing in brown ink.
Another brilliant brown Ink to try is Yama-Guri, or Wild Chestnut!
Nice! OK, so there are a lot of innovations in stationery, which historical and modern innovation blows your mind?
Nigel - In terms of historical innovation it has to be the Fountain pen. The developments and variations over time and the dedication of the great inventors to create the perfect fountain pen is almost beyond comprehension. From the simplicity of dip pens through to the more creative filling types and endless designs and materials used, the fountain pen was an absolute game changer.
When it comes to modern innovation, my selection is probably a bit surprising. The Høvel pencil plane! It is a modern reimagining of traditional pencil sharpening methods but its simplicity and effectiveness is just brilliant, plus it is super stylish and looks great on your desk or in a leather pouch for safe transportation. There's something really satisfying about using the Høvel pencil plane.
Makes me think of carpentry! There are so many wonderful products available from the Hamilton Pen Company, which product surprised you with its popularity?
The first thing which comes to mind is the speed in which the Ferris Wheel products became popular, we were having queries about the bottled inks and brush pens before we even had them in stock! I suppose the popularity of Ferris Wheel Press was not massively surprising given the aesthetics of their products and the response they had during their crowdfunding campaign, so I'd say the most surprisingly popular product would be the Tombow Mono Zero Eraser Pen. The brightly coloured eraser with its push button-cum-pocket clip and solid erasing has absolutely flown off the shelves.
Inks are becoming increasingly popular again, bottle ink is to cartridges what vinyl records are becoming to cds! What are your favourite bottled inks and why?
Nigel - Well I am very much looking forward to the arrival of the Anderillium Inks to check those out. The concept behind environmentally conscious ink production, ocean conservation and the brilliant marketing art has me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. In terms of my favourite bottled inks, I have to say Pilot Iroshizuku because of the beautiful flow of ink on paper, the depth of the colours and the fabulous bottles which look great sat on your desk, I have been using these inks for quite some time and have never been disappointed, plus it's always fun to discover new ways of pronouncing their names!
Another toughy for you Nigel, Is there a pen that you wish you owned?
There are certainly a great number of antique and rare pens which i would love to add to the collection and certainly some limited editions that are very attractive but i would have to say i would love to own a Parker Red Giant to go with the Black Giant I already own. Very few Red Giants remain due to the brittleness the hard rubber gained over time and with the first Red Giants being released over a hundred years ago, finding one in good condition would be a dream!
Final question before I let you go, what accessory do you use on a daily basis that you couldn't do without?
Bit of a loophole but I would say my desk! Everything is on it somewhere! Like I said before, I have numerous desk tidies and pen holders which keep things in some sort of order but to the untrained eye my desk could be described as organised chaos! Some of my more delicate writing instruments are stored away in temperature controlled cases but for the most part, everything has its home on my desk.
So, we leave Nigel surrounded by comically over-sized marketing prop pens and intriguing objects of interest he has collected over time and ponder for ourselves, what is it that we love about stationery? Why is it that a fountain pen can bring so much joy and ...how DO you pronounce Iroshizuku Tsuyu-Kusa?