Six of the best pens and pencils – from high tech to low

Tools to pick when putting pen and pencil to paper – or tablet

A Hordern Richmond pen-and-pencil pair in an ash presentation box, £340
A Hordern Richmond pen-and-pencil pair in an ash presentation box, £340 | Image: Emilie Sandy Photography, 2017

Sleek tools crafted from Spitfires

Hordern Richmond Aircraft Company’s Aerodrome Range features writing instruments (from £170) made from original Spitfire propellers. Each pen or pencil is engraved with the serial number of the blade from which it has been crafted and is available individually or as a pen-and-pencil pair (£340). No Spitfires were gratuitously harmed in the making of these collectables, however. Parent company Hercules Propellers creates wooden propellers for vintage and modern racing aircraft around the world and needed to ensure that they were made with contemporary materials of the same strength as the original. “We took some propeller blades that were damaged in the second world war and cut them into sections to analyse and were left with cut-up original blades,” says founder and MD Rupert Wasey. “It was from these we created the pens and pencils.” From £170; BEATRICE AIDIN

This Caran d’Ache Crayons de la Maison set comprises, from top: Crayon Western Hemlock, White Oak, White Ash and Silver Teak, £29.95 per set
This Caran d’Ache Crayons de la Maison set comprises, from top: Crayon Western Hemlock, White Oak, White Ash and Silver Teak, £29.95 per set

Scented Caran d’Ache pencils

The venerable, artist-loved brand Caran d’Ache is a regular fixture on my desktop, but it’s the objet appeal of one of its special limited edition Crayons de la Maison concepts that has really reeled me in: the No 6, a scented collaboration with Mizensir, the Geneva-based perfume house. These four 4HB pencils are not only aesthetically intriguing, they are imbued with Mizensir’s Tibetan-wood perfume, a deep, slightly spiced and powdery-sweet scent with essences of patchouli, incense and tonka bean. The greying Western Hemlock pencil, which looks like it has been naturally weathered, cosies up with veined bright ivory White Oak, the chillier, refined Silver Teak and a warm White Ash, with fine elongated grooves. Satisfyingly broad between the fingers, matte in texture and with a whispery-smooth scratch across the page, they make writer’s procrastination pure folly. £29.95 per set; MARIA FITZPATRICK

Montblanc Augmented Paper system, from £590
Montblanc Augmented Paper system, from £590 | Image: Hugh Threlfall
Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche Fountain Pen, £295
Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche Fountain Pen, £295

Augmented Paper from Montblanc

Who could have imagined that German fountain-pen maestro Montblanc would come up with a word processor to add to its impressive range of products? Well, it kind of has, with this über-deluxe, exquisitely giftable ballpoint pen/digital paper combo. The Augmented Paper system comprises a Starwalker ballpoint, a leather folder and a pad of special paper. It’s a concept both simple and complicated: whatever you write – a variety of languages and scripts are catered for – or draw on the paper is stored in the pen until you press a button to transfer it to a phone or tablet; the text can be turned into type – pretty accurately if you have neat writing – and the whole thing digitised. From £590; montblanc.comJONATHAN MARGOLIS

ReMarkable, £549
ReMarkable, £549 | Image: Hugh Threlfall
Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen, £64
Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen, £64 | Image: Andy Barter

A superlative Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pen

Much of a pen’s price tag is down to ornamentation and the material of the barrel, rather than the nib. Those who favour a quality nib – which will make the most difference to writing pleasure – should concentrate on a gold-plated model with an ebonite feed. Gold nibs are soft and flexible and will adapt to the user’s style of writing – hence the general recommendation that you not lend your fountain pen to anyone else. As for feeds, ebonite is a form of hardened rubber. The alternative is plastic, which cannot stay wet in the same way as the rubber and therefore does not feed ink as efficiently. Those who value writing pleasure might like to opt for the Guilloche Fountain Pen from Graf von Faber-Castell. All the Graf pens have ebonite feeds, but other more expensive brands often don’t. Guilloche Fountain Pen, £295; SIMON CROMPTON


A ReMarkable technological revelation

Is the ultimate goal of technology to seem as if it is not technology at all? This revolutionary (or possibly counter-revolutionary) product from Norway, which replicates to an uncanny degree a pad of paper and a pencil (or pen or brush), set me thinking about this. Two closely related, basic things would determine whether the ReMarkable was my dream notepad. Would it feel exactly the same as handwriting on real paper? And would the irritating lag you experience on stylus‑equipped tablets be eliminated? The answer to both questions is about 97 per cent yes. The 10.3in E Ink screen is gloriously matte and paper-like. The pen works near perfectly. You can also change it into a variety of writing instruments. Oh, and you can back up your documents on the cloud and download them on to a laptop or phone etc. £549; remarkable.comJONATHAN MARGOLIS

Kaweco’s sporting fountain pen

There are few joys so immediate as writing with a good fountain pen. Kaweco created the diminutive Classic Sport in 1935 and it has been crowned a design gem in the decades since. The nib is a delight to write with and the oversized octagonal cap swallows the pen’s body when closed so it fits neatly into a pocket; when added to the barrel, it creates a full-length pen. Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen, £64; SIMON CROMPTON

See also