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Help Finding Supplies For School Calligraphy / Handwriting Club.

education spencerian dip pens

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9 replies to this topic

#1 jnet0124


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Posted 16 December 2015 - 14:25

Hi all! This is my first post, but I've been lurking and learning from you wonderful people for some time now. I am a public high school English / Language Arts teacher trying to start a calligraphy / handwriting club for my students. Many have shown great interest which is both amazing and scary when you consider that most of them have never learned a proper handwriting system / style in the first place. My school is big on technology and all students are issued their own laptop which, of course, drives me crazy because the worst thing you can do to kill kids' creativity when they are writing is to put them in front of a keyboard. The number of students that are pushing back against doing everything electronically and want to learn to write by hand, especially ornamental and calligraphic styles is overwhelming! 


So... Can any of you recommend a website or source to get large quantities of inexpensive, but reliable, fountain and dip pens and supplies? I'm looking for:

  1. About 40 fountain pens, preferably converter filled as to save on ink costs and so I don't lose my mind refilling cartridges with a syringe.
  2. About 40 nib holders for dipping.
  3. A whole mess of flex nibs for ornamental / Spencerian style writing (the more the better as kids tend to be hard on everything).
  4. Mass quantities of black ink
  5. A decent paper that can be bought in bulk without breaking the bank. I can print guide sheets and templates here at school on our copiers, but the paper we normally use is like writing on newsprint.

I am paying for this out of my own pocket as I feel that the art of writing by hand is dying more and more everyday. These kids are expected to do everything on the computer, which you would think they'd love, but they actually prefer to write by hand!


Any help / input / information will be very much appreciated.



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#2 Tasmith


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Posted 16 December 2015 - 15:11

A great placed to start:  http://www.johnnealbooks.com/

#3 Stanley Howler

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 16:44

Hi jnet0124,

You are, I assume, UK based? While I don't buy in bulk from them I have found www.dippennibs.co.uk to be very useful for all things dip-pen. They have pen holders for around £1.80 each and sell a variety of nibs boxed by the gross or singly and also the slip-on reservoirs.


For ink in bulk the choices are a bit more limited in my experience so far. The largest volume of ink I have found readily available is Pelikan 4001 in 1 litre bottles, it is not so cheap but will last a good while. I buy from Cult Pens (http://www.cultpens....pen-ink-1-litre) but I'm sure it is available through other outlets in the UK. I use it with a little gum arabic to thicken it to a consistency more appropriate for dipping.


A decent paper at a good price? Well I use Clairefontaine Triomphe A4 as an everyday paper but I don't know whether it is available loose leaf & by the ream. I understand a lot of US based people here rate HP Laser Paper 32lb or 34lb although I've not tried it myself so can't comment.


For good value fountain pens...well there are many and I'm sure there will be plenty of recommendations on this thread over the next day or two. My personal choice would be Jinhao X750s at about £2 each (including shipping from China) from various retailers on ebay uk. These do take a good few weeks to arrive though (about 4-6 in my experience) and I've not tried ordering more than 5 or 6 at a time but they are excellent value, converter fillers (included) and take a standard No.6 nib which can be swapped out for 3rd party variants such as a No. 6 1.1mm italic nib.


Hope this helps a little. No affiliation with the suggested companies, just been a satisfied customer.




#4 Ergative


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Posted 16 December 2015 - 19:43

For the dip pen ink, you could also get walnut ink crystals, which make huge amounts of ink for not much money. John Neal (linked above) sells the walnut crystals.

#5 Laura N

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 19:59

Seitz-Kreuznach Panthers Black is about $10 for 100 ml and very good fountain pen ink.  If you are in the US, you can order from Seitz-Global or eBay.


A lot of 24 lb. printer paper works well with fountain pen ink, and reams are available at office supply stores or Amazon for reasonable prices.

#6 Randal6393


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Posted 17 December 2015 - 01:41

All good suggestions. Stanley Howler says England, but I see you have the Pennsylvania flag. So John Neal Booksellers is one of the best for the dip pen equipment. And a large bottle of Sumi ink (there are several brands) would work as well as the Walnut ink. Already mixed, so that saves boiling water and mixing up the walnut ink.  Good copy paper, yep, that works well. The flex nibs are fine, would suggest some fairly wide Tape, Mitchell, or Tachikawa nibs for Italic practice.


As for fountain pens, check the lower end pens at Fountain Pen Revolution. Have a variety of nibs available, F M B 1.0 mm stub italic, flex nibs. Work OK, not great but great for the price.


Best of luck,


From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

#7 Runnin_Ute


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Posted 17 December 2015 - 03:09

LIke Randall, I notice you are in Pennsylvania. HP LaserJet 24 lb is a really nice fountain pen friendly paper without breaking the bank on a per ream price.  (amazon $8.73/ream; office depot/max $10.29; staples $13.29)


I was thinking Jinhao's directly from China as well. I haven't bought in multiples, but I think there are several ebay sellers. The 599 is a Lamy Safari look alike. Light, which would be better for a beginner than a X450/X750/159 which all have brass barrels, and a lot of additional weight. (17 grams (599) vs. 48 grams  (X450))  All Jinhao's come with a converter.

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

#8 mmg122


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Posted 17 December 2015 - 07:36

I know you're not asking for contributions...but I also realize a teacher's salary is somewhat limited. If you'll PM me a PayPal address/account, I'd like to help you out with this project.

Props to you for listening to what the kids want...not what we think they need. I have several grandkids that love to use fountain pens and write in cursive. Let's not let this be a dying skill.

#9 dasXFnib


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Posted 17 December 2015 - 09:02

Another place you might check is Chartpak, out of Leeds, MA.

Not exactly "cheap", but the offer a wide variety of school/calligraphy supplies....

FWIW....they're also an authorized Pelikan repair facility (although not known for speedy turnaround time......!!:()

Good Luck!


Always try to get the dibs....on fountain pens with EF nibs!!

#10 Maurizio



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Posted 17 December 2015 - 09:21

Agree with all who recommended John Neal Books. Also check out Paper and Ink Arts http://www.paperinkarts.com.

I believe Johh Neal gives an institutional discount to schools; not sure about Paper and Ink Arts; why don't you write and ask?

Re paper I also second the recommendation above to use HP Laserjet Premium 32 lb. paper. This is far superior to 24 lb. for calligraphy purposes; almost as good as Clairefontaine but a lot less expensive and easily available at office supply stores.

It looks like you're planning to teach Spenserian. If you're considering italic also, I'd like to send you a new copy of Elenor Winters' book Calligraphy in 10 Easy Lessons.

Re pens but not for Spencerian, the Pilot Parallel Pen is good and inexpensive.

Here's a link to guidelines I posted earlier this year on the broad edge pen forum for all four sizes of Pilot Parallel Pens: http://www.fountainp...phy-guidelines/

I too applaud you for your efforts with the students and would also like to send you a small donation. Please private message me with your school address.

Edited by Maurizio, 17 December 2015 - 09:29.

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