Stationery Stores

Stationery Shopping in Amsterdam.

Last month I was fortunate to visit Amsterdam for a very brief trip. Whenever I visit a new city I like to see if there are any interesting stationery shops that I should carve out some time to visit. (Small helpful hint: check out All Things Stationery’s handy map.) My recent trip to Amsterdam was no different and I found an afternoon to visit two stationery shops, my thoughts on which are shared below.

Like Stationery.

My first stop was at Like Stationery, a short walk from Amsterdam Central station. I wasn’t overly familiar with this shop before my trip but their website looked really nice and their instagram well shot, so I was hoping this would be a little gem. But when I arrived it was quiet, and dare I say a little unwelcoming. There were also quite a few notices asking for no photography.

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Like Stationery had a good range of brands in store displayed and presented really well. A long central table held lots of different notebook brands such as Life Stationery, there were tall glasses filled with Blackwing pencils and a display of correspondence cards. The selection that Like had was pretty good and everything was laid out allowing you to see what was on offer. The one downside was a lack of testing pads alongside the pencil and pen displays, and when combined with notices of no photography it creates an atmosphere of no play.

I didn't buy anything from the store for some of the aforementioned reasons, but also because there was nothing there that really grabbed my attention.

Misc-Store.

My second visit of the day and the shop I was really looking forward to visiting was Misc. It was a little bit of a walk out of the city and even in the cold and wet weather I wasn’t deterred.

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Misc has lots of treasures displayed in a manner which made them easy to look at and in some cases test and play with. There was a small Travelers Company section in the store which I was immediately drawn towards. Misc had some beautifully worn TN’s on display to give you an idea of how the weather wears and ages, to show how they can be set up and used. It’s such a great idea to include them in this manner because part of the allure is how these notebooks change with use. There were also some Travelers Company stamps with an ink pad, that I happily played with and added into my own TN.

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Another brand I was keen to see in Misc was their range of Classiky items. I haven’t noticed too many online stores in Europe where you can find Classiky and I had only seen some in person at Present and Correct in London. Misc had a great selection including the small dishes, the wooden first aid boxes and some of the papers and pads too.

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Misc did have a pen testing area in one section of their shop. An array of pens and fountain pens from brands such as Lamy and Y Studio were displayed with testing pads encouraging you to try them out. I did have a little play in this section too, in particular with the Y Studio pens as I hadn’t seen these in flesh.

I spent quite a bit of my time exploring the different stationery items that Misc offered and chatting to the staff. I came away with a small selection of items including an Olive TN, a set of the Midori pencils and a Le Typographe Porte-Mine mechanical pencil. I bought this mechanical pencil after testing it out and because I was surprised by how comfortable it was to use and how nice the graphite appeared on the page. Letting customers play and test definitely helps them to buy - no question.

Overall thoughts.

Misc lived up to my expectations and I really could have spent a lot of money there. I think on another trip to Amsterdam I would definitely take the time to visit again. As a customer you’re encouraged to try and test things out, which was very different from my experience at Life Stationery.

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the stationery shops during my trip. It’s a great way to find new products you may not normally be interested in, or exposed to. With a bit of good fortune I should be able to get back out to Amsterdam this year and will take the time to visit other stores too.

One last thing before you go…below was my short break stationery toolkit. Far too much as always, but it included the things I thought I needed. This needs a lot of refinement and is something I have to work on but I thought I would share it with you.

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Stationery Shop Visits in London

I recently spent a very cold but very sunny Saturday visiting some beautiful stationery shops in London with Priya from The London Parchment. Our priority for the day was visiting Present and Correct which I have wanted to visit for a very long time. I wanted to share some thoughts on the shops we visited and also share the items I bought.

Stop 1: Present and Correct.

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Present and Correct is located on a small side street in Angel and is kind of hidden away. The shop name is very subtle shown only on the window and easily missed.

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We jostled for space among other visitors and spent quite a long time closely looking through the contents of the shop and deliberating (not so much Priya) about what to buy.

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I really liked the presentation of everything in Present and Correct. There were low table tops with the stationery placed in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

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Shelves also showed off some of the smaller items, notebooks and envelops.

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Washi tapes were displayed on long hooks by colour.

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There was an old style vending machine with small stationery items such as clips, erasers and sharpeners. It's such a good use of an old fashioned vending machine.

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I came away with a few items. One pair of gold Hay scissors, light yellow washi tape that reminded me of Spring, a composition notebook and a pack of 32mm Tools to Live By binder clips. I had been wanting some new scissors and the binder clips for some time. The composition notebook was not what I had expected, I remember this being a Kickstarter campaign but I never backed it. It's pretty pricey at £20 but the paper inside felt really nice in the flesh and I think probably works well with a lot of different writing tools. I also liked the slightly larger than A5 size. I'm really looking forward to playing around with this notebook.

I love the little peach library card

I love the little peach library card

Stop 2: Quill.

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The second stop was at Quill. Quill is a completely different to Present and Correct, Priya described it well as workshop space with a number of stationery things too.

I really loved Quill. There were so many nice little things focused around the art of writing and calligraphy. They had a great selection of correspondence papers and envelopes some which could be bought in packs of 10, others which were more of a mix and match situation. The colours and styles were all lovely. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, I was far too distracted.

I came away with an Appointed notebook with the grey cover and a graph ruling. This notebook looked a lot like the insides of the Mnemosyne notebook and I really wanted to test out this paper. Again it's a little larger than the traditional A5 and could be a really good notebook for being creative and playing around with ink and fountain pens.

I also bought a round series 60 ProArte Masterstoke paintbrush. Quill recommend this for brush lettering but I think its handy to just have another paintbrush around.

Overall thoughts.

Present and Correct was really nice with an interesting range of products. The layout of the shop made it easy to browse and look around with a nice mix of the standard items, such as Kaweco fountain pens and the more unusual such as the Classiky wooden storage boxes and vintage items.

Quill was lovely and I really liked the range of items they had in there. They are all linked in some way to lettering and calligraphy from wax seals, paper, ink and writing paper. Quill is more aligned to the way I am using my stationery items at the moment.

Paper Smiths Shop Visit - Box Park, Shoreditch

Last weekend I went on a mini stationery tour with Priya from The London Parchment. One of the shops we visited was Paper Smiths pop up shop in Box Park, Shoreditch. This shop is a little gem with a nice collection of different stationery brands. The displays are simplistic and neat making it really easy to explore what they have on offer.

We spent an unusually long time in the shop trying to decide what to buy. The staff were really friendly and knowledgable about the products without being pushy, and the music was pretty good - part of the reason we lingered for such a long time.

Greetings cards, magazines and travel essentials 

Greetings cards, magazines and travel essentials 

The selection of products on offer was good and it felt like the more time I spent looking the more I saw. There is a section devoted to gift cards, high end magazines and travel related guides and stationery. I liked looking around this section of the shop as it’s not something I would normally be drawn to when shopping online.

A wall of pencils, notebooks and accessories 

A wall of pencils, notebooks and accessories 

There is a small pencil wall, in a familiar display style, although nowhere near as extensive at the CW Pencils wall. There were small notepads that encouraged you to test out the different writing tools on offer. Scattered among the pencil and pen pots were a selection of different notebooks and notepads in various different sizes.

The Kaweco section

The Kaweco section

They have a selection of Kaweco Skyline Sport fountain pens and inks in a range of colours. The Skyline Sport range fits into Paper Smiths perfectly, the colour scheme suits the store and I am sure catches peoples attention when they’re browsing.

So many tempting things!!

So many tempting things!!

The shop had a selection of pencil cases, pouches and writing desk tools. I got the chance to have a look at a few Blackwing single pencils, including the controversial 205, which I thought looked quite nice in person.

I came away with a modest selection. I could have bought more, and probably should have done as our second store visit was a little disappointing. I am most excited about the Bindwerk notebook. The notebooks has an ivory linen cover and the pages inside are a blank high quality paper stock which should work perfectly with my fountain pens. I probably wouldn’t have bought this notebook online because I am fussy with the type of paper I like in my notebooks, but seeing this in person I was immediately smitten.

I also bought a few Artline fine liners, an intriguing white pencil which is extremely heavy and seems to not have a core. It’s almost like an adult colouring pencil. I bought another High Tide pen roll in navy and a very amusing greeting card.

I really liked these pencil lead holders, I just had no idea how I would use them.

I really liked these pencil lead holders, I just had no idea how I would use them.

My Paper Smiths visit was great fun. I really like the range of products they have on offer and the way they present the stationery. There are areas where I think there are some big gaps but overall it’s a great shop.

A recap of my first Pen Show

On Sunday 2nd October I visited my first ever pen show in London. I had been aware there was a pen show in London for a number of years but I had never made it a priority to attend. This year however I thought I would go along and see what a pen show was like and test out some fountain pens.

Initial thoughts on the show

I was definitely a rabbit in the headlights when I first arrived. I would say the London Pen Show is fairly small but despite its size the experience a little overwhelming. There is so much to look at and you have to get up close to the tables to see whats on offer. To add to this newbie status I found the show poorly sign posted. I knew a few online retailers would be there but it took me quite a long time to locate them and I was forced to look at the show map a few times for reference.

Show hall

Show hall

What I found useful

Being able to touch, feel and test out the pens was invaluable and actually changed a few of my purchase decisions. One fountain pen on my shopping wish list was the Pelikan M205, specifically the limited edition Blue or Aquamarine. When I actually held and tested this fountain pen out I was disappointed. I found the coloured demonstrator barrel off-putting and the nib too firm. The pen was also a lot smaller than I expected. I think it goes without saying I didn’t buy a Pelikan M205.

Looking at and testing different inks was also great. I have become more intrigued by the various ink manufacturers finding it a new way to enjoy my fountain pens. Seeing some of the ink colours in the flesh was really useful. After the show I had added some colours on to my ink wish list, and in some cases removed some because they looked different in person. KWZ definitely won me over with their ink testing station and meeting the makers in person and getting their views on the different inks was fab.

The box of new Lamy LX fountain pens 

The box of new Lamy LX fountain pens 

What I took away with me

I came away with things I had on my wish list, but still a little more than I expected. I picked up the following:

  • Lamy LX with a medium nib in Rose Gold
  • Noodlers Ahab flex nib pen
  • KWZ ink in both Brown Pink and Rotten Green
  • Taroko Designs tomoe river paper in passport and regular sizes
  • 2 A5 Clairefontaine ruled notebooks
  • Pelican M400 with an extra-fine nib in brown tortoise shell!

I am really happy with my purchases. I did’t expect to get as much as I did but they are all pens, inks and paper that I enjoy using. I didn’t have the Pelikan M400 on my shopping list, but after testing out the M205 and the M400 there was an obvious and clear winner. This actually ended up being a gift from my husband, who on the day was my enabler, upselling me to the limited edition brown tortoise shell.

My pen show swag

My pen show swag

Overall thoughts on my first pen show

I really found the experience of the pen show useful. I don’t think the London Pen Show is the most dynamic and on face value is a little intimidating, but getting to see different pens in the flesh was really helpful. The staff hosting the show were very welcoming when we arrived. I came with my husband and baby in a pram (causing havoc trying to navigate around).

I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the show. I was keen to try a Pilot Custom 92 but I was unable to find one. Some of the online retailers that stock the pen didn’t have any with them on the day. Naively I thought that most companies would have a wide range of different pens with them at the show so I was a little bit disappointed by this.

Twiss Pens table and some of the acrylic rods - gorgeous! 

Twiss Pens table and some of the acrylic rods - gorgeous! 

I will definitely attend again next year. I may not have big purchases on my list (who am I kidding!) but I think it’s a great place to meet people and look at different fountain pens and inks to help fuel my habit.

And to top it off on my way out I bumped into Myke Hurley himself. We had a great chat about the show and what I had bought. And Myke, I am fully in support of bring some Pen Addict love to the London Pen Show!!