What is the difference between a kit, a kitless, a Unique, a bespoke, and a custom fountain pen?

What is the difference between a kit, a kitless, a Unique, a bespoke, and a custom fountain pen?

Fountain pens made by individuals (as opposed to the big name companies such as Visconti and Mont Blanc) can be divided into two categories: kit pens and kitless pens (sometimes known as custom fountain pens.)

Kit pens are wonderful as the supplier provides all the metal components that fit together snugly, and the pen maker turns the central sections and then assembles all the parts. Up till now we have made kit pens and have been pleased with the results. For example:

The downside of kit pens is that there is limited opportunity for developing your own style of pen and infusing it with your personality.

Kitless fountain pens on the other hand give enormous scope for individual creativity as the only part that is bought from an outside supplier is the nib and the ink feed. We have been watching (with awe), individual pen makers who create magnificent custom or bespoke kitless pens. They have each developed their own range of custom fountain pens and the buyer can further personalise a pen by specifying elements such as the length or shape of the section, the material and the type of nib. (Great examples are: Atelier Lusso, Newton Pens, Scriptorium Pen Company, and Walltown Craftworks.)

After months of work (and a fair bit of swearing along the way), we have now gathered all the equipment, made the blanks and practiced to the point where we now feel ready to release our first kitless fountain pen made to our own design.

Why we’ve called ours “Unique”

The word “kitless” doesn’t have much of a ring to it though so we’ve called our pens Unique instead. And they truly are. So, here is our first Unique fountain pen:

The first : our Jungle pen

Stanford Wood Studio Jungle 3
Our Unique Jungle fountain pen

You could imagine discovering this pen at the edge of a hidden pool, deep in a jungle, concealed by ferns and exotic flowers. Dappled light filtering through the canopy of leaves. The verdant green and deep-water blue are dark and mysterious, yet the pen itself is dandelion-light.

It comes with a Bock #6 nib and you can choose between polished steel and bi-colour (steel and gold), and whether you would like the nib size to be a Fine, Medium or Broad.

For now we will be making Unique pens to our own designs, but if you would like to request a few personalised tweaks, please contact us and we’ll see what we can do. Soon we plan to have a series of custom fountain pen styles that you can personalise in a whole variety of different ways.

What else makes our pens Unique?

Unique pens are much, much harder to make than kit pens and demand far higher levels of precision. They also require specialised equipment, including a metal lathe. Fortunately Dave already had one (a huge beast I’ve dubbed Brunhilde that must weigh a ton) and each pen takes significantly longer to make: Dave estimates that every pen involves at least 50 separate steps, requiring multiple stops to change the tooling on the lathe before continuing. And the pen parts are delicate and easy to break while working with Brunhilde. (Did I mention the swearing …?)

The upside is that because they are so demanding in terms of fine craftsmanship, each pen becomes a collector’s item. The nibs are also very special – we have imported a selection of Bock nibs, which are made in Germany and are recognised by pen collectors as being among the finest in the world.

We look forward to featuring each new style of pen as we develop them.