Pen and ink sales dominate as handwriting makes a comeback

As consumers are looking for the simpler things in life following a ‘techno backlash’, handwriting is undergoing a resurgence with fountain pen and ink sales on the rise.

According to the recently published Penfold report Office Products in Australia 2016-2018, unit imports of fountain pens and stylograph pens increased by 134 per cent from 2014-2015.

Pen manufacturer Pilot says it has seen a 200 per cent increase in sales of its prestige range of fountain pens and inks in the last 12 months.

“Fountain pen sales are increasing with research showing that this is partly due to an increasing desire for personal products with a beautiful design and style,” says Barbara Oliver, marketing manager, Pilot Pen Australia.

She says that just like smartphone cases and stylish leather purses, a beautiful fountain pen can give a polished image and complete your look.

“A fountain pen is every smart woman or man’s best friend.  It is a must-have handbag accessory that will add a touch of class to your appearance.”

Australian retailers are reporting similar findings at the till. Barbara Nichol, owner of Pen Ultimate, a specialist writing shop in Sydney’s QVB, has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of fountain pen sales.

“Particularly at the premium level, where sales start at around $500 and can go up to $1.7 million (the most expensive fountain pen ever sold),” she says. “Ink sales have increased by 10 times within the last six years alone.”

Nichol says there is a level of nostalgia amongst her customers and a desire to retain what they see as ‘traditional’ handwriting skills that are being lost.

“The drive to resurrect and retain our cultural heritage and a need to communicate beyond the keyboard is contributing towards the resurgence in handwriting popularity.”

The report highlights a shift to feature-rich and design-oriented products that have unique shapes, colour and materials.

Nichol sees this in her own store and says just like watches, mobile phones and cars, fountain pens are becoming fashion accessories in their own right.

“You choose carefully the colour, brand and fabric of your handbag or wallet. You make sure your nails are manicured nicely, you have a nice looking smart phone.  A beautiful fountain pen completes your look.”

This emerging trend also seems to be in step with the increasing popularity of adult colouring in and craft activities, says industry expert and researcher, Andrew Penfold.

“Technology and high rates of screen use are driving a counter-reaction with more people switching on to ‘go slow’ hobbies and activities that involve detail, thought and skill,” he explains.

“A larger, broader shift towards the pursuit of handcraft and wellbeing related products and activities is an increasing trend and will play out in the coming years.”

By Marion Gerritsen

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