21 October 2013

A Visit to Alan Lloyd's Beautiful Shop

The entrance to Alan Lloyd's fantastic shop in Kendal

Hello Hello! Well, it's been a few weeks since my last post, and I have exciting news to report. The bindery is humming with interesting work, and our 2014 desk calendars are flying off to their new homes even faster than last year's. Amid all this, we decided it was high time to update our website for our wonderful clientele. And so, with great effort from our talented designer, Parvum Opus, has been completely redesigned. It's had great reviews so far-- we invite you to take a peek and let us know what you think! 

One of the many treasure-laden shelves in Alan's shop.

A pair of charming travelling inkwells. 

I've also had the great pleasure of making a wonderful new long-distance friend, Mr. Alan Lloyd, who, for the last 25+ years, has owned and operated this gem of a shop in Kendal, England. It's the sort of shop that I adore: tiny and characterful, and absolutely bursting at the seams with gorgeous pens, inkwells, inkstands, pen wipes and more. 

Another pair of travelling inkwells, this time in the
whimsical form of hats and umbrellas:
the inkwell is in the hat, and the pen is in the umbrella handle.

A boar bristle pen nib wipe in an appropriate form.

Alan’s shop features beautiful new pens, limited edition pens and vintage pens along with their appropriate inks and accessories. It also houses a fantastic collection of antique inkwells, pens and pen wipes that Alan has acquired over the years. These are incredibly rare and almost impossible to find now, so it’s wonderful to be able to see these pieces up close and hear about their histories from the erudite Alan.

In the corner of another display: 
circular pen nib wipes in  a feminine style.

18th Century treen pen wipes:
the laces on these tiny boots would have provided the wiping surface.

These inkwells and pen wipes, often from the nineteenth century, evoke romantic musings about their original owners. In a time when most people could neither read nor write, we can only wonder along with Alan, whose desks they adorned, and what sorts of letters came from those desks.

A 19th century red ceramic inkwell

Alan shared a story that resonated with me: he said that as a 10-year old boy, he was in the habit of carrying 3 pens in his jacket pocket. Of course, most young boys have no real use for 3 pens—it was obviously just something about them that he enjoyed. I think anyone who counts him/herself among the family of collectors can recall a similar early passion for objects… For me, it was books, pens and Japanese paper- no surprises there...

One of the many beautiful antique pens in Alan's shop

A pair bird-shaped inkwells in another corner of the shop

My dear husband travels to Kendal frequently on business, and had the privilege and pleasure of both discovering Alan's shop and meeting Alan in person. He took all of the pictures you see here on his last visit. I look forward to joining him on one of his trips to Kendal soon: I’m sure I’ll find some way to occupy my time while he works…


  1. Hello Erika, I was fascinated by Mr. Lloyd's collection of writing paraphernalia. Perhaps my favorites were the wooden boot/pen wipes. I also loved the way the labels were appropriately all hand-written.

    I really admire your new website--it is clean, bright and simple, and the colorful, eye-popping photos really stand out. The best part is that nothing moves or is animated!! I have been doing a lot of close looking at website design recently; I really missed the old Faber Birren Color website, but now yours is one of my new favorites.

  2. Hello hello Jim! Thanks for your very kind message. I'm so glad that you enjoyed seeing Alan's collection- I was hoping you all would notice those lovely tags and signs, too! And you honor us by including us in the same sentence with Faber Birren-- thank you! I'm very happy that you like the new design-- we're still working on new photos, which will take a while, given our busy work schedule... But even with some less than perfect images, I think the site is greatly improved. More to come!

    Thanks and warm regards,

  3. Dear Erika,

    Alan Lloyd's shop looks as though it would be a fascinating place to browse — and learn! In this digital age there is a special beauty even to the most ordinary of fountain pens, and Alan's are all the more special.

    My mother grew up in the 1910s and 1920s, and used to recall that her Christmas gift to adults as a child was always hand-made pen wipes, made from felt. Your posting brought back that fond memory.

    I like your new site very much! It's clean in design, easy to read and navigate, and I like that you have the color and paper options with each offering. It should serve you well, so kudos to your designer.

  4. Dear Mark,
    Thank you for your message! I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing Alan's shop. I'm sure you'd enjoy visiting in person-- he sometimes hosts calligraphy classes-- wouldn't that be wonderful to learn, putting all those beautiful antique writing instruments to good use? I'm also thankful for your kind words about the new website design-- I had a great helper and couldn't have done it without her... We'll be working on it for quite a long time, I'm sure, but it's an improvement even now.
    Thanks & warm regards,