There are a lot of options in the UK for buying stationery including some pretty good brick & mortar stores, but the best ranges tend to be dominated by the online stores that also tend to be slightly cheaper. I seem to spend a lot of money on fountain pens, pencils and paper so here's my recommendations for where to shop online. I will do a similar review for brick and mortar shops in the near future, being able to handle and test pens should not be over rated.

Cult Pens

It is difficult to know where to start with this retailer. Their range is absolutely huge, I have spent far too many hours on their website and still have only looked at a small number of their items.

Brands of Note:

  • E+M, Germany: Focussing mainly on wooden products, I particularly like their clutch pencils & desk organisers. I have three of their pencil pots on my desk at work and love the wood grain.
  • Karas Kustoms: A USA based pen brand that turn all their pens out of aluminium and other metals. I have a Fountain K pen from them already and have my eye on the Ink fountain pen or the Bolt next.
  • OHTO: A Japanese company founded in the 1920's, they produce a range of pens and pencils. I love their protracting pencils that look like normal pencils, if a bit chunkier.
  • KUM: A German brand specialising mainly in pencil sharpeners and lead pointers. Great products that create the best pencil points possible.

Positives:

  • The sheer number of brands and unusual items available makes for a dangerously expensive shopping trip.
  • Free shipping over £10.
  • Quick dispatch, things almost always arrive the next day.
  • Excellent customer service, when ever I have asked a question they have answered ridiculously fast.
  • Great offers, cost is always competitive and freebies are often available.

Improvement Areas:

  • On some key brands, e.g. Visconti, there are often parts of the range missing so it isn't always a one stop shop.

The Writing Desk

An easy to use website with plenty of information to help you make a decision.

Brands of Note:

  • Edison Pens: One of my favourite pen brands from the USA, a wide range of beautifully turned acrylics twinned with superbly tuned nibs.
  • Yard-o-Lead: Who wouldn't want to own a beautifully crafted silver pen or pencil as part of their collection. Beautiful craftsmanship.
  • Private Reserve: A range of stunning ink shades, with high saturation provided at great value in simple bottles. They seem to work well in all the pens I have tried them in.
  • Rohrer & Klingner: Another superb ink brand, only £4 for 50ml, well behaved and a lovely range of colours. Smaragdgrün is a particular favourite with a beautiful green / teal shade.

Positives:

  • Stock a wide range of products and for a lot of brands they have all the SKU options available.
  • Delivery is quick, well packaged and free over £20
  • They test their fountain pens before dispatch to ensure they write excellently.

Improvement Areas:

  • Whilst they have a nice range including some of the essentials (e.g. Rhodia), it would be great to see more product types and brands stocked.
  • You can get free delivery, which is great, but the minimum order is twice that of both Cult Pens and Bureau Direct.

Bureau Direct

Quick and efficient service and a 10% discount for a week each month if you subscribe to their newsletter. The website is absolutely stunning, probably the nicest looking and easiest to use of all stationery sellers I have come across.

Brands of Note:

  • LAMY: Ok, everyone supplies this brand but it always seems slightly cheaper here than at other stores. Safari fountain pens including limited editions for less than £14...
  • Paperways: Beautiful paper products including pocket notebooks decorated with page layouts for capital cities.
  • Mark's Tokyo Edge: A quirky range of paper notebooks and organising covers.

Positives:

  • Free delivery over £10 and a discount code each month
  • Low cost LAMY essentials
  • Nicely thought through compilations, perfect if you don't know what to get another stationery addict.

Improvement Areas:

  • Some of the more interesting items are special order so will take a while to arrive.
  • If you want a pen other than a LAMY then the range is minimal.

Niche Pens / Pure Pens

If you want a Pelikan or a Noodlers product then this is always my first stop. The prices are competitive and the service amazing. Instead of a deep dive, I thought an example of their service would be the best indicator of why I shop here.

I bought a Pelikan M805 from Niche pens when I started my first permanent job after university, this was over 9 years ago. The pen came beautifully packaged and worked amazingly and to this day is my benchmark for nib smoothness. When I started my new job just over two years ago I dropped the pen from waist height onto a solid concrete floor. As it fell to the floor in slow motion, or at least this is how it felt, I gasped as it was still at that point my most expensive pen. It was capped, so the nib stayed safe but the pen snapped in two just above the cap screw threads, splattering ink everywhere.

I work with a lot of engineers so together we tried a fix, glueing it back together but with no success. A slow and small leak was still present for the next two years. I finally came to the realisation that it either needed chucking in the bin or repairing so I sent it back to Niche pens with a note explaining the situation and asking for their help. About a month later, with no fuss, I received an email stating that they had sent the pen back for repair to Pelikan and it had been returned fixed and ready for use. Two days later it was inked and being used once more for making notes at work. For a company to offer this level of aftercare support is amazing and unusual. My next Pelikan will come from here.

Pocket Notebooks

Not much to say about this great outfit, all they stock are pocket notebooks but they cover a great range of brands including Calepino, Field Notes, Write, Word, Story Supply and Whitelines. Their prices are very competitive, there is free delivery and everything always arrives quickly. They also have a subscription service which I subscribe to. This service delivers 3, 6 or 9 notebooks a month depending on how much you want to spend, so far it has been excellent.

I have shopped in a lot more online shops than this, but these are my first points of call when I am looking for a new pen, paper or pencil to purchase. I love them all and would highly recommend that you spend your hard earned sterling in one or more of them.

Disclosure: I have recently joined the United Inkdom team which is sometimes supported in their endeavor by Cult Pens. My opinion on the store was formed and written prior to this occurring and remains the same regardless.