An Interview with Ross Adams of Pure Pens (plus a giveaway)

Ross Adams

Ross Adams has two excellent online stores, based in the UK but delivering all over the world. Pelikan Pens has been selling Pelikan pens for nine years. Pure Pens has a wider range of all kinds of pens. Pure Pens is just about the only place in the UK where you can find Noodler’s Inks. Ross very kindly spared some of his precious time to talk about what it’s like to run an online pen store. This is a really interesting interview with some jealousy inducing photos of the Pelikan/Pure Pens stockroom. Read to the end for an excellent giveaway, too.

1. What drew you to pens and why did you decide to start selling them?
I learnt to write with a fountain pen at school and I have always used one ever since. Back then it was normally a Parker, but as a gift for passing my exams my parents bought me a more expensive pen. It was made by a famous German brand… whose name I won’t mention. We were actually quite disappointed with the quality – especially given the price of it! After a little research online on forums, we discovered that we actually should have bought a different German brand – Pelikan.
At the time, around 2003-2004 there were only a few places locally to buy a Pelikan from. We had to travel over the Severn Bridge into a whole different country(!) into Bristol to have a look at some models, the choice there was very limited and the nib choice was M or nothing. It was even claimed that the nibs could not be exchanged, without being sent back to the Pelikan factory in Hanover. We know they can be unscrewed from the pen and exchanged easily. One short email to Pelikan later, we had an account set up and set up a basic website to sell –

Pelikan Special Editions

Nine years down the line, we are proud to say that the UK sales of Pelikan have grown about threefold and we believe we sell around half of the UK’s Pelikan. We have built up a real knowledge of Pelikan and their products, past and current. We have even been mentioned at a European Pelikan marketing meeting as Pelikan experts, which is quite humbling.

We also run another website, This was set up in 2011, after being asked by many of our customers if we could get hold of other pens for them too – brands such as Parker, Waterman, Faber-Castell and so on. We decided that the best thing to do would be to keep our Pelikan website separate and launch a new one, so as not to confuse things – our domain name is very specialist after all! Pure Pens has grown and grown since, and we now sell over 40 different brands.

Noodler's Closeup

2. Which pens do you use yourself, day to day?
As you’d expect I’m always trying out new ones – it’s hard not to when you work in a room filled with them! The ones I use most though are my Pelikan M800 Brown Tortoiseshell, with a nib that I custom ground myself, as well as my Porsche Tec-flex P3110 and Visconti Homo Sapiens fountain pen, which is made with Lava from Mount Etna – a great talking point! My trusty TWSBI Diamond 540 also still gets a lot of use, and I have a Caran D’Ache Ecridor ball pen for quick notes.

Ross Pens

3.What is your favourite pen (and ink)?
It would have to be my M800 Tortoiseshell, filled with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black.

Ross Pens & Cases

4. What are the greatest pleasures you gain from running your company?
We pride ourselves on offering old fashioned customer service in the modern age. Building a rapport with our customers is something we really enjoy and is one of the most rewarding things about our business. We have made some great friends over the years, and although we do sell to people without any contact, many of them come back to us and let us know how they’re getting on, what they’re planning on ordering next or ask us for advice. Modern channels like twitter make this easier too, and we love hearing from our customers and other pen lovers. Sharing and tweeting photos is great too – we feel like we’re part of a very friendly and warm community.


5. What are some of the challenges you, and the online pen business in general, face?
There are those who will tell you that writing is a dying art and that stationery sales should be falling, with everyone sending emails instead of letters, and technology making the pen redundant… but I disagree. Our sales have grown 30% over the past year, and we’re continuing to see growth month on month. Our challenges will be to continue stocking products that our customers want and maintaining our high level of customer service as we get busier.

Pelikan Drawers

6. Finally, what makes your business different?
Our customers tell us that it’s our service – we always make the effort to go the extra mile, and we have built up an unrivalled knowledge of our products. We are probably best known for being Europe’s only Noodler’s stockist, helping everyone this side of the pond to get hold of their great products while avoiding hefty postage charges and import duty. We also offer custom nib grinding and engraving services to make sure that your pen is exactly how you want it, or to add a real personal touch to a gift.

One of Our Noodler's Cupboards

Thank you so much to Ross for sparing the time to give this great interview! And what fantastic photos too. Those drawers of Pelikans make my mouth water. (Best not take that out of context.)


Ross and Pure Pens have very generously donated this lovely little Sheaffer VFM fountain pen for a giveaway. I reviewed it yesterday and it’s a great pen.

Sheaffer VFM fountain pen posted

All you need to win is tell me, as a comment on this post, about a great pen, pencil or art-related website. Give me (and everyone else) something new to read.

The giveaway closes at 9am GMT on Saturday 14th June and is open worldwide. The winner will be picked randomly.

Good luck!


  1. Great interview. I have visited Ross and his team quite a bit and agree that the stock room is fantastic. (Luckily I’m very local).
    Great products and great service.

  2. Fantastic interview! I love and one of my favourite pens is my Conklin Stylograph Mosaic with M nib. Each pen is made unique and its my flashiest pen. It has a nice weight, fits right in my hand, and glides very smoothly, with just enough feedback to let you know its touching paper.

  3. This could be a good pen. (I’d personally prefer Pelikan 200, though.) I’ll tell you about several of my favorite sites, some of which you already know, I guess. — Great (sometimes) sense of humor, interesting style and critics.
    You all know them: ,
    Rarely updated, in Russian: , — One more comfort place.

  4. I’ve bought a lot of Pelikans from Ross and visited a couple of years ago. Great place, service and people to deal with. The interview is concise and just the right amount of information.

  5. or manupropria on Facebook is same entity. Bespoke fountain pens of great beauty usually ebonite with interesting urushi lacquer finishes and 18k nibs. A place to drool only on my pen budget.

  6. I love you” Englisters,”after establishing a personal relation ship you, I would be remiss not say I like your blog and “A fool with a Pen” is also one of my favorites. The people in Great Britain are great.

  7. You probably already know about The Goulet Pen Company, but I really like the huge ink sample database on their site. I don’t know of anything like it elsewhere on the web, and it’s great for us with no local shops.

  8. I’m a grad student and tend to need to be able to put pen to paper when I begin to write; but I also tend to be choosy about what pen and what notebook. As a result I have a lot of both. For notebooks one of my favorite sites is:
    It doesn’t have links to buy things or anything like that, but I’ve found it useful for inspiration.

  9. Am I allowed to plug my own Fountain Pen Love?
    I also love the vintage pen blog at, another UK based blog with lots of good stuff about (in particular) Conway Stewart and Burnham pens.

    And Ed Jelley, Brian Goulet, Leigh Reyes,, plus the huge resources of Richard Binder’s site at with lots of stuff about repair of vintage pens as well as history and pen porn pictures and nibs, nibs and more nibs.

  10. Oh my gosh! I am going to have to check out all of the sites mentioned in your comments! I like; Paper& and I also use dip pens but I LOVE fountain pens. i don’t have very many yet so I would love to win your giveaway pen. I don’t have a sheaffer pen yet. I give a second nomination of goulet pens.

  11. I would have to say Goulet Pens. Their fountain is where I started and refer back to frequently!!!

  12. I really enjoy the wellappointeddesk. Great ideas to add to an office.

  13. I never use this pen but after reading about this I am sure I will love this infect I will addicted to this I want to win this if I win this I show this to all my friends and tell them I use this and it’s really awsome

  14. Sharing Our Notebooks ( . If you ever want to know what to do with the office supplies you’ve been hoarding, this site have it covered. Beside, it’s peppered with good writing advices here and there.

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