blog Image for Custom Packaging – Increasing Perceived Value and Premiums

Custom Packaging – Increasing Perceived Value and Premiums

Product packaging plays a far more important role in influencing purchasing decisions than you might think.  A recent survey of promotional merchandise users indicated that seventy percent of recipients form their first impression of a product or company brand based solely on packaging. 

This is why different and unique shapes of packaging designs have long been used as effective branding and marketing tools because they have the ability to create an exclusive image in the minds of users. 

For businesses, the case is even clearer – thirty percent of companies questioned in the same survey reported a noticeable increase in revenue when they used or improved the product packaging for their promotional merchandise.

From blister packs, Pen+ Greeting Cards to robust custom printed pen boxes or branded pen sleeves, we offer a full range of custom packaging options to suit any promotional campaign that make eye-catching, potent merchandising tools.  Our collation services provide total convenience as products are packed directly inside the custom packaging.

As a leader in custom packaging, our designs have been created to fit a wide variety of products, providing a significant retail upselling opportunities. 

Selecting the right kind of packaging can clearly serve as an effective and cost-efficient tool to increase opportunities for upselling, adding value to the offer and providing a premium retail look and feel.  This ultimately reinforces the perceived value of the merchandise, maximising the emotional connection.

Plus, with minimum order quantities starting from as low as fifty pieces at economical prices, we can support small orders easily without the traditionally associated large costs.

Yet packaging need not be cost-prohibitive.  From as little as a few extra pence, our custom printed packaging service can make a difference in the first impression of a product and is by far the easiest way to add a retail look and feel to a promotional product. 

For the ultimate in packaging customisation, try variable data printing.  This allows packaging orders to be printed with artwork that differs from piece to piece.  Personalise the packaging with an individual’s name and develop a true emotional connection and long-lasting resonance with your target audience.  Ideal for creating significant differentiation and a personal feel in a world of commoditised products.

So invest in our strategically-crafted unique packaging designs to make your promotional product stand out and put the power of custom packaging at the heart of your product promotion.

Our custom packaging services at a glance:

  • FSC card is used across all of our custom packaging
  • Minimum order quantities start from as low as 50 pieces
  • Personalisation – we can offer variable data such as names, telephone numbers and addresses
  • Collation – products are packed inside custom packaging for convenience
  • Soft feel lamination – soft touch lamination is available for all packaging at an additional cost

blog Image for Bamboo – Nature’s Miracle Material

Bamboo – Nature’s Miracle Material


Bamboo is a perennial evergreen flowering plant that is prevalent in Asia, Australia, North and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. China is currently the only country in the world that is exploiting the full potential of bamboo in the mass market. Most Chinese bamboo is harvested from the south Yangtze River area. Bamboo can grow on different altitudes and under various climatic conditions, but it prefers tropical climates. 


Bamboo is viewed as a symbol of traditional Chinese values and it is regarded as the harmony between nature and human beings. The history of Chinese people planting and using bamboo can be traced back 7,000 years. As early as the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century B.C), bamboo was already used in various aspects of ancient Chinese people’s daily lives including food, clothing, housing, transportation, musical instruments, writing instruments and even weapons.

Anatomy of Bamboo

Although it looks, feels and behaves like wood, bamboo actually belongs to the grass family. Similar to all grasses, bamboo is characterised by a jointed stem called a Culm. In most cases the stems are hollow but some species have solid culms. Culms are segmented by nodes; the points where branches grow out of the culm. These nodes are solid throughout the culm and from the outside appear as swellings.

Mechanical Properties

Tensile Strength:- Up to 160 N/mm2 (3 times greater than most conventional construction grade timbers)

Compressive Strength:- Up to 86 N/mm2. (Cedar is about 40 N/mm2)

Hardness:- Up to 1690 lbf. – Janka hardness test. (Cedar is about 900lbf)

Bending Strength:- Up to 150N/mm2 (About 2 times stronger than structural timber)

Writing and Recording

Before the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) when paper was invented, strips of bamboo had been used as the most important writing medium. China’s first books were crafted from bamboo strips on string. Thus bamboo played an important part in the daily life of ancient Chinese people, and its role as a writing medium helped keep historical records of traditional Chinese culture for us to study today.

Some of the most ancient writing instruments were also made from bamboo. These types of pens are referred to as dip pens as the tip has to be regularly dipped in ink to recharge the pen. The hollow shaft of the bamboo culm acts as a reservoir for the ink. Bamboo was the material of choice of Ancient calligraphers until it was replaced by the much finer quill pen in the 7th century. However, bamboo dip pens are still used in classrooms in some South Asian countries today.

Bamboo is being increasingly used for flooring as an alternative to hardwood. Its abundance, low cost and eco credentials is making it the natural material of choice for this and many other applications, including pen barrels.

Manufacturing Pen Barrels from Bamboo

Our pen barrels are made from compressed strand-woven Mao Bamboo fibres. The fibres undergo a chemical-free process known as carbonisation where they are heated under pressurised steam for a prolonged period to cause the natural sugars in the bamboo to caramelise which allows it to be removed. The fibres are mixed with resin and then pressed under extreme pressure into planks. These planks are then cut into long strips of square section and this forms the raw material from which the pen barrels are machined. 

The bamboo strips are machined on woodturning lathes using a cutting tool to size and polish the outside. The internal diameter of the barrel is reamed using a reaming bit mounted in the tailstock of the lathe.

Eco Credentials


New bamboo shoots can grow at staggering rates. Some species of bamboo have been clocked at growing over 900mm in one day. The entire growth period from new shoot to a full height culm can typically be completed in 30 days. Harvesting occurs between 3- 5 years (time taken to reach maturity) after which the bamboo plant regrows. This can be contrasted with wood where tree maturity rates are measured in decades, after which the tree is felled and no regrowth occurs.


Bamboo requires no pesticides to protect it from parasites or microbes during their growing lifetime.

Prevents Soil Erosion

Bamboo has a close knitted root system that helps to clump earth. This not only prevents erosion, but rebuilds already-eroded earth. This is particularly important in tropical regions where heavy rainfall can deplete nutrients and strip the land of soil.

Low Hydration

Bamboo plants require little water to prosper and no irrigation is required.

Greenhouse Gases

  • Bamboo Absorbs 5 times more carbon dioxide than similar plants.
  • Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than similar plants.


Bamboo inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. Great as a material for hygienic writing instruments.


The bamboo used in our promotional products is cut from plantations specifically grown for harvesting. No wild bamboo is ever used.

Click here to browse our bamboo pen range.

printing methods explained

Printing Methods Explained

Don’t know your Screen Printing from your Pad Printing? Think that Digital Transfer is something to do with online banking? Well our guide to printing methods and laser engraving is here to help!

The following will give you a bit of useful insight the next time you source printed promotional products.

Screen Printing

This traditional printing method is very cost-effective for large jobs and produces high-quality results. A woven mesh is stretched over a frame to create a screen, then a stencil is placed under the screen and ink forced through onto the product surface.

Although very efficient for large print jobs, screen printing is not practical for small orders or for printing single products due to the time required to initially set up a job. Because a screen has to be created for each colour component of an image, it is more suited to simple designs compared to digital printing methods.

Inks can be hand-mixed to match Pantone colours. This might also be referred to as spot colour or line colour printing.

  • Pros: cost-effective for large orders, Pantone colour matching
  • Cons: not suited to small orders, can not print on irregular surfaces
  • Suitable artwork: simple designs composed of one or more colours

Pad Printing

Irregular surfaces can be branded using pad printing (or cliché printing). A metal plate is etched with the design and then covered in ink. The excess ink is removed to leave ink only in the impressions on the metal plate. A silicone rubber pad then transfers the ink from the plate onto the product surface.

Like screen printing, pad printing is particularly suited to printing large volumes and inks can be hand-mixed to the required Pantone colour. This might also be referred to as spot colour or line colour printing.

  • Pros: cost-effective for large orders, Pantone colour matching, can print on irregular surfaces
  • Cons: not suited to small orders
  • Suitable artwork: simple designs composed of one or more colours

Direct Digital Printing

Digital printing refers to any printing process that recreates an electronically stored image on a variety of media. There is no need for printing plates and time-consuming setup. Digital printers use inkjet technology to fire microscopic droplets of ink directly onto the product surface. This allows an almost limitless array of colours and can reproduce complex imagery including shading and gradients.

Digital printing is more cost-effective for short runs than traditional printing methods due to the shorter setup time. It also allows precise registration between colours and the reproduction of photographic images.

This process relies on line of sight and is therefore only suitable for printing on flat or slightly curved surfaces.

Digital printing might also be referred to as full colour printing.

  • Pros: suited to small and large orders, less setup than traditional printing methods
  • Cons: cannot match Pantone colours, results are dependent on quality of original image
  • Suitable artwork: high-res photographic images and complex full colour artwork

Digital Transfer Printing

A full colour image is digitally printed onto specially formulated transfer paper or film. This is wrapped around the product and the image is heat transferred.

Digital transfer is not suited to irregular surfaces but is ideal for cylindrical shapes, such as the barrel of a pen. The transfer film can be wrapped around the barrel to reach areas not accessible with direct digital print.

  • Pros: all the benefits of digital but can be used on curved surfaces or the barrel of pens or pencils.
  • Cons: cannot match Pantone colours, results are dependent on quality of original image
  • Suitable artwork: high-res photographic images and complex full colour artwork

Laser Engraving

A collimated beam of light is used to remove the surface layer of a metal product, revealing the base metal (or substrate) beneath. Laser engraving is precise and produces a beautiful effect.

The colour of the finish depends on the type of metal that is revealed by the process, although the engraving can be post-treated to make it a different colour, by chemical blacking, for example.

Laser engraving is a truly permanent branding method – it will not fade or be scratched off, making it ideal for personalising prestige gifts.

  • Pros: permanent branding, high perceived value effect
  • Cons: cannot reproduce multicolour or full colour designs, only suited to metal products
  • Suitable artwork: one colour designs, bold fonts and shapes

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. Why not bookmark this page for future reference or share a link with someone who might like it?

All of these branding methods are available from The Pen Warehouse, the UK’s leading supplier of promotional pens.

blog Image for The Evolution of Fashion and Writing Infographic

The Evolution of Fashion and Writing Infographic

It’s clear that written communication and manufactured clothing are among the cornerstones of human society, and just two of the many developments that set us apart from the other intelligent life we share this planet with. The earliest evidence of communication via symbolic imagery originates from over 35 millennia ago, around the same time the first textiles were known to have been created. Since then, we can clearly trace the parallel development of writing and clothing.

We’ve created a fantastic infographic with the help of our friends at Pierre Cardin personalised gifts. The Evolution of Fashion and Writing Instruments is a fascinating journey from primeval caves to current trends, via Ancient Egyptian, Chinese enterprise and the Industrial Revolution.

So the next time you sit with a pen in your hand and a shirt on your back, spare a thought for where it all began…

Pierre Cardin Infographic

promotional pens number one

Why are Promotional Pens the Top Choice for Marketers?

Recent research by the BPMA suggests that promotional pens are the most popular promotional product. In the 2017 study, 66% of those surveyed had a branded pen on their desk. When respondents were asked what they considered the most effective promo product they had given or received, “pens” was the top answer.

So what are the main reasons the humble pen appears to have enduring appeal as a marketing giveaway?

Promotional Pens 1Usability

We all know that a practical promotional gift is more likely to be kept and used. Pens are items most people use every day, and this means continued exposure for a marketing message or company logo. Even when not in use, pens are displayed prominently on desks or carried around by their owners, furthering brand exposure. In the BPMA research, respondents ranked “Usefulness” as the most important quality of a promotional product.

Promotional Pens 2Versatility

A printed or engraved pen can be used to promote any type of business or organisation. Whereas confectionery or technology gifts, for example, might only appeal to certain brands, a pen is a relatively neutral medium and so the perfect vehicle for any brand identity. Pens are also ideal for pairing with other products, such as notebooks or keyrings, while printed packaging adds further branding opportunity.

Promotional Pens 3Budget Friendly

After product usefulness, the BPMA found that price was respondents’ next priority when choosing marketing merchandise. Promotional pens represent great value for money, offering better return on investment than more costly products. Branded writing instruments have a low cost of entry, particularly when it comes to wooden pencils and plastic pens. Of course, more premium writing instruments are there for brands with more budget to play with.

Promotional Pens 4Variety

Pens are not just plastic cylinders with a nib at one end (actually, plastic pens tend to be slightly cone-shaped so they can be removed from their moulds). Writing instruments come in a variety of guises, from trend-targeting spinner pens to traditional fountain pens. Stylus pens are great for technology brands, while counter pens are ideal for hotels or retail. This variety even extends to branding options – the latest technology allows pens to be direct digitally printed, pad printed, laser engraved and even adorned with a full colour transfer wrap.

Promotional Pens 5Tactile

Everyone loves getting hold of a pen and having a feel. We all find ourselves distractedly playing with a pen and some people even like a bit of a nibble – we’re not judging. The point is that writing instruments are very tactile products and this surely adds to their enduring appeal.


There are probably many other factors explaining why promotional pens are number one. Whatever the reasons, we don’t see the printed pen going away any time soon. Explore Europe’s most comprehensive range at

Trade-Only Supplier

Our Status as a Trade-Only Supplier

The Pen Warehouse is a strictly trade-exclusive supplier. As the UK’s largest printer and supplier of promotional pens and stationery products, we only sell through a network of trusted distributor partners. That has been the case since the company’s inception and will continue to be integral to how we do business.

What Does Trade-Only Mean to Us?

We take our status as trade-only very seriously. We never sell directly to the end user. We have no affiliation with any company that sells to the end user and are not part of any group that sells direct.

While some promotional product suppliers purport to be trade-exclusive but don’t fully commit to that in practice, we are 100% committed to the supplier-distributor partnership and promise never to bypass our distributors.

Handling End User Enquiries

All enquiries we get from end users are passed on to our distributors, without exception.

When we receive telephone enquiries from an end user, we immediately explain that we cannot take their order ourselves and they must go through one of our distributor partners. If they have a distributor they already use, or if they have a preference for a particular distributor, then we pass the enquiry onto that distributor. Otherwise, we will pass the lead onto the distributor we feel are most suited to the enquiry.

If an end user finds products they are interested in on our website, they must choose a distributor to submit their enquiry to. Our distributor rating system means the best performing distributors are more likely to receive an enquiry. No transactions can be made through the website without signing into a trade account.

Online Fair Play often ranks highly in Google search results for promotional pens and related terms. Rest assured that this organic ranking is the result of the quality and quantity of the content on our website and is not an attempt by us to trump distributor websites. We don’t get involved in pay-per-click advertising and any end user enquiries we do get via are always passed on to our distributors.

BPMA Accreditationbpma trade-only

The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) are the regulatory body for our industry. As BPMA members we agree to adhere to a strict Code of Conduct, including a commitment to doing business ethically and transparently. Our promise to be trade-exclusive is a cornerstone of our ethical business practices.

Discrete Dispatch

We send out all orders in plain packaging with no indication the order has come from us. Any samples we send to end users are also dispatched under plain cover.

Partnering With Distributors

trade-only partnerships

We appreciate the importance of the supplier-distributor model for our industry. We see this partnership as critical not just for our success, but for the success of our distributor partners. We must work together to counter the threat of the large online sellers who are moving into our sector and selling directly to the end-user.

Our mission is to empower distributors to compete with importers and direct sellers, as well as the promotional products suppliers who have no qualms about selling directly to the end user. We empower distributors through access to Europe’s widest range of promotional pens with the fastest lead times and best-in-industry pricing to allow room for distributor margins. Distributors can also take advantage of our marketing support tools, including our innovative Custom Catalogues and editable eshots.

A Successful Relationship

As specialist suppliers, we have the expertise, relationships and technology to offer high-quality products and exclusive lines with industry-leading dispatch times and ultra-competitive pricing. At the same time, distributors have the marketing expertise and customer reach that we could not achieve on our own. We print for major brands through our distributor partners and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship we are proud to be part of.

When doing business with The Pen Warehouse, distributors can rest assured that we will never undermine that relationship by selling directly to their customer base.

National Stationery Week

10 Stationery Facts to Celebrate National Stationery Week

National Stationery Week is an annual event that seeks to promote all things stationery-related and to encourage people to put pen to paper. This year it takes place on 23rd to 27th April. Check out our list of 10 fascinating stationery facts.

  1. Recycling one ton of paper saves approximately 17 trees, 26,000 litres of water and nearly 700 gallons of oil.
  2. The largest collection of pens was amassed by Angelika Unverhau in Germany. The pen enthusiast boasts over 220,000 unique pens collected from 146 countries.
  3. The world’s largest ballpoint pen weighs over 37kg and measures 5.5 metres long! The monster writing instrument was built in India and is engraved with scenes from Indian mythology.
  4. Paper was invented in China approximately 100 BC. The first industrial paper making was started by Ts’ai Lun, a government official in 105 AD during the Han Dynasty. It replaced papyrus and parchment which had been used for thousands of years.
  5. Scientists have developed a pen that can create lines just 40 nanometres wide. That’s 2,500 times thinner than a human hair!
  6. The word ‘pen’ comes from ‘penna’, the Latin word for ‘feather’. Penne pasta is so called because it resembles the tip of a quill.
  7. The ballpoint pen was patented by Laszlo Biro in 1938. The Hungarian journalist noticed that newspaper ink dried quickly without smudging so developed a pen with a rotating ball that could dispense similar ink.
  8. The first pencils were merely sticks of graphite wrapped in string. Bread was used as an eraser.
  9. The first inks were made more than 5,000 years ago with ingredients including soot and donkey skin gelatine.
  10. Scientists have observed chimpanzees in the wild sharpening sticks and then using them to scratch symbolic marks onto leaves, aping a simple form of writing.

Celebrate your love of pens, stationery and writing by getting involved in National Stationery Week. Visit to find out more.

To explore Europe’s widest range of printed and engraved pens, visit

Advantages of Promotional Products

10 Advantages of Promotional Products

A number of studies have found that promotional products and branded merchandise offer key benefits over other forms of advertising. We take a look at the top 10 of these benefits based on recent research. Why are promotional products so popular with marketers and so widely used to promote brands and businesses?

1. Brand Exposure

The PPAI Consumer Survey 2017 found that around 90% of respondents can recall the messaging from a promotional product they have received. A promotional product reminds existing customers of a brand while also advertising it to potential clients. A printed name on a valued gift will imprint that name on a customer’s thoughts, even if it is just subliminally, whenever that product is used or noticed.

2. Longevity

Promotional products that recipients find useful are more likely to be kept and regularly used. This means prolonged exposure to the advertising message compared to a magazine advert which might be flicked past or a leaflet that might be instantly dismissed. The BPMA found in their 2017 survey that “usefulness” was considered the most important quality of a promotional gift. The more a product is used, the more likely branding is to be noticed, and this effect is amplified by the product being kept for a long time.

Electra Noir from The Pen Warehouse

3. Cost-Effective

All marketers must consider the return on investment (ROI) of their advertising endeavours. It’s obvious to say that promotional products are significantly cheaper than TV advertising, for example, particularly with entry-level options such as stationery and shopper bags, but the key aspect to measure is the cost per impression (CPI). This is the amount of money spent on a campaign divided by the number of times the advertising is seen. Promotional products offer a larger number of impressions versus their initial cost, and this is why they are considered to have a good return on investment.

Research by the BMPA in 2013 found that 50% of respondents had taken action after receiving a promotional product, versus 19% for costly TV advertising and just 10% for print advertising.

4. Integrated Marketing

Branded merchandise are not just standalone advertising media but can be incorporated into the wider marketing mix. Smaller promotional products can be used as part of a direct mailing, while tradeshow giveaways can effectively support exhibitions. These days, marketers recognise that an integrated approach using a variety of channels is the most effective way to promote a brand.

5. Tactile

This point is more psychological than objectively measureable, but we can all appreciate that a physical object is more appealing and creates more of an impression than a fleeting printed image or onscreen advert. People love to get their hands on tactile objects and haptic media fall into this category perfectly.

 6. Recognising Staff

According to 2017 research by the BPMA, an incredible 79% of respondents said they feel appreciated when receiving a promotional gift. This makes promotional gifts a cost-effective way to reward staff and boost morale. Budget-friendly items could be given to all employees, while premium products and branded awards can be used to recognise top-performing staff or to mark employment milestones.

7. Rewarding Customer Loyalty

Promotional gifts can be used to thank loyal customers and help cement relationships with them. The BPMA found that, second only to trade shows, customer recognition is the most common use for promotional merchandise, while the PPAI discovered that 83% of those surveyed said they were more likely to do business with brands they had received promotional products from.

8. Resonance

Branded merchandise helps to create an emotional relationship between brands and consumers. 71% of people in the PPAI Consumer Study said they felt happy when receiving a promotional product. More importantly, 83% agreed that their impression of a brand positively changed as a direct result. Establishing emotional resonance means that the consumer is more likely to buy into a brand and have a positive impression of it.

Axis Spinner Ballpen from The Pen Warehouse

9. Deep Reach

Not only do promotional products make an impression on recipients, evidence suggests that they go on to make impressions beyond their initial audience. PPAI research found that 8 out of 10 consumers give a promotional product to someone else if they don’t want to keep it for themselves. This organically furthers the brand’s reach in a way that non-haptic advertising cannot do.

 10. Variety

One reason for the appeal of promotional products is the sheer variety of forms they take. Branded merchandise encompasses everything them budget pens through to the latest technology. This means there is literally something for every budget and every occasion. Premium products are ideal for promoting high-end brands or for giving in small quantities as corporate gifts, while entry-level merchandise is perfect for large-scale campaigns where the items are likely to be considered more disposable. Recent advances in technology allow almost any surface to be digitally printed, whether its via transfer film, doming or direct digital, and this has considerably increased the variety of imprintable products available to marketers or those wanting to give personalised gifts.


Of course, the above points are just some of the reasons branded merchandise is considered such an integral part of the marketing mix. They help explain why, even in our digital age, recipients still love to get their hands on a printed freebie. has Europe’s widest range of promotional writing instruments, including many in-house designs not available from any other supplier.


  • BPMA Research 2013
  • BPMA Research 2017
  • Mapping Out The Modern Consumer – 2017 PPAI Consumer Study
Fashion Writing Instruments

The Parallel Evolution of Fashion and Writing Instruments

From the very first textile production and crude written communication, to recent fashion trends and the latest in writing instrument technology, we take a look at the parallel development of clothing and pens.

Fashion Writing Instruments
30,000 BC

Evidence of flax fibres that were spun, knotted and dyed to produce colourful textiles, most likely for clothing.

35,000 BC – 10,000 BC

Earliest evidence of communication by means of symbolic pictographs.

5500 BC

Ancient Egyptians wore light clothing made from linen or cotton. Men wore a loincloth and a kilt and women wore shoulder strapped dresses. Egyptians shaved their hair, wore wigs and were fond of jewellery.

5000 BC

Inscriptions discovered in what is now Sudan and Southern Egypt are thought to be the world’s oldest form of written language.

4000-3500 BC

The Chinese started producing silk for use as paper and clothing. The colour of the wearable silk became an indication of social class during the Tang Dynasty.

4000 BC

The surface of a moist clay was scratched with a stylus-like tool made from either bronze or bone.

3300 BC

The remains of Ötzi, Tyrolean Iceman, suggest sophisticated clothing. He wore a cloak made of woven grass and had a coat, belt, leggings, loincloth, bearskin cap and waterproof shoes made from animal hide.

3000 BC

Egyptians developed hieroglyphics.

2697 BC

Chinese Philosopher Tien-Lcheu perfected ‘Indian Ink’ from a mixture of soot, pine smoke, musk, lamp oil and donkey gelatine.

2000 – 1400 BC

The Minoans have the earliest example of sewn clothing. Men wore brightly coloured loincloths made from linen, leather and wool. Minoan Woman wore low-cut blouses and flared skirts to emphasise their figures, comparable with 19th century women’s fashion.

2000 BC

Earliest evidence of Egyptians writing on papyrus.

2000-1580 BC

Hieroglyphic script adopted by Minoans.

1450 BC

Minoans develop Linear Script B, still legible today as it’s very close to ancient Greek.

1700-1500 BC

Pictographs or hieroglyphics were replaced by the alphabet.

1300 BC

The Romans used a metal stylus to mark thin sheets of wax on wooden tablets. The flat end of the stylus was used to erase mistakes. In Asia, scribes typically used a stylus made from bronze.

1200 BC

The ink formula previously invented by Tien-Lcheu was now considered the norm.

800 BC – 500 BC

Ancient Greek woman wore rectangular woollen clothes called peplos, which were folded, pinned and tied at the waist with holes for the arms and head. They would not cut their hair unless they were in mourning.

400 BC

Egyptian scribes used the first reed pens. A reed pen is dipped into ink with a split in its point retaining the ink.

200 BC

Quill pens were developed as a more flexible and durable alternative to reed pens.

105 BC

Wood-fibre paper invented in China but not widely used in Europe until paper mills were built during the 1400s.

196 BC

The Rosetta Stone was written in the three scripts used in Ancient Egypt at the time: Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Greek.

400 AD

Tunic and trousers with attached socks were found in the Thorsberg Moor in Germany.

400 AD

A stable form of ink was developed using iron-salts, nutgalls and gum. It became the commonly used formula for centuries to follow.

1000 AD

Fancy fabrics such as silk were becoming increasingly popular for those who could afford them. Women commonly wore ankle-length tunics.

500 – 1500 AD

As well as writing on parchment, Anglo-Saxons used a metal or bone stylus on tablets filled with wax.

1600 AD

High-heels were adopted by Western European aristocrats. Theses became a status symbol and are believed to be where the phrase ‘well heeled’ originates.

600 – 1800 AD

Europeans wrote on parchment with a quill pen originating from Seville.

1600 – 1750

The Consumer Revolution saw fashionable clothes made available at lower cost, no longer just for the elite.


Pencil lead was invented independently in France and Australia.

1800 – 1850

With the Romantic Era, clothing designs became more complex and featured padded hems, twills and other decorative additions.

1800 – 1850  

A metal pen point was patented in 1803 but was not commercially exploited. Steel nibs came into common use in the 1830s and replaced quill pens. The quality of steel nibs was improved by tipping them with Iridium, Rhodium and Osmium alloys.

1850 – 1890s

Victorian fashion was characterised by the iconic bloomer dress, large structured petticoats and steam moulded corsets.


Insurance broker Lewis Edson Waterman invented the first commercially viable fountain pen.

1914 – 1918

Wartime clothing was practical with subdued colours and without lavish decoration. Footwear was generally made from wool gaiters to save leather for military uses.

1888 – 1916

The principle of the ballpoint pen was introduced in patents by John Loud and Van Vechten Riesberg but was not commercially exploited.


WW2 saw a clothing ration in Britain. Clothing production was focused on efficiency and utility.


The modern ballpoint pen was invented by Josef Lazlo Biro and his brother Georg. The first commercial models were made in 1943 and launched in the US in 1945 to immediate success.


Pierre Cardin opened his first womenswear boutique.


Pierre Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale as his ready-to-wear clothing was seen as a threat to the traditional fashion world.


Bic developed an industrial process for manufacturing ballpoint pens, dramatically lowering the unit cost. By 1957, the ballpen had become the most widely used pen in the world.


Advances in fabric technology allowed Pierre Cardin to incorporate metallic fabrics and vinyl into his space-age designs.


The Tokyo Stationery Company developed fibre-tipped pens or ‘felt-tips’.


Mary Quant invented the mini skirt.

1980s – 1990s

Rollerball pens were developed, employing a mobile ball and using gel or water-based ink for smoother writing.


Bic sold their 100 billionth ballpoint pen.


Brightly coloured clothes and dip-dyed hair characterised European fashion trends.

2010 – 2012

Fountain pen sales rose in a worldwide resurgence that continues to this day.

2017 – 2018

Ripped clothes dominate fashion, including shredded jeans, jumpers and tops.

2017 – 2018

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection is launched in the UK offering an exclusive collection of premium pens and notebooks.

The Pierre Cardin Writing Collection represents the pinnacle of fashion design and writing instrument development. Explore the range here.