Buying gifts for the analog-leaning attorney in your life might seem like an impossible task. In a digital-forward gadget universe, finding something cool that doesn’t need batteries or a software update is kind of maddening. Get one of these gifts for your retro-tech friends and they’ll say thanks for such a remarkably thoughtful present. Probably with a handwritten card in perfect cursive.
You don’t normally think of a pencil sharpener as a luxury gift but I assure you, handing your favorite analog attorney a Mobius & Ruppert Pollux will make them cry. The Pollux is the best hand-held pencil sharpener in the world. Instead of a perfectly conical point, the Pollux shaves a slight curvature into the tip of your pencil so it’s just barely concave. This gives a longer point so you can write more between sharpenings. Other sharpeners do the same thing but the 18.5-degree curve of the Pollux is unquestionably superior. Solid brass German craftsmanship. Heavy. Will survive a nuclear blast.
The Blackwing 602 (as I’ve noted before) is arguably the most famous pencil in pencildom. John Steinbeck burned through 60 a day. Chuck Jones drew Bugs Bunny with a 602. Quincy Jones composed with them. A vintage 602 can go for over $100 on eBay, but you can get one for less. Palamino Pencils resurrected the Blackwing with obsessive (and poetic) attention to detail in craftsmanship and lead composition. They are not cheap: A set of 12 is $24.95 but they are worth every penny and come in black, gray and pearly white. Go with the starter set, with metal caps and the patented Blackwing two-stage sharpener.
Japanese mega stationer Pilot introduced this workhorse pen in 2012. As much as I love expensive collectible fountain pens, I don’t carry any of them around with me. I carry a Pilot. Fountain pens are touchy and for the newbie scribbler, poor pen usage can lead to stained fingers, stained pockets, and generally ink everywhere. Worse, if you buy a $300 fountain pen and lose it, you might start crying, which doesn’t play well in a meeting. Lose a Pilot fountain and you’ll be irritated but only out 15 bucks. You can get one from the Goulet Pen store and support small businesses, or you can succumb to the borg and get one from Amazon same day.
A good pocket notebook is a lost luxury from the days when people wrote down stuff to remember it instead of yelling at their phones. There are countless great notebooks for jotting quick thoughts and phone numbers and doodling. Your analog-leaning friends might even have a stack of Moleskins or Leuchtturms on their desk. But a truly great pocket notebook is both luxurious and cheap. For sheer minimalist design and outstanding quality, I turn to Smplnotebooks. At less than two bucks each, you can get a brick of these useful, durable pads for under $20.
In the daily life of scribbling analogs, jotting is serious business. A pocket notebook is vital on the go, but at your desk its efficacy is eclipsed by a blotter pad. Think of it as an open-faced notebook. Where the notepad has two, maybe three steps to recording a thought, the desk pad has zilch. It’s already there, already open, waiting for you to scrawl “Anne needs the dep!” or “Court at 3?” But the great, wide classic calendar blotter is overkill — and no fun. A better bet is Baron Fig’s Mastermind, a truly utile pad, which can come with an extraordinary satellite, Nomad, their awesome sticky notes. Both the Mastermind and the Nomad notes have a dot grid matrix and archival quality paper. For the obsessive sticky-noter and blotter jottist, there is no better gift.
Penmanship is enjoying a comeback moment thanks to recent articles promoting its benefits to the mind. Sure, it takes longer to write “Get me those briefs now or I will kill you” on a sticky note than it does to type them into your computer — but there is value in that time. Writing in cursive engages more of your executive mind than typing. You can’t write without looking at the words you’re laying down, and you have to make a lot of microdecisions as you go about shape and clarity and word choice. Beautiful penmanship is merely icing on the cake of writing by hand: Practicing and mastering this skill not only rewards you with a gorgeous script, the actual practice — which you can perform in these incredible Spencerian Method Handwriting Manuals — delivers the same reward as meditation.