Buying Calligraphy Supplies from Abroad: Wills Quills Australia

calligraphy, supplies

So I wanted to buy some broad edge nibs to try out and I’m on a mission to discover a reliable supplier for my calligraphic needs. This is before I know an art supply store was open in my town. But even there the stock and range are limited, and I can’t keep buying Speedball sets (for want to cherry pick my nibs). The other local sellers I know tend to supply pointed nibs more anyhow.

I scoured the web for my options – I’ve never purchased a physical good online internationally before. Naturally I was worried about import duties, whether I’d have to visit the post office – I don’t know how long it would take or whether it would get here at all. But my preliminary research shows that imported goods are supposed to be tax-free under USD 50, so I made sure my total purchase value (plus shipping!) stays under that.

Why Wills Quills Australia

I know most people online refers to Paper & Ink Arts and John Neal in the USA, but they’re literally half the world away from where I live. I decided that for my first time, I’d attempt something nearer, but not quite from the same continent – since I’m going all international. So I chose Wills Quills. And they have the bone folder that I wanted.

The Ordering Process

I sent an email inquiring about international orders and how much they cost, which was swiftly responded to. Turned out there was only one option for shipping to Indonesia, which is the air mail. I placed my order and did not ask about shipping time or tracking number – since I was determined to order anyway, so I was purposefully letting the nibs fall where they may.

The Waiting

I anticipated the parcel to get here in a month, because that’s how long it takes when I order imported books online. So when it did not come, I tried contacting Wills Quills the second time to confirm. I knew that their physical shop was closed, but is it possible that they’ve stopped selling from the website as well? When they didn’t respond, I panicked – considerably. I was prepared for the possibility that it got lost or stuck with the customs, but not knowing is as bad as they say – anything is better than that. I even went so far as emailing Gemma Black (I know, whaat?). That was before I remembered that the person I emailed included a What’sApp number on his email signature (duh). So I contacted him that way and it turned out they were having problems with their email (phew!). He showed me the shipping receipt, told me that the parcel was dispatched as soon as the payment’s received and should be on its way, but unfortunately there was no way I could track it. I thanked him and felt somewhat relieved – at least the parcel’s been sent. Then I waited once again – a-third resigned, a-third expectant and a-third trying to forget about it.

The Arrival

Until – about a month later, it came.

As I expected from my online research, the local post office had inspected and repackaged it, so I had to pay IDR 7.000 upon receiving it – but otherwise it’s duty free, and at least I didn’t have to go to the post office myself, and – boy, was I glad it came at last.

The items were exactly what I ordered, and there was the purchase receipt inserted. Considering the simple bubble wrap/envelope packaging and it had crossed a sea or two, everything arrived in one piece. My only objection is my Mitchell in particular has black spots. I’ve decided to use it in my practice before the others, because it seems kind of worse for wear – probably from the factory – but it still works perfectly fine. I am intending to remove the spots though.


  • Yay, thank you Wills Quills for handling my meagre overseas order and patiently answering my questions. Hopefully people would read this and know that your online store is fully operational.
  • I’ll never know how long that parcel’s been in Indonesia, or in Surabaya, for that matter, but a parcel from Australia gets to my door in about 2 months.
  • Before placing an order, it’s worth trying to find out about shipping time and whether tracking is available… however set you are to make the purchase. Save yourself and others from future bothers.
  • I shall continue on my calligraphy supplier search quest and make more international orders, probably from other countries, so stay tuned for more reports!

If you have some experience on how you get you calligraphy supplies, in Indonesia or wherever you are, please share below!



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