2018 LA Pen Show Report: Franz

Hello Friends! I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2018 Los Angeles International Pen Show that was held on February 15 thru 18. I actually try to make it to the LA pen show every year as kind of like a vacation for myself. Things I look forward to at a pen show: hanging out with pen-minded people, perusing thousands upon thousands of different pens, possibly buying a pen (or two) that I can’t go home without, seeing and visiting with old friends, creating new friends, and just having a fun time!

 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sunset sky at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel. I have arrived!

Each year, the LA pen show is held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel in Manhattan Beach, California. This year, they’re in a transition period and changing their name to Westdrift but is still under the Marriott brand. The hotel was still undergoing construction during the pen show. There’s more to be said about that part but I’d rather just focus on the show which was all fun for me!

I arrived on Thursday afternoon just in time as the first day was wrapping up. I immediately checked in and went downstairs to the ballroom.

Pens were found!
Ebonite pens at the Peyton Street Pens table

Walking around, I found a “few” pens that want to be bought! But since it was the first day and the first hour I was at the show, I decided to just take it easy and mull it over until the next day. Basically, if the pen isn’t sold yet then it’s mine. So I didn’t buy anything for myself for Thursday. We left the hotel for dinner with Pen Posse peeps as well as pen dealers from Italy, and Japan. We had great food from Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill. We shared tapas, and pizzas but what we really went there for was the dessert. Salted Caramel Pudding. ‘Nuff said. =)

Salted Caramel Pudding

Back at the hotel, we all congregated to the hotel’s outdoor bar aptly called, “The Tent”. This is the time where pen people sit, relax, talk, and show off their pens.

At the bar: A Pilot Hira Maki-e pen in Ume pattern in the foreground while being photobombed by Kimberly.
At the bar: An Aurora Optima 365 Azzurra pen. Playing with pens is sweet especially when you have dessert on hand.

One of the pen bloggers (code name: Pink Hair) arrived at The Tent and generously let everyone try out the new Wancher Dream Pen. I must say that it is a substantial pen that filled my paws well. I then did a quick comparison in size with a Pelikan M1000. Thank you Agent Pink Hair!

At the bar: Wancher Dream Pen capped
At the bar: Wancher Dream Pen unposted
Side-by-side: Pelikan M1000 and Wancher Dream Pen

 

Friday, August 16, 2018

Good morning Los Angeles! It’s a beautiful day for a pen show! I woke up early-ish and got ready for the day. I went down around 8:30am and found that the show was already ongoing. Paid for my Trader Pass and I was on my way. Walked around and visited to say hello to friends (vendors and attendees).

I found the Straits Pen table with some Pelikan pens as well their table’s security detail.

Pelikan M400, M600, and M800
Pelikan M101 Originals of their Time 1935 in Lapis Blue
Pen Posse Yuan armed with an ebonite rod for those people with sticky fingers!

Walked around more and saw the Professional Nib Expert, Mike Masuyama at his table working early. I signed up to get some nibwork done as well. Because of how late I signed up (9:00am), I wasn’t sure if I’ll make the cut for the end of the day. That’s how in demand this gentleman is.

Mike Masuyama’s first customer was ready and raring to get her nibs ground!
Mike Masuyama’s work station wherein he pretty much sits behind the whole pen show. This is THE place where he wields his magic and skills to make you happy to write with your pens.
Masuyamasan grinding a nib to a cursive italic

Since Friday morning wasn’t too busy yet, I got the chance to do a Live Instagram video and got to show some of the pen show’s light action on Friday morning. I then uploaded to YouTube for others to watch. I was reading and answering live comments (that you don’t see anymore) so pardon my incoherency at times. Enjoy!

 

One of the pen dealers who I just met this year at the show was Letizia Iacopini from Italy. I have always heard of her name in the community and how she is an expert of Italian and other pens.  She is also an author of several fountain pen books. Her most recent book was, “Parker in Italia: 1900-1960”. Her table at the show had exquisite pens from the vintage and modern era. Majority of her pens were Italian.

Vintage Omas pens

Modern Omas pens
Own a Ferrari? Why not get a Ferrari Omas pen as well?
One of my favorites in Letizia’s table. A Parker 45 with Italian solid 18k gold basket weave overlay. I mean, WOW.

Then I turn around and walk 3 steps towards the table of Dayne Nix. He always brings in great vintage pens from different regions. As a side note, I met Dayne at the 2012 SF Pen Show and it was from him that I bought my first flex pen, a Parker Televisor and I still have it. Anyway, Dayne’s table display is fascinating especially his array of Conway Stewart Dinkie pens as well as his  demonstration of how a rare Zerollo Dunhill Two Pen worked.

Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 1
Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 2
Conway Stewart Dinkie, part 3
I placed a Pelikan 400 to contrast against the size of these Conway Stewart Dinkie pens

Perhaps one of the most curious pens I’ve seen from Dayne is this Zerollo/Dunhill Two Pen from the 1930s with a matchstick filler. Thank you for showing us this awesome pen Dayne! #onlyatpenshows

Brian and I were fascinated with the Zerollo/Dunhill Two Pen. I took a few action shots and these four showed the pen’s action very well.

At the Armando Simoni Club (ASC) table, a couple large pens caught my eye.

ASC Bologna Wild Dark Side, and Arco Brown
ASC Bologna Extra Israel

I then walked out of the ballroom to check out the Vanness Pens team in the hallway and look at who I found! Mike Vanness and his awesome suit! He always wears colorful clothing.

Mike Vanness

In the corner were Lisa Vanness, Joey Feldman, and Ana Reinert. Joey was creating artwork for people who bought journals at the show.

Lisa, Joey, and Ana
Mike joined in for the Vanness team photo sans Brad who was still traveling.
Vanness always brings in tons of paper, pens, and lots of ink! Akkerman, Lamy, Colorverse, etc.
Vibrant Pink Special Edition Lamy Al-Stars

 

FOOD TRIP: It was almost 11:00am and a few of the pen posse peeps congregated to go out for lunch. A quick-ish drive to Korea town for Magal B.B.Q.! It’s become a tradition for us mainly because of the magic tea they serve.

Kimchi, etc.
Magic Tea
Volcano Fried Rice

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for more pen show! It was actually energizing to step out of the show for a relaxed lunch. I need to do that more often.

I stumbled upon the Kenro table with all the Aurora pens on display.

The new lineup for Aurora Optima Flex limited edition pens. This time they have rhodium trim instead of the gold ones on the 88 lineup last year.
Aurora Optima pens. Blue Auroloide, Green Auroloide. And dio mio! Look at that Sole Mio!
Someone’s been playing with the caps of those Aurora 88 Demonstrators
The Aurora 88 Marte is showing off its beauty as it basks in the Sun.

Here’s a Pelikan basking in the sun as well.

That Bright Red M101N is enjoying the sunshine by the Dromgoole’s table

 

Vintage Corner: My friend Janet showed me a Pelikan IBIS in Grey Marbled that Rick Propas was selling and also showed me her Green Marbled one. The Pelikan IBIS was a pen produced from the mid-1930s thru the early 1940s. You don’t see the IBIS often and this was actually my first time to see the marble colored ones. #onlyatpenshows

Pelikan IBIS: Green Marbled, and Grey Marbled

I then went back to the Vanness Pens table to buy some of their special edition LA Pen Show journals by Curnow Bookbinding with artwork by Joey Feldman. Joey was still there and he drew my Pen Show Persona on the back of the A5 journal I bought. This guy is phenomenal and do you notice what he named my sneakers as? Pelikan M800 FTW! Thanks Joey!

Afterwards, I went up to my room to unload my purchases and rest for a while.

As I went back down, I checked on the progress at Mike Masuyama’s table. As it happens, the “last” person Mike was gonna help was a vendor and did not have the pen with him at the moment and I was the lucky person next on the list. Ricky got to take a picture of me as Masuyamasan was tuning my M800 nib. Thanks Ricky!

Masuyamasan’s last customer on Friday

Post Show Dinner: Every year, the SF Bay Pen Posse as well as friends from the SoCal contingent hold a dinner at the Tin Roof Bistro and Joi E. graciously organizes this with the restaurant. As seen on the menu, we call it, “Pen Posse: TRB Edition”. Thank you very much once again Joi!

For this meal, it’s all about the Brussel Sprouts! If you’ve had them at Tin Roof Bistro, you know this to be true.

Brussel Sprouts!!
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse, and Straberry Kunquat Trifle
coffee… coffee… coffee… pen…

Back at the hotel, it’s Pen Shows After Dark time!

At the bar: Cary’s Wahl-Eversharp Decoband in Gatsby Pensbury Etched finish
At the bar: Cary’s limited edition Pelikan M1000 Sunrise
At the bar: Cary’s limited edition Pelikan M1000 Sunrise
At the bar: Yuan brought delicious Port wine

 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pen Show Persona: Thanks to Sharon for taking this pic and thanks to Mike P. for the head gear!

Woke up early once again to get ready for the show. I think I got to the ballroom at 7:50am (so early) and it was once again busy with activity. A quick side note, a week prior at a Pen Posse meetup, I joked that I wanted to walk around the show wearing a magnifier head gear to look like a legit pen guy. Friday morning, my friend Mike got me one of these and I committed to what I said. Interestingly enough, what started out as a funny gesture became a very useful tool while I was perusing pens. Sometimes you just can’t see the small print on nibs and barrels. So if you’re going to a pen show, I recommend having a lighted magnifier like a loupe, or this head gear. #pro-tip

After signing up again at Mike Masuyama’s table, I did my walk around and found myself at Paul Erano’s table. Paul is the Grand Poobah of the secret-not-so-secret Black Pen Society.

Paul Erano: Parker 65, Cross Verve, vintage Parker Duofold pens, and a modern Parker Duofold International in between them.
Paul Erano: An array of more pens.

This year, I was fortunate to meet Jesi Coles at the show. She is one of the hosts of the B.Y.O.B. Pen Club Podcast and she also sells pens at shows or on her website. She is known for being a proprietor of vintage Esterbrook pens.

Jesi brought a nib tester display so people can try out the different nib types and sizes that Esterbrook had. This was pretty cool!
Esterbrook J, LJ, and SJ
Esterbrook Pastel pens

Suddenly, I saw 2 to 3 people doing a beeline from one side of the ballroom to the other. Apparently, a seller just brought out their trays of pens and a few pen buyers saw it from afar. #onlyatpenshows

Vintage Pen Trays

Visited the Peyton Street Pens table and found some vintage Pilot Pens from the 1950s. Sent my friend photos and a message if interested, and boom! Pen show muling… done. OPM points!

Green Pilot RMW300 set
Nib close up of the Pilot RMW300
The Pilot RMW300 also had gray and black color choices

Afterwards, I went up to the hotel’s mezzanine level to attend two seminars. This was my first time to sit in a seminar in LA. The first seminar was about writing books on pens by Mr. Andreas Lambrou. He described his process when he was starting to write his Fountain Pens of Japan book as well as the Fountain Pens of the World. I was so into his topic that I forgot to take a photo. The second seminar was about fantastic nibs by Mr. John Mottishaw. He was demonstrating how to tweak nibs to make it write a little better. He asked people to bring up pens that didn’t write quite right and showed them simple tricks to make it better.

John Mottishaw tweaking nibs

After the seminars, we stepped out for brunch at the Shake Shack across the street from the hotel. First time to have their food and it was good!

After brunch, it’s back to the show and I got to stop at the Artus Pens table and chat with Maxim. Artus Pen always has beautiful art pens painted by Russian artists. Their lacquer work is phenomenal and the artwork is just stunning.

Artus Pens
Artus Pens
Beautiful tiger lacquer on a watch. First time to see this at Artus Pen

 

One of the usually busy tables at a pen show is the Franklin-Christoph team. I barely got to see them yesterday because of people being at their table so I took advantage of a slower moment on Saturday. I got to peruse their show prototype pens and saw a “few” that I liked.

F-C Model 31 prototypes with the fantastic Jonathon Brooks material
F-C Model 45 and a couple Pocket 40 protoypes

Pens from Dale Beebe’s table. Pentooling.com

flexible nib pens
desk sets

More Pelikan pens…

Vintage Pelikan 100, 100N, etc.

I saw Eric Sands of Atelier Lusso who was also at last year’s SF Pen Show. He is a pen maker and he does great work as well. The clips on most of his pens were fashioned by Eric himself.

Atelier Lusso Pens
Atelier Lusso Pens

Back at Mike Masuyama’s table, Mike called me over and I had him do an italic grind on one nib as well as tune a vintage Pilot pen. A friend of mine was listed before my turn but had to leave the show so he entrusted me with 2 of his pens for Mike to work on. I spent a little over an hour sitting and chatting with Mike and other pen friends who walk by. This is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon at the pen show.

Mike checking out the nib with his loupe
Still taking a closer “loupe” at the nib
Mike applying his skills and grinding the magic on to my M800 nib

 

Sometimes, a vintage pen is stubborn and takes a little more time. Mike seems to be casting a spell on it or something. =P

After sitting with Mike, I walked around once again and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. We went to  dinner just outside the hotel and came back to “The Tent” for more hanging out.

A friend of mine showed me her newly purchased Franklin-Christoph Model 65.

We were admiring different pens with my LED light panel then something happened. A certain brand of urushi lacquered pens kept on appearing under the light and we decided to take a family photo.

A Nakaya family photo from different pen owners
BTS Photo: A photo LED light panel makes a difference when you’re in a dark area
Kikyo (Blue) Urushi on 2 Neo-Standards and a Long. We were discussing how the kikyo finish was different among the 3 pens. Pretty interesting!

Called it a night and went to bed. Sunday is the busiest day and I am helping out at a table so I had to get some rest.

 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Last day of the pen show! Woke up around 6:30 to catch the sunrise. I swear, pen shows are the only time I sleep late, and wake up earlier than when I have to go to work. Pen Show Time Zone! =)

The show opens to the general public by 10:00am so the Trader Pass holders had 2 hours of last minute shopping before the crowd gets in. I took advantage to take a few photos before I had to work at a table so here are some photos as I walked around.

The Classic Fountain Pens table.

Nakaya nib testers
Neo Standard in Shinobu Blue
Urushi goodness
These ladies took care of all the customers over the weekend. They answered questions about the pens as well as nib grinds. Thank you!
Last but not the least, CFP’s security detail, Pony Boy. #adventuresofponyboy

The PENguin Rick Propas‘ table had a lot of pens for sale and these were a few pens that caught my fancy. He is also a “fountain” of knowledge about pens and is always willing to share it.

Vintage Kaweco Sport pens
Uncapped vintage Kaweco Sport has a nice shaped nib and a blue ink window
These were Kaweco 187 and 189 vintage pens
Vintage Pelikan 140 for $140. These are perfect starter pens for people who want to go vintage and experience a Pelkan pen with vintage gold nibs. The box on the right were the 120 pens that usually sport a steel nib.
A Pelikan 400NN Tortoiseshell set in its original leather case
One of the more sought-after Pelikan pens is this M620 San Francisco from the City Series.
A different perspective to show the different cap finials of vintage Montblanc pens. #whitestarpen
Rick also had a lot of vintage Parker pens for sale. I wish I had funds to just buy all of these.
A nice gold-filled Eversharp Ventura set.
This is one of the premium pen trays =)
Pen shows have knives too!

The Wahl-Eversharp table was manned by Syd and Judi Saperstein

Judi was ready with her sweet smile and to give away sweet candies!
Wahl-Eversharp Decoband Israel. That blue material is fantastic!
The Magnificent Seven Decoband set

Pendemonium’s Sam and Frank were ready for the Sunday crowd

Frank and Sam Fiorella. Two of my most favorite people.
I seem to always catch Sam while taking photos
Typewriters can also be found at a pen show

Bill Weakley’s table had beautiful discontinued Pelikan pens for sale.

The Andersons always brings paper, pen cases, pens, and inks to the shows.

Anderson Pens

Vintage Wahl-Eversharp pens found at table of The Write Shoppe

Wahl-Eversharp pens

Not just fountain pens… Stabilo markers found at Carla M.’s table for kids attending the show.

Coloful Stabilo markers

Ray Walters from the United Kingdom was at the show as well.

Parker Duofold pens, Omas pens

Alright, 10:00am arrives and the crowd is let in. I didn’t get to take photos of the line this year but it was pretty long as usual. Having one public day at a pen show honestly causes the big rush. Sometimes people wish that public was allowed to get in on Saturday as well. Will that change? Maybe. Not sure. I hope so. Anyway, here are my shots of the ballroom while I was helping out at a table around 10:30 so the full force of people haven’t really cleared the line yet.

Around 1:00pm, the crowd let up a bit and I got a chance to walk around and do a live Instagram video once again. Enjoy!

And with that, 5:00pm arrived and the 2018 LA Pen Show was over. Helped a couple vendors pack up, and went to dinner to end a tiring but fun weekend.

 

Final Thoughts

Pen shows are definitely a fun event to attend. Being in the pen community forges friendships and pen shows are way for you to see your friends. It can never be said enough, if you are near a pen show or can afford to attend one, do it. You find out how a certain pen feels in your hand, you learn about different pens, you find pens you didn’t know existed, but more importantly, you meet people who are as enthusiastic as you are with stationery and pens. To these people, these aren’t just sticks that hold ink. =P

As I’ve said before, pen shows for me have evolved into a social event and honestly is what I treasure more than what pens I bought. To all my friends, it was great to see you as always and to all the new people I’ve met, Instagram people I’ve finally met in real life, hope to see you all more often as well. Until next year!

Thank you for your time in reading my report!

 

“Pen shows are about the people and the stories between each other. The pens start the story and the people get closer.”

Part of my pen show haul: Sheaffer Flat-top, Pelikan 300, and LA Pen Show journal from Vanness Pens. I also got my Pen Addict “MemberChip” given by Brad Dowdy. Gotta represent Susie Wirth too!

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12 Comments

  1. I always enjoy Franz’s enthusiasm for both pens and people, at Pen Posse lunches and in his pen show reports. Although I won’t say this is better than being there, I will say it offers closeups I probably wouldn’t have experienced if I’d gone to the show: the Conway Stewart Dinkies, the vintage Kawecos, the Artus pens from Russia. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for the write up Franz! And it was cool meeting you at the show. Because of our team about Pelikan pens I purchased the M120 Blue today! So excited to receive it and for you being kind enough to talk to this pen show Noob!

    1. Hello Rene! Definitely great to meet you at the show. And congrats on your Blue Peli! Yay! =) Enjoy that pen!
      Hope to see you at the SF Pen Show in August this year.

  3. That was a great read. It was really nice to meet you at the show and wish I stuck around longer. If I see you at the SF show, I will probably ask you a lot of questions.

    1. Thanks for reading my report Jemina! And it definitely was great to meet you even if it were only for a quick minute. =) See you in August!
      And even before then, don’t hesitate to drop me a line for questions.

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