Hello Osaka! This follows my (Katherine’s) posts on pen shopping in Tokyo and Kyoto.
My very first stop was at Daimaru, but I apparently forgot to take pictures, and their pen selection was pretty underwhelming. Instead I bought a bunch of Jinbei-san stationary. And a plush. I do need things to write on!
Next up, Hankyu! This store is in Hanshin-Umeda station (right next to the JR Osaka Station), which makes it easy to access (Hanshin is also in the area, and Nagasawa is within walking distance). I think there’s also a Tokyu Hands nearby.
Hankyu stocks a large variety of pens — including some Nakaya and high end Sailor stuff. They still had a Sailor 105th year Zuisei in stock!
And a selection of Nakaya…
And their own store exclusive inks! Swabs and swatches will be coming soon. I got all three. I have great self control. Hah.
Next up, Yodabashi in Umeda is actually one of those giant multi-level camera/electronics stores, so I was expecting a small display. But surprisingly they have a pretty extensive Platinum display. (As context, we kept going to electronics stores to look for Nintendo Switches)
And a selection of converters and inks.
Walking distance from Umeda Station is Nagasawa, which is inside a Maruzen. Nagasawa is by far my favorite store of this trip. And also the only store with interesting Nakaya in stock — they had several with rollstops and non-yellow gold nibs. Amazing! (And bad for my wallet. That toki-tamenuri decapod with the rose gold goldfish stop? It’s mine now.)
They also carry several limited edition pens — here is the Platinum Censke, in pink and yellow gold: (I was very tempted to get a yellow gold one to put a Nakaya Maki-e converter into!)
And the store exclusive Sailors in pretty pastel hues:
And, of course, their inks!
In addition to their own line of Sailor inks, they also had a great selection of other brands’ inks.
It’s actually a little kiosk thingy inside Maruzen. And they can handle tax free for you as you pay — so no need to shuffle around to another counter.
Next was Morita, which was a ten minute walk from the closest subway stop from Hanshin-Umeda:
Mr. Morita was super friendly, but was also the pushiest person I met in Japan. He kept offering to show me different things. More funny than annoying though. He also has a line of exclusive Sailors — third row from the top, right and center of the divider — robin’s egg blue! And two exclusive colors of ink, Red Wine and Shade Green — swatches to come!
Also at Hanshin-Umeda station was Hanshin department store. They had a small selection, but I wouldn’t go out of my way and instead spend more time in Hankyu or at Nagasawa.
The Namba Takashimaya has a Maruzen inside it — in the basement and slightly across the subway station. Like the other Maruzens, a decent pen selection and they carry their Athena inks in black, blue, blue black and sepia.
And they had this Duofold on display. I think it looks a little derpy. But wow that’s a lot of money.
I also made it out to Kobe, to eat beef. And we finally found a Nintendo Switch at the Toys R Us in Kobe Harborland. There is a Nagasawa there too, but it’s primarily a stationary store, not a fountain pen store. And they had a no picture policy. So, no pictures.
Instead, here are pictures from the Kobe Nagasawa Pen Style Den. It’s on the third floor of a small ish building (and one train stop away from Harborland), once again a kiosk inside a larger store. But, unlike the other Nagasawas, this one carries vintage! (At crazy prices) And two store-exclusive designs of Nakaya Maki-e converters.
And has samples of the different Nakaya finishes to touch and see:
And a good selection of ready to go Nakaya, including one in the now discontinued Shiro-tamenuri. (But not as many pens will roll stops as the Umeda Nagasawa)
And a case of this year’s Oeste Prera. (Which the other Nagasawa had too, I just forgot to take a picture).
We also stumbled upon this Stationary Store (that’s what Maps calls it, I can’t figure out what it’s called otherwise) that is ENTIRELY CAT THEMED. They do carry a small selection of fountain pens, but also cats everywhere!
And a small selection of pens, both fountain and not:
But omg so much cute cat stuff:
Because I don’t know the name, here’s the address: (It’s also next to the “NMB 48 official shop”, which might be easier to map to)
Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0075
I had been warned that there wasn’t much fountain pen shopping to be done in Osaka — so I was pleasantly surprised. The Nagasawa stores had the largest and most varied selection of Nakayas, as well as their own interesting exclusives.
And Osaka was full of delicious okonomiyaki. But I forgot to upload pictures.
My visit to Kyoto was fairly brief, and I’d done a lot of shopping in Tokyo, so I didn’t go out of my way to hunt down any pens. (I promise Osaka will be more exciting!)
My first stop was Isetan — it’s the giant department store attached to Kyoto Station. Fountain pens are waaaaay up (floor 10, I think) They have a small pen and stationary section, but nothing particularly interesting. There didn’t seem to be any limited edition anything… But if you’re in the area and want to pick up something at Japanese prices, not bad! Also, if you take the escalator all the way up, you’ll stop through several floors of random quirky stuff, like rocks with faces painted on for $15.
And a tray of “American Taste” pens on a side shelf. Hah.
The other store I made it to in Kyoto was Tokyu Hands. If you’re unfamiliar with Tokyu Hands, it’s not a Kyoto-specific store — they have branches all over Japan, and some in Singapore too! They sell a variety of things from cooking utensils to handbags to… fountain pens! The Kyoto branch is very close to Nishiki Warai, a well known shopping/eating street.
Tokyo Hands stocks a pretty generic selection of inks and pens — including ones at several price points, capping out at about $200. No Nakaya or Namikis here. But they also carry a solid selection of inks, no exclusives, but much more than a couple department stores that have seemed to only stock Pilot blue and black.
In addition to many of the usual subjects, Tokyo Hands also stocks Kyoto Celluloid — I didn’t see this at other branches, but I’ve been told that the Singapore branch also stocks these.
And, because I actually came to Kyoto to see temples, here’s a picture of one of the temples within Enryaku-ji, on Mt. Hiei. Kyoto was amazing, and I think there were a couple more ink places I could have stopped by, but priorities!
Pelikan M805 demonstrator, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
As some of you may know, I, Katherine, am currently in Japan! I spent the last few days in Tokyo, and am now writing this from my Airbnb in Kyoto. I’m here primarily to see the sakura — so look! They’re so pretty! We lucked out and hit Tokyo right as the blossoms hit full bloom, but before it rained.
Chidori-ga-fuchi boat ride
But I know you’re here for my notes on fountain pen shopping in Tokyo, so I won’t bore you with any more pictures of sakura. 🙂 As a disclaimer, there are much more complete lists of fountain pen stores in Tokyo. This is by no means an exhaustive list — for that I like this one. This is my first time in Tokyo, so while I certainly hit up some fountain pen stores, I didn’t spent a lot of time pen hunting.
Ameyoko – Bruno (the link above) mentions that there are a couple stores here. I couldn’t find them. Instead I got distracted eating takoyaki, eyeing trays of sashimi and trying to figure out what the other edible offerings were. Fun place, but not terribly easy to navigate.
This was my first stop. I was trying to get to Maruzen Nihombashi, walked out of Tokyo station, crossed a street… and looked up to see a MARUZEN sign. The pens are on the top floor (I think? I was pretty tired) and while there’s only one long counter — there’s a lot of good stuff here!
They had all the brands I would expect and a handful I didn’t recognize.
And a small selection of beautiful Nakaya. That green + silver chinkin really caught my eye.
And an ink shelf to the right of the pen counter. The green boxes in the bottom left are their exclusive brand — Maruzen Athena. They had black, blue, blue black and sepia in stock. Each bottle is ¥2000 plus tax (8%).
This branch had a slightly larger (I think) selection of pens spread across several counters in the basement. Additionally, the Nihombashi branch has some exclusive inks (and they come in the old style Sailor bottles!) — also ¥2000.
Eurobox Eurobox is a small and somewhat hard to find purveyor of used pens in Ginza. It took me a couple attempts at peering into different buildings to realize that it’s NOT on the ground floor. There is no street facing Eurobox sign. Walk into the door way in this picture (the right one, not the random antiques store next door):
Then go up four flights of stairs… and ta-da!
The owner, Eizo, wasn’t in when I visited, instead it was his son. I’ve emailed Eizo before and he’s always been helpful and speaks pretty good English. His son was also very helpful and nice. He insisted on ducking out of the picture above.
They carry a fantastic selection of vintage pens, primarily American and German. Their prices seem to be fair, but aren’t a bargain. They know what their pens are worth. 🙂 A couple pens caught my eye, but the one I want most still needs restoration, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with Eizo. Fingers crossed everything works out!
The selection here is tiny — I’d suggest going to the Nihombashi branch instead. I didn’t make it because I ran out of time. The Ginza branch carries a handful of brands, but nothing super interesting or unique compared to other stores. And no ink that I could find.
Itoya really deserves a post of it’s own. It’s a massive stationary/art/neat stuff store that spans two buildings. Fountain pens are in the main building, on the third floor. The annex still has a section where you can build a custom notebook. Neat!
They carry a wide selection of the typical brands you’d expect, but also a handful of less common brands like Manu Propria, Danitrio and Nakaya.
Sorry for the glare-y photos, the store is very well lit and my phone doesn’t know how to deal with that.
And, they stock Kobe inks! Only one bottle per person per color though. No hoarding. ¥2000 each.
Additionally, if you’re in Japan on a visitor visa and have your passport, you can go to the 6th floor and your 8% tax will be refunded to you. Just don’t be a late evening shopper like me — then you feel bad keeping people at work after store close. (More on that at the bottom of this post)
Kingdom Note is primarily famous for their incredible selection of custom inks. But they have quite the selection of pens too. As I was there, they were helping two people pick pens — each pen was lovingly handled and tested.
Here’s the crazy wall of inks behind the counter — the far bottom corner is the home of their custom inks. You can see the little black boxes with white labels. Each is ¥2000 plus 8% tax.
They also still had their current line of vegetable sailor pens on display (though I didn’t check availability) and a handful of other exclusive designs.
Yodobashi Camera (Shinjuku, I think?)
Not worth a trip. But if you’re already hitting up electronics stores while looking for a Nintendo Switch — you should certainly pick up a couple bottles of Iroshizuku at a great price! (¥1620 + 8% tax)
I know I said no more sakura pictures… but Takashimaya borders a beautiful street, aptly named Sakura-dori. Crazy. Why stand in a crowded park when you can eat delicious karaage (8 blocks down from Takashimaya), take a lovely stroll, then go buy some pens?!
Takashimaya has its own line of store-exclusive inks. I have no idea what availability is like, but they had all of them in stock when I went. My self control is terrible and I got three bottles. Each is ¥2000 + tax. Writing samples to come. Eventually. If you want a tax refund (more on that later), Takashimaya requires you to buy at least ¥5000 of “consumables” — and seals them so you can’t open them in Japan.
The pen selection is nothing special — but is decent and the staff were very, very nice. They also had a case of Namiki maki-e pens. No Nakayas though.
They did have this neat Pilot nib-tester thing! The only other place I saw this was Maruzen Nihombashi. Maybe the others had it and I just didn’t notice.
All in all, this is what I bought myself:
Maruzen Athena Hatobanezu ink (Nihombashi only)
Kingdom Note blue shelfy mushroom
Kobe #51 (Itoya)
Maruzen Athena Blue Black (Nihombashi and Oazo both had it)
Three bottles of Takashimaya ink
Pilot Sunset Blue Capless
2 Nakaya Maki-e converters
A note on sales tax:
I mentioned this above, but I wanted to elaborate a little more, since I didn’t know much about the tax refund process when I started shopping. All the stores add on 8% in sales tax. I’m not sure if that’s Japan wide or just Tokyo. As a visitor (foreign passport and a visa that lets you stay less than six months) you can get this tax refunded if your purchase is over ¥5000. Some stores can process it for you in house (Takashimaya, Itoya, probably any of the big department stores) and some can’t, you have to go to a separate tax counter (Maruzen, Kingdom Note) somewhere in the city. But you have to get your refund on the day of your purchase. So plan ahead! Also, you should google the tax refund process yourself — I could be wrong. 🙂
For the last couple years, Kata (@kataish) and Franz (@franzdimson) have run the Six Pen Challenge on Instagram — this year we’re hoping that more people will join us! This will be the first year that the Hand Over That Pen crew will be doing it together!
This year’s Instagram tag is #6PENCHALLENGE17. And the challenge will begin on March 1, 2017. Even if you start late in March, it’s perfectly fine. It’s all about the fun of it. =)
Tag your Instagram/Twitter posts to show that you’re joining in this fun challenge and to show your progress as well.
There’s only one rule in this challenge: Only six pens inked at a time.
Once you’ve written a pen dry, will you be re-inking it? Or choose another pen to ink up and use? That’s totally up to you! It’s a great way to appreciate your pens and have a bit more focus and fun in this pen hobby of ours.
Check out #6PenChallenge on Instagram for past photos/posts. The Six Pen Challenge was first ran on October 2014, then May 2015, and the last one was March 2016.
Will you join us? Which are your six pens and inks? Let us know!
If you had $500 and you can buy three pens, what pens would those be?
And, to clarify, this should be MSRP/fair prices for the pens — not 50-cent flea market Montblanc finds. (Katherine has only managed to do this twice…)
I’ll be honest — I didn’t listen to the podcast, but when Pam first asked me, my immediate question was “MSRP, or how much I paid for the pen used?” But, I guess to be fair, we’re going with fair prices, not crazy deals. 🙂 My three would be my Doric (I paid $275 for it at a pen show, so I assume that’s fair? :P), a Pilot Vanishing Point with a fine nib ($90ish off eBay) and a vintage Pelikan 400 with a fine nib, ideally a soft one (~$120 in green most likely, since I’ve never seen a Tortie one below $140 ish, but I have purchased two greens and a black for $120 or under).
If I was only allowed modern pens… A Pelikan M805 in extra fine (EF) nib (~$350 from the UK), a Pilot Vanishing Point also with an EF nib (~$90ish), a Kaweco Sport with a broad nib ($25), and, if it’s allowed, a 1.1 calligraphy nib for the Kaweco ($12).
I loved the idea of the $500 game because it really highlighted to me what pens I would recommend to a budding pen lover who is on a relatively limited budget. Or the better question for me was what would be the three pens I would want to buy and use regularly if I only had $500 to spend on pens for the foreseeable future. (This is a possible future since my “new year’s resolution” for 2017 is to “Save more and eff up less.”) I don’t see the “savings” part standing for very long when I am surrounded by such amazing pen friends, writing instruments, ink and stationery.
My choices are the Lamy 2000 in an EF nib (~$160 via Goulet Pens), a Sailor Pro Gear Slim, transparent model with rhodium trim, in EF nib (~$160 via Anderson’s Pens) and Brute Force Design’s Pequeño in Amber Tortoise acrylic with a fine or medium nib so that Katherine can experiment grinding the nib (~$145 from Brute Force Designs aka Troy Clark).
Leftover money would be for ink from Vanness. My choices for ink would be: Bungbox Omaezaki Sea, Sailor Yama-dori, Pilot Tsuki-yo.
This is sooo easy! Pelikan M805 Blue-Black with a medium cursive italic by Mr. Mike Masuyama… BOOM!! hahaha… I know, I know, that’s against the rule of the game. ;-P
Okay, it definitely was a difficult task but I think it became a learning experience and taught me what I would want other than Pelikan pens. So the first pen would be an Edison Huron from the Signature Line of the Edison Pen Co. ($250), and I will ask him to do a cursive italic grind on a broad nib ($40). Next would be the Franklin-Christoph Model 03 Anderson Pens Special Edition with a medium nib ($165). That blue marble acrylic is just something else! And the last pen would be a black TWSBI Eco with a fine nib (~$30 from Goulet Pens). And I still have $15 for a nice bottle of Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium, or Sailor Yama-Dori.
What would you choose for the $500 game? Better yet, what are you getting for the pen lover in your life?
Today we’re taking a break from our usual reviews for a quick tutorial! This is my first time writing a tutorial, so please let me know if there are any questions or things I could explain to make this more helpful!
Your neighborhood VP modifier,
To start with — you pick a pen to modify.
I chose to use a Pilot Vanishing Point. I did this for three reasons — 1. they’re easy to find lightly used, though not terribly cheap (I paid $37 for one with no nib, and $60 for the other, with a nib), 2. the cylindrical shape makes it easier to get an even finish. I don’t have to worry about the curved end of most pens and, 3. the clip is removable — it’s really hard to get UNDER a clip to sand and buff if you can’t remove it. (I guess you could hope no one notices your imperfect finish around the clip, but meh)
Next — remove the clip. If you chose to go with a Vanishing Point, I found Richard Binder’s tutorial here quite helpful. I used a piece of bike inner tube and a normal pair of pliers (I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t own section pliers) to wiggle the clip off.
If you chose to use a VP, you’ll now have the rubber trapdoor exposed — I found it helpful to wrap that in a cylinder of masking tape. This means that you can hold the area and not worry about damaging the trapdoor. During my first modification, I did push the wire that holds the trapdoor in out at some point… and spent 20 minutes squinting with a pair of tweezers to get it back in. Avoid that.
And, before you start, find a way that you can dry your pen so that none of the wet parts of the finish will touch anything. For the VPs, if you find a perfect sized box, it can be balanced on the clicky part and the masking tape cone. For other pens, you may need to take a box, stick some holes in it and have chopsticks hold up the pieces. (Assuming they have closed ends)
(bottom left is abalone shell, top right is glitter nail polish)
Now for the fun part — your new finish! You have a couple of options:
Glitter nail polish (I used Revlon’s discontinued Moon Candy glitter flakes. I went for something with iridescent but not opaque flakes that came in irregular sizes. I’d love suggestions for other options!) Lots of pictures of this finish are in our Decimo review.
Abalone shell (like actual raden!) — I suspect you could use any number of other types of shell that contain nacre, but I don’t know how well they flake, so it’s up to you to try. Oysters and certain mussels are apparently the common sources for mother of pearl. I’m a weirdo who ate a bunch of abalones a few months ago and kept the shells, so I used abalone shell.
Something else — if you do a bunch of Googling and eBaying, you can buy pre-cut mother of pearl sheets that may be actual MOP (nacre) or mica, depending on what you buy. This tutorial should work with either.
(some of the dust from my abalone shell as I flaked it with a dremel… then you get to pick through it with tweezers for the bigger pieces)
How to flake abalone (ymmv with other types of shell, but I suspect it’ll be similar) — I found it easiest to work with a dremel and dremel off pieces of the shell, bit by bit, sometimes straight down, sometimes at an angle. Then, when you have a decent pile of abalone-shell dust (most of it will be dust), pick through the pile with tweezers and put them on a piece of black paper (in my case I used a dark grey plastic dinner plate). You want to separate out as much dust as possible, since you don’t want the dust on your pen. If you don’t have a dremel, you can probabbbbly hammer it into small pieces and pick through the fragments. (I haven’t tried it, but it seems like it should work!)
EDIT: Make sure you wear a respirator while doing this! Otherwise you’re breathing in a lot of icky dust and abalone powder.
And other supplies you’ll want:
Micromesh (I used a lot of 2000 grit sandpaper, but having some variety will help you achieve exactly the look you want)
Tiny brushes (I stole the brushes out of my mom’s Latisse kits, but any small brushes that don’t shed bristles should be good)
A quick note on polyacrylic vs polyurethane — polyacrylic is what I initially used for both pens, it’s easy to work with — washes out of brushes with soap and water and sands and buffs quickly. However, it’s not a very hard finish. This is fine on a matte finish pen, since small dings and scratches don’t stand out. However, if you want a high-gloss, glass-like finish, you have to work with polyurethane. It smells worse, is hard to wash out, harder to sand… but is much harder (even then, it’s not as hard as urushi or many other pen finishes, I’m still working on figuring out what my other options are). Also, polyacrylic dries clear, and polyurethane has an “amber” tone — so if you’re layering over a very blue finish, it could look weird.
I found that acrylic paint mixes into polyacrylic fairly well and gives it a nice tint — I used this to hide the blemishes in the base finish of the matte black VP I started with for the abalone-finish pen. This isn’t necessary, but I imagine some cool layering could be done.
Once you have everything… (some general instructions)
Do a quick layer of sanding on the original finish. I used 800 grit sand paper and just did a quick pass.
Apply the first layer of the finish (more on this below)
Apply the second layer of the finish
Apply the first layer of clear polyacrylic/urethane and let it dry for 6-12 hours minimum. I know the can says it’s dry in 2 hours or something, but it’s probably a lie.
Apply another layer of poly
Sand lightly — does the finish still feel very bumpy? If so, repeat layering and sanding until it’s reasonably smooth, then:
Buff using successively higher grits of micromesh to get a mirror-like shine or be lazy and get lucky with a layer of polyurethane being smooth and glossy
And you’re done!
How to apply the glitter finish:
I used two different “colors” of glitter, one that spanned most of the body (a mostly purple/blue glitter) and a multicolor one that I focused on the middle of the pen, to give it that “gradient” look. I did a layer of the purple glitter first, let it dry, then did the second multicolor layer. Then I let both layers dry and de-gas for a day. I’m not sure if such a long drying period is necessary, but something I read on the internet (and the internet never lies) said that drying nail polish releases gasses, and you want all of that gone before you seal it further. Seems plausible. After those two layers dry, you can start step 4 above. (I think it took me three “top” coats to get the pen more or less smooth)
How to apply a “raden” or abalone-flake finish: (Even getting flakes aside, this one is much more involved)
I first did two layers of tinted polyacrylic to cover up the wear in the finish. That’s totally optional, but gave me a very even base to work with. Then, I used a small brush and painted on a very small thin patch of tinted (you could use clear) poly, then placed flakes one by one using my damp finger and tweezers. You really want just flakes on a dark surface, ideally roughly sorted by size. If you go for the gradient look, you’ll want the larger flakes toward the middle and the thin layer of poly stops being tacky enough to hold a flake in a couple minutes, so work in small areas. I found that my damp fingertip was easier to get the flake on where I wanted it, then if necessary, tweezers could push the flake around. I finished the entire pen (patch by patch) in about an hour of lots of squinting with a bright table lamp. From here, you can go to step 4 above. (I think it took me 4-6 layers to get it smooth)
Tada! You’re done. Let the pen dry for a couple days (unless you’ve actually been spacing out each layer and letting things dry reallly well), reattach your clip (I used a smidge of sac shellac) and enjoy!
Hello friends! It has been almost two weeks since the 2016 SF Pen Show was held at the Sofitel SF Bay Hotel in Redwood City, California on August 26, 27, and 28, 2016. Oh what a great experience that was and I already miss it and cannot wait for next year.
I have never done any pen show recap/reports ever since I’ve been attending pen shows in 2014. So it took me a while to decide if I would do one this year, and if so, how would I present it? I was nudged by a couple friends to do so (y’all know who you are). And as suggested by a friend, present it in a chronological order. A fair warning though, I’m a photo-oriented person so this report will have a LOT of pictures and quite a long read. So I suggest you grab some popcorn or something. Haha!
This is the third year that the current show organizers have held the SF Pen Show. And each year, it has gotten better and better. I did have a unique multi-perspective of this show. I purchased a table to be a vendor, I am part of the SF Pen Posse, the local pen group who had a big part of volunteering to make this show a success, and the principal show organizers asked or “volun-told” me to assist with the coordinating of the paid classes, and free seminars. I’ve come to treat pen shows more as a social event focusing on seeing old friends, and creating new friends. And yes, as an attendee, seeing lots and lots of fountain pens is something I look forward to as well.
Thursday, August 25 – The Evening Before the Show
The SF Pen show organizers opens up the show ballroom the evening before to allow vendors to set up their table displays or just to let them know where their table will be. I arrived at the hotel around 6:30pm and saw the empty tables with just a few pen posse members hanging out. The show sold a lot of vendor tables this year. And I actually witnessed the hotel staff adding the very last table that was bought at the last minute.
The show organizers also held a reception/mixer for dealers, and special friends that evening. It was great to mingle and meet up with old friends. After the reception, a few friends from Southern California and myself just hung out at the hotel bar.
Friday, August 26 – First Day of the Show
The big day has arrived! The San Francisco Pen Show opened for Dealers and All-Access Pass holders at 7:00am. The general public was let in later that day at 1:00pm.
I arrived at the hotel around 7:30am and the ballroom already had a good number of attendees. After doing some of my registration desk/seminar coordinator responsibilities, I immediately went to Mike Masuyama’s table where he was already helping people with their nibs. I got to say hello and speak with Mike and his wife Emiko for a bit and got a number to be in line for nib work. I was number 19 and this was only at 8:00am. More on my nib-work with Mike later on the day.
Next stop for me was at Franklin-Christoph’s table. I was curious to see what prototype pens they brought to the show and also I was asked by a friend from Nevada to purchase a specific pen from them. Guess who I found at the F-C table? It’s Katherine! She was already being helped by Jim Rouse with her nib choice. She was at the hotel right before the show opened.
Afterwards, I needed to go back to the registration desk since Master Penman Michael Sull’s Basic Spencerian class was about to start. This class was sold out a couple weeks before the show with a few people on a wait-list. Mr. Sull had another class later in the afternoon called Advanced Spencerian and that was well attended too.
Pen repair classes were also held by brother and sister, Joel Hamilton and Sherrell Tyree. There were three sessions: Basic pen repair, Vacumatic, and Snorkel/Touchdown.
While classes were in session, I got a chance to walk around the ballroom, chat with dealers and attendees, and take a few photos. At this point, I was really just scoping out what interesting pens would find me. ;-P
One of the first couple people I said hello to were Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit blog, Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict blog, and Lisa Vanness of Vanness 1938. Matt and Brad were there to help Lisa and Mike out at their table.
In the middle of the ballroom were the tables for the 14 Ink Testing Stations that contained 686 pens with 686 different fountain pen inks free for people to write with and see how the color looks. The SF Pen Posse donated ink samples and volunteers inked up each station before the show. Each station has 49 fountain pens.
First time pen show vendor, Troy Clark of Brute Force Design was there with all smiles. He drove all the way from Seattle and was one of the people I got to chat with last night as well. He gave me a nice pocket notebook. What a nice gesture. Thanks Troy!
Toys From The Attic returned to the SF Pen Show and they were right beside Franklin-Christoph. I first met Mario at the 2014 LA pen show and I look forward to seeing him at shows. He’s brought some beautiful pens with him.
I moseyed on over to the back wall where the Wahl-Eversharp table was and said hello to Syd Saperstein and his wife Judi. It’s always a pleasure to see them at pen shows. The Wahl-Eversharp pen company is the show’s principal sponsor and Syd is one of the three show organizers.
Since I was focusing on vintage pens this year, I got a chance to ask him about the vintage Wahl-Eversharp Gold Seal, and Doric pens. I learned a lot from him even if it was just for a quick moment. A customer walked up and asked him questions as well.
Right beside the Wahl-Eversharp table was another pen show trademark. It was Susan Wirth’s table. Susan and her team travels to almost every pen show in the United States. She loves writing with an italic nib (like myself), and almost all her pens for sale are inked up for everyone to try before they buy.
Wandering around more in the ballroom and I found Bill Weakley’s table full of beautiful Namiki, Parker, Paul Rossi, and Pelikan pens. I first met him at the 2015 LA Pen Show. I’m so glad he attended this year’s SF Show. He had a lot of pens that I wanted but were definitely over my budget. Haha!
Then I saw Stuart Hawkinson and Jim Leonard whom I met at last year’s show. These are two guys who love restoring pens and like to share their experience.
Headed over to Ryan Krusac’s table and admired his new line of Legend L-14. Also his limited Dangers of the Deep pens were quite tempting. I’m glad he got to attend the SF pen show this year and he brought along his wife, Julia. He was at the 2014 SF pen show but was unable to attend last year.
Revisited the ink testing stations and now it’s getting busy.
Dan Smith arrived later in the afternoon from Iowa and he had an online signup sheet. One of his first customers was Joey Feldman from Los Angeles. It was a treat to see these guys at the show.
My Dad, Bert, visited the show in the afternoon and just wanted to see what was going on at pen shows.
While you’re at the Ink Testing Stations, it’s also a perfect opportunity to start conversations and make new friends. This was a brainchild of Ricky Chau, and the Ink Master, Loren S. since the 2015 SF Pen Show.
As it was getting close to the end of the first day, I was finally called for my turn at Masuyama-san’s table. I had my vintage Skyline’s medium nib ground into a smooth cursive italic. I also had my Pelikan M800 double broad (BB) nib tuned as it was skippy and had the baby’s bottom issue. I’ve had my nibs tuned and ground by this man for the past 3 years and he knows exactly how I want my nibs. I rarely give the pen back after he’s done with it the first round.
It’s also always a delight chatting with Mike and his wife, Emiko. Talked about their trips to Japan and other pen shows.
Pen Addict Meetup – After Show Event
Right after the show closed at 7:00pm, there was a Pen Addict meetup event hosted by Brad Dowdy, the Pen Addict himself, and Lisa Vanness. It was an effort to get together with the people you’ve seen around the show during the day and just plainly talk pens, paper, inks, etc. The event itself was free, and you didn’t have to attend the pen show to get in.
As you walk in, Brad handed out raffle tickets for some awesome giveaway prizes. They had some snacks as well. Alcohol was also served and available for purchase.
It was great to meet and chat with like-minded people. Around 8:00pm, Brad started the raffle and gave away awesome prizes. I do not recall each and every prize given away but here goes nothing: 2 Nock Co. cases, Lamy Dark Lilac ink, notebooks, empty Akkerman glass bottle, Joey Feldman poster artwork, notebook engraved with Joey Feldman’s artwork, and a one-and-only Pilot Iroshizuku ink bottle engraved with the show’s hashtag, #SFPenShow2016.
As the Pen Addict meetup ended, a few of the Pen Posse peeps left the hotel for dinner at Amici’s Pizzeria in Redwood Shores. Needless to say, we were all famished and enjoyed some salad, pizza, chicken wings, and more pen conversations.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel bar and just relaxed. What a fantastic first day of the show. I went home shortly afterwards.
Saturday, August 27 – Second Day of the Show
Another exciting pen show day! For this day, the show once again opens for dealers and All-Access pass holders at 7:00am. And the general public will be let in at 10:00am. I arrived at the hotel around 8:30am so I definitely missed the breakfast provided for the dealers and All-Access pass holders. But no matter, I had a breakfast sandwich and Cold Brew coffee right before heading to the hotel.
I have to highlight the SF Pen Posse volunteers who signed up to man the registration and seminar desk from Friday all through Sunday. Without their generosity of time and effort, I’m not sure how the show would’ve turned out.
Across the registration desk in the foyer was Steve Curnow’s table. This was a popular first stop for show attendees. Steve had a wide selection of notebooks, journals, and pens for sale. He also had a very limited edition San Francisco design journals at the show.
In the beginning of this report, I did mention that I was a vendor as well. Well the whole day Friday, my table was unused and empty. On Saturday, Edna, my Mom, arrived at the show and was selling some handmade earrings, and necklaces. Also, I let my friend from the Pen Posse, Fred, sell his SF Pen Show shirts at my table. I intended to sell pens but I just didn’t have the time to sit at my table so I just laid out three pens in the middle with price tags. Katherine also placed her wooden pen blocks she made a few months ago for sale.
Tania at the Franklin-Christoph table had a free moment and we took a hand-comparison selfie. We’ve known each other online for a couple years now and we’ve always joked about our hand size difference.
I walked around the ballroom once again but this time, I reached the other side of the room which was dubbed, Anderson Alley. Brian and Lisa Anderson returned this year and enlisted the help of Jason, and Ana. They brought a lot of items from their store in Appleton, Wisconsin. I always find it a treat to get to chat with the Andersons during the shows.
I then saw one of the most knowledgeable pen person that I know. In fact, he has written quite a few books on pens including Fountain Pens of the World, and Fountain Pens of Japan. It’s none other than Mr. Andreas “Andy” Lambrou of Lambrou Pens (formerly Classic Pens). His pen selection is quite exquisite and he collaborates with very artistic people like Mr. Paul Rossi, and Mr. Ryan Krusac, and others.
More wandering around…
I got to speak with Cliff Harrington about vintage pens. Cliff always has very rare (and can be pricey) pens. And he also has a wealth of pen knowledge to learn from. As I stopped by, I learned more about Waterman pens, Wahl-Eversharp pens, and Carters pen. He showed me a nice and rare Waterman Ideal Doll pen. As far as I know, there were only two of these pens at the SF pen show.
I found myself back at the Wahl-Eversharp table admiring the modern Decoband Gold Seal Oversized pens. And I had to take a photo of both Syd, and Judi.
The NibSmith still hard at work at his table. I actually signed up for his Saturday schedule on his website but because it got busy at the registration desk, I had to give up my spot for other people to have the opportunity and time to sit with him.
I stepped out of the ballroom to make sure all registrants got to attend Amanda McKay’s Kick A$$ Snail Mail class, www.letterletter.com.
This class was the most attended and it was full with 30 people in the class. I’m one of the people that just sticks a stamp on an envelope, address it, and send it out. So I found this class quite helpful when I had a chance to sit in a little bit and learn from Amanda. There were a lot of questions asked with regards to Amanda experience on how the US Postal Service handled her well-designed envelopes.
Planner Meetup – Mid-Show Special Event
Right after Amanda’s Snail Mail class was the planner meetup hosted by a few SF Pen Posse members. This is something new for the SF pen show and it was intended to be an informal hangout for people to learn about the different planner notebooks, strategies on how to use planners effectively (or ineffectively), and also to share stickers, stamps, and washi tape. This meetup was well attended. Three tables were occupied and lots of conversation happened. Tiffany from the Pen Posse gave me a roll of washi tape with a fountain pen design. Thanks Tiffany!
Quickly scoped out Joey Feldman as he was painting his poster artwork for people who bought at the Vanness table.
Back in the ballroom, door prizes were being raffled off. Including a very nice Pelikan M205 in Transparent Blue sponsored by Dan Smith, The Nibsmith.
On Saturday, the show ended at 7:00pm. I had the pleasure of having dinner with my Mom, Andy Lambrou, and his associate Margie. We immediately left the hotel and proceeded to the city of San Mateo where the Vietnamese restaurant named Ben Tre was located. I brought Andy to this place last year and he wanted to come back. Needless to say, we had an enjoyable and relaxed dinner.
The Royal Deuces – After Show Live Band Event
From the restaurant, we went back to the hotel and enjoyed the music of the Royal Deuces band. This is their third time to perform at the SF Pen Show. A lot of fun was had at this after-show event!
When the band was done, conversations still went on. Nikola Pang was there and was writing people’s names to give out. He wrote my name down and gave the card to me. Thanks Nik!
After some time, the room slowly emptied out and I went home.
Sunday, August 28 – Third and Final Day of the Show
Time flew by quick! There was an overall feeling of happiness and a bit of sadness because we knew that this special event would be coming to an end.
I arrived right before 10:00am when the show opened to the general public. After helping out at the registration desk for a bit, I did my rounds of the show once again.
I bid my friends Mary and Jon goodbye as they had a long drive to Southern California. It’s always a delight to see them at the LA and SF pen show.
Rick Propas, The PENguin, always brings a beautiful array of german pens. Namely Pelikan and Montblanc.
There were more door prizes raffled off. One of them was a TWSBI pen sponsored by Sunny Koh of Straits Pens.
Wandering around the room, I found Dale Beebe’s table of Pentooling.com. He had lots of pen repair tools and fully restored pens for sale.
Right beside Dale Beebe was Teri Morris’ table, Peyton Street Pens. They’re located in Santa Cruz, California and is a part of the SF Pen Posse as well.
Sunny Koh of Straits Pens was a show sponsor and is also a frequent visitor of the SF Pen Posse. He brought pens , lots of Pelikan, Pilot, and limited edition inks from Japanese pen shops. Straits Pens also has an exclusive Noodlers ink called, Pacific Dawn at the Golden Gate which was launched at the SF pen show.
Walked away from the show to have a cup of coffee at the hotel bar with my friend Frank before he left.
After Frank left, I went back to the ballroom to see more people and help pack up for the show. I saw Ana getting a pen tuned by Jim at the Franklin-Christoph table. #lastminutepurchases
And that’s the last day of the pen show folks. It’s 4:47pm and the doors close at 5:00pm.
Post Pen Show Activity
As the show closed at 5:00pm, a few pen posse peeps took responsibility of the ink testing stations. After all, the ink testing frenzy isn’t over and it will continue to be used at pen posse meet ups in the next coming weeks. #inkcrazypeople
We met up at Amici’s Pizzeria once again for dinner and discussed the events of the show including details for next year.
Back at the Sofitel hotel after dinner and just hung out with pen-minded folks. Terrific time to keep on having conversations and do some show-and-tell of what they acquired from the show.
Pen shows are such a fun event to attend. Most especially when it’s local in your area. The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show was such an enjoyable weekend filled with beautiful pens, lovely inks, terrific special events, and most especially, generous and kind people. It was magnificent to see old friends get-together and see each other once again and I appreciate the chance to form new friendships. I look forward to this show every year.
A HUGE Thank You to Ricky, Todd, and Syd for continuing to organize this show. In addition, to all of the people who have contributed to its success, I thank you as well. To the awesome SF Pen Posse, thank you for all the effort and the volunteer work. Without you guys and gals, well, it wouldn’t have been as fun.
Well, until next time. Thank you for sticking to the end of this long report. I hope it wasn’t dragging and also that your snack was enough.
If you attended the SF Pen Show, feel free to leave a comment for any of your thoughts about the show and also what you bought!
“Pen shows are about the people and the stories between each other. The pens start the story and the people get closer.”
The SF Pen Show is less than a week away! There will be dozens of vendors, ink stations with over 600 inks & classes and meet ups.
What are you looking for at the show?
Katherine: Well, to start with – I’m SUPER excited for the Planner meet up I’m hosting with Pam on Saturday. I’ll be bringing my planner & lots of supplies to show off, see what other folks are doing and hopefully swap some supplies. I’ll also have some (probably 20?) goodie bags, so drop by and say hi! 🙂
On the buying side — I’m primarily looking for interesting pens, but don’t have a well-defined wish list. My focus is going to be on picking up a reasonably priced Omas (fingers crossed), and perhaps a new flex pen or nib (I have one with a nib I like, but a body I hate. hah!). I’m also very much interested in pens made with interesting materials (I do love those vintage celluloid pens!) and nibs (I’ve recently been very curious about hooded and inlaid nibs). So we’ll see what turns up!
I have a rough budget, and if I don’t use up all/most of it, I’m going to buy a Pilot Custom 823 with an FA nib after the show. I thought of buying it before the show and having the nib ground, but this will be an interesting way of judging whether or not I really want a pen at the show. This is my second time at a pen show and I’m a little wary of getting carried away — my first show was a year ago and SF was just overwhelming! All I bought was a converter.
Pam: I am trying really hard to be disciplined at this year’s pen show after this past year of pen gluttony. Thank you for the strong work in pen-abling Franz and Katherine! Therefore, if all goes to plan, I will be purchasing more inks than pens.
I am going to be making friends around the Franklin-Christoph table. Definitely looking to purchase a pocket 66 (in ice finish or a prototype material) and a Model 45 (in antique glass, if available at the show).
My Inky wishlist includes Bungubox Omaezaki Sea, Pelikan Turquoise, J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey, and Sailor Yama-Dori.
Additional pen lookout for a Pilot Capless with a special alloy nib, Pilot m90, Pilot myu.
Lastly, but definitely not least, to meet planner/pen-minded people and make more planner/pen friends!! Especially at the planner meet up!
Franz: Awww man! I’ve been so excited for the SF Pen Show ever since the 2015 show ended. On the final day of last year’s show, they already knew the 2016 show dates and I couldn’t wait.
To answer the question of what I’m looking for at the show, I’m looking for a pen (or two) that will grab my attention and won’t let me go home without it. I don’t really have a specific list of pens to acquire but I do have a couple pens that I wanna see how it feels “in the hand”. For vintage pens, maybe a Wahl-Eversharp Doric or Gold Seal, or maybe a nice Parker Vacumatic, or a safety fountain pen. For modern pens, I want to hopefully see the Visconti London Fog in person. That pen has been popular among the online pen community for a couple of months now. Then perhaps a Pelikan pen I’ve never seen in person before. I’m also looking to sell a couple pens at the show. I haven’t decided which ones yet but maybe a couple vintage Parker pens, a couple Pelikan pens, and just other pens that other people will enjoy writing with and perhaps become part of their own collection. Hmm.. this is becoming a lengthy explanation of a very vague point. Sorry.
Now onto what I’m REALLY looking for at the show. I’m looking to reconnect with old friends I’ve met from the past pen shows (SF and LA), and also to meet new friends either just from the pen show itself or meet a few Instagram (IG) friends in real life (IRL). True story: I actually met Pam and her friends at the 2015 SF Pen Show while I was helping out at the registration desk. So there you go, with each pen show I attend, I am blessed to chat with people and gain more knowledge about this great hobby of ours.
I will try my best to post photos on Instagram during the pen show. The Instagram tag used is #sfpenshow2016 and #sfpenshow as well.
We’re looking forward to all the fun things planned like the free seminars, the planner meet up, the letter writing social, and many more. Even after the show closes, there is a Pen Addict meet up on Friday at 7pm. And then on Saturday night, the Royal Deuces band is performing live music at 8pm.
So if you’re able to attend the 2016 SF pen show on August 26, 27, and 28, please do and we hope to meet some of y’all! Thank you!
P.S. If you will be attending, what are you looking for at the San Francisco Pen Show?
It has been about a month since the launch of our blog! It’s high time that we introduce ourselves a little bit more and get to know you all, our awesome readers.
What do you do and how does that affect your pen choices?
Katherine: I work at Sift Science as a Solutions Engineer and team lead. I work pretty closely with many of our customers, so I’m constantly on the phone, in and out of meetings and generally running around. As a result I tend to carry a notebook and prefer pens I can get to easily (not looooong unscrews) so I can jot down quick notes easily. My office is pretty close to paper free, so I bring my own notebooks to work (currently a Travelers Notebook and a Nanami Sevenseas Crossfield) and, of course, supply my own pens and ink.
Franz: I work in a bank as a customer service manager. I am that person who goes around the office to meet a client, or assist a co-worker. And the job requires me to be able to jot down notes or sign my name multiple times in one day. Before I got into fountain pens, I used to be that guy who kept on asking, “Do you have a pen?”. Now, I have a backup pen (or two) just in case I left my main pen of the day on my desk.
As for pen choices, as long as it is comfortable, the cap doesn’t take forever to unscrew, and it writes okay on cr-opy paper. I tend to choose either fine, or medium nibs on my pens as a compromise between Tomoe River paper for personal use and the copy paper used at work.
P.S. Now, I am that guy who tries to spread the joys of writing with a fountain pen (Penvangelism).
Pam: I am a pharmacist at a hospital. I work both in the pharmacy itself and on the patient units. At work, I have been called the “pen pusher.” I have introduced Jetstreams and Pentel Energels to my colleagues in the hospital. Sadly, our supply closet is still filled with generic, gummy, ballpoints.
The only paper available is cheap copier paper. Luckily, I really enjoy EF and F nibs. They work pretty well on the cheap paper and I prefer pens that are really fast to deploy for quick notes given how healthcare can go from 0 to 60 in a couple second flat. A finer and stiff (steel) nib really helps keep my lines consistent due to my small handwriting as well.
What was your first fountain pen?
Katherine: Ha. I had a cheap, bright yellow Sheaffer as a kid. I was about 9 when my mom got it for me, complete with a bottle of Skrip blue with the old-style side pocket to make filling easier. I loved the pen, but generally made a mess. Fast forward many, many years and I rediscovered fountain pens by buying a Pilot Metropolitan off Massdrop. It’s hard to believe, but I bought my Metro and a bottle of Noodler’s HoD because it was CHEAPER than the number of gel pens I was going through.
Franz: It was an onyx Cross Aventura with a medium nib and I still have it. As I wrote with it, I found that the writing was too bold and that it almost bled through the paper. I was a little bit turned off at first but I think I loved the idea of writing with a fountain pen more so I kept on it.
I later found out (probably the next day) that there are different types of paper and more fountain pen friendly paper exists, I also found that writing with a fountain pen does not require bearing down on the pen with pressure like I would on ballpoints. And so the pen addiction began.
Pam: A green/grey Kakuno, F nib (of course). That was soon followed by the Pilot Petit and the Metropolitan.
How do you carry your fountain pens?
Katherine: I typically carry mine in either a zip pouch from Franklin-Christoph or a three-pen sleeve I made out of a piece of fleece. The former gives me more flexibility with pen sizes (it fits ALL of my pens). The latter gives me more protection from leaks, and if I want to bring multiple pens, stops them from rubbing together. Sometimes I’m lazy and just clip my pen to the inside of my notebook and throw it in my backpack… but I’m pretty sure this is how I end up losing a pen and try not to do it too often.
Franz: It has been a while now since I’ve been using a 4 pen leather case to carry my pens to work. I got this from the Andersons’ table at the 2014 LA pen show. This is my go to case and it’s just perfect for me.
More recently though, I’ve been slinging a bag that contains the 4 pen leather case, and a Nock Co. Sinclair. Also in the bag are a couple notebooks, and a planner. I guess I went from carrying four pens to ten (or more). Don’t judge… ;-P
Pam: I have been using the Lihit Lab Smart Fit Actact Open Wide pen case. I also keep pens with my Hobonichi Weeks and Hobonichi Cousin. Interestingly, I have been carrying more pens since meeting Franz and Katherine. Interesting indeed…
Dear reader, answer us this, what was your first fountain pen?
This is our first post — the only people who will likely read it at first are Pam & Franz as they see their WordPress invites and go “what the heck is Katherine doing?!”
The goal of this blog is for us to review and share our opinions on fountain pens & associated things. I’ve found that my hands are MUCH smaller than average and many pen reviews call pens I think are totally normal “small” and pens that I can’t use comfortably “perfectly sized”. So here we are, I figure I can’t be the only one — and I’ve dragged two friends into it!
So welcome to my (our, because everything is better with friends) corner of the internet. And, bring on any & all feedback!