Review: Wahl-Eversharp Decoband (Amalfi Blue, Superflex Nib)

We want to thank Mr. Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens for lending us this Wahl-Eversharp fountain pen for review. Detlef’s pen store is located in Carmel, California and he also travels to a lot of pen shows.  When we return this pen, the HOTP crew may just decide to take a road trip and visit the pen store.

The opinions here are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily or otherwise) for this review. 

We have also asked Claire (@writteninrice) to be our guest once again and review this pen with us. Thanks Claire!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This is a pretty cool looking pen, and the huge nib looks very cool. I really liked details on this pen — the complex blue material, the red ebonite feed and the classy use of gold and black trim. But, even at first glance, this is a huge pen! It stands out and is hard to miss.

Claire: This is a pen with gravitas that hearkens back to pens of a bygone era.  The Wahl Eversharp Decoband is a large pen that’s an attention grabber. The nib on this pen is just lovely and I love the  red ebonite feed. In fact, I couldn’t help but post a nib shot of this pen on Instagram the second I got it in my hands.  I am not typically a fan of pens with gold hardware but for this pen, it works.

Pam: The Decoband is an acquired taste for me.  It is undeniable that the blue material is beautiful and deep, that the red ebonite feed is awesome, and that nib is gorgeous.  I am just not a fan of the shape and the overall aesthetic.  Despite my reservations about the pen, it’s a beautiful pen that is very reminiscent of the fountain pen’s golden days.

Franz: Is this pen big enough or what?  The Decoband is massively impressive and is probably the biggest pen that I’ve held in terms of length, girth, and weight. This is a revival of Wahl-Eversharp’s Gold Seal design in 1929. The proportion of the pen is very similar to the vintage one except for its larger scale. The Decoband fits quite perfectly in my bear paw…err… large hand and is quite comfortable for me to use.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic is such a stunning material and as Katherine pointed out, the black finials on the cap and the bottom of the barrel makes it a classic looking pen. The packaging is also impressive as the box big and shiny. They also supply the pen with Wahl-Eversharp’s ink bottle which is a nice touch.

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

In the Hand: W-E Decoband (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

The Business End

Katherine: The nib is huge and it writes quite nicely. It’s very smooth without being glassy, and has a nice softness to it. However, I didn’t think it was comparable to many of the “full” flex vintage nibs I’ve tried. The Decoband nib is smooth and wet, but line variation is not its strong suit. Perhaps a finer point would produce more line variation, but out of the box, this is more of a wet and medium writer.

Claire:  As I mentioned earlier, the super flex nib on this pen is eye catching. I love the frosted detail noting the brand and specifics.  In hand, the nib is a little on the squishy side. After primarily writing with hard nibs this was a bit disconcerting. Though, it didn’t take too long to  get used to the experience and really start to enjoy the way this pen puts ink to paper. The super flex nib boasts arguably the best modern flex on the market. While it doesn’t have the snap back that I experienced with vintage flex nibs, it does provide an amazing amount of flex.

Pam:  My favorite part of the pen is the nib and the red ebonite feed.  It’s an absolute beauty.  The nib is one of the smoothest and softest nibs I have tried.  The line variation is not as great as a vintage flex, but arguably this nib is the best “modern flex” nib out there.  I did find the nib to be quite wet, so I don’t see this my ideal for daily writing (don’t forget my writing pressure), but it would definitely give those who want your autograph a special flourish!

Franz: The Decoband is available in two nib options. First is the semi-flex extra fine nib, and second is the Superflex nib which is what was loaned to us. I typically do not write with flexible nibs and the only “flex” pen I own is a vintage Parker Televisor. The Superflex nib’s variation was remarkable to me. It definitely has a wet flow that even without pressure, the line is a medium width and when pressure is applied, it lays down a nice wide line.  The Decoband’s feed is made of ebonite coated with red urushi lacquer and assists the generous ink flow of the nib.

In addition, I was able to try out the semi-flex extra fine nib from a friend at the 2017 LA Pen Show and I think that the semi-flex is more of an everyday writing nib for me. So you have two great nib choices for the Decoband.

Superflex nib

Ebonite feed with red urushi lacquer

Write It Up

Katherine: At first I thought this pen would be okay — but a couple minutes into writing with it I noticed my hand was more tired than normal, and starting to get a bit of cramping. Additionally, if I tried to use it posted… well, I wouldn’t. I’d probably poke myself in the eye. All in all, a pen I’d rather look at than use, which is unfortunate, but such are small hands.

Claire: This is a hefty pen that is more apt for larger hands than mine. I found that my hand started cramping up after just a few minutes of writing. Overall, the pen felt well balanced and of an appropriate heft for its size.  Unfortunately, this pen is just too wide for me to use comfortably for long writing sessions.

Pam:  This pen was meant for bear paws as I found the pen to only be comfortable for a couple of minutes before my hand would notably tire.  I don’t recommend using the pen posted for those with small hands as the pen is quite large and heavy.  The pen is heftier than most on the market, likely due to the material used. The width is not a problem for me, but the pen is quite top heavy, given the length of the pen, particularly posted.

Franz: As I’ve said above, the pen fits my hand nicely and I was happy to write with it in my journal. In case you didn’t know, the pen’s internal mechanism is made of solid brass parts and the weight of the pen uncapped is about 40 grams. Compared to the Pelikan M805 that I use every day is about 20 grams uncapped. It is a heavy pen that after journaling for about ten minutes, my hand felt very fatigued. While this pen impresses me a lot, I would only use it to write quick notes, a short letter, or a nice signature. I wrote with this pen unposted because it is too long for me when the cap is posted.

Franz’ writing sample on Rhodia Dot grid pad

EDC-ness 

Katherine: I sat down with this pen and wrote a few pages with it, but didn’t EDC it since it’s on loan from Bittner Pens (thank you again!) and didn’t want to risk any damage. However, based on the handful of pages I wrote with it, I wouldn’t consider it a candidate for EDC for a couple reasons: 1. it’s just too big, 2. nib is a little too wet, I’d have to wait for all my notes to dry before being able to close my notebook!

Claire: This is not a pen that springs to mind in association with the letters EDC. This would be a great pen for an office job that required occasional notes. I did not get a chance to carry this pen around to test it out for longer than playing with it for an evening at Katherine’s place.

Pam:  Thank you Bittner Pens for your generous loan of the Decoband.  That said, it lived in the original box unless we were testing it out.  I would recommend this as a great EDC for a fancy desk to hold and carry.  This pen is a bit large for the usual jacket or shirt pocket and given the weight, may not stay in the pocket for long if you were to bend over.  Not to mention, this pen is best suited (in my opinion) for your autograph; what better pen to do that with than this beauty?

Franz: Because this Decoband is on loan, we only dipped the nib in ink and did not fill it. I was not able to use this pen in my office but I imagine that it would be a pen I’d keep on my desk and write with it only when seated. The Decoband is too big to fit securely in my shirt pocket although it would be okay for a jacket pocket.

The pen has a pneumatic filling system which is why there are solid brass parts inside. To fill the pen, unscrew and pull out the black knob, extend the metal sleeve, submerge the nib in the ink bottle, cover the hole on the knob, push the knob/metal sleeve down to the barrel, and uncover the hole. This action compresses the sac inside and when you let go of the hole, the pressure will draw ink in the pen. According to Wahl-Eversharp, the Decoband holds an ink capacity of 2.1ml. Now that’s appropriate for the amount of ink that it lays down from its superflex nib.

The pneumatic filling system

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I’m pretty biased with this pen. It’s clearly not meant for people with smaller hands, which makes me a big meh on it. But, if I had a large handed friend I really liked and needed to get a pen for, this would be a contender. It’s a beautiful, classic looking pen with a nib full of character. However, at a price point of $800+, there’s no way I can justify a pen that’s so large my hand cramps for myself.

Claire:  I love the blue material on this pen.  Even though this pen is far too big for my hand it seems to be well balanced and well made pen.  This pen has a the aesthetic of a vintage pen but also is quite large, which to me is an interesting combination.  The superflex nib is the only modern pen that I’ve written with that is maybe a flexible as vintage flexible nibs straight out of the box. Overall, I think this is a lovely pen for a person with larger hands than myself.

Pam: The nib/feed of this pen is great for everyone. The pen itself however is much better suited for bear paw individuals (Hint, hint Franz!) and for those who really enjoy the vintage aesthetic.  It’s a steep price so it’s not great for most wallets.  However, I can say for this pen in particular, you pay for what you get.  It’s a large, statement-esque, hefty pen, that has all the trappings of the fountain pen’s glory days.  It’s obvious that Wahl Eversharp did not skimp on the Decoband.  That said, it’s not an “every day carry” pen, it’s a “special occasion” pen.  But for us fountain pen lovers, every day with a fountain pen is a special occasion!

Franz: I really like the Decoband because of its large dimensions and the awesome nib it is issued with. As a friend from the Pen Posse said, this is a “whale” of a pen for large handed people but as I say in most of our reviews, try it out for yourself when you can.

The Amalfi Blue Pearl acrylic version of the Decoband is a special edition color and will be limited in production. This is similar to the now sold out Lapis Blue. So if you want the Amalfi Blue, better contact Detlef of Bittner Pens, or Syd of Wahl-Eversharp right away. Hmmm….

Thank you Detlef for giving us the opportunity to review this awesome pen.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Posted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Unposted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Parker 75, vintage Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000

Oversize Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Posted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear, Classic Pens LB5, *Wahl-Eversharp Decoband*, Pelikan M1000, and Montblanc 149

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

1 Comment

Review: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (0.4mm Cursive Italic)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The 146 (and its bigger sibling the 149) are the classic black cigar-shaped pen. The shape is boring to some, but timeless and classy to many others. Personally, I find the shape a bit boring, and while many buy the pen for the “prestige” that comes with such a recognizable brand, I found that unappealing. As I’ll discuss in later sections, I loved the innards of the pen, but I much prefer using pens that aren’t as obviously branded, especially at work. All in all though, the “look” of the 146 is inoffensive to me, if I didn’t have a self-imposed 15 pen limit, I’d likely still own one.

Pam:  The 146 is a classic pen with a very classic shape. Typically, I would find the Montblanc 146 with gold trim to be another snoozer or write it off as “another typical pen.”  I don’t usually like the cigar shape in a pen, like the Platinum 3776 or the Sailor 1911.  That said, Montblanc created a very well proportioned cigar shape pen.  It looks streamlined rather than chunky and sleek rather than boring.  Maybe it’s the more dramatic taper at the end of the body and cap or it’s the custom ruthenium trim or I enjoyed writing with this pen so much that a “another typical pen” has much more appeal now.

Franz: The LeGrand 146 is such a nice, simple-looking pen. I love the timeless shape of the 146 and that may be the reason why a lot of pens have copied its appearance. The pointed ends are different from the usual pens I own.

So here’s a bit of historical information about this pen. In mid-1948, Montblanc came out with the Masterpiece/Meisterstück 140 Series and the three models introduced were the 142, 144, and the 146. All three were introduced as a piston-filler and until now, the 146 is offered as a piston-filler pen. Over time, the 144 changed to a cartridge/converter filler pen. The Meisterstück 140 Series was a refresh of the Meisterstück 130 Series introduced in the mid 1930’s.

According to Montblanc’s numbering system adopted in the 1930’s, 146 meant that 1 (part of the Meisterstück/Masterpiece line), 4 (piston filler system but it was a 3 in the 130 Series), and 6 (denotes the nib size).

*Please note that this historical information was taken from Mr. Andreas Lambrou’s “Fountain Pens of the World” book. If I have misquoted, or given incorrect information, please let me know. Thanks!

In The Hand: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine
In The Hand: Montblanc LeGrand 146 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Pam, and Katherine

The Business End

Katherine: I love well-adjusted Montblanc nibs. I’ve used Franz’s (pictured in this review) and love the delightful CI that Dan Smith put on it. But I also, for a few months, owned my own 146 — an early 90s French specimen with an uncommon 18k nib. That was one of the most delightfully smooth (but not glassy) nibs I had ever used. Given my current experiences with MB nibs, I would never hesitate to recommend one to a friend, even out of the box.

Pam:  Montblanc nibs are juicy with some springy-ness to them, based on my time with them at the Montblanc store (which may be longer than I care to admit). I really enjoyed the Montblanc B and BB nibs as they created a stub-like line for me.  Therefore, what other “improvement” could you make to a well done nib from Montblanc?  Well, someone had the genius idea to send the pen to Dan Smith for a 0.4mm CI grind.  I (not so) jokingly told Franz that the 0.4mm  is the perfect CI width and I may be forever ruined for all other CI grinds.  CI grinds tend to run a bit dry, but this nib is well tuned and provides a consistent, well saturated, beautifully crisp line.  Again, ruined… I am, ruined (or forever spoiled.)

Franz: Springy nib… check! Cursive Italic… check! Juicy ink flow… check! Smooth sweet spot… check! Running out of checkboxes here! What can I say? It’s a beautifully tuned nib! Kudos to Dan Smith on this one. As for straight from the factory experience, I have used another 146 nib which was a stock medium and it was a smooth well tuned nib as well. So far, I’ve been pleased with the quality of Montblanc’s nibs.

 

The 0.4mm cursive italic nib by Mr. Dan “NibSmith” Smith
Franz’s writing sample of the Montblanc 146 on a Rhodia Weekly Planner

Write It Up

(20-minute writing experience)

Katherine: The 146 is very comfortable for me — it has a good weight and is comfortable in hand, even when writing for extended periods of time. I prefer it unposted — when posted I find it a bit too top-heavy and my hand gets tired faster.

Pam:  I have enjoyed the 146 both posted and unposted in the traditional tripod grip, preferably posted for me.  The 146 can be a bit top heavy in my “iron grip.”  Given the CI grind, I primarily used this pen in the tripod grip and had no issues with the width of the pen.  The girth of the pen at the section is within the usual limits and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time.

Franz: I may have been waxing poetic about this pen but admittedly, the LeGrand 146 size is just a smidge small for my bear paw. Please don’t get me wrong for when the cap is posted, I wrote with it comfortably and I absolutely had no complaints. I loved journaling with it for about 10 minutes but when I unposted the cap, my grip adjusted towards the nib and the pen felt small and unpleasant. I actually felt my hand cramping after writing for five minutes. Please refer to the pen in hand photos above to see how awkwardly small the unposted 146 is in my hand.

So yeah, mixed results on this one for me and just like Pam, I prefer the 146 posted.

EDC-ness

Katherine: This is weird to say since I EDC my Nakayas… but I didn’t like carrying around my 146. While the clip was good, it uncapped decently and was great to write with, I just wasn’t comfortable using a pen that everyone around me identified as “Katherine is using an expensive pen”. Funnily enough, Nakaya and Danitrio are much less recognizable to the layman than my 146 was.

Pam:  This pen is a be a great EDC pen as it is a sturdy, well made pen with a secure clip and threaded cap.  I didn’t carry this pen around daily as it’s not my pen to damage or lose, but also because would be distracting in my interactions with my colleagues and patients.  I am not that comfortable in letting the world know/assume the “cost” of my beloved pen hobby.  (Or maybe that’s the SF bay area hipster in me.) Montblanc is such an iconic brand that people will notice this pen very readily.  Granted, it’s also a beautiful, classy pen with a very unique ruthenium trim.

Franz: I used the 146 at work and out and about on a weekend and I had no qualms of being able to use this pen as an Everyday Carry pen. The cap unscrews after about 1 and 1/4 turn. Pretty fast deployment there and on the flip-side, the pen never uncapped itself in my pocket. The ink capacity of this piston-filled pen allows one to just keep on writing for a period of time. The subtle ink window above the section threads definitely helped me figure out if I’d need to refill the pen or not. I didn’t really care about the “perceived prestige” that the white star on the cap instills or what other people would think because well, I just don’t. Haha! =) As long as it’s a functional pen with a look that appeals to me, I’ll keep on using it.

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: Overall, I really love writing with 146s — they’re comfortable, balanced and have great nibs. But I found that I was uncomfortable with the obvious and easily recognizable branding. The moment my boss said, “Oh! You’re using a Montblanc!” the idea of keeping a Montblanc around for normal use went out the window.

Pam:  After spending time with the 146, I can see why this pen is such a popular flagship pen.  It’s a great size pen that suits many hands, has a classic (albeit “boring”) aesthetic from a historical and iconic brand that backs up it’s name with great nibs and performance.  This pen has taught me and made me question a lot about my own pen preferences in terms of shape, nibs and writing style.

I would recommend this pen to anyone looking for a solid performing pen and isn’t wary of being seen with such a recognizable (and expensive) pen.  Not all settings are optimized for that.  It would be a “must have pen” if it was not so cost prohibitive to have, therefore, it would make a great grail pen to fill the “quintessential classic” slot in any collection.  So if you are like me and this a grail pen, I recommend the 146 as a “must try for yourself” pen.

Franz: The LeGrand 146 design is almost 70 years old and as I said in the beginning of this review, it is timeless. This is a nice pen to have in one’s collection quite frankly. If you are able to, please try to write with a 146 and see if it is a good pen for your hand. The nibs are great and it just writes. I really like it when the cap is posted as I detailed above. The only “con” I would say about this pen is that it’s quite pricey when brand new. However, a thorough search in the secondary market may provide one with a reasonable and more affordable price for the pen.

Just a little background on this specific pen. I saw this exact 146 in early 2015 on Dan Smith’s Instagram feed, @TheNibsmith (@fpgeeks back then). He said that he just finished grinding the 0.4mm cursive italic on it and wished he owned the pen. I dug up info from Dan and the original owner of this pen to find out how he got a ruthenium trim. I planned to send a pen to that person who did the custom ruthenium trim but I never got around to doing it. Fast forward to April 2016, I found this pen offered for sale and I pretty much jumped on it. Needless to say, I love this specific 146 not only for its writing capabilities but its history as well.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Edison Beaumont, Parker 75, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Vanishing Point, *Montblanc LeGrand 146* , Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

16 Comments

2016 San Francisco Pen Show Personal Report: Franz

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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 SF Pen Show ballroom empty the night before.
Lisa Vanness, Brad Dowdy, and Mike Vanness taking a sec for a quick photo as they set up their table. They're always so fun to see at the show,
Lisa Vanness, Brad Dowdy, and Mike Vanness paused for a quick photo as they set up their table. It’s wonderful to see them back at the SF pen show.

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.

At the reception, I got to meet Ana Reinert of Well-Appointed Desk blog, Paul from Karas Kustoms, Amanda McKay (who taught the Snail Mail class), and Daniel T. Photo by Ricky Chau.
At the reception, I got to meet Ana Reinert of Well-Appointed Desk blog, Paul from Karas Kustoms, Amanda McKay (who taught the Snail Mail class), and Daniel T. from the Los Angeles area. Photo by Ricky Chau.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Photo by Ricky Chau.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup. One of the delicious food items prepared for the reception. Photo by Ricky Chau.

 

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.

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My first pen purchase was a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66. And it wasn’t mine. Haha! #penshowmule. It was fun sitting with Jim and chatting while he worked on that Fine cursive italic nib.

 

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.

Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit blog, Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict blog, and Lisa Vanness of Vanness 1938 were the first ones I said hello to. Matt and Brad were there to help Lisa and Mike out at their table.
Matt Armstrong, Brad Dowdy, and Lisa Vanness

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.

The ink testing stations weren't crowded yet.
The ink testing stations weren’t crowded yet.

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!

Troy Clark of Brute Force Design. He had a nice array of pens for sale.
Troy Clark of Brute Force Design. He had a nice array of pens for sale.

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.

Calligrapher Deborah Basel, Susan Wirth, and John Martinson having a fun moment at the show.
Calligrapher Deborah Basel, Susan Wirth, and John Martinson having a fun moment at the show.
An interesting desk set and letter holder by Mr. Mike Conway found at Susan Wirth's table.
An interesting desk set and letter holder by Mr. Mike Conway found at Susan Wirth’s table. I wonder if there was a San Francisco Edition.

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!

Pens at Bill Weakley's table.
Pens at Bill Weakley’s table.

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.

Cliff Harrington
Cliff Harrington and David Isaacson
John Corwin's table with a "Flexxies" balloon
John Corwin of Flexinibs’ table can be identified with a “Flexxies” balloon.

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.

Almost all seats were taken at the ink testing stations.
A quick hello from the other side. Katherine, Pam, and Nikola Pang
A quick hello from the other side. Katherine, Pam, and Nikola Pang. Pen Posse peeps!

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.

Surprised to see my Dad walking towards me.
Surprised to see my Dad walking towards me.
Of course a selfie was in order. #fatherandsonselfie
Of course a selfie by the ink stations was in order. #fatherandsonselfie

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.

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Ladies: Lore, Julia, Holly, and Ana. Ink master Loren had his back turned beside Holly.

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.

Masuyama-san was busy turning my vintgae Skyline nib into a cursive italic.
Close-ups of Masuyama-san working on my vintage Skyline nib into a cursive italic.

 

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.

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Here’s a close-up of that Iroshizuku ink bottle and box that Pam won. Even though it’s an orange ink, I was green with envy. Haha!

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.

Saturday's first shift of registration desk volunteers. Lena, Laralyn, Margaret, Rachel, and Spenczar
Saturday’s first shift of registration desk volunteers. Lena, Laralyn, Margaret, Rachel, and Spenczar

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.

Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork - Steve Curnow and family were at the show everyday.
Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork – Steve Curnow and family were at the show everyday.
Steve Curnow's limited edition San Francisco design journals.
Steve Curnow’s limited edition San Francisco design journals only sold at the SF Pen 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.

Fred from the Pen Posse was selling SF Pen Show shirts, and my Mom, Edna, was selling some handmade jewelry. In the middle were some pens I was selling.
Fred had a handful of SF Pen Show shirts, and Edna with her handmade jewelry.

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.

The Franz bear paw against Tania’s hand. Photo by Tania

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.

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The Anderson Alley was well-lit, and well attended.
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A selection of fine Sailor fountain pens.
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Brian and Lisa Anderson

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.

Andy Lambrou speaking with a show attendee.
Andy Lambrou speaking with a show attendee.
Some gorgeous acrylic blanks that Andy brought to show and explain the pen-making process. Photo by Ricky Chau.

More wandering around…

Parker 75 pens found at Lee Chait's table.
Parker 75 pens found at Lee Chait’s table.
Mark speaking with Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens.
Mark speaking with Detlef Bittner of Bittner Pens.
Cindy Bittner of Bittner Pens.
Cindy Bittner of Bittner Pens.
Regal Pen Company
Regal Pen Company

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.

The NibSmith tuning a Pelikan pen.
The NibSmith tuning a Pelikan pen.
Show and Tell: A Waterman Lady Patrician pen and pencil set that my friend, Gale got at the show.
Show and Tell: A Waterman Lady Patrician pen and pencil set that my friend, Gale got at the show.

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.

Should we call this the Purple Pen Posse? Margaret, Edna, and Edith
Should we call this the Purple Pen Posse?
Margaret, Edna, and Edith

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.

Syd and Judi raffling off door prizes.
Syd and Judi raffling off door prizes.
Curtis at Dan's table. Along with winning the pen, Dan included a free nib tuning, or a grind of choice.
Curtis at Dan’s table. Along with winning the pen, Dan included a free nib tuning, or a grind of choice.

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.

Mary, and Jon S. Photo by Ricky Chau.
Me with Mary and Jon. Photo by Ricky Chau.
The traditional selfie with Sam Fiorella finally happened and Frank joined in!
The traditional selfie with Sam Fiorella finally happened and Frank joined in!

Rick Propas, The PENguin, always brings a beautiful array of german pens. Namely Pelikan and Montblanc.

Rick Propas with customers. Phillip always helps him out at his table.
A beautiful flock of vintage and modern Pelikan pens at Rick's table.
A beautiful flock of vintage and modern Pelikan pens at Rick’s table.

More wandering…

John Corwin of Flexinibs was talking with Julie who flew in from New York just for the show.
Holly discussing pens with Mody of Regal Pens
Dan of Karas Kustoms testing out some of the pens they brought to the show.
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Karas Kustoms pens
My friend Frank came to the pen show to check it out. I think some watches found him.
The ink testing stations are still popular even on the last day.
Pen Posse peeps Gabriela, Miyuki, and Tiffany
Pen Posse peeps Gabriela, Miyuki, and Tiffany

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.

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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.

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Walked away from the show to have a cup of coffee at the hotel bar with my friend Frank before he left.

Show and Tell: Parker Vacumatic Maxima in Grey Pearl =)

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

“The SF Pen Show is ending… NO!!!”
Ana and Jim. I finally got a photo of Jim smiling at the camera.

And that’s the last day of the pen show folks. It’s 4:47pm and the doors close at 5:00pm.

The watch face says, “Correct Time to buy a Parker Duofold”. So true especially when you’re in “Pen Show Time Zone”.

 

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.

Some Pen Posse peeps: Amer, Brian, Christina, Margaret, Gary, Ricky

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.

SMILE! =) Holly, Lisa Vanness, Lore, Matt Armstrong, and Edna

Final Thoughts

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.”

 

Sunset sky for August 28, 2016. A lovely way to end a superb weekend.

 

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