Hello, it’s Katherine again. In my LA Pen Show Recap I promised I’d do an overview of my haul… so here it is! As I mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be a US show quite like LA for urushi hunting — so, as you can probably guess, I picked up some of that. But, I also picked up a handful of inexpensive flex nibs and a vintage Italian pen.
I’ve put the urushi pens toward the bottom of the post, but a quick warning — there is some, uh, artistic nudity (carved into a pen) further on down. If this ain’t your thing, please skip this post!
I had a lot of luck hunting for flex among dealer’s cheaper trays and even the pens for parts. The first three pens in the photo were all from the same dealer, but I did pass up quite a few other “cheap” flex pens where I wasn’t excited by the exterior. I chose to take these ones home because I thought that, in addition to fun nibs, they looked neat.
Unfortunately, they all have fairly small nibs (part of what makes them inexpensive) so none of them fit a #5 nib unit. Some may fit a Kaweco Sport, but I don’t have a spare Sport to try them with.
While we’re on the topic of fun nibs — I bought this ridiculous 1.9mm Parker 51 stub from Greg Minuskin on Saturday. Just when I thought I was done buying, I realized he had a couple of these fatties left, so one came home with me. I’ve shown it here with the already-juicy factory stub as a point of comparison.
Mine installed with no issues, but I have heard that the hood may need to be filed a bit to accommodate for the enormous tipping — so if you do get one, go slow and carefully when installing! If you tighten the hood and it pushes the tipping, you’re at risk of breaking the tipping off. Oh no!
My one Italian pen for the show — an Electa in Grey (or Platinum) Arco. The pen has some cosmetic damage (see the smudge marks on the barrel right below the cap?) but I’m confident I can buff most of it out. Additionally, the pen sports a semi-flex nib. I love the nibs on vintage Italian pens!
(And ignore the yellow markings, they’ll rub off — I just haven’t gotten around to do it. I think it’s Letizia’s system for keeping track of her pens)
In addition to the barrel damage there is crazing on the end of the blind cap. Did you know that Arco pens could craze? I didn’t either — but now I’ve got proof. Letizia and I noticed the crazing as I was fiddling around with the pen, and she was horrified — the price went down and she included a solid black blind cap so I didn’t have to use (or keep) the damaged one. I chose to keep it, but I won’t store the pen with it.
If you’re unfamiliar with “crazing”, there’s plenty of helpful reading on the web, I found this article particularly helpful. And this one, specific to pens. The TLDR is that celluloid is unstable, and can break down over time. Some celluloids are known to do it, and for some it’s less common. It’s common with certain Wahl Dorics, and the Omas Royal Blue pens are known to do it (first they turn a gorgeous shade of purple, then pink… then disintegrate). This is the first time I’ve seen Arco craze, but apparently it’s not unheard of. Womp.
Bring on the urushi! I joked that there weren’t enough women at pen shows… so I bought some.
All three are carved urushi, with motifs of women in various stages of bathing (and nudity). I’d never seen pens like this, and another vintage dealer suggested that they were likely made after the war, as souvenirs for GIs. All three sport steel nibs and fill via a Japanese eye dropper system. They likely weren’t expensive pens based on the nibs and quality of the carving.
And the rest of my urushi haul. The top (left) three pens are from unknown makers — the first two involve gold and lacquer of some sort. The third may be urushi, and may not be — the dealer I bought it from, Lawrence Prenton, thinks it’s urushi, but it’s so even that I’m not 100% sure. Either way, it has a very nice red glow. The bottom/rightmost pen is likely a ban-ei pen based on the nib.
Ban-ei pens usually weren’t signed, but the nib bears the imprint that identifies it as a “GK” nib. There’s much more to read about Ban-ei & the nib maker (master?) Kabutogi Ginjiro, but that’s a rabbit hole all on it’s own. I own two other pens with nibs by him — but this is the first one I’m comfortable using daily, the other two are more elaborate kamakura-bori pens that I have a tendency to baby.
All the vintage urushi pens are Japanese eyedroppers (like most that are sold) none of them are restored except the black Ban-Ei. If you’re not familiar with Japanese eyedroppers, the mechanism is similar to the Opus 88, where there’s a seal at the back of the pen and a rod that shuts off flow when the blind cap is tightened. The big downside to these pens, as gorgeous as they are, is that very few people restore the mechanisms once the seal goes bad. To my knowledge, no US repairer takes them on — and the only restorer I know of who does it is based in Europe and doesn’t take pens from the US because of customs dues. That said, some people do the repair themselves at home (such was the case with the Ban-Ei), but if buying a pen that’s restorable is key for you — these likely don’t fit the bill.
And, that’s it folks! Did you find what you were looking for at the LA Pen Show?
This was my first time attending the LA Pen Show. I’d heard a lot about it (good and bad) and was excited to make the trip. I flew in on Thursday morning, and upon arriving the show hotel, was immediately looking through vendors trays and binders — a great Thursday morning!
Then we drove to Magal for Korean BBQ. To be honest, this was a big part of why I made the trip, I’d heard so much about it after every LA show… and it lived up to the hype. Would eat again. (But this isn’t a food blog, so let’s move on…)
Pen-wise, I went into the show focused on vintage urushi, I don’t see a lot of it in the US, and even at the SF Show, there historically hasn’t been a lot. There are a couple of vendors who only go to LA — so I came to them.
And they did not disappoint. Above is a tray of vintage maki-e, but those weren’t even their “high end” pens.
I was severely tempted by this beautiful maki-e cuttlefish. It’s a 1920s hard rubber Japanese eyedropper with modern maki-e, done by a third generation artist. I’ll post a video to Instagram one of these days.
This is maki-e on a Platinum 3776, it wasn’t for sale, but look at how cute it is! The owner of the pen says that it was done for a pen club in Japan.
This pressed celluloid dragon was also pretty cool — I ultimately didn’t purchase it though. (Self control or something)
And, before I move on to non Japanese pens, look at this Pilot White Stripe Myu! I’m told the price was on the high side, but nonetheless it sold quickly. I was excited just to see one.
In addition to Japanese pens, there was also Japanese ebonite! I picked up a couple rods for a friend who turns pens. The ebonite was sold by Eboya, who also had their own pens on display — beautiful and simple Japanese ebonite pens.
And no show is complete without the stunning materials (not for sale) and pens of Classic Pens.
And binders of loose nibs! It’s always fun digging through these. Also, a lot of the vintage vendors had some very reasonably priced flex nibs if you were willing to dig.
And some crazy pens. This one was made by Twiss (I think) — a custom ebonite body around a Sheaffer Triumph nib. I love the look of Triumph nibs, so this was a seriously tempting custom pen…
A neat Wahl slider — apparently this was the last generation of sliders. And, speaking of interesting nibs —
A Montblanc quadruple broad. Wow. I forgot to take a picture of my writing sample, but it’s wider than most of my highlighters. Super cool though I do wonder what people do with this nib other than show it off.
And, as expected, there were trays and binders of pens everywhere. I don’t see much LeBoeuf or Chilton online, but there were quite a few at the show.
And this crazy tray of custom pens by Rossi, Twiss and maybe some other artists. Wow.
I had a chance to meet Pierre of Desiderata Pens and tried out his pens — very nice! And look at that mechanism, I loved how the pieces aren’t made out of boring black materials.
I’m not a kid, but the Pen Collectors of America ran a scavenger hunt for kids — with adorable shark pens! I also (finally) signed up to be a member of the PCA, and picked up my last year’s worth of issues. It made for great reading on the way home, especially the chart on what to look for when shopping for Waterman pens, including size ranges and prices.
I was also lucky enough to get grinds from both Masuyama (left) and Gena. Gena is new to the show circuit — she used to do many of the inhouse grinds at nibs.com, but has recently branched out on her own. Review to come!
And here’s a friend trying to photograph the “super sharp” italic Masuyama put onto a Vanishing Point. He suggested that we try cutting paper with the edge of the nib.
Speaking of friends… I got to meet so many internet pen-friends! It’s always great putting faces to names, and going to a show other than SF means there’s a whole new set of folks to meet!
And some people who you don’t get to make friends with, but are awesome anyway.
All in all, I had a great time — it was my first time traveling for a pen show, and I’d definitely do it again. LA has a very strong vintage pen community, and an unparalleled selection of vintage Japanese pens. However, as many others have said, it isn’t the smoothest show logistically.
Here’s the view from the Straits Pen table (where I was helping out) at 9:45am on Sunday, before the show opened to the public:
And here it is about 30 minutes after opening.
Sunday was packed — there was barely space to walk through the aisles for a few hours, and a handful of thefts were reported. I don’t imagine any vendor can keep an eye on all the pens on their table. For next year, I’ll likely attend the LA Show again, but totally skip Sunday if the schedule and fee structure stays the same.
My wallet barely survived, but I had a great time. I saw a huge variety of pens, ate some great food, hung out with friends new and old and even bought a few pens.
P.S. Another post to come on my haul. Pictures still need to be taken.
Hello Friends! I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2018 Los Angeles International Pen Show that was held on February 15 thru 18. I actually try to make it to the LA pen show every year as kind of like a vacation for myself. Things I look forward to at a pen show: hanging out with pen-minded people, perusing thousands upon thousands of different pens, possibly buying a pen (or two) that I can’t go home without, seeing and visiting with old friends, creating new friends, and just having a fun time!
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Each year, the LA pen show is held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel in Manhattan Beach, California. This year, they’re in a transition period and changing their name to Westdrift but is still under the Marriott brand. The hotel was still undergoing construction during the pen show. There’s more to be said about that part but I’d rather just focus on the show which was all fun for me!
I arrived on Thursday afternoon just in time as the first day was wrapping up. I immediately checked in and went downstairs to the ballroom.
Walking around, I found a “few” pens that want to be bought! But since it was the first day and the first hour I was at the show, I decided to just take it easy and mull it over until the next day. Basically, if the pen isn’t sold yet then it’s mine. So I didn’t buy anything for myself for Thursday. We left the hotel for dinner with Pen Posse peeps as well as pen dealers from Italy, and Japan. We had great food from Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill. We shared tapas, and pizzas but what we really went there for was the dessert. Salted Caramel Pudding. ‘Nuff said. =)
Back at the hotel, we all congregated to the hotel’s outdoor bar aptly called, “The Tent”. This is the time where pen people sit, relax, talk, and show off their pens.
One of the pen bloggers (code name: Pink Hair) arrived at The Tent and generously let everyone try out the new Wancher Dream Pen. I must say that it is a substantial pen that filled my paws well. I then did a quick comparison in size with a Pelikan M1000. Thank you Agent Pink Hair!
Friday, August 16, 2018
Good morning Los Angeles! It’s a beautiful day for a pen show! I woke up early-ish and got ready for the day. I went down around 8:30am and found that the show was already ongoing. Paid for my Trader Pass and I was on my way. Walked around and visited to say hello to friends (vendors and attendees).
I found the Straits Pen table with some Pelikan pens as well their table’s security detail.
Walked around more and saw the Professional Nib Expert, Mike Masuyama at his table working early. I signed up to get some nibwork done as well. Because of how late I signed up (9:00am), I wasn’t sure if I’ll make the cut for the end of the day. That’s how in demand this gentleman is.
Since Friday morning wasn’t too busy yet, I got the chance to do a Live Instagram video and got to show some of the pen show’s light action on Friday morning. I then uploaded to YouTube for others to watch. I was reading and answering live comments (that you don’t see anymore) so pardon my incoherency at times. Enjoy!
One of the pen dealers who I just met this year at the show was Letizia Iacopini from Italy. I have always heard of her name in the community and how she is an expert of Italian and other pens. She is also an author of several fountain pen books. Her most recent book was, “Parker in Italia: 1900-1960”. Her table at the show had exquisite pens from the vintage and modern era. Majority of her pens were Italian.
Then I turn around and walk 3 steps towards the table of Dayne Nix. He always brings in great vintage pens from different regions. As a side note, I met Dayne at the 2012 SF Pen Show and it was from him that I bought my first flex pen, a Parker Televisor and I still have it. Anyway, Dayne’s table display is fascinating especially his array of Conway Stewart Dinkie pens as well as his demonstration of how a rare Zerollo Dunhill Two Pen worked.
Perhaps one of the most curious pens I’ve seen from Dayne is this Zerollo/Dunhill Two Pen from the 1930s with a matchstick filler. Thank you for showing us this awesome pen Dayne! #onlyatpenshows
At the Armando Simoni Club (ASC) table, a couple large pens caught my eye.
I then walked out of the ballroom to check out the Vanness Pens team in the hallway and look at who I found! Mike Vanness and his awesome suit! He always wears colorful clothing.
In the corner were Lisa Vanness, Joey Feldman, and Ana Reinert. Joey was creating artwork for people who bought journals at the show.
FOOD TRIP: It was almost 11:00am and a few of the pen posse peeps congregated to go out for lunch. A quick-ish drive to Korea town for Magal B.B.Q.! It’s become a tradition for us mainly because of the magic tea they serve.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel for more pen show! It was actually energizing to step out of the show for a relaxed lunch. I need to do that more often.
I stumbled upon the Kenro table with all the Aurora pens on display.
Here’s a Pelikan basking in the sun as well.
Vintage Corner: My friend Janet showed me a Pelikan IBIS in Grey Marbled that Rick Propas was selling and also showed me her Green Marbled one. The Pelikan IBIS was a pen produced from the mid-1930s thru the early 1940s. You don’t see the IBIS often and this was actually my first time to see the marble colored ones. #onlyatpenshows
I then went back to the Vanness Pens table to buy some of their special edition LA Pen Show journals by Curnow Bookbinding with artwork by Joey Feldman. Joey was still there and he drew my Pen Show Persona on the back of the A5 journal I bought. This guy is phenomenal and do you notice what he named my sneakers as? Pelikan M800 FTW! Thanks Joey!
Afterwards, I went up to my room to unload my purchases and rest for a while.
As I went back down, I checked on the progress at Mike Masuyama’s table. As it happens, the “last” person Mike was gonna help was a vendor and did not have the pen with him at the moment and I was the lucky person next on the list. Ricky got to take a picture of me as Masuyamasan was tuning my M800 nib. Thanks Ricky!
Post Show Dinner: Every year, the SF Bay Pen Posse as well as friends from the SoCal contingent hold a dinner at the Tin Roof Bistro and Joi E. graciously organizes this with the restaurant. As seen on the menu, we call it, “Pen Posse: TRB Edition”. Thank you very much once again Joi!
For this meal, it’s all about the Brussel Sprouts! If you’ve had them at Tin Roof Bistro, you know this to be true.
Back at the hotel, it’s Pen Shows After Dark time!
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Woke up early once again to get ready for the show. I think I got to the ballroom at 7:50am (so early) and it was once again busy with activity. A quick side note, a week prior at a Pen Posse meetup, I joked that I wanted to walk around the show wearing a magnifier head gear to look like a legit pen guy. Friday morning, my friend Mike got me one of these and I committed to what I said. Interestingly enough, what started out as a funny gesture became a very useful tool while I was perusing pens. Sometimes you just can’t see the small print on nibs and barrels. So if you’re going to a pen show, I recommend having a lighted magnifier like a loupe, or this head gear. #pro-tip
After signing up again at Mike Masuyama’s table, I did my walk around and found myself at Paul Erano’s table. Paul is the Grand Poobah of the secret-not-so-secret Black Pen Society.
This year, I was fortunate to meet Jesi Coles at the show. She is one of the hosts of the B.Y.O.B. Pen Club Podcast and she also sells pens at shows or on her website. She is known for being a proprietor of vintage Esterbrook pens.
Suddenly, I saw 2 to 3 people doing a beeline from one side of the ballroom to the other. Apparently, a seller just brought out their trays of pens and a few pen buyers saw it from afar. #onlyatpenshows
Visited the Peyton Street Pens table and found some vintage Pilot Pens from the 1950s. Sent my friend photos and a message if interested, and boom! Pen show muling… done. OPM points!
Afterwards, I went up to the hotel’s mezzanine level to attend two seminars. This was my first time to sit in a seminar in LA. The first seminar was about writing books on pens by Mr. Andreas Lambrou. He described his process when he was starting to write his Fountain Pens of Japan book as well as the Fountain Pens of the World. I was so into his topic that I forgot to take a photo. The second seminar was about fantastic nibs by Mr. John Mottishaw. He was demonstrating how to tweak nibs to make it write a little better. He asked people to bring up pens that didn’t write quite right and showed them simple tricks to make it better.
After the seminars, we stepped out for brunch at the Shake Shack across the street from the hotel. First time to have their food and it was good!
After brunch, it’s back to the show and I got to stop at the Artus Pens table and chat with Maxim. Artus Pen always has beautiful art pens painted by Russian artists. Their lacquer work is phenomenal and the artwork is just stunning.
One of the usually busy tables at a pen show is the Franklin-Christoph team. I barely got to see them yesterday because of people being at their table so I took advantage of a slower moment on Saturday. I got to peruse their show prototype pens and saw a “few” that I liked.
Pens from Dale Beebe’s table. Pentooling.com
More Pelikan pens…
I saw Eric Sands of Atelier Lusso who was also at last year’s SF Pen Show. He is a pen maker and he does great work as well. The clips on most of his pens were fashioned by Eric himself.
Back at Mike Masuyama’s table, Mike called me over and I had him do an italic grind on one nib as well as tune a vintage Pilot pen. A friend of mine was listed before my turn but had to leave the show so he entrusted me with 2 of his pens for Mike to work on. I spent a little over an hour sitting and chatting with Mike and other pen friends who walk by. This is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon at the pen show.
After sitting with Mike, I walked around once again and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. We went to dinner just outside the hotel and came back to “The Tent” for more hanging out.
A friend of mine showed me her newly purchased Franklin-Christoph Model 65.
We were admiring different pens with my LED light panel then something happened. A certain brand of urushi lacquered pens kept on appearing under the light and we decided to take a family photo.
Called it a night and went to bed. Sunday is the busiest day and I am helping out at a table so I had to get some rest.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Last day of the pen show! Woke up around 6:30 to catch the sunrise. I swear, pen shows are the only time I sleep late, and wake up earlier than when I have to go to work. Pen Show Time Zone! =)
The show opens to the general public by 10:00am so the Trader Pass holders had 2 hours of last minute shopping before the crowd gets in. I took advantage to take a few photos before I had to work at a table so here are some photos as I walked around.
The PENguin Rick Propas‘ table had a lot of pens for sale and these were a few pens that caught my fancy. He is also a “fountain” of knowledge about pens and is always willing to share it.
The Wahl-Eversharp table was manned by Syd and Judi Saperstein
Pendemonium’s Sam and Frank were ready for the Sunday crowd
Bill Weakley’s table had beautiful discontinued Pelikan pens for sale.
The Andersons always brings paper, pen cases, pens, and inks to the shows.
Vintage Wahl-Eversharp pens found at table of The Write Shoppe
Not just fountain pens… Stabilo markers found at Carla M.’s table for kids attending the show.
Ray Walters from the United Kingdom was at the show as well.
Alright, 10:00am arrives and the crowd is let in. I didn’t get to take photos of the line this year but it was pretty long as usual. Having one public day at a pen show honestly causes the big rush. Sometimes people wish that public was allowed to get in on Saturday as well. Will that change? Maybe. Not sure. I hope so. Anyway, here are my shots of the ballroom while I was helping out at a table around 10:30 so the full force of people haven’t really cleared the line yet.
Around 1:00pm, the crowd let up a bit and I got a chance to walk around and do a live Instagram video once again. Enjoy!
And with that, 5:00pm arrived and the 2018 LA Pen Show was over. Helped a couple vendors pack up, and went to dinner to end a tiring but fun weekend.
Pen shows are definitely a fun event to attend. Being in the pen community forges friendships and pen shows are way for you to see your friends. It can never be said enough, if you are near a pen show or can afford to attend one, do it. You find out how a certain pen feels in your hand, you learn about different pens, you find pens you didn’t know existed, but more importantly, you meet people who are as enthusiastic as you are with stationery and pens. To these people, these aren’t just sticks that hold ink. =P
As I’ve said before, pen shows for me have evolved into a social event and honestly is what I treasure more than what pens I bought. To all my friends, it was great to see you as always and to all the new people I’ve met, Instagram people I’ve finally met in real life, hope to see you all more often as well. Until next year!
Thank you for your time in reading my report!
“Pen shows are about the people and the stories between each other. The pens start the story and the people get closer.”