On Sunday 2nd October I visited my first ever pen show in London. I had been aware there was a pen show in London for a number of years but I had never made it a priority to attend. This year however I thought I would go along and see what a pen show was like and test out some fountain pens.
Initial thoughts on the show
I was definitely a rabbit in the headlights when I first arrived. I would say the London Pen Show is fairly small but despite its size the experience a little overwhelming. There is so much to look at and you have to get up close to the tables to see whats on offer. To add to this newbie status I found the show poorly sign posted. I knew a few online retailers would be there but it took me quite a long time to locate them and I was forced to look at the show map a few times for reference.
What I found useful
Being able to touch, feel and test out the pens was invaluable and actually changed a few of my purchase decisions. One fountain pen on my shopping wish list was the Pelikan M205, specifically the limited edition Blue or Aquamarine. When I actually held and tested this fountain pen out I was disappointed. I found the coloured demonstrator barrel off-putting and the nib too firm. The pen was also a lot smaller than I expected. I think it goes without saying I didn’t buy a Pelikan M205.
Looking at and testing different inks was also great. I have become more intrigued by the various ink manufacturers finding it a new way to enjoy my fountain pens. Seeing some of the ink colours in the flesh was really useful. After the show I had added some colours on to my ink wish list, and in some cases removed some because they looked different in person. KWZ definitely won me over with their ink testing station and meeting the makers in person and getting their views on the different inks was fab.
What I took away with me
I came away with things I had on my wish list, but still a little more than I expected. I picked up the following:
- Lamy LX with a medium nib in Rose Gold
- Noodlers Ahab flex nib pen
- KWZ ink in both Brown Pink and Rotten Green
- Taroko Designs tomoe river paper in passport and regular sizes
- 2 A5 Clairefontaine ruled notebooks
- Pelican M400 with an extra-fine nib in brown tortoise shell!
I am really happy with my purchases. I did’t expect to get as much as I did but they are all pens, inks and paper that I enjoy using. I didn’t have the Pelikan M400 on my shopping list, but after testing out the M205 and the M400 there was an obvious and clear winner. This actually ended up being a gift from my husband, who on the day was my enabler, upselling me to the limited edition brown tortoise shell.
Overall thoughts on my first pen show
I really found the experience of the pen show useful. I don’t think the London Pen Show is the most dynamic and on face value is a little intimidating, but getting to see different pens in the flesh was really helpful. The staff hosting the show were very welcoming when we arrived. I came with my husband and baby in a pram (causing havoc trying to navigate around).
I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the show. I was keen to try a Pilot Custom 92 but I was unable to find one. Some of the online retailers that stock the pen didn’t have any with them on the day. Naively I thought that most companies would have a wide range of different pens with them at the show so I was a little bit disappointed by this.
I will definitely attend again next year. I may not have big purchases on my list (who am I kidding!) but I think it’s a great place to meet people and look at different fountain pens and inks to help fuel my habit.
And to top it off on my way out I bumped into Myke Hurley himself. We had a great chat about the show and what I had bought. And Myke, I am fully in support of bring some Pen Addict love to the London Pen Show!!