Last Sunday the Hammersmith Novotel was once more buzzing with talk of an inky nature as the Spring Pen Show returned. Tables of writing instrument and accoutrements, new and used. Gallons of ink and mountains of paper. I entered intending to socialise and spend not one sou.
Now in a previous post I had indicated I may well rent a table an try and sell some of my unused pens. After all even I admit I need to get rid of at least 20 or 30 which have not been used for years. I know a number of you approached me over shared tables, apologies for not getting back to you. As you may have guessed I chickened out. One day I may manage to sell a pen ….
Entering and I have to remember the March show is always smaller than the October one. Visitor numbers seemed to be good though a number of regular vendors were missing, such as Pure Pens, who had to drop out a few days prior. A number of the European stores are also still to return post the lifting of COVID restrictions. Still (and I know I will forget some) we had Write Here, Penfriend, The Online Pen Company, Pens Plus, Stonecott Fine Writing, Scrittura Elegante (Dutch company who were here for the third or fourth show in a row – I should say good things about them as their stroopwafels were nice 🙂 ), Aurora UK, plus the regular paper/notebook specialists. Oh and of course John Twiss, Michael Owen and Vince Coates, who were running their own stalls as well as organising the show.
On the pen maker front, I actually managed to take photos of both Shibui North and Nine Bespoke Pens this time, both back for a second London Pen show in a row. Ruth Bolton was also acting on behalf of Pen-7, whilst Jose Munuera was once more hosting pens from Gravitas. One of the things I really like about the UK pen making scene is the friendship and camaraderie between the ‘rivals’, who also offer each other support and help. The Good Blue Company were back, along with a new and rather exciting nib, then there was the old regulars, Dens Pens, Onoto, and John Twiss.
Nib work wise there as John Sorrowka, Jose Munuera, Anabelle Hiller, Eric Wilson and Thomas Ang.
The one thing I did notice was there appeared to be more second hand pen sellers. I do not mean the likes of Sarj Minhas, St Johns Pens, and Ray Walters, all of whom were present, nor the ‘usual’ antique sellers (apologies for not knowing names, it’s a rabbit hole I’m avoiding looking in to), but more with collections from the 1950s to 1980s.
While Pensharing was not there (Jon was but could not put in the time as it was his son’s birthday that day), Pick’n’Mix were back for a second time with their ink samples service. Not sure if they have a non-show presence.
There were some new attendees. One was Vitstyle, who have moved from Hong Kong to the UK (or at least their online presence is UK based – update they have an eBay store), with plenty of far east exclusive Lamy Pokemon sets, plus some vintage Japanese pocket pens. Scopus were actually here for a second time, and while his produce are ‘kit pens’, it is the materials used round those components that is key and interesting.
So while there were fewer tables it was still a buzzing atmosphere and the stalls all appeared to be busy. Certainly is was hard to catch up with some of the vendors until towards the end of the show. Once more I caught up with plenty of fellow pen enthusiasts and friends.
Remember at the start I declared I never intended to buy anything, well after deciding nothing quite grabbed by attention at the last show, this one saw me buying a copper pocket pen from Shibui North. Next saw me pick up a 1960s Sailor pocket pen from Vitsyle. It came with a new Sailor mini-converter, which did not fit as the metal band at the top of the new ones is too wide, and an internet hack using parts of a stock converter also did not work (note I do not blame them, they could easily have sold the pen without). Good job my post show order with Cult Pens also included a pack of black cartridges (as well as a replacement Traveller Pen Loop, which few places now seem to stock). Finally. I’m not a fan of Aurora nibs. Too stiff and pencil like for my personal tastes. So I tried a shiny pen known I knew I would not like it and … I now own an Aurora Optima.
Great to see you again, Gary. Sorry we didn’t have a change to have a proper chat
Great recap of a great day out. Congrats on your Aurora Optima and other unplanned acquisitions that attached themselves to you!
George Parapadakis said:
Great summary Gary! I have to say, I don’t know how this compared to the shows pre-Covid, but for me it was the businest one post-Covid. Did you stop by the WES stand for a chat? Sorry if I missed you!
I only floated past the WES stand early on my first trip round.
Christian Speck said:
Thank you for this inspiring and helpful article. I am from Switzerland and plan to visit one of the upcoming pen shows in UK – my first pen show ever.