Countdown to the London Pen Show

The London Writing Equipment Show. or London Pen Show as it now is, is this Sunday. Curiously, I’m in a position where I am planning to go, but I don’t have anything on my wishlist to buy.

I mean, if Regina Martini is there with any killer deals on Grafs, I’d love to have another in my collection. And if there are any great prices on Viscontis like the Bronze Swirl I could have my arm twisted. But for now at least I’m doing my usual pen-show prep or writing down what I’m looking for, and I’m coming up short.

Partly that’s down to a recent, obscene glut of pens landing on my desk in August and September. Certainly more than a dozen, including some truly special pens like the Nakaya 17mm, Pelikan M1005 and Pilot Custom Urushi. Perhaps it’s that I don’t have a wishlist at the moment because I’ve bought everything on it!

Related, to a degree I’m suffering a bit of burnout, again. My dear brother brought five pens with him from the US yesterday, and frankly I wasn’t as excited as I usually would have been. My expectations are cranking higher and higher, and that means perfectly good pens are leaving me cold, or worse than that, actively annoying me with small faults.

A couple of good things are coming out of this. I’m looking with fresh joy at some old favourites — in fact, I had the pleasure of leading my brother through all the pens I’ve picked up since I last saw him back in February.

And hopefully, it means the trip to the pen show will be cheaper than usual.

Which brings me to the second part of this post. I planned to do a little recap of the big purchases I’ve made at previous pen shows, to see what stuck.

I went in to this recap with two conflicting hypotheses: one, that impulse control goes out the window at pen shows, so I’d end up buying a load of pens that I ultimately didn’t really want. Or two, the hands-on time you get with the pens means you’re likely to make a better choice.

  • Graf von Faber-Castell Intuition Platino Ebony: I kept this for a long time, ultimately sold it, and keep thinking about buying another one. I still think it’s a great pen.
  • Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Pernambucco: Still an active part of my collection. Great purchase for sure.
  • Visconti Homo Sapiens Steel Age: I hung on to this for a couple of years, but eventually sold it. It did, however, provide my gateway into proper Viscontis, so I hold it responsible for my London Fog!
  • Visconti Medici: Still an active part of my collection, and one of my most beautiful pens. I wouldn’t have bought it if I hadn’t seen how beautiful the material is in person.
  • Onoto Magna Classic: Still one of my favourites. Being able to look at the various colours and patterns in person helped me make the right choice.
  • Visconti Van Gogh Room in Arles: This would still be in active use if the cap hadn’t cracked after a few months! Currently retired.

So, six pen purchases, only two sold, none that I regret buying. That’s a much better hit rate than usual for me, given how ruthless I am with my collection. Maybe impulsive pen purchases at pen shows are the safest way to buy?

I’ll leave you with my usual pen show advice:

  • Plan your wishlist in advance.
  • Get there early.
  • Dress light, it’s warm in there.
  • Take a bag, but nothing bulky.
  • Take cash, as much as you can.
  • Try to set a budget.
  • Prepare to be overwhelmed — head out to the cafe if you need a break.
  • Smile and have fun!

Here are the details for this year’s show.

And my previous pen show posts:

March 2019 recap

October 2018 recap

September 2018 plan

October 2017 recap

One thought on “Countdown to the London Pen Show

  1. Once you have tried all the pens out there, and I suspect you are close to that, the only next level is the entirely custom made pen, painstakingly hand crafted just for you. And not a wood turned pen, as beautiful as those are, but something much more Urushi-like in fabrication and cost.


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