Becoming the “sumgai” at the 2019 London Pen Show

If you’re not familiar with the word “sumgai”, let me educate you. It’s a term for someone who gets an amazing deal: “sumgai got here before me and snagged a Nakaya for a tenner”. Well, I didn’t quite get that deal at today’s London Pen Show, but I do feel quite pleased with myself anyway.

I consider myself a sort of pen show veteran now, at least for London. Same venue, many of the same vendors, often in the same spots.


So as usual, my daughter and I made a relaxed road trip of the show. We hit the road early and were parked up in central London by 8.15. Plenty of familiar faces were already milling around the hotel, including Jon from Pensharing and the everpresent Penultimate Dave.

We snuck in to the show early and toured around as the vendors were setting up. I’ll save my haul for the end, but give a few shout-outs:

Stalwart retailers like Write Here, the Writing Desk and Niche Pens were in attendance, with a huge stock of ink and some new pens.


I mainly succumbed to the ink temptation. Stu and Claire from Nero’s Notes brought the paper, but alas had sold out of the new Field Notes.

Plenty of distributors and brand representatives too, including Aurora UK with the beautiful Pacific Ocean.


ASC with its gargantuan pens, and Lime with some new Manuscript pens after its takeover. And some international retailers like Stilograph Corsani.

A few fine brands were present, including Jack Row, William Hannah and Onoto showing off its new piston fillers and plunger fillers, as well as a bit of Spitfire spar. Fab stuff.


John Twiss was there with his own pens, and a huge range of Viscontis, Conklins and Diplomats.

KWZ was there with its ink testing station.


A few new faces, too. Galen Leather was meant to be there, but I must have left before they arrived. William Shakour was there with his huge 3D printed Titan pens. I didn’t have a wide enough lens to get them in a photo…

More than half of the table space was dealers, and I saw many fine Viscontis, Nakayas, Montblanc, Omas, Oldwin, Namiki, Danitrio and more.


I’ll confess, on the shopping side of things, I mostly go to pen shows for a bargain. I’m looking for a pen to take a punt on at an unmissable deal. I didn’t find too many of those this year: the prices on the dealer tables were in my opinion pretty high.


However, that didn’t stop me picking up a few purchases. On the pen front, I got my first Conklin, a coral crescent filler for a sumgai price. And my first Waterman, a Carene with a medium nib that is amazingly stubbish. Again, a great price.

But most of the purchases were ink-related. My first bottle of Take-Sumi, a maroon ink from Ferriswheel, a bottle of the KWZ Newcastle ink from Twiss, and a sample set of inks from Stonecott Fine Writing, a friendly new face at the show and a stockist of the crazy Benu pens.


My daughter had her heart set on this one:


Mostly, I had some good chats. It’s great to feel part of a community. Sian from Write Here tried to get me into horseriding.


Paco showed my daughter all the animal designs on his Namiki pens.


Jon was busy signing up members to Pensharing


John Twiss was more cheerful than he should be given that he’s just taken over running the pen show…


And my daughter was fascinated by the resin blanks that he brought along.


We were on the road home by 11.30am, so I’m aware that it was a whistlestop tour, but we still crammed a lot in and had a great time. Roll on the next.

15 thoughts on “Becoming the “sumgai” at the 2019 London Pen Show

  1. It was the Newcastle Pen Show a few weeks back.
    I nearly pulled the trigger on the Leonardo Momento Zero that some retailer had in abundance. Alas, I lost their card.
    These shows are becoming larger though, which is only a good thing


  2. Great round up. Sounds like you and your daughter had an excellent trip. Glad to hear that you picked up a Carene, one of my all time favourites. The Conklin Crescent filler is a fun pen too with a massive capacity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write up Anthony. I haven’t been to a penshow all year, partly apathy at seeing the same stock over and over, high prices – last year I tried shopping for a M800 but prices were so close to new it wasn’t worth it and partly my want list have become very specific. Having said that penshows are great places to see and try things in the flesh…


  4. I went in the afternoon and Galen Leather wasn’t there (to the relief of my wallet). And the pen I lusted after was about twice the price I saw it advertised for on eBay. Good thing I resisted.


  5. Pingback: UKFP Uncapped: 13th October 2019 | UK fountain pens

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