A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My afternoon at the 2012 Los Angeles International Pen Show

Today was my second visit to the Los Angeles International Pen Show. (Second ever, first this year.) Last year, I didn't have any idea what I was looking for, I just wanted to get a feel for the show. This year, I has some specific goals in mind, most of which I met, so it was a pretty good visit.

Remember that 30-year-old Mont Blanc my wife's uncle surprised me with at Christmas? It is now in the hands of a pen restorer, who will be working on removing some stains, evening out a dent in the cap, and making sure the pen is in good working order. I'll still need to send to off to a nibmeister later, though. From the same vendor, I picked up a set of shims for spacing nib tines, which will come in handy, and I also bought a lighted loupe. Now I won't have to use my wife's and get in trouble when I leave the light on and use up the battery in hers.

Speaking of wives and trouble, I thought this was a cute sign:

I wonder if it helped her sales?

Main display area
The show did not seem as crowded this year. It seemed a little easier to move through the aisles. But maybe I just had a more defined mission and moved better through the crowds.

I was hoping TWSBI's Speedy would be there again, since I wanted to buy some of their ink bottles and a couple of stub nibs, but I didn't see him (or anyone else from TWSBI).

I still don't know my way around vintage pens at all. Some vintage hard rubber pens at The Fountain Pen Store's display caught my eye, but not enough for me to buy one.

Mostly, I was on the prowl for some pens I'd been admiring on websites but had yet to see up close.

One was the Pelikan M625, which I have been lusting after for most of a year. But when I saw them at the show, they weren't as beautiful as they look on the website. Nice looking pens, but not as beautiful as I was expecting. The translucent barrels are so dark, it is hard to see the difference among the red, blue, and aubergine models without their caps on. 

The others were the Aurora Europa and Aurora America, which are basically limited editions of the Aurora Optima. These two pens looked even better up close than they do online, especially the America. I like the idea of an Italian pen that honors America. Still, a little pricey. If I ever buy one, it will probably be off of eBay, or perhaps when someone is trying to unload theirs on the Fountain Pen Network classifieds.

Still, I did not walk away empty handed. I was also looking for a deal on a Visconti Rembrandt Eco-Roller rollerball pen (which takes fountain pen ink), since no one seems to discount them online. Bittner gave me a great deal on one, which I'll review after trying out for a couple of weeks:

I came every close to buying A Diplomat Excellence Rhombus fountain pen with 14kt nib. This is a pen I saw for the first time at last year's show. It's gorgeous, the fine nib wrote smooth as silk (though writing on an R by Rhodia pad will undoubtedly make most nibs feel smooth), and it felt remarkably light in the hand for a metal pen. I already regret turning down the discounted price I was offered.

An afternoon just isn't enough time to fully explore the show. I could have spent all afternoon going down just one aisle. But all, in all, it was a fun afternoon, I got a great deal on a pen I wanted, and I managed to learn a little more about vintage pens in the process.

If you are a pen nut and a show is held within a few hours' drive from you, I highly recommend you make the trip!


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