Last week I’ve been to my first ever pen show. That took a while… I’ve been using fountain pens for more than 35 years and have been blogging about pens for seven years, but no pen show until now.
Kirit Dal, who I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog, told me about the Northern Pen Show in Lytham St. Annes, organised by UK Pen Shows – just 40 minutes drive from my home. Luckily things worked out so that it was possible to go there.
We had glorious weather, which gave the whole day a great atmosphere to start with and once we, i.e. the whole family, arrived at the pen show it got even better, as everyone was super friendly.
On the Pen Addict podcast I heard Brad and Myke take about the size of pen shows by mentioning the number of tables, with small ones having around 20 tables and big ones 250 tables. Well, this one was one of the smaller pen shows with about 30 tables.
The focus of this pen show seems to have been vintage fountain pens, and from what I’ve heard and read this seems to be the norm. There were however also new pens and other stationery items, like ink, notebooks etc, available.
I thought I bring some fountain pens along, just in case there is some nib grinding going on. The most expensive pen I own for example has an F nib, but writes wider than most M nibs, but unfortunately there were no nib meisters around.
After I got a plan of the pen show I was trying to find Kirit Dal, who told me about this show in the first place. He wasn’t listed, so I thought he’s not there ..but later I noticed a suspiciously large amount of Robert Oster inks on one of the tables – and it turned out that the Oster inks belonged to the man I had been looking for!
I also met John Hall again. I first met him in 2014 when I found his shop Write Here while spending a weekend in Shropshire.
A while ago Scribble sent me some William Hannah paper. I certainly remember the paper – discovering the printer steganography on the paper came as a surprise to me. Well, I also came across David Round, the founder of William Hannah. He told me where the name of his company is from (his children’s name) and explained where all the different parts of his notebook are made. I thought it’s impolite if I start writing things down, but now I don’t remember 100% which part came from where, so I better don’t mention these details at all. Unfortunately the photo of him is not so clear – well my digital camera is nearly ten years old and I should have taken more than one photo, but unless you click on the image to see the large version it might look acceptable.
The weather was so nice, after visiting the pen show we went to St. Annes’ pier, which was just outside. You can see the hotel from there (just on the right).
We had a great day out!
10 thoughts on “The UK’s Northern Pen Show”
Looks like a great outing on a gorgeous day! The last time I had been to a pen show was 5 years ago, which many vendors with vintage pens and parts. I am not courageous enough to dabble in the vintage market yet. Did you see any that is enticing?
Thank you for your comments.
There were many nice things, affordable and more expensive.
Kirit Dal had many Oster inks. The Hamilton Pen Company had many Leuchtturm notebooks, I think I also saw the new gold/silver/bronze ones. Lots of great stuff.
The William Hannah notebooks were (probably) cheaper than in the online store – unless they were another size or somehow else different.
I think you have one of the biggest pen shows just on your door step. Is that the one you went to, five years ago?
Re William Hannah notebooks, the leather is from Italy and is cut and stitched in Melton Mowbray, while the rings are made in Leicester.
I used to live by the largest pen show, the Washington DC one (it is actually hosted in Virginia, but then, DC is more recognizable). The upside is varieties, but the downside is there were many vendors that have similar products. First time attending, I got two pens and several bottles of ink, and the second time, I just got a nib grind and a pen-show limited ink.
Robert Oster ink seems like a rabbit hole. I am looking another way so I won’t fall in!
Thank you for your comments.
Scribble, thank you for these details. When I mentioned to him that I got the paper from you he knew immediately what I was talking about.
Shangching, were you happy with the grind? What did you get done? Re Oster: Fire & Ice so so nice.
I got a Pelikan BB nib done to a cursive italic. Really like the grind since BB is unrealistic for my tiny writing.
Ah, I have heard about the addictive quality of the Fire and Ice ink.
If the feed was made for a BB, is it not too wet now?
Surprisingly not! At least I prefer wetter italic than dry, as the edges can graze the paper surface. The grind with a wet nib makes the writing quite effortlessly.
That sounds great. I have a few pens that write too broad (Pelikan). I’d love to get them changed one day and now that I read about your experience I feel reassured it would work. I thought things might go wrong if the feed was intended for a different kind of ink flow..
Before the grinding is done, the nibmeister did ask me to which size of nib I wanted to have. Sometimes certain types of grind may not be suitable for the nib you have. For example, if you have a stainless steel nib and you want to add flex to it, it could be more challenging than if you have a gold nib. A BB to a cursive italic is achievable since it has a lot of “material” to be ground. If I had an extra fine nib to begin with, there might not be enough room for error, if that makes sense.