This was my fourth time, attending the annual London Writing Equipment Show (LWES). It was held on 1 October 2017, at the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, near Russell Square. Knowing broadly what to expect, I had been much looking forward to it.
Oh my, what a treat for the fountain pen
obsessed enthusiast! The venue comprises one large main function room at the hotel, plus the adjacent corridors, all filled with lines of tables, covered with enticing displays of fountain pens old and new, inks, spare parts, accessories and other paraphernalia. There is something for everyone, whatever your level of interest in this addictive hobby.
This year, for me there was an added bonus, of finding several familiar new friends from the recent Pelikan Hub, just over a week earlier. It was good to see them again and to have a chat and share the excitement.
It was very warm inside and rather too crowded, until it thinned out in the afternoon. It is a good idea to find a coat rack and leave your jacket somewhere. I had brought along some cash but not quite a big enough bag, as it turned out, for the purchases I made. I had not come with any firm ideas of what to look at. Last year I bought a vintage Parker 51 from Graham Jasper’s table. I had a vague plan to pick up another, but did not in the end. I had also planned to have another look at the Conid Bulkfillers, the Belgian made, precision-engineered masterpieces that I eye up every year, although I still came short of buying one.
Thus browsing, with an eager eye and an open mind, I managed to limit myself to just five new pens, (all new, but all stainless steel nibbed, modestly priced pieces), three bottles of ink and a craft box of assorted grades of micro-mesh for those occasional attempts at nib adjustments.
My first catch was the Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. I had been attracted to these from seeing them online, but thought them to be rather over-priced for a stainless steel nib pen. However, at a very attractive price at the Show, I picked up both a Red Chase and a Coral Chase model, with fine and medium nibs, respectively.
Next, and still before reaching the main hall, I lingered at the Kawecos. I have been using a Kaweco Dia 2 in recent months, which I have been delighted with and find super comfortable. At the Show, I saw the Kaweco Student and the Kaweco Allrounder, for the first time in the flesh. I was drawn to the Allrounder in a vibrant red aluminium (I think) body. It takes the same nib and feed unit as the Dia 2 or Al-Sport. I bought the pen with an Extra Fine nib, plus a Fine as a spare. These nib units are only about £8.00 and can often be fantastic, if well made.
Next I bought a spare bottle of ink, the Conway Stewart Tavy, by Diamine. I bought a bottle of this two shows ago and have used it a lot, as an attractive blue black. It is sometimes out of stock on web-sites and so I was pleased to get a spare.
A few tables on, I met the gentleman selling Aurora pens and inks, who remembered me from previous years. It was wonderful to see these stunning beauties on display, including the Optima in what I presume was the burgundy auroloide resin, a grail pen for the wish list although surprisingly light to pick up. However I did buy a bottle of Aurora Blue Black ink, only available since April which I had been keen to try.
I had a look at the Onoto pens. Again, very desirable, but quite an expensive outlay for an unplanned purchase.
Now – the main hall! It can be a bit overwhelming, the sight of so many pens and people all in one place. A prominent display of Pelikans with a giant plastic Souveran model, indicates Niche Pens’ table, with a good range of Pelikan pens to handle, including the M120 and the entry level Pelikano. Next there were Noodlers and TWSBIs. At the vast vintage Parker table, (Graham Jasper) I was impressed to see an open, 80-pen case display of Parker Duofolds, grouped with about six of each colour. Another grail pen.
Several tables had nostalgic fountain pen branded signage of a bygone era and I regret not taking some photos of these lovely displays.
Another pen purchase, was an unbranded, large clear demonstrator pen with a black cap, displayed in gift box with a syringe included for eye-dropper filling, as an alternative option to the included converter. There were several colours and I chose one with nice blue end-cap, section and strikingly bullet-shaped barrel end. The nib looked to be a very smart, stainless steel Medium with some scroll work but with an empty space where you might normally expect to see the words Iridium Point, Germany. This I call my mystery pen. I also found a stack of Micro-mesh craft kits and added that to my stash, thinking it would be useful to have the means to do some very rudimentary nib-smoothing if the need arose.
Several fascinating laps later, I was nearly ready to go but paused again at the TWSBI’s. It was at this same show in 2014 that I bought my first TWSBI, a clear Vac 700 that I love and use regularly at work. I have since added a Diamond 580 and an Eco. Now, someone next to me was trying the TWSBI Classic in a cute Robin egg blue. I had not handled one before and rather liked the faceted cap and barrel, the shiny metal piston knob and the small clear ink window (picture your favourite ink here!). I bought one, in white. Not exactly an Aurora but it has an ink window. They also had a few KWZ inks for sale (of which I have read great reviews) and I bought a 60ml bottle of Azure #4.
Having a New Pen Day x 5 was rather indulgent, admittedly. I therefore decided to ink only one more pen a day, throughout the week, to prolong the enjoyment. And it has been enjoyable. Each one has been a success and I am thrilled with my purchases.