“Always Listen to Your Mother”: I Go to the San Francisco Pen Show

vintage Pelikan fountain pen

That is a pen.

I am starting out with a giant pen — Actual Pen Content — because after my inattention to pens at the DC Show, I vowed to be more on my game at the San Francisco Show.

That sounds so good! So of course it’s totally untrue. I said no such thing. And that pen hasn’t been within 2,000 miles of the San Francisco Pen Show. But it’s a pen.

And I did pick up a smattering of Actual Pen Content from the San Francisco show, which I will put at the very end, for loyal readers or those wasting time at work. Others, feel free to skip ahead.

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Ink Review: Platinum Blue-Black

Platinum Blue-Black

Platinum Blue-Black is a blue-black ink, with the emphasis on “blue.” It’s not a traditional gray- or green-leaning blue black; instead it’s more of a dark blue. Platinum Blue-Black performs well on regular paper; it’s attractive; and it’s water-resistant. Best of all, it’s very easy to clean from a pen.

Why doesn’t everyone use this ink?

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Sailor Tidbits

I have a few fun tidbits about Sailor pens and ink to share.

A friend and I stopped by Anderson Pens Chicago last Friday the 15th to attend their Sailor pen event. Brian Anderson showed his collection of Sailor pens, and Scott Hammer, a Sailor sales representative, brought all the current Sailor fountain pens to look at. Even better, Scott brought inked testers so we could try Sailor’s seven different standard nibs.

We asked about the Sailor Specialty Nibs, those unusual, wonderfully creative, special nib designs that Sailor stopped producing because it were overwhelmed with orders. Good news: all indications are that like Sailor still plans to bring back the specialty nibs, though perhaps on a more limited pen lineup than before.

I also heard good news on ink.

First, Sailor’s excellent and indefatigable ink maker has apparently put together a new lineup for the US distributor — more than 100 inks in a variety of colors. Photos of the swatches looked delightful. This new line of inks will be bottled in smaller 20 ml bottles, like the Shikiori bottles, and will be sold only in brick and mortar stores.

I don’t know when the inks will be available; whether these inks will be available outside the US; or the price. The inks aren’t even named yet, or weren’t last Friday anyway.

While the brick-and-mortar store limitation may seem like a bummer to some, I think it’s nice that Sailor wants to support pen stores. I like shopping in person. A lot of those stores have online ordering anyway, like Anderson, Dromgoole’s, Fountain Pen Hospital, Pen Boutique and Vanness Pen Shop. Or maybe you’re close to a pen show.

Ink bottle news, anyone? First that I shamelessly lobbied Scott to ask Sailor USA to keep selling its current 50 ml bottles of inks like Souten and Doyou. There’s been a question about that online, because Sailor seems to have gone exclusively to the smaller 20 ml bottles in Japan (where the ink is less expensive than in the US).

Good news: it sounds like Sailor USA doesn’t plan to discontinue the 50 ml bottles — at least, not currently. I hope people will keep buying the larger bottles, so Sailor USA keeps selling those. I did my part, buying a 50 ml bottle of Sailor Oku-Yama ink. I am that unselfish.

There was more good news about ink. It seems like they are going to eliminate the plastic ink reservoir inside the 50 ml Sailor bottles. And I love this news, so much, because I hate that plastic insert so much. It’s too small for larger nibs, and it’s messy to remove it yourself. If you are someone who loves the ink reservoir, however, don’t worry: it will be sold separately as an accessory.

Now, on to pens. Finally. Sailor USA has been bringing in a lot of fun colors in the larger size pens, and seeing the entire lineup at Anderson made this trend really obvious.

Sailor’s small Professional Gear Slim pens have always been made with colorful materials. I used to buy the Pro Gear Slim pens just for that reason. But unfortunately, I find the Professional Gear Slim too small. I like the full-size Professional Gear or the 1911 Large.

Others must, too: over the last year, Sailor USA has been bringing more color to the full-size Pro Gear and 1911 Large. There have been new, North-American-exclusive, colors in both the small and large 1911 sizes. First Fresca Blue, Anchor Gray and Royal Tangerine. Then Stormy Sea, which debuted around the time of the 2018 Chicago Pen Show, also in both large and small sizes.

Those colors have all sold well in the large-size 1911s, and it sounds like there is at least another 1911 color in the pipeline for North America. (All of these are limited edition colors, in the sense that Sailor will eventually stop selling them.)

Fun fact: the 1911 is the better seller in the US, and the Professional Gear is the better seller in the Japan.

I happen to prefer the Professional Gear, so I’m happy that Sailor North America is also bringing more color to the full-size Professional Gear, albeit more slowly. First came the Sky, a clear blue, some time ago. Then came the Earth, a brown with some translucency (which I own). Just released in the past few weeks was the Ocean, a blue-green with some translucency.

Right this second, I happen to have a full-size Professional Gear, in Ocean, with a music nib, in my pen cup. That’s because Dan Smith the Nibsmith sent it to me to review. I love the Ocean color. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.

And Anderson had another special edition Professional Gear in a great color, an Anderson special edition in Slate Blue with rhodium trim.

But then I saw a clear Professional Gear with silver-colored trim that I am sorry, but I need.

Finally there was the 1911 Large in Fresca Blue, which honestly I saw multiple times at the pen show last month without caring even a little. But this time when I saw it, boom. Beautiful color.

Or maybe you love the Stormy Sea, the Royal Tangerine or the Anchor Gray. Those are also nice!

In fact, I’ve never seen Sailor put out so many appealing colors in its larger size pens, all at once. Sure, it’s been a good thing for Sailor North America, since these are selling well. But the more colorful pens they come out with, the harder it is to resist.

 

Chicago Pen Show: Tally

Pens Purchased: Three.

Amount Spent: Eleventy zillion dollars.

Inks Purchased: Four.

Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green, which I’ve sampled and really like.

Graf von Faber-Castell Electric Pink, which had me at “electric pink.”

Montblanc Lucky Orange, which my friend Dan likes and I thought he might need. But then I forgot to tell him. So I guess we’ll find out if he reads the blog.

Diamine Earl Grey, which I really liked, though I wouldn’t have predicted that.

Inks I Forgot I Purchased: One. KWZ Hawaii Blue. It’s a KWZ, and it’s blue, so of course.

Inks Not Purchased: Two. I set aside KWZ Honey on Sunday, but forgot to go back to buy it. And I wanted another Papier Plume Da Blue, but forgot completely.

Lists Needed Next Year: “Don’t forget to buy these at the pen show.”

Pens Repaired: One. It took two wonderful pen repair people to do it.

Nibs Ground: None. I brought the nib, like last year, but forgot to bring it over, like last year.

Lists Needed Next Year: “Don’t forget to do this at the pen show.”

Thought That Just Occurred to Me: Perhaps a temporary tattoo would work better than a list.

Pens Sold: Seven or eight. Thanks, Rick.

Required Research on Nakaya pens at the Classic Pens Table : Probably 50-80 visits. But I mean, the show was four days.

Nakayas Now Needed: One. Nakai-ai in Unpolished Shu with Flex Double Broad Cursive Italic.

Best Thing: Meeting a pen friend from Michigan in person for the first time.

Next Best Thing: Lots of other nice people.

State With Highest Ratio of Incredibly Nice People: Iowa. Especially Nick, Diana, Paloma and Steve.

People I Could Have Talked to for Much Longer: On Saturday night it was three: Nicole, Trevor, and Laura. But every day, and every year, at the pen show it seems like I could just answer “everyone.”

Exact Moment My Brain Fried: 8:30 pm, Saturday night. Bang, fizzz, poof, gone.

Total Hours of Sleep Over the Three Nights: Twelve.

Number of Brain Cells Currently Functioning: Twelve.

Life-Changing Discovery: “Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew” from Starbucks.

Number of People Who Asked Me, “Are You Following Me Around?”: Four.

Number of People Who I Hope Were Kidding About That: Four.

Papier Plume Bootlegger’s Sacrament and Da Blue: Ink Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! For the Papier Plume ink Bootlegger’s Sacrament, LJD was selected. For Papier Plume Da Blue, it was Meg Weglarz. Please contact me through the link on the blog with your name and address by May 1 to claim the prize. Or let me know if you’re coming to the Chicago Pen Show, and can pick it up there, and I can add some extra stuff.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Papier Plume will be selling these inks at the Chicago Pen Show, May 3-6, and then afterwards on their website, if any remain.

Here’s the Bootlegger’s Sacrament list. Excuse any misspellings.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 9.45.16 PM

And here’s the list for Da Blue.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 9.49.25 PM

Papier Plume Giveaway: Da Blue and Bootlegger’s Sacrament

Papier Plume Da Blue and Bootlegger's Sacrament

Thanks to Papier Plume, I’ve got a bottle of each of the two inks Papier Plume made for the 2018 Chicago Pen Show to give away through the blog.

This year’s inks are Bootlegger’s Sacrament and Da Blue. They are beautiful colors, in beautiful bottles, and Papier Plume intends to make no more of either after this batch of 120 of each sells out.

To enter to win all you have to do is leave a comment about the inks down below. I’ll put you down for both, unless you say that you only want one, but the first winner won’t be entered in the second drawing. I’ll draw for Bootlegger’s Sacrament first, then Da Blue.

One entry per person please, and please let your friends know. It’s a nice thing to do. If they win, they’ll love you forever. And I’m sure you can get some ink out of them.

I will select the two winners on April 25, using a random number generator, and then post their names here on the blog. So be sure to check back. Once announced, each winner must contact me by May 1 to claim the prize. If you’re coming to the Chicago Pen Show, I applaud you — and more to the point, I’ll give you the ink in person. Otherwise I’ll mail it. Thanks for entering.

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Additional rules: If any prize isn’t claimed by May 1, 2018, it expires. Retail price of the ink is $10 per bottle. Prize is not transferable, and has no cash value. Odds depend on number of entries. No purchase necessary. Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Entrants must be 18 years of age. Void where prohibited by law.