Sydney Pen Show 2018

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend the inaugural Sydney Pen Show held on Saturday 18th August at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour just outside the Sydney CBD. 

Yes it is the white building being guarded by the HMAS Vampire, the museum's largest exhibit.


The venue itself is a superb choice being very central to accommodation, restaurants and so picturesque.

The view from the front door of the show venue. For those interested that is the HMAS Onslow and a floating memorial to the WW1 submarine AE1.


The show itself was held in one of the museum display galleries - the Lighthouse Gallery.


The show was scheduled to open at 9am, I arrived a 8am as I am an early riser and was staying just up the street. I think I was fourth in line. I spent the hour talking pens and stationery with my fellow line-mates. It was very easy to find common ground as we were all there for the same thing. 

The show featured a number of local brick & mortar and online vendors of pens, art and stationery products (who were offering some good show specials), and several pen distributors were there with a display of wares available to the Australian pen shopper.

Services available were several calligraphers doing custom name lettering, a nib tuner doing smoothing and adjustments and taking orders for grinding work. 

There were several tables of inks available to test - I stayed away from these as I don't need to be tempted with more inks.

 The highlight for me  was a Pilot museum display of their Capless pens dating back to 1968, the display was flown out from Japan just for the show and was returning that evening.


In the afternoon the show also featured a range of workshops in topics including calligraphy in a couple of forms, nib tuning, Bullet Journalling and the highlight for many, an urban sketching workshop with the world renown Liz Steel. I was not quick enough to book myself in for any of these workshops - something that I quite regret.

At the close of the show at 4pm, over 600 people had attended. I feel that number was a great result for the inaugural event. A huge congratulation must go to all those many volunteers that worked so hard to make the show such a success especially the co-organisers. Mark and Sophia.


So what did I buy? Not much actually. I had a good load of cash available until Thursday when I said yes to one of only two Pelikan M805 Royal Raden Platinum Limited Edition pens allocated to Australia.

In the end I bought the show pin featured at the top of this post (because well pins are in) and that was about all.

Robert Oster produced a special ink (Sydney 2018 Lavender) for the show and I was given a complimentary bottle of that as I was in the first 100 to buy a ticket and I was also given a goodie bag of stationery items from Milligram as I one of the first in the door at opening.


The day for me was not about the material goods as such but I was there mainly to show support for the efforts that Mark, Sophia, and all of the fountain pen community members in Sydney and Australia had made in making this show a success. I was just happy to meet so many people that I had only previously interacted with via social media.

The Guidelines V2.0

Back in July 2015 I posted an article that stated five guidelines that drove my pen, nib and ink collecting.

They remain true today, even the 5th one which was mostly written in jest. I have modified the 1st guideline to reflect my exclusive focus on Pelikan fountain pens.

  1. A Pelikan pen or nib once in my collection never leaves.
  2. An ink once in my collection will only leave when it is empty.
  3. Every ink is suitable for the office, some will just portray you as being more extravagant than others.
  4. You have not truely lived until you have used a good custom ground nib.
  5. The words, "Too many", "Too much", or "Too expensive" never apply to your pen, nib and ink collection. (Except of course on the occasion your partner starts to look for a good divorce lawyer)

Just Three Wishes...

A recent post on Instagram by pelikan_international (what I assume is the global social media marketing group of Pelikan) has made me think about what I would like to see in the way of new models of Pelikan pens. The particular post was advertising the M805 Stresemann pen - I made a typical snarky comment looking forward to the release of M600 sized version of that particular model. The reply I received from them was quite understandable but slightly maddening. :)

Besides a M605 Stresemann (which in my opinion has to come at some stage given that this colour is part of their standard range), what would I like to see?. Excluding new patterns and colours I believe there are two obvious ones:

Firstly I would love to see a M600 Brown Tortoise to fill the space between the M400 and M800 versions. According to legend this model already exists in the form of a Japanese market only release from before 1997. I have looked very hard and I have never seen one come up for sale.

Secondly I would love if Pelikan made a White Tortoise in M800 size, again this would fill the gap in my set of M400 and M600 sizes.

The odds?

I believe a M605 Stresemann is almost a certainty.

The M600 Brown Tortoise I am hopeful but recent history has shown that Pelikan think the M600 size is one in which they can explore more feminine styles. Recent examples are 2015's very targeted M600 Pink Special Edition (I have one complete with corset laced packaging) and the yet unreleased but strongly rumoured M605 White Striped (It has been described as take a M600 Pink, replace the pink stripes with silver, replace the gold trim with rhodium (silver) trim and you're done).

I believe a M800 White Tortoise is least likely. Why do I say that? Just a gut feeling looking at Pelikan M800 releases from the last 10 years. The M800 Special Edition releases tend to be one material used for whole pen body and cap eg. Blue o' Blue, Vibrant Blue, Renaissance Brown and (the rumoured 2017 SE M805 Ocean Swirl), or dark cap, grip section and body from a single material e.g. Burnt Orange, Grand Place and Brown Tortoise. There has yet to be a M800 sold with a white grip and cap. I really hope that I am proven wrong.



 I would love it if one day I could take an image in which the above gaps are filled with the three wish-list pens.

Paper Test: Monokaki vs Tomoe River Paper vs Rhodia vs Midori Traveller

Last week the very generous people at Bookbinders Online sent me some samples of Monokaki manuscript paper, a new addition to their range of paper stock.

The paper is fawn and feels to have a weight somewhere around 72gsm. It is gridded on one side and blank on the other. I used the blank side for my tests.

After scribbling on a page of it with my current selection of inked up pens I thought I should compare the results with other papers I have lying around. So I dug around in the stationery drawer and found sheets of Rhodia fawn in 90gsm, a page of Midori Traveller heavier paper and a page of my benchmark - Tomoe River Paper.

The testing is not very scientific - just scribble the name of my inks in use on each page and scan it.

So what do I think?

Monokaki performed very well, it showed up the shading in Brilliant Brown and some gold sheen on Burgundy Mist and handled Liberty's Elysium easily. All the inks dried with Monokaki in a quicker time than they did for Tomoe River. The poorest paper of them all was the Rhodia 90gsm it absorbs the inks very quickly causing them to look flat. Tomoe River is still the king when it comes to showing an ink at its best but I quite like Monokaki and look forward to picking one of the bound notebooks.

New year, new site name

Yes I changed the name of my site again. One day I will stop, but I fear it will be the day that goes broke.

The name change reflects a keenness for my site to more broadly represent my many analog(ue) interests.

I expect it will still mainly be about my fountain pens, inks and stationery but I hope to post about my recently rekindled love of Gin and wine now and again.

Here's to a bright 2017. 


On the want list

With the announcement of the Pelikan M405 Stresemann today I took the opportunity to update my wants list. The M400 size has the most pens left to get but with exception of the new Stresemann, most of them are low in priority.

My  highest priority at the moment is completing my set of M300 sized pens. I have had little luck in my search to date so I have engaged a vendor in the USA to look on my behalf.

21 Pens sold in 2 hours

Well that was fun. A week ago I took the pens I had earmarked to sell to the monthly meet-up of my Facebook group - Fountain Pens Australia  and managed to sell 21 of the 30.

The first sale was my Pilot Custom 742 FA and my Lamy 2000 BB, gone before the meet-up even started!

 Most pens sold to one person was four being the rest of my Pilot Custom 742s - the gentleman in question's comment that they will go nicely with his recently purchased Pilot Custom 742 FA and being the same model his wife will think he still had only one pen not five- I can't fault the logic, but it is a slippery slope...

I really enjoyed helping people find a pen that they could buy that suited their writing style. The happy comments on the Facebook group along with writing samples of using my former pens makes me glad that I choose to offload them rather than just putting them into storage.

So now that I am cashed-up (literally) what am I going to buy? Well first use of the money was quite mundane - groceries and then a visit to my hometown's equivalent of a state fair.

Though yesterday I bought a Richard Binder custom flex grind M600 Extra Fine nib off eBay and am looking forward to getting the new M400 Brown Tortoise next month.

Beyond that I might just wait to see what 2017 brings for new Pelikans.


Going Pelikan only

Back in January I posted about culling my pen collection to leave only those that I considered the "fun ones". Yesterday I decided to go Pelikan only with my pen collecting and use.

They say it happens eventually to all collectors - the time that you stop being a Bower Bird and you narrow your focus to just one theme. Well it has happened in regard to pens, but I am not certain if this will ever happen for me with inks.

The fountain pen community will benefit as well as I am putting 30 odd pens up for sale at what I believe are generous prices.

What will I spend the money on - more Pelikans of course...

One year on

Well it has been a year...

After a good first eight months of regular posts my efforts in the last four months have been poor. March was going ok, then zero posts in April, two in May, one in June and this will only be my second in July - all in all very slack. I feel Instagram is the main culprit, becoming my first choice for quickly sharing a pen or ink image.

On the other hand the last 12 months have been very good to me buying-wise as I have added eight Pelikan pens (four M800, three M600, and a M101N) and 75 bottles of ink to my collection. In that time I have also sold six pens to fellow members of the Fountain Pen Australia Facebook group.

I still have ten pens on my want list but with no budget remaining till 2017, they are likely to remain on the list for a while longer.

Thank you to those that visit, I will endeavour to make it more worthwhile in year two.

Only the Fun Ones

I have finally bowed to the sad fact that some of my pens give me less enjoyment than others. Its not that they have faults or are bad pens it is more of a case that their arrival at the top of my next in rotation list does not immediately make me say "Yay".

To this end I have marked as "Removed from Rotation" 31 of the 95 pens in my database. I would have removed more but then some of my more dangerous Noodler's inks would never get used.

What is going to happen to these 31? Mostly nothing, but I have already flagged on social media that some of my Sailor pens could be available to leave my collection. Though that would mean breaking rule one of my Guidelines.






2016 Wishlist

Yesterday I posted my brief review of my pen collecting of 2015, today I want to look ahead and share my current thoughts and wishlist for the coming year.

In essence I want to buy more pens but less inks than I did in 2015.

So far I have five Pelikan M800 series pens on my purchase list

They are:

  • M800 Grand Place SE
  • M800 Burnt Orange SE
  • M805 Stresemann
  • M805 Vibrant Blue SE
  • M805 Solid Blue/Silver

The first four are current releases, the last I will have to source on the secondary market.

Last year my pen to ink buy ratio was 1:20, this year I want to reduce this to 1:3 or less.

To achieve this I plan to only buy new release inks so already I have penciled in two inks - Montblanc Golden Yellow and Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine (2016 ink of the year)

Updated: January 6, 2016 adding Pelikan M800 Grand Place SE

A look at my year - 2015

On this last day of 2015 it seems mandatory that I recap my year.

Pens bought: Four, all Pelikans,  M101N Tortoiseshell Red, M600 Pink, M600 Vibrant Green and a M805 Black/Blue Striated.

Inks bought: 80 (a bumper year)

De Atramentis led the way with 16 of its inks added to my collection, Franklin-Christoph second with 12 and Noodler's third with 10.

I added 17 blue and 17 green coloured inks to my collection with brown being the third most added with 10.

Inks removed: 2, an ancient Waterman Blue-Black which dried up due to a cracked cap and my Stipula Deep Blue which went murky grey.

Pen, nib, ink combinations passed through rotation: 140

Pelikan pens were inked the most with 53 times, Waterman second with 26 and third was Sailor. 

The winning in the ink brand usage was Diamine with 25, second Noodler's with 23 and third was De Atramentis at 17.

Ink colours used was taken out by blue with 29, Green at 20 and light blue at 14 uses.

My favourite purchases of 2015

Pen: Pelikan M600 Pink

Ink: Sailor Jentile Four Seasons yama-dori tied with Franklin-Christoph Midnight Emerald.






What do you see...


What do you see when you look at your collection of fountain pens?

  • Do you see many thousands of dollars spent.
  • Do you see the end result of crossing items off a list for years.
  • Do you see a selection of wonderful writing tools that will last you a lifetime.

I have seen all of those things at various times since starting to collect Pelikan Fountain Pens five years ago today.

The items remain the same, your view of them only varies.




I say NO to Shimmertastic Inks

Yesterday I posted the following tweet on twitter.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need the Diamine shimmering inks in my collection. What, am I delusional? Maybe. :)

It garnered three responses - one expressing the need for me to get at least some of these inks because they wished me to get to 500 inks - Oh, they will be waiting a while yet for that milestone (if ever).

The other two tweets expressed agreement with my statement and congratulations for the strength to say No to this selection of stunning inks. One of these, the Pen Addict contributor Susan Pigott used the very fitting descriptive term "Shimmertasticness" which I stole and shortened for the title.

So why not these Diamine inks given my seeming lack of restraint to add J.Herbin inks containing gold dust to my collection?

Well for several reasons:

  1. I am a compulsive, completist collector so I had to buy the two later gold dust laden J.Herbin 1670 inks to maintain the full set. (Having bought Rouge Hematite and Bleu Ocean before gold was added).
  2. I have rated inks with gold dust as the most dangerous in my collection so they can only be used with just 12 of my 93 pens - Not a great percentage.
  3. I use my inks for writing not art so the gold doesn't add much to the experience.
  4. I believe ink containing metallic dust is just a fad.

However I guess I will revisit my decision when a company that makes fountain pens starts releasing their own "shimmertastic" inks - Montblanc Diamond Dust Blue anyone...


Refining my pen collecting focus

Last night after the inaugural get-together for the Brisbane Chapter of the Fountain Pen Australia Facebook group I was reflecting over a glass of red on the great time I had, the charming people I had met and their stunning pens.

I was especially taken with Patricia's collection of Omas pens and how that represented to me such focus in collecting. I am not about to start buying Omas fountain pens (no matter how much I wish I could) but it did make me consider the focus I have in my pen collecting. (I am long past having a focus when it comes to ink collecting - besides maybe just buy them all...)

 My pen collection currently lacks a focus with models from ten manufacturers representing six countries; though it is dominated by Pelikan being 42 out of 94 pens. The obvious conclusion is that I should just double-down on Pelikan culling non-Pelikans to fund it. (In reality this is not possible as it would break my guideline #1)

Given the long history of Pelikan and the breadth of their range I had to set some criteria to limit the scope to something that is almost possible to achieve.

The Criteria

  1. Post-1997 Pelikan Souverän models only
  2. But excluding:
  • Models that are not comfortable in my hand. (M1000)
  • Models where the cap material is the only difference. (Mx30, Mx50)
  • Models that do not have the pelican bill clip. (M640)
  • Clear Demonstrators
  • Limited Editions

Which results in the following models:

  • M300, M320
  • M400, M405
  • M600, M605, M620, M625
  • M800, M805
  • plus M101N (I know it is not part of the Souverän range but I have 2 of the 3 versions released.)

So based on the criteria I have set and what I own I am left with 21 pens to fulfil my collection.

The 21 as a mind map. (I intend to keep this up to date on my Have and Need Page)

This is not a fixed list either as Pelikan releases new Special Edition pens each year as noted today in a post on The Pelikan's Perch.

A visit to the Honolulu Pen Shop

Even while holidaying in a place best known for its sun, surf, and friendly locals I can go out of my way to visit a pen shop. The Honolulu pen shop (1857 South King Street, Honolulu) is not on the glitter strip of Waikiki but a good mile inland.

Saner people would drive there but my wife and I prefer to walk as much as possible when we are holidaying so off we trekked. Honolulu weather is hot and steamy, luckily we had a cooling rain shower for part of our journey. We actually missed the shop on our first walk past - I was expecting that it would have a street frontage but it is located on the first floor of a building. Luckily we had the street number. The front door is usually locked so entry was via the elevator in the basement carpark, up to the first floor, a knock on the door and we are greeted by Corinne Shigemoto the shop's proprietor.

I had my wife with me so a pen purchase was unlikely especially since I had bought three 50ml bottles of Louis Vuitton ink for the extravagant sum of USD$47 each just the day before. Corinne offered me a Pilot Pera with italic nib to scribble with and we had an very enjoyable 45 minute conversation on topics ranging from farmed wallaby in Australia, lamb vs pork, fountain pen collecting, the decline of teaching cursive hand writing to the woes of dealing through pen distributors.

The shop sells a good range of premium pens from Montblanc to Montegrappa and Japanese brands of Pilot and Namiki. They also carry the full range of iroshizuku inks.

If you are holidaying in Honolulu I highly recommend a visit, if only to share good conversation with a fellow lover of fountain pens.


Back to 290 inks

My oldest bottle of ink, a Waterman Blue-Black from 1997 has been retired from use. I came to use it today and it had all but dried up. There seems to be a hairline crack in the lid that must have allowed it to evaporate. I updated my grid of ink swabs I use as my header background so now there a space a bottom left corner I will have fill one day.

The Guidelines

I have five guidelines when it comes to my pen, nib and ink collecting.

  1. A pen or nib once in my collection never leaves.
  2. An ink once in my collection will only leave when it is empty.
  3. Every ink is suitable for the office, some will just portray you as being more extravagant than others.
  4. You have not truely lived until you have used a good custom ground nib.
  5. The words, "Too many", "Too much", or "Too expensive" never apply to your pen, nib and ink collection. (Except of course on the occasion your partner starts to look for a good divorce lawyer)