Friday, 12 October 2012

London Writing Equipment Society Show 2012

If you ever wanted to hear the praises of Parker 51 sang with aplomb, discuss a Waterman, admire a Snorkel, handle an Onoto, caress a Wahl, test drive an Omas, have your nib ground by the expert, or see a fine collection of John Sheldon’s miniscule escritoirs, and do all this things without leaving the room, then there is no place better than the London Writing Equipment Society’s show.

This is not a show of the leaflet-brandishing fancy-stall parading kind. Pens are serious affairs here and they are treated with the respect they deserve. You can see the pen knowledge dripping like secret nectar from every stall. I say secret. There is an atmosphere of a benevolent secret society here, an antiquarian scent, a reverence. The pens are laid out on velvet lined cases and those browsing look like they are in the know. Some are looking for specific models, looking for elusive nibs - there is a revered man examining a pen’s feed under a strong lamp. The owner of said pen is hanging on his every word. There is a couple listening in awe at an impromptu lecture on the innovative breakthroughs of Parker 51; a vintage pen repairman delivering his verdict on a 1950s fountain pen.

Pen shows have something of a museum - only that the exhibits, though getting rarer, can still be bought at a price. In a dizzying variety of materials, shapes, designs, colours, caps, jewels, clips and nibs, the pens look increasingly like talismans. As such they are sought after, venerated, fed with bottled writing fluid, expected to deliver strikes, to banish the fear of the blank page.

The Onoto stall - WES 2012

Pick a Pen - WES 2012
Conway Stewart specimens - WES 2012
WES 2012 fountain pen stall
Swan, Conklin... WES show 2012
In praise of Parker 51 - WES 2012

Brian George's collection of John Sheldon escritoirs

London Writing Equipment Society Show at Holiday Inn, Russel Sq. 6 October 2012


  1. Thanks for the report, Palimpsest. Those are our tools. Jack/USA

  2. Whew! I used to think that one pen cannot differ that much from another but it looks like I still have a lot to inspect!

  3. Do they have any shows like this in Utah? I would love to go to one of these shows.

    1. The Los Angeles Pen Show is coming up in February. It's a good show, one of the largest.

  4. my godness! A lot to choose from!!I want to buy them all--if only i have enough $$!