Tuesday, September 19, 2023

At the Vancouver Pen Shop - photos from our September meeting there!

Last November, the Vancouver Pen Shop hosted one of our monthly meetings at their old location on West Hastings Street. The meeting was actually held the night before the store moved to its new location, so it was nice to have had one last chance to see it. Happily, the Pen Shop reopened at their new/current location (also in downtown Vancouver) at the end of that same month! Flash forward to May 2023, when store manager Shannon asked me if our club wanted to hold a meeting at the new location at 555 Howe Street! I said "Yes!" --without hesitation--- and we chose September 14th for the meeting date.

(The Vancouver Pen Shop - 555 Howe Street ~ photo via Reddit - link)

This meeting was a lot of fun and well-attended--at least 24 pen club members were present! The Vancouver Pen Shop folks were patient and helpful, offering their usual excellent customer service during a very busy pen club get-together in their store. I remembered to snap photos of most of the VPC members who turned up (and some of the staff ;) as well as some of the the pens and pen-related items they brought for this month's meeting topics - "Your Best Buy" (the primary topic) and "Newest Acquisitions" (which is always our secondary topic). So without further ado, here are the photos I took that night...

(~ all of the photos below taken by Maja ~ please click on images to enlarge ~)

That's store owner Margot and staffer Marlon (ringing in my purchases) behind the till, and proud new parents Liz and Greg R. with baby Orion 😃.

Before the Pen Shop moved in, the space was previously occupied by an art gallery, so the new store is considerably larger than the old one. The lighting is excellent and the decor is very welcoming, with soft pastel walls decorated with pen-related artwork, and comfy seating. I miss the old shop, but the new one has a lot more room for the store's stock, their customers and staff, too.

Above: Vladan and Bronson (who just joined our club in July). You can just see store manager Shannon in the far back, wearing a black t-shirt (sorry I didn't get a better photo...and I forgot to snap a pic of Van Pen's longtime employee Sunshine, too...oops!).

The retail part of the store consists of two rooms. The front room --seen in the first three photos--- has a large assortment of inks, letter-writing stationery (including wax seals) and Galen Leather products. The larger room at the back of the store --where Shannon is standing-- has pen displays and shelves with more writing supplies (there's even a little nook where you can sit and relax, seen in the photo below). One of the many things I love about the store is that they have a wide selection of fountain pens at every price point.

(Left to Right) Stuart, me (Maja), Rene and Brian J.

Our members brought in all sorts of fountain pens for our topics--- lots of vintage pens that were great deals, some modern pens acquired for bargain prices, and some cool new pen-related acquisitions (including a couple that Liz W. acquired at the San Francisco Pen Show last month---see the end of this blog post).

I saw a lot of great vintage Parkers at the meeting...

...like Rene's new vintage Parker '51' fountain pen...

...and the beautiful presentation box it came in!

Stuart brought a cocoa Parker '51' that he bought from fellow VPCer Christopher back in July...

...and an interesting Parker with a Parker '51 Demi-sized body and a Parker '51 Special' cap with a black cap top jewel (that's Rene's Carter's Two Solution Ink Eradicator in the background).

Rene brought a full-sized Parker '51 Special' fountain pen (the top pen, above) in its original box to the meeting (as you can see, Stuart's model is smaller, making it the Demi size).

We also saw a lot of nice vintage Sheaffers...

....such as Rene's lovely vintage Sheaffer desk set in black marble with gold-coloured veins, a newer acquisition...

...as well as Stuart's gold-filled vintage Sheaffer 'Touchdown Triumph' (which has a few dings, but is otherwise in great condition)....

...and Stuart's "best buy"---a handsome vintage Sheaffer 'PFM (Pen For Men) V' fountain pen!

I asked Stuart for the backstory to this find, and he wrote back to me: "I found the eBay listing for the PFM and recognized the pen for what it was, the seller just described it as a “large vintage pen.”  I put down a --for me-- bigger than usual bid, and then watched the listing carefully.  At the end of the auction, bidding was hot, but I succeeded in beating out all the others and won!  I can’t remember the exact price, but it was well under $100 CDN, so a great bargain for such a pen.  A previous owner had modified the nib into a stub, and Mark Harcourt smoothed it when he restored the pen’s snorkel filling system.  A cherished lucky catch!"

I brought a few fountain pens for our two meeting topics; my "best buys" are on the left side of the case, and my "newest acquisitions" are on the right side of it.

My newest fountain pens are:(L-R) a Jinhao '9019' red demonstrator, a modern Tibaldi 'Infrangible' in "Russet Red", a colourful handmade pen by Gilbert House Pens (a 'Newnham' model made of Erinoid "Sun Flare"
cellulose acetate) in the U.K, a red Osprey "Qt" pocket pen, a red ripple hard rubber vintage pen (unknown maker) I bought from Brian at the CFPE picnic a week ago, and a NOS Sheaffer Targa '1001XG' (brushed stainless steel with gold trim).

My best buys! The two fountain pens on the far left are actually ones that my late mother bought for me at a thrift store many years ago 😊 -- a Rotring 'Core' "Coridium" model she got for 25 cents (!) and a Wahl all-metal ringtop in the Chevron pattern (from the 1920's) for which Mom paid all of 10 cents(!!) The next pen over --a grey no-name lever-filler with a wonderful three-tined 14K gold music nib --- was purchased by me at a Fort Langley antique shop for $20 (I think it was overlooked because it's a no-name). The fountain pen next to it, a Waterman 'Exception'  in "Night and Day" gold trim, was a very good deal from Amazon.ca's Warehouse (I paid less than one-third of the retail price). The black Sheaffer Snorkel (second pen from the right) also has a three-tined 14K gold music nib; I purchased it for a mere $40 several years ago!

The pen on the extreme right is an oversized vintage Sheaffer 'Balance' (ca. 1931-4) that I bought for $85 at an antique store earlier this year. It's not really one of my "best buys", but it was a good price for an older model in very good condition (and it's my first oversized Balance!).

(L-R) Jerred, Brian L. (a visitor from Hong Kong), Rene and Stuart.

Above: Jerred's "best buy" - an eye-catching Twico Ishime urushi fountain pen

I asked Jerred for more details about this lovely pen and he sent me this: "This particular pen is an example of Ishime urushi.  "Ishsime" roughly translates to "stone path", and it relates to a textured finish present on the cap, barrel and grip of this pen.  The textures are added by hand using powdered urushi, and lacquered over 7 times to protect the finish.  Ishime is generally quite an expensive process due to the amount of hand-working required to create this finish, and rather uncommon on the market.  Purple urushi is also relatively rare, though I'm not sure of the reason.  This pen is made of turned ebonite, and has an 18k Jowo nib as well a spring loaded inner cap to prevent drying of the nib.  It's from a company called Twico out of the UK, which is sadly out of business.  I consider this pen under my "best buys" as it was significantly cheaper than virtually any other specimen of Ishime urushi that I've seen."

Fountain pen enthusiast Brian L. came all the way from Hong Kong to attend our meeting! (he emailed our club a few days beforehand to ask if he could attend it and of course I said "yes"; out-of-town visitors are always welcome!). Brian came to the meeting with lots of beautiful fountain pens for us to see, including this vintage Montblanc '146' (above) that he purchased in Japan.

The pen came with this wonderful nib (which I think is a factory oblique stub)...

More Montblanc goodness! This MB belonging to Brian is an urushi-lacquered
Montblanc '149', customized by Hiroko Makino at the Bokumondoh Urushi Studio in Japan...

Hiroko's work is in such high demand that her current (as of this writing) waiting list is 12 months.

Another impressive pen belonging to Brian -- a Namiki by Pilot 'Emperor' with the old-style nib -- a very large urushi fountain pen with a huge No.50 (Jumbo) 18k gold nib.

You can see how large the Namiki is, when it's placed next to the Montblanc '149' above...

Brian's adorable 'Gatemouth' hand-made eight-pen case by paperwantsapen.com. From their website: "These are hand-made cases for 8 BIG pens. They feature a middle stash pocket large enough for an A6 or thin Midori notebook, a phone or a small wallet, keys and/or any other thing you choose."

Last, but not least, Brian's gorgeous Nakaya 'Decapod Twist Writer' fountain pen! (I think this is the correct model name--Melodie did a nice review of hers here).

Rene showed us two Diamine inks that he recently acquired--"Platinum Jubilee' and 'Coronation Shimmer'; both are exclusives made for well-known UK stationer Cult Pens.

More of Rene's newest vintage acquisitions! Top to bottom: Eversharp 'Star Reporter' vintage ballpoint, Parker '17' fountain pen, Parker 'Duette'/'Moderne' fountain pen, Esterbrook 'CH' purse pen and a lovely gold-filled Swan lever-filler that Rene bought from fellow pen club member Brian at the Pacific Northwest Pen Show, held in July.

Grant (who joined our club in July) brought a very nice collection of vintage writing instruments to our meeting, and pointed out the handsome jade Parker 'Duofold' fountain pen and mechanical pencil set (seen above) that was his "best buy". The set is likely from the 1930's, as it looks to be a Streamlined 'Duofold' set. Grant writes that "...(he) was rather taken with the vivid green jade colour. The nib is a smooth and surprisingly flexible medium to broad. It is an Ebay find, and happily both it and its companion pencil work!"

The lovely celluloid used in some old fountain pens sometimes (often?) becomes discoloured over time due to rubber ink sac outgassing --sulfur compounds in deteriorating rubber ink sacs react with celluloid, causing it to darken. As celluloid mechanical pencils don't use sacs, they are rarely found discoloured. The celluloid material in Grant's fountain pen (called "Permanite" and made by DuPont) , though, is still mostly bright green!

This is Phil's Manos twist-filler, a black hard rubber vintage fountain pen (apologies for my blurry photo). The pen has an odd design--after the filling mechanism was installed in the factory, the barrel end was heat-crimped. This made the pen practically impossible to open without breaking it (some have called it the first disposable fountain pen!). 

And last but certainly not least...Here are two cool items that Liz W. got at the 2023 San Francisco Pen Show at the end of August -- a much-anticipated fountain pen model, and a show-exclusive ink!

The pen in question is the one at the top of the photo above - Liz's new Kyuseido 'Kakari FS Titanium' fountain pen! The pen has been the talk of the pen world for the last few months because of its unique filling system... and all the secrecy surrounding it. Liz sent me this info after I asked her about it:
"The pen is called the Kakari by the company Kyuseido. The pen was designed by CY of Tokyo Station pens and the Tokyo Inklings podcast and Ben Walsh of Gravitas pens but they both claim it’s CY’s pen. Ben does have a version with a Gravitas nib and in blue. Mine is a black metal material."

The pen's innovative filling system is called a Pump Piston Filler, and you can read all about it here: https://www.kyuseidotokyo.com/shop/p/kakari-fs  

Liz also got a special ink made just for the San Fran pen show -- a rusty-orange shade made by Colorverse appropriately named "Golden Gate", and it's in Liz's TWSBI 'Diamond 580ALR' "Sunset Yellow" fountain pen, in the photo above. The ink was available for purchase at the show, but the first 200 attendees who completed a quasi-scavenger hunt received a complementary bottle, so Liz got hers for free!

That's Trevor (with the cool Superman t-shirt), Charles (who I hadn't seen in ages!) and newcomer Anson (far right) in the photo above. Trevor and I excitedly pawed through the shop's selection of Blackwing wooden pencils at the very start of the meeting; I came away with two new additions to my Blackwing collection, and Trevor bought some, too (you can see them in his left hand :)

It was a busy night (I barely remembered to buy the Retro 51 pen I really wanted lol), so unfortunately I didn't photograph everyone, but I did see and/or talk to Alejandra, Amy, Daryl, Kelley, Luc, Nox, Peter and Yang, as well. Many thanks to everyone who came to the meeting! If you want to bring any "best buys" or new acquisitions that I didn't photograph to our next meeting (or the one after that), please feel free to do so and I'll snap some shots of them then. But remember: you don't have to bring things relating to our meeting topics in order to attend a meeting -- just bring yourself! :)

 Our warmest thanks to the Vancouver Pen Shop for being such gracious hosts again 🙏 (and for the refreshments & goody bags, too!)

(~ Blog post by Maja ~)

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