Last Saturday it was the XIV Bcn PenShow 2019 and my first pen show. I wanted to make a little resume of what you could find at the show my personal opinion on what I experienced during my wandering there. It’s long to read, I’m not good writing even in my native languages so apologies in advance for weird sentences that might appear. Not sure if that’s the best way to explain how a pen show was as I completely forgot to take pictures o it
It’s a very tiny one, very familiar because apparently, almost everybody knows each other. At the end of the day, when we recounted the number of registrations at the entrance (I was part of the volunteer team) there were ~361 persons registered which the organizers say could be the most crowded pen show ever for them. It seems that the one in Madrid is bigger and also that it is 2 or 3 days instead of just one.
There was a focus on vintage pens on almost all the tables there where only 6 tables selling modern fountain pens either exclusively or mixed with vintage and 3 selling paper goods out of 31. Although there were just a few tables with modern fountain pens there was a really nice mix of products on all tables.
Just on the entrance, you could find the really nice couple behind Inktraveler. They where showing the Japanese paper they carry as well as a really nice range of sailor, some platinum (they had the 100th anniversary silver special), some Eboya’s (which where amazing Pepe was kind enough to lend me one of his own to try it), also some Pilot vanishing point and a bunch of Sailor and Kobe ink’s some of the bottles, around 10, where open and you could refill your new pen purchased in of the tables so you could use it right away! They also were selling the traveler’s notebook with a nice selection of washi tapes and other inserts for it.
They also carry a good range of Japanese paper from Life, Tsubame and Midori I ended up buying a little bit of each brand. (I think that together with two other pen friends we spend like an hour or more here)
In front of them was Casa de la Estilográfica with a nice range of Faber-Castell, Montblanc, and some really nice Conklin.
Next to it, there was a table of vintage pens that we skipped and got straight to the Naikare, she is the owner of a bookbinding shop in Barcelona, she produces all his notebooks in the atelier at the back of the shop and also sells some calligraphic supplies and some Midori paper as well. The job she does with her notebooks is really nice to take a look at his Instagram account to find out why!
In front of Naikare, we found PenkalaPens and a guy that permanently has headband magnifier on (even when eating!), Miroslav Tischler, you can check his eBay store here. He had a really nice vintage pen selection that was like half the size after 2-3 hours. It seems that a lot of collector’s had a really close relationship with him. He was located in the Nibsmith corner where you could find four other repair stations that were at the show.
Next to Miroslav there was an Italian man that also was repairing pens and seemed the be the busiest of them. I don’t remember his name and couldn´t take a look at his table due to the number of people in front of it.
In a corner in front of them there was the third nib specialist or repairman (never sure which word to use) Joseph, the only Spanish nibsmith active with a table at the show, there where 2-3 more around but only as visitors, it seems that in Spain there are very few persons doing fountain pen repairs, around 10 they told me for the whole country and only 3-4 of them seem to have enough reputation in the collectors community. Joseph was at the Viena table as he is the “in-house” nib specialist.
If you ever come to Barcelona Viena and Casa de la Estilográfica are one in front of the other, you only have to cross the street. It seems that the nib specialist at Casa de la Estilográfica is a really good repairman and a very well renowned specialist in vintage repairs, and his apprentice (Joseph) is really good too!
Next, to it, there was a guy from Madrid Vymars Pens, I spend like 1-2 hours at different hours in the show, the selection here was too much. Mechanical pencils, fountain pens, sets, spare parts… It was literally stack upon stack. I fell in love with one little pen while scanning through the offerings.
A Waterman Safety pen 42 1/2V Very little cute pen dark green brownish color. Really nice condition and the nib is small but in perfect conditions and with some flex. I had Joseph take a look at it as it was literally on the side table and together with the owner of Vymar’s (Again, I don’t remember the name) they explained me a little bit how to properly maintain really nice pieces of advice on how to use it and not ruin it. Below you can see a Pelikan M400 for size comparisons (I will talk about the Pelikan a little bit later ).
In that table, I fell in love with another pen, a Kaweco Sport Limited edition (only 883 units) with Visconti Celluloid, oh boy! I didn’t know I liked Kaweco before seeing this pen, it was gorgeous, green marbling very shiny green and dark at the same time with some black veins in it. Simply amazing. The price was also astonishing so now you know why I had to leave it there.
After these, we arrived at the table of the wonderful GatzBcn another bookbinder from Girona that works with leather and Tomoe River paper. His work is superb, I don’t know anything about bookbinding or leather but her work speaks for itself, impeccable details and finishes. The A5 leather journals are fantastic and the old style journals are what you will expect to find in covers from ancient books.
Next, to it, we found CruzaltPens a fountain pen shop from Tarragona (I didn’t have any idea these shop existed). They were showcasing mostly modern fountain pen with a focus on Limited series. Also, they showcased quite a few Montblanc and the Nettuno 1911 that at least 3 people in the organizer/volunteer team bought in black at an apparently really good price. They were also selling a wide range of inks from Faber-Castell and private reserve.
After this, I did a fast check at the tables in front of Cruzalt but I found the fourth nibsmith doing some repair work on nibs and I didn’t recognize anything on his table apart from spare parts. Then we stumbled at the table of Füller & mehr a Berlin-based seller or shop I didn’t ask him but took a business card. The table was full of vintage but we didn’t spend to much time in here. Next, in the row, we found Ranga Pens from India. I didn’t spend to much time here because there was a lot of persons on that table at the time. I did check the inks Krishna from them they look really nice!
While I was checking another table one of my pen friends was deciding between buying or not a pen from a really nice English man. The pen itself was from a brand called Matador that we didn’t know anything, so we went to Joaquin an avid collector from the pen meetup here in Barcelona. Matador itself was a German brand from a manufacturer called Siebert & Loewe founded in 1895 that was producing great pens on the early 40’s it seems it was competing with the best (MB ejem…) at that time from what Joaquin explained us. It disappeared in the '50s '60s as many other brands due to the invention of the ballpoint pen it seems… That’s why nobody knows about them anymore, Joaquim told us that are really nice fountain pens together with another brand called Goldfink. My friend ended up buying it. Such a rarity in really nice condition and a super low price.
In front of the table, I found a really nice Italian collector Giuseppe Lo Giudice. At first, we thought he was trying to sell us some of his pens, later with a mix of English, Italian, and some Spanish, we find out he wanted us to show him our pens. And wanted to know why we bought them, really nice guy, he ended up explaining to us why vintage flex is different from one country to another due to material availability and war repercussion in one country or the other as well as other things.
After this, we rushed the rest of the tables as we had to switch places with the volunteers working at the entrance so we just get to pick up a stub nib for a Lamy for me at Plumas estilograficas table. As well as two bottles of Edelstein (Smoky Quartz and Tanzanite) for a friend that hopefully will send some vials in exchange. I had the opportunity to touch my future Falcon and my other future Justus from Pilot, they are gorgeous and a little bit on the heavy side with a nice feeling on the hands.
I also discovered the existence of the Pelikan M100 Stromtropper that I wasn’t aware of and it’s really cool! All white, black details and black nib, it’s really clean and functional. Sadly at the same time we where there Jose Antonio the owner noticed that one of his Platinum was switched places (AKA stolen) .
The rest of the tables we fly by as we where required to switch with other volunteers, we found some more vintages at really really high prices so we just ended up again in the Inktraveler to fill the Matador of my friend to try it, he chose Shikiori Yodaki, a really nice red a little bit dark but really fitting with the name of the pen Matador which means killer, deadly or bullfighter
I enjoyed a lot the show and learned a ton of things about fountain pens a well as vintage brands and manufacturing. I also confirmed my love for Sailor pens and a lot of other things. But the thing that gets me worried the most was that at least 90% of the people there where more than 50 years old and only 8 persons where less than 30 from this 8 people 5 where the children of some of the expositors and 1 was an expositor itself.
I was 5-6 hours at the registration desk and I can confirm these data, do you guys experience the same in your countries? Here even the pen meetups are about mostly vintage because of the grand majority that assists to them are collectors (the nice kind, the ones that teach people like me to understand or appreciate the vintages) or users of fountain pens that have been using them since young. In my group, I’m the youngest one ever and I’m 27 the youngest after me is 34 if I’m not mistaken. Do you think that the countries that do teach how to use a fountain pen at school tend to retain or have more users in the long run?
Anyway, I think that this could be little bit to much already.