Philadelphia Pen Show 2019 Review: A Vendor’s View

Philadelphia Pen Show 2019 Review: A Vendor’s View

I’ve been thinking about the best way to review the Philadelphia 2019 Pen Show. I know there are plenty of pen show reviews out there and if you didn’t attend a show it can be overwhelming to look through all of the reviews;  if you were at the show, it can get repetitive to read through several reviews since you were there and know what generally took place.

Knowing all of that and trying to present something a bit different, I have decided to present my pen show review from the view of a vendor since, well,  I am a vendor.  This means it will be heavy on photos before and after the show, totally lacking some events* (if I was too busy to even touch my phone’s camera), and perhaps a different viewpoint than other reviews.  It also means that if you want to see what happened during the busy daytime, you will want to supplement this review with another.  I hope you enjoy this slightly different take!

* Seriously missing from this review is the great time we all had at the Pen Show Mixer arranged by the lovely and hardworking Lisa Vanness from Vanness Pens. It was a blast, but I wasn’t able to take any photos.  Kimberly has a nice collection of photos from the mixer here, though!

Packing Up

As a vendor who usually takes a flight to shows, a big part of packing up is cutting down on weight.  I’ve tried to find good ways to protect pens in the smallest space.

It’s amazing how much you can fit into a suitcase.  Sometimes it’s only tough finding room to pack clothing.

Getting There

I find flying over the midwest to be a beautiful experience.  I personally like to see rivers through farmland.

I’m always ready for the pen show as I fly out.  Headphones let me actually believe planes can be quiet.

Those who drove to this particular show found the parking a bit on the expensive side.  As far as I could see, though, this was the only downside to the location.  Beautiful hotel, lots of restaurants close by…

The Hotel

This is a view of the hotel restaurant from the mezzanine level where the vendors’ tables were located.  As I said, beautiful hotel.  Lots of space as well.

A BIG hotel.  I thought it was great that there was no 13th floor.

The view from a hotel room was never too big of a deal to me – until suddenly it was. So now I always get a photo.

Before The Show

We were allowed to set up for the Philly show the night before it opened.  That helps quite a bit since no one wants to arrange anything at 7 am.  It’s a great time for me to talk to people who have arrived early — a laid back feeling with the excitement of the show ahead. Nik Pang decided to get more calligraphy practice in by making me a lovely sign for my table.

Just behind me, the Andersons were setting up as well.  Sandra (The Cupcake Master of the Universe) looked like she was ready for the show to get going! Phil and Ashley (aka SgtStretch and MrsSgtStretch) stopped in for chat time.

The Table

Nik has quite a way with pens and ink.

My table was all set up the night before, ready for the public on Friday.

This is my favorite part of my table!  The Esterbrook testing station all ready for people to try lots of vintage nibs.  I love being able to help people find the nib they enjoy, one that they know how it feels before they head home.  I was overjoyed to come across this testing station a few years ago.  This may have graced the counter at a department store in the early 1950s.

The Food

I may or may not eat healthy food while I’m at a show.  However, at least it is colorful!

I also have amazing friends who will bring back stir-fried noodles for me late at night.

And of course, there are plenty of treats and snacks and possibly a rogue bottle of wine.  After the pen show closed for the night, personal pens and cookies came out, this time supplied by my wonderful roommate, Kimberly.


So, the reason pen lovers come together for these shows: the pens!  One popular spot was the Franklin Christoph Prototype Trays.  These were placed out each morning — one of a kind patterns and materials.  On Friday morning, the trays were laid out but no one was allowed to pick them up until 9 am.  It was a tough rule to follow.

The dark purple pens on the tray to the right are Franklin Christoph’s most recent pen model, the 46.  It is the same length as the 45L but slightly wider and it uses a #6 nib (a standard size in many modern fountain pens).

And the Esterbrooks!  This collection brought joy to my heart.

Of course, I needed to purchase a Franklin Christoph.  This is a Pocket 66 pen in a beautiful rose, brown and gold material from Mike Allen’s Woodshed Pens.  I call it Chocolate Covered Strawberry.

The People

Even though the pens are central to a pen show, the people are what make a pen show memorable and worth all of it.  Franklin Christoph announced the return of their popular S.I.G. nib due to the hard work of Dr. Audrey Matteson who is now their main nib grinder.  Audrey did an amazing job at the show!

Mike (Inkdependence), Kimberley, and Andy stopped by with big smiles for me! They often provided me with food, soda, and restroom breaks.  Thank you!

At the end of the show, I was finally able to get a photo of the ever elusive Ralph Reyes. And a computer bag.

Andy and I shared a ride back to the airport on Monday.  Notice how well her hair matches her scarf!

Lisa Anderson has been a good friend to have and has a wonderful smile.

Nik Pang and Ian Schon were catching up with one another as the last vendors packed up to head back home.

Going Home

Heading back home after a show is bittersweet.  Saying goodbye to everyone after a busy time together is tough but I love going back to my family and the (relative) quiet of home.  The end of the show means it’s time to head back to my beloved workbench to restore more pens and nibs for the next show.

This time, I had plenty of cold and snow waiting!


Link Love: Topsy Turvy

Link Love: Topsy Turvy

It feels very topsy-turvy this week. The pencil links are sharpeners and after months of neglect, Kaweco is in our headlines. I have heard a story about one of Einstein’s famous fountain pens and it’s not any of the ones listed on the story below. Diamine release ink inspired by Les Paul guitars and the UK shop Bureau Direct has shuttered its doors. I blame the weather which pummeled us here in the Midwest and promises to continue for the foreseeable future.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Review: Diamine Coral

Review by Laura Cameron

I’m not gonna lie…last year I fell in love with purple and it still hasn’t stopped. BUT it is 2019 so I thought I should give coral a chance.

I’ve started my 2019 coral journey with Diamine Coral (30ml for $7.50). And while I’m aware coral is an orangey-pink I was not prepared for the BRIGHT punch that Diamine Coral packs.

Diamine Coral is unapologetically orange, bright and beautiful.

I immediately thought of Diamine Flamingo, and when I looked I found out they’re pretty close in terms of intensity, but Flamingo has an added pink to it. Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki is probably the closest I have in my collection and it’s pretty darn close.

The only sheen I find is in incredibly saturated applications like ink splotches, where it shines almost greenish-gold at the edges. Otherwise you get a bit of shading, and lovely intense coral orange.

As with other Diamine inks, Coral performs well, flowing smoothy through my Sailor and drying fairly quickly. I think purple still has my heart, but I’m going to endeavor to incorporate Coral into my 2019!


DISCLAIMER: The ink included in this review was provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. All other materials in this review were purchased by myself. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Birmingham Pen Co. Pen Parcel December 2018

Ink Review: Birmingham Pen Co. Pen Parcel December 2018

The Birmingham Pen Company’s December Pen Parcel featured brighter-than-usual colors for a company known for dark, moody ink colors. When rumors went out that the December kit would include brighter colors, I was expecting BRIGHTER colors but, I guess, for Birmingham, this was bright.What surprises me is that the pens that they make are often very vivid colors so it seems at odds that the inks are not occasionally equally vivid.

Birmingham Pen Co Pen Parcel December 2018

The December Pen Parcel included two shades of yellow:  Jane Grey Swisshelm Daisy Lace and Luna Park Marmalade. Daisy Lace is much more of a true yellow and would probably only be useful in a flew nib or wide stub for calligraphy. The Luna Park Marmalade is more of a yellow-orange making it a bit more usable in more pens. There are also two shades of red: America’s Oyster Bar Salmon Hors d’Oeuvre (I really think the names of Birmingham Inks could be longer, don’t you?) and and Erroll Garner Rose Overture. The Salmon Hors d’Oeuvre is a warm red-orange and does remind me of the color of salmon though it also reminds me of the Pantone color of the year too. Rose Overture is a deep red rose red with slight pink undertones. The last color in the set is the odd man out, I think. It’s Henry P. Ford Argula. The color is a deep green black. While it is an interesting color, if the goal of the December Pen Parcel was to be more bright inks, then the Argula did not quite fit in to the equation.

Overall, all the inks shade but none exhibited any sheening. As with any subscription service, some items in a kit will be to your liking and some will not. This month, though I was truly hoping for some bright brights, I ended up liking the Salmon and Argula best of the lot with the Marmalade being a close third. I always find yellow inks hard to use in practice, even if they look great in swatches.

Birmingham Inks are some of the best value inks on the market at the moment and I like the surprise and delight I get swatching the new inks each month, regardless of whether the colors strike a cord with me or not. I gladly share the inks with friends either way.


This product was purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own.

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were provided free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Fashionable Friday: If You’re Cold, Put on a Sweater

Fashionable Friday: If You’re Cold, Put on a Sweater

There was a knitting podcast (the first-ish knitting podcast) called Cast On, and at the end of it, the host would always close by saying, “If you’re cold, put on a sweater…” In the cold month of January, all I really want to do is knit big, cozy sweaters, so it seemed like just the right theme for Fashionable Friday. Laura and I are also starting our own knitalong for Kate Davies’ Carbeth Pullover/Cardigan. I have to finish up a few things before I can start but I’m itching to cast-on.

  • The Knitting Planner 2019 $30 (via Jen Geigley)
  • Magnetic Sheep Paperclip Holder $15.99 (via Amazon)
  • Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen in light blue aluminum €71.50 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Kyo-no-oto 09 Keshimurasaki Fountain Pen Ink $28 for 40ml bottle (via Vanness Pen Shop)
  • Lamy Scala Rose Fountain Pen €89 (via Appelboom)
  • 16 Most Unique Knit And Purl Stitches To Whip Up (via The Whoot)
  • Note Pals “Alpaca Farm” Sticky Tags $2 (via Vanness Pens)
  • Craft Handmade Rubber Stamp $6 (via CuteTape)
  • Sun-Star Stickyle Scissors – Long Type – White x Clear $6.75 (via JetPens)
  • J Herbin Poussiere de Lune Bottled Ink Fountain Pen Ink 30ml bottle for $10.35 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Kate Davies’ Carbeth Cardigan Pattern (via Kate Davies)

DISCLAIMER: The item in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

Thanks to our sponsors for providing some of the images used for Fashionable Friday. Please consider making your next purchase from one of the shops that support this blog and let them know you heard about them here.

Thanks for your support and for supporting the shops that help keep it running.

Ink Review: Sailor Studio 123

Ink Review: Sailor Studio 123

By Jessica 

I have stated before that I love finding inks that are unusual or tricky. I have found another one!  Recently I have jumped into the Sailor Studio ink line.  This is not a smart thing to do. Sailor Studio boasts 100 separate inks in this collection and unfortunately, they are amazing! 

I began my journey with Sailor Studio 123.  From the color swatches on the website (an eBay store that ships from Japan), this ink appears to be light gray.  I was worried at first that it would be too light for daily writing, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

123 is a great ink for writing, even on cream colored paper.  This is where the “tricky” part begins.  In a fine nib, 123 appears as a lilac color, bold enough for easy reading.  As the nib gets wider, however, the ink takes on a gray-er tone, eventually to a dusky purple.  But when used on Tomoe River paper or with a stub nib (I love using the Lamy 1.5 or 1.9 nibs here), a sea green halo or sheen begins to show.

As an advertised gray, I believe this qualifies as an unusual ink all the way.  Matching the swatch card with any others in my collection was quite difficult — it didn’t come close to any grays other than Diamine Earl Grey (an ink that some question if it is actually a gray), and it didn’t fit in with the purple inks well either.  The green tone that shows from underneath is quite strong, but it didn’t fit well with green or even blue.

Above I used a Nikko G nib to try to show the variation within each letter.  I’m fairly certain that the ink knows when I’m trying to get a specific color and refuses to cooperate.

If you have any desire to try this ink, I would absolutely encourage it! It is sold on eBay and often goes out of stock, however, it is often restocked as well.


Disclosure: All items in this review were purchased by myself. For more information, see our About page.

Link Love: Turning Over a New Book

Link Love: Turning Over a New Book

With the start of a new year, there are lots of notebook reviews and there continue to be recaps for 2018 and plans for the new year. There’s also some sad news like the end of another paper edition of a magazine — Glamour. While you may not have ever read this particular magazine, the lack of fanfare for the transition is telling. In the digital world, Design Sponge has announced the end of their 15-year online run. Times, they are a’changin’.

In good news, Inkpothesis is back this year after a long hiatus and the Letter Writers Alliance have christened 2019 The Year of the Postbox. Oh, and if you’ve considered trying bullet journaling but haven’t jumped in yet, Tiny Ray of Sunshine has info about the Bullet Journal Method Book Club.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things: