Pens Among the Office Supplies

I was mostly looking for notebooks, and scaring the hell out of the people who make them, but ran into a guy who likes fountain pens and that slowed me down.

Today I was lucky to have the time to head down to Tokyo Big Sight to attend the International Stationery & Office Products Fair Tokyo. I’ll write more posts on this in the future, but today’s story was typical of why I like the pen and stationery community.

First, I made it my mission to track down non-Japanese pens and stationery. I found a number of pen manufacturers from Korea, Taiwan, China and Turkey who all offered interesting pens (one of my favorites featured Japanese ink and Swiss pen tips in Chinese bodies).

However, this year there seemed to be more notebook manufacturers than last year.

It therefore became my job to scare the notebook manufacturers by using my two wettest fountain pens to test the fountain pen friendly nature of their paper. A typical conversation went:

Me: Are these fountain pen friendly?
Victim: Yes, they are.
Me (taking out my Nock Co Sinclair full of pens): Oh, really?
Victim (as I write on the paper): Gasp.

Several of the manufacturers expressed relief when their paper held up–more on that in a future post–and all admitted they were nervous when I started testing. None of them failed horrible, all though some did have minor bleedthrough. Granted, some of them seemed to think I was more professional than I am but no one was upset by the testing.

Note: I realize that, perhaps scaring the hell out of people is not the best way to win friends and influence people, but it did kind of make me a friend. One notebook maker, though, said he was a fan of fountain pens and, sure enough, his notebooks held up well. This, however, led to a long “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” meeting where we played with each other’s goods, so to speak.

I was impressed that he was interested enough in fountain pens to interrupt his work to try out the ones I was carrying. He also gave me a couple notebooks, including one with a cover and two refills and promised more samples if I was able to show up on Friday.

Still don’t know if I will, but it does have me wondering who else I can get samples from since it’s the last day…

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