LA Pen Show 2019 – A Quick Look

Pen Show Haul

*Brushes away cobwebs*

*Blows off a thick layer of blog dust*

*Cracks knuckles*

Right then. Back to it.

The Los Angeles International Pen Show – 2019

It’s that time of year again. The time when the Southern California pen community ventures away from our historical book stores and boutique pen shops, braves an hour of traffic (no matter where you’re coming from), and floods the Manhattan Beach Marriott with cash in our hands and little hand-sketched hearts in our eyes. This year things are different though. The show has moved to a new wing; the result of an actual finished construction project in LA. (A rare occurrence, to be sure.)

That’s right! The show has been moved out of the somewhat-cramped but roomy ballroom and outer hallway from previous years to a new downstairs ballroom that is… a lot smaller, actually.

Los Angeles International Pen Show - 1
“The LA Pen Show: It’s In the Basement Now”

The LA Pen Show, like any other convention you go to, is a very busy and crowded experience. Given that there is only one day open to the public, and admission is only $8, it’s really no surprise. With that in mind, the decision to move the show into this new space is a bit puzzling to me. Sure, the crowd generally flows smooth enough. People are courteous enough to not cause a huge traffic jam while browsing various vendor’s tables. Unless this is your very first convention (pen, comic, or otherwise) you’ll have no problem working your way through the show floor.

With the new space comes a new table layout. In previous years the vendors were arranged in the large ballroom in fairly clean rows, with additional table space around the perimeter of the room as well as in the outside hall space.


In the new space, a large “L” shaped room, the orientation of the tables switches on one side, resulting a sort of maze for attendees to navigate. And at the end of that maze, tucked away in a corner with only one entrance/exit, the lovely Edison Pen Co. and (making their first pen show appearance) Tactile Turn!


All in all, it’s pretty much the same experience as previous years, just in a smaller space. Notably absent are a couple of my personal favorite pen makers: Karas Pen Co and Franklin Christoph. But there is still plenty to see for fans of old, new, and unique writing instruments.


Now, if I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the show, it would be to hold it in BOTH the upstairs and downstairs ballrooms. The show was already a tight fit in its previous space, and I’m sure the decision to move it wasn’t made on a whim. But it is a bit of a hard sell for a lot of these vendors who travel across the country for us. I suspect a lot of the people in attendance are like me; They love pens enough to go to a convention about them, but they can’t make a trip to one of the bigger shows elsewhere in the country. For those of us here in SoCal, this is literally the only game in town.

But, at the end of the day, pen shows are really about the people. Seeing old friends, meeting new ones, hearing all about these tools that people get so passionate about. This isn’t a “destination” pen show. But if you’re in the area, you’ve got to check it out at least once.

The Haul

Alright, alright. I know what you came to see. I didn’t go into this pen show with any particular targets or goals for a purchase. I managed to get out under budget, and with some shiny new toys tools.

Pen Show Haul
Total expenditures: $140. Not bad, actually.

My humble haul this year.

  • PW Akkerman #27 Bezuidenwoud-groen: $28 from Vanness Pens
  • Col-O-Ring Ink Test Book: $10 from Vanness Pens
  • Special Edition Joey Feldmen cover A5 sketch book: $15 from Vanness Pens
  • Tactile Turn B&W Delrin “Stormtrooper” Gist: $80 Show Special (Reg. $99)
  • This cool red pen tray liner: $7 from a vendor whose name I forgot (so sorry)

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