How to Enjoy a Pen Show (First or Otherwise)

This weekend is the upcoming Scriptus Toronto Pen Show, and if you’re planning on going, I’m sure you’re almost as excited as I am! Almost, but not quite, right??

Some of you may be on the verge of cracking open that piggy bank, but lucky for me, I have the deep pockets of a handsome man to reach into… and by deep, I mean, Jon has set a budget for me based on how much I’m willing to cut out of my washi tape budget. (That’s a joke, because “obviously” I don’t have a washi tape budget. That would be ridiculous. I just spend whatever I want willy-nilly.)

Scriptus Toronto Pen Show Wonder Pens Blog Toronto Canada

Too scared to enter through the doors of the pen show?? Read on to find your courage.

Here are a few photos from last year’s pen show, without too much advice, mainly because I was a bit wide-eyed and dazed by it all – not so much deer in headlights as zombie in headlights. I do remember, though, diving in head first and not really knowing what to expect from a pen show. Having taken the year to recover, I figured I might share some advice on what to expect from the pen show, and a few tips on how to get through it all, especially if this is your first pen show.

Before you get too worried that it’s the blind leading the blind you’ll be pleased to know that the fountain pen community is full of wisdom and wisecrackers, and I’ve take the liberty of e-mailing/cajoling/harassing some of the wisest pen experts out there to get some of the best tips on how to truly enjoy a pen show. There are lots of blog posts out there with tips on what to do, but I think at the end of the day, you should be enjoying yourself.

And, it’s also no surprise that these folks took time out of their busy day to answer questions from someone like me, because the pen community is truly full of some of the nicest people out there.

This is what they had to say:

There are no dumb questions, everyone wants to talk about pens (and inks and paper and everything else). 
-Ana Reinert, The Well Appointed Desk

Wear comfortable shoes. I’d say thats number one.
-Philip Wang, TWSBI

Have a look around the blogs to see other people’s experiences – a lot of those guys posted reflections with their experiences/advice.
-Jonathon Deans, Pen Economics

You don’t need a fishing vest – It’s hard to say why they’re so popular… 
-Ed Jelley,

Pay a compliment to anyone you see wearing a fishing vest.
-Brad Dowdy,

Always remember that some pens will get away and some will go home with you.
-Philip Akin, Scriptus Toronto Pen Show Organizer

Go slow.
-Paul Joynes,

If you’re going with someone who has limited self-control, make sure you’re holding the cash. 
-Jon Chan, married to Liz

It is not appropriate to lick a pen before you buy it and even then… I don’t care how much it looks like candy.
-Gerald Taylor,

(After the show) Ginger (695 Yonge Street), great pho and sums.
-Michelle Leung, Scriptus Toronto Pen Show Organizer

Have a great day!
-Brian Gray, Edison Pens

For Brian Gray, I wasn’t sure he if was saying to “have a great day” as an end to his email to me, or as a piece of advice for pen-show-goers, but I’m thinking it might be one of those works-either-way things 🙂

Really, near and far, almost everyone ended with saying to just have fun. Actually, almost everyone wrote these really beautiful and detailed e-mails with tips and encouragement and shared excitement that we had a pen show coming up here in Toronto. I feel a bit guilty about my “condensing” of all their wonderful advice, even though there were some duplicate tips about bringing cash, or preparing yourself for possible over-stimulation. I think, though, everyone was sharing so many great tips because they want me and you all to have fun.

And I think that’s the most important part. It can be busy and bustling and I know last year’s show felt a bit squashed in, but I hope at the end of the day, whether you walk out with a bottle of ink or a pen or nothing at all, you enjoy yourself. Plus, I think there’s more space this year…

If you see us, please say hello! We’re bringing the baby, but not the dog. I would love to see what pens or anything else you managed to snag. If you’re nervous about finding a pen, come walk around with us! Jon’s really good at elbowing people out of the way. Then again, you may want to walk just ahead of us, so I don’t buy up all the pens before you get there.

*In case this blog post is not as helpful as you envisioned, here are a few great links to check out as you prepare for the big day:
Richard Binder’s article Pen Shows: Why Bother?
Richard Binder’s article Your First Pen Show
SBRE Brown’s video Pen Shows: What to do, what to expect
Tips from FPN
Ed Jelley’s Recap of the Long Island Pen Show 2015

Our shop is also going to be open from 1-5, if you want to stop by! Coffee and egg tarts 🙂

11 thoughts on “How to Enjoy a Pen Show (First or Otherwise)

    1. Liz Post author

      Oh no! The show begins at 10 am, so you may be able to sneak in a bit early, before the party?? A long day for you though… 🙂

      1. Elaine

        I wish! But I’ve got the baby to myself that day and it’s a first birthday party in Newmarket early afternoon. Probably better this way anyway. Minimal budget for pens and related items with a baby now. 😉 Would’ve been nice to just meet people and see everything though. And Caleb. Still haven’t met Caleb! (Btw, he’s only about 3 weeks older than my son.)

      2. Liz Post author

        I know exactly what you’re saying! Caleb is definitely a handful, and I’ll bet a day on your own with him will mean you need a day at the spa after 😉
        I would love to meet your little guy! Let me know if you two are ever in the neighbourhood to stop by the shop. Caleb and I are always here 🙂

  1. Chris

    Great post! I’m looking forward to meeting lots of folks there. BTW Emma is coming along as well – she thoroughly enjoyed your cursive class and looks forward to attending another one down the road!

    1. Liz Post author

      Great to hear that both you and Emma will be there! I’m sure you’ll both pick up a few pretty things to take home, and I’ll look forward to seeing Emma again soon 🙂

  2. Ramses

    Too bad I’m missing this… never knew this existed in Toronto but I’m away from the city in Montreal for a while… next time – but I now know and I will catch any other informal ones you have in the shop.


    1. Liz Post author

      Yes, next time! We’re hoping to have another vintage market in the new year, maybe spring, but no firm dates yet. Hope to see you soon 🙂


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