Last Friday (September 22), we had the pen event of the year, Pelikan Hub, and over 30 fountain pen enthusiasts flocked to Tudos’ premises at Frysja in Oslo to share their experiences, try each other’s pens, exchange inks, and talk about this and that.
Pelikan Hub was initiated by Pelikan in 2014, and has in relatively few years grown to become an annual event that many pen enthusiasts around the world look forward to.
The aim is to bring together people with a passion for fountain pens and other writing implements. Pelikan achieves this by creating so-called “hubs” in all cities where there are more than seven registered users. They also appoint a “hub master” in each of these cities, who will be responsible for organizing the whole thing. Pelikan also sends out gifts that all participants receive at the hub. This is usually a bottle of this year’s Edelstein ink, a small notepad, and maybe a few other items.
For many of the participants, this is probably the only pen meeting they attend during the year.
The official statistics for this year’s Pelikan Hub haven’t been released yet, but in 2022 there were 230 hubs spread over five continents and 46 countries. There were over 6,000 registered participants. There’s good reason to assume that there were even more this year.
Pelikan Hub in Norway
Norway had its first Pelikan Hub in 2018. If I remember correctly, we were about ten registered participants, but due to a storm, and recommendations from the authorities not to travel outdoors, there were quite a few cancellations. In the end, only six of us actually attended the event.
The following year, in 2019, a total of 27 registered for the Oslo hub, and 23 attended. I wrote a blog post about it at the time (in Norwegian).
Then there were two years without Pelikan Hub due to Covid-19. In 2022 the hub was back again, but unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to participate. Therefore, it was four years since I was last there myself.
Pelikan Hub Oslo 2023
I took the car down from Trondheim to Oslo this time, and agreed with Karl Norstein at Tudos that I could park for free outside their premises at Frysja all weekend. Tudos is the biggest Norwegian online shop that sell fountain pens. I drove to Lillehammer on Thursday after work, and stayed over with friends there, before traveling the last stretch to Oslo on Friday morning.
When I parked in the middle of the day, I had a little chat with Karl, and was given a tour of the Tudos store and warehouse, before I took the bus down to the city. There I walked around for a few hours, shopped a bit, checked into my hotel, ate, relaxed, and then I took the bus up to Frysja again for the event.
I met former hub master Per-Christian on the bus. We both sat looking at each other for half an hour, wondering if the other was who we thought he was. We had only met a couple of times previously (at Pelikan Hub in 2018 and 2019 respectively). It had been four years – and some facial hair on both of us – so it wasn’t too easy to be absolutely sure. I decided that if he got off at the same stop as me, it had to be Per-Christian, and lo and behold, I was right! We had a laugh about it, and a nice little walk from the bus stop to the venue of the hub.
One of the first things that happened when I entered the door was that hub master Christine shouted “There you are!” and gave me a big hug. I had never met her before, but we have had some contact online, and it was nice to finally meet for real, even if we only managed a couple of short conversations during the evening. I also got to study her pen collection a bit. We both have a fairly large selection of Conklin pens in our collections, and it was interesting to compare the different experiences we have with this brand. Feel free to read Christine’s account of the hub on her own blog, From Pens With Love.
What do you actually do at a pen meeting á la Pelikan Hub?
Well, you test pens and inks you are curious about, which others have in their collections. You exchange experiences with each other about different brands, shops, paper, inks and pens, handwriting and so on. At one moment I was talking to someone who wanted tips on how to restore an old Waterman pen, then someone else passed me a pen they just wanted me to try, then I was talking to someone about various experiences with flexible nibs, another told of an extensive experiment he had done with all the inks in his collection to test how well they stood up to water. Then I got to test a modern Pelikan pen, with a vintage nib in it. There was talk around the table about which pens we like to use on various occasions. I got to see and test pens I didn’t even know existed. We certainly didn’t run out of things to talk about! If anything, we ran out of time!
I myself made sure to sit at the same table as John Olav, because I knew that he had a big and interesting collection that I wanted to take a closer look at. He made sure to supply me with a steady stream of amazing pens to try – every one more spectacular than the last! I also have some pens in my own collection that aren’t too common, and that many wanted to try. I’ve found that at pen meetings like this, people are always generous in letting others try their pens. Even the most expensive pens was eagerly passed around the table while people ooh-ed and aah-ed amazedly, wrote a few words, and passed them on.
I had with me a selection of Norwegian Pan pens, which naturally became a recurring topic of conversation. There were also many who were curious about how they wrote, and got to try one. Otherwise, the talk around the table was about everything from restoration of old pens, to tips on new pens people should check out. I met a number of people I’d previously only had contact with through e-mail and Messenger. One of the privileges of having a relatively active blog about fountain pens is that many people get in touch when they have questions. I therefore recognized many names among those who were at the hub, and it was nice to finally be able to put a face to some of those I’ve communicated a lot with over several years, but never met.
Tudos had the shop open throughout the event. I had planned ahead of time that I would buy a Lamy 2000. I’ve never owned a Lamy 2000 fountain pen and have been thinking for a couple of years now that I should, so it was nice to finally make it happen. I also bought a couple of ink bottles.
The conversation and the evening went incredibly fast, and before I knew it we were just a small group of three or four people who were still there, and who didn’t really want to end our discussion about old Montblanc pens.
One of the really cool things about the pen hobby, I think, is that it brings together people from almost all walks of life, genders, age groups, religions and worldviews, political viewpoints, professions and interests. Gathered under the same roof, and with the same interest in beautiful writing instruments, there were students, pensioners, police officers, military officers, housewives, bureaucrats, IT consultants, a former editor-in-chief from one of the country’s largest newspapers, and many more. It was a diverse group of people that met at Frysja last Friday, who probably would never have met without the one overlapping interest in pens and handwriting. Meeting and talking to all of them thus becomes something much bigger and more important than just geeking out about fountain pens. Some of us might deeply disagree in certain other contexts, but our common interest in pens unites us. Our society today should have many more meeting places like this.
There were actually two cities in Norway that had a Pelikan Hub this year. They also had a small hub in Lillesand. Norway could easily have even more hubs next year. As long as you manage to gather a minimum of seven registrants from the same city, and one of them is willing to take on the role of hub master, then you are free to go.
We have talked about trying to get a hub in Trondheim as well, and I think some people might expect me to initiate it. There are certainly enough of us that we could make it happen. At the same time though, Pelikan Hub is a very good (and possibly the only) opportunity to meet the community in and around Oslo, and I don’t want to miss that. Thus, I am kind of torn in two directions when it comes to a potential hub in Trondheim, and I would be faced with a difficult choice if there were hubs in both cities. I’ll rather take responsibility for organizing some regular pen meetings at other times in Trondheim.
Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to hub master Christine and Tudos/Karl who organized this event. The evening was well worth the seven-hour drive from Trondheim to Oslo. I’m already looking forward to next year!
As usual, I was so engrossed in the social activities that I completely forgot to take photos along the way, apart from a very quick round of photographing in the middle of the evening. I hope I managed to capture the nice atmosphere of the event in the few photos I took.