Parker Ink Plant in London, ON

parker ink plant 1

London (Ontario, Canada) has a long and storied connection to the fountain pen industry – the Parker Canada Ink Plant was located in London; the Sheaffer Canada Pen Factory was situated nearby in the town of Goderich (about 60 miles/100 km to the north) and the Parker Canada Pen factory was located in Toronto (120 miles/200 km to the east).

Armed with a Parker “51”, LPC member Doug wanted to see if this Parker Ink Plant was still standing. After his initial hunches turned out to be incorrect, Doug decided to use the Archives in the London Room at the library to see if it could be located.

Parker opened their London ink plant shortly after the War (WWII) probably in 1946 or 1947. The building was located at 310 Talbot Street in central London – to its south are the C.N.R. railway lines and directly to its north is a Tim Horton’s Donut Shop. Within view to its south, about two blocks away is the original location of Labatt’s Brewery (founded in London by John Labatt in the mid-19th century. Yes, that brewery is still there producing Labatt beers such as Budweiser and Labatt Blue.  In fact, this brewery brews nearly 40% of the beer produced in Canada.). Across the street is the Greyhound Bus Terminal.

Little has changed structurally in the Parker Building. It has been painted a blue-gray colour and it has a resturant sign out front on its northern edge. Other than that the building is unchanged. Included here are 3 photos of the building. The first is the building as it was when Parker was producing ink here in the post-war period and the second and third photos are those of the building when the pictures were taken on August 16, 2007, the first in black and white for comparison and the last in colour.




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Easter at the LPC – Purple, Purple & even more Purple!

Great meeting this morning, largest attendance we’ve had in while and it was great to have our roving correspondent Owen at a meeting.

I could try and tell you how much purple there was but the pictures do a much better job…

20140419-IMG_4597 20140419-IMG_4592 20140419-IMG_4587  20140419-IMG_4584 20140419-IMG_4581 20140419-IMG_4580 20140419-IMG_4579 20140419_095834


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LPC Goes Green – at least for one day!

Yes, tis true – the LPC went green for our Saturday, March 15, 2014 meeting to honour St. Patrick and the Irish people, including our own Irishman Stan O’ Waterman!  We have the photos to prove it – including some from a member in northern Manitoba, IIRC (Thanks O’wen, always good to hear from you!)

So, get yourself a drink (a pint o’ Guinness or a shot or two of Bushmills or Jameson whiskey), stream some Irish music (Celtic Thunder, Irish Tenors, etc.), sit back and enjoy more green pens and ink than you ever thought possible!

Of course, it wouldn’t be right if we did not have a proper blessing, so here goes:

“May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

















These last few pictures come from a member who moved away from London a few years ago.  Thanks O’wen!!





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Red Pens & Ink Meeting Theme

It was duly proclaimed by Prime Minister Harper that our meeting theme for Saturday, February 5 would be Red Pens and Inks.  Red is a double feature this week – cheer on Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and of course, who can forget about the upcoming Valentine’s Day.  Interestingly enough, the red theme worked quite well as the Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey team was scraping the ice with the Swiss misses – the score was 5 – 0 at one point during our meeting!

So, here we go, better red than dead, as quoted by Lenin and tattooed on Putin:

Almost all the regulars are here - minus photographer and those behind the guy in blue (he ignored the theme email)

Almost all the regulars are here – minus photographer and those behind the guy in blue (he ignored the theme email).  Nice cap, eh?


Red ink


Red pens

More ink

More red ink

More red pens

More red pens

Red ink???

Red ink???

Last group of red-dish pens

Last group of red-dish pens

The money shot!

The money shot!

Many thanks to the LPC’s official photographer Rick for his always excellent work!!


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LPC at the 2013 Ohio Pen Show

The 19th annual Ohio Pen Show was held at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Hotel in Columbus, Ohio over 4 days, from November 8 – 11, 2013.  The first day was open to exhibitors and weekend registrants only while the remaining three were open to the public.  Three members of our club hopped in a van and headed off to the show – two of whom had been before and one rookie.  We departed from London early in the morning of November 8 and stopped for breakfast shortly after crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit.  This meant that we arrived at the hotel in Dublin around mid-day – just in time for us to take full advantage of our weekend passes!

Terry Mawhorter, the show organizer

Terry Mawhorter, the show organizer

The exhibitor list was a veritable who’s who of the pen world !  And while it may not be the size of the Washington Supershow, the Ohio Show is large by any standards with the dealers filling up the hotel’s grand ballroom, two large meeting rooms that were adjacent to the ballroom and the hallways just outside these rooms.

Pendemonium - a show favourite!

Pendemonium – a show favourite!

Frank and Sam  of Pendemonium - two of the nicest people you will ever meet!

Frank and Sam Fiorella of Pendemonium – two of the nicest people you will ever meet!

For me, the first-timer at the Ohio Show, I certainly enjoyed having the chance to see so many pens and all that goes with them; however, the best part was having the opportunity to meet people that I have dealt with by email and being introduced to so many others that my cohorts knew.  The atmosphere was informal and there was time to socialize or talk pens and take advantage of the vast knowledge and experience of the dealers (especially on Thursday and Friday).  I left the show with 2 pens – an Aurora Optima in green auroloide with a medium italic nib, a Big Red with  an unbelievable stub nib (~1 mm), 3 bottles of ink – Sailor Epinarde (green to go with the Optima), Franklin-Christoph Blue 72 and Organics Studio First Edition Manganese, 1 pen resurrected from the dead – a Conway Stewart 770  with a crack near the lever box(a shout out to Sherrell Tyree on the for performing this miracle – I have sent notice to the Vatican that Sherrell should be considered for sainthood!) , 3 or 4 nibs ground to my liking, some paper and the biggest smile on my face since I was a kid that I will remember for some time.

Lisa and Brian Anderson of

Lisa and Brian Anderson of

Some of the neat stuff that display - goodies for everyone!

Some of the neat stuff that display – goodies for everyone!

Richard Binder, of course!

Richard Binder, of course!

Jim Rouse of Franklin Christoph and their display

Jim Rouse of Franklin-Christoph and their display

At the show, I spent a fair amount of time at the Franklin-Christoph table talking to Jim and looking at their pens and other pen stuff on offer.  I was so impressed by the quality and the writing experience of these pens that I almost bought one.  I held off because I had already purchased two other pens.  After the show, I could not stop thinking about a prototype Model 19 – “1901” with dark green bands that I had fallen for.  A week or so after the show, I gave in and ordered the pen (fortunately it was still available); however, my wife intercepted its delivery and wrapped it up as one of my Christmas gifts – making me wait even longer!!


The Weakleys

The Weakleys

Andreas Lambrou with his newly released Fountain Pens of Japan

Andreas Lambrou with his newly released Fountain Pens of Japan

Jimmy Dolive

Jimmy Dolive

Paul Conterata

Paul Conterata

Dr. Laurence Oldfield of the with some incredible tools and the now released 3rd edition of Pen Repair (co-authored with Jim Marshall)

Dr. Laurence Oldfield of the with some incredible tools and the now released 3rd edition of Pen Repair (co-authored with Jim Marshall)

IMG_4174 - Copy

Mike Conway

Mike Conway

Dan Reppert

Dan Reppert

LPC member Doug and Roger Cromwell of Penopoly

LPC member Doug and Roger Cromwell of Penopoly

LPC member Mike having some nibwork done by Linda Kennedy of Indy-Pen-Dance (Shhh - don't tell anyone but Linda is terrific!!)

LPC member Mike having some nibwork done by Linda Kennedy of Indy-Pen-Dance (Shhh – don’t tell anyone but Linda is terrific!!)

And finally a few random pictures taken at various times …







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Three Cheers for Scriptus 2014 – Toronto’s Fountain Pen & Writing Show!!!

What a terrific start to 2014!  A few days ago I received an email from Scriptus – the newly launched blog that provides details of Scriptus 2014 – Toronto’s Fountain Pen & Writing Show, scheduled for November 2, 2014 at the Appel Salon, 2nd flr., Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., Toronto.  This is the first of such shows in Toronto since 2010 and the organizer/driving force behind it is Philip Akin.  The blog provides interested readers with the ability to subscribe for updates, including inter alia sponsorship and vendor-exhibitor information.

The hobby of using & collecting of fountain pens and related items is strong and widespread across Canada as evidenced by the number of clubs – Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, GTA, and, of course, our club in London.  We Canadians need a pen show of our own so if there is ANYTHING that you can do to make this event a success, whether as a sponsor, vendor-exhibitor, volunteer,  or attendee please contact Philip at


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The Hero 359 Fountain Pen

A bunch of Lamy Safari & Hero 359 fountain pens - Can you tell the difference?

A bunch of Lamy Safari & Hero 359 fountain pens – Can you tell the difference?

Recently, an FPN member asked whether there were fake or replica Lamy Safari fountain pens. In reply, another FPN member who also belongs to our club (and who shall remain anonymous (except to say that he takes great pictures)) replied, “Never heard of a fake Safari. Why would anyone create a counterfeit of a $25 pen? Sure, some of the limited edition colors can go for more than that but where’s the profit?”

Well, there as it turns out, there is a “fake” Safari – the Hero 359 fountain pen made by the Shanghai Hero Pen Company (Hero Pen). Hero Pen was founded in 1931 as the Huafu Pen Factory and was renamed in 1966 to its current name. The company has manufactured a number of relatively inexpensive brands of fountain pens including Hero, Wing Sung, and Xinhua, just to name a few. Like many Chinese companies, it has copied or cloned the design of Western fountain pens, e.g., the Hero 100 is similar to the Parker 51 and of course, the Hero 359 is clearly modelled after the Lamy Safari.

Why would or how could a company profit by cloning another pen that costs approx. $25-30? Well, readers with a business background might recognize the source of Hero Pen’s competitive advantage as cost leadership, i.e., winning market share by appealing to cost-conscious or price-sensitive customers. Cost leadership is achieved by having the lowest prices in the target market segment, or at least the lowest price to value ratio (price compared to what customers receive). If a company is to be profitable, with a high return on investment while offering the lowest price, the company must be able to operate at a lower cost than its competitors.

A manufacturer like Hero Pen must produce high volumes of output such that fixed costs are spread over a larger number of units, resulting in a lower unit cost. Mass production becomes both a strategy and an end in itself. Higher levels of output both require and result in high market share, and create an entry barrier to potential competitors, who may be unable to achieve the scale necessary to match the firms low costs and prices.

According to the Shanghai Daily, the Lamy Safari is very popular in China but is too pricey for many local customers.  Thus, acting like a good capitalist, Hero decided to produce the pen because it received many requests and saw the market demand.  While Lamy is quite aware of the Hero 359, Hero is of the view that the exterior design patent right of Lamy’s Safari series are protected for only 10 years in China and has expired.

So much for the business lecture, how does the Hero 359 compare to the Lamy Safari? First, the Hero comes in a reusable plastic case along with a converter and a package of cartridges. The Safari generally comes in a cardboard box with 1 cartridge – and the converter is extra, adding anywhere from $5-10!


The 359 comes in 5 “Summer” colours – Black, Apple Green, Yellow, Royal Blue and Purple, as can be seen in the large picture at the top of this post.


The two pens are basically the same size, length, and weight; however, the parts are not interchangeable between them, e.g.,  you can’t swap caps.


There are a number of design differences – the Hero flower symbol replaces the familiar X at the top of the Safari cap, the clips on the 359s are all stainless steel vs. coloured clips on certain Safaris, and the  359 is almost entirely round but for one flat section while the Safari has two flat and two round sections.

Our examination of a number of Hero 359s, it is clear that the manufacturing quality is inferior to the Safari but it is debatable whether most users would notice or even care?

Finally, the initial impressions of our members were that they were very pleased with the writing performance of the 359; in fact, most were surprised at the quality of the writing experience relative to the cost of the pen.  Is it a Safari – no.  Nevertheless, the Hero 359 is perfect if you need to save a bit of money, want a pen for your children to practice with or for use in situations where the pen might get broken or lost.

P.S.  As as been pointed out in the Comments below from several readers, Hero now seems to be offering a similar roller ball pen and also a fountain pen and roller ball pen kit that consists of a fountain pen and a roller ball pen section that is interchangeable with the fountain pen section.  This development is not terribly surprising.  From a cosmetic perspective, the 359 roller ball has an ink window in its barrel, just like the fountain pen – the Safari fountain pen has an ink window but the roller ball does not.

It has also been noted that international size cartridges do not fit the Hero 359; however, the 359 does appear to accept Parker and Aurora cartridges.  On the other hand, the cartridges that come with the 359 do not work with Parker pens.

P.S.S.  I had forgot to mention the translation of the label on the Hero 359 fountain pen case which is “Here’s the label translated in full. There are six lines of text, from top to bottom:

Hero [logo] HERO
Telephone number to call: 021-62499300/4008881861
or send text message 700 to 12113
Peel off the veneer, differentiate genuine from counterfeit (emphasis added)
Shanghai Hero Fountain Pen Factory Lishui Co., Ltd.

How ironic – Hero wants you to check the pen carefully to ensure that it is not a counterfeit!!


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