September 22nd marked the fourth annual Pelikan Hubs event and by all accounts, it looks to have been a tremendous success. Pelikan reports that there were 145 individual Hubs spread across 43 countries with 3600 registered participants. That is over 1000 more people than had registered the year prior which is a 38% increase and shows consistent year over year growth. Sadly, the Mexico City Hub had to be postponed until next month due to the recent earthquake in that region. All of those Hub participants are reported to be safe but obviously the country is mourning their losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is the third consecutive year that I was chosen as the Hub master for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA location. Our local hub has been held at Sabrina’s Cafe, Goat Hollow, and now, for the second straight year, the Philadelphia Hub returned to Cooperage Wine and Whiskey bar located within the historic Curtis Center. The staff could not have been more welcoming or accommodating to our group and really helped to make the evening extra special. I enjoyed a wonderful cask IPA and the food was excellent. They even showed a genuine interest in our gathering and the pens on display so who knows, we may have a few new converts to this
obsession hobby of ours. The good people at Cooperage once again provided us a great venue in which to hold our event and I still can’t recommend them highly enough if you’re looking for a location for your next function.
I arrived at 6pm to start setting up and by 6:45pm, most of our attendees had gathered in full force. As has been the case each year, our local Hub has grown and this year was our best attended Hub by far. The best that I can tell, we had 28 people turn out for the festivities. That’s a far cry from the four or five of us present at that very first Hub event. There were several Hub veterans in attendance as well as many fresh faces eager to share in our common passion. Some turned out with their sole Pelikan while others brought carefully cultivated flocks. In addition to Pelikan fountain pens, many other brands were represented which added a nice bit of diversity to the gathering. Several rare special edition releases were present including my entire collection of over 160 pens. It was great fun for me to engage and share some of my more esoteric knowledge about the nuances found amongst these fine writing instruments. Also, for the second year in a row, we had a family connection to the Minneapolis Hub some 1200 miles away. The parents of one of our local attendees had fun out west at their local Hub while we celebrated on the east coast.
Pelikan provided a set of Edelstein inks which I put out for sampling. Many people brought empty pens and enjoyed the ability to test a new ink and make swabs. Frank, a local collector and proprietor of Federalist Pens and Paper, attended our hub and brought many of his wares for purchase. Up for sale were the M205 Blue Demonstrator, M20o Smoky Quartz, and the Stola III as well as the entire line of Edelstein inks. True to past years, Pelikan again included some nice swag for each of the attendees. Everyone who registered took home a flacon of Edelstein Smoky Quartz ink and a Pelikan cup with a Hubs theme. A new addition this year was the inclusion of a large flag and some markers. Pelikan encouraged all of the attendees to sign the flag and leave a note which was a nice addition and memento of the night.
In an effort to inject some additional excitement into the evening, I was able to gather some prizes which were offered in a drawing that occurred later in the evening. Michael, our runner-up, won a notebook, a pen sleeve, and a flacon of Edelstein Aquamarine ink from last year’s Hub event. Marie, our grand prize winner took home a brand new Pelikan Stola III fountain pen thanks to the generosity of Frank and Federalist Pens and Paper.
I think this year’s event was awesome and I enjoyed it tremendously. Feedback seemed to overall be very positive. It’s always fun to meet with people who share a passion for fountain pens because, if you’re like me, that’s not an everyday occurrence. I do worry though that the Hubs may become a victim of their own success. While I would like to see them continue indefinitely and not be marred by a cap on attendance, I can see an added strain on the Hub masters as each year passes. As more and more people sign up, finding a venue that will host such a large crowd on a Friday night free of charge in a large city is becoming more and more challenging. I had a lot of outright rejections and many others who wanted hundreds or even thousands of dollars before considering hosting us. Even non-restaurant spaces had a premium which is challenging when organizing an event with no budget. This was not just my experience but one that was shared by many other Hub masters across the country. I know some Hub masters personally put up a significant sum of their own money. Hopefully, Pelikan can ponder this and devise a solution over the next year. The stress of it has led me to consider handing over the Hub master duties to someone else for the next go round. That doesn’t mean I won’t be there with bells on though.
Thank you to all of the attendees of the Philadelphia Hub for making the night so enjoyable and worth every second of the stress. I can’t wait to gather again next year. Make sure you check out all of the photos from the other Hubs around the world on your preferred social media via the hashtag #PelikanHubs or see them aggregated at Walls.IO.
Cooperage Wine and Whiskey Bar | The Curtis Center | 123 South 7th Street | Philadelphia, PA 19106 | 215.226.2667