The Roots of my Fountain Pen Bug
by KCkc
  Article # 485 Article Type: Reference

I left Hong Kong when I was around sixteen. My parents wanted me to learn more about other cultures as part of my education. So I went off to boarding school in Oxford, England for 2 years finishing my GEC “A” level and then studied at University of San Francisco. After that, got a job settled in US.

This is my “old school” in HK, where I attended since kindergarten. This is only the Middle and High school side. The elementary and kindergarten section are outside of the left margin of the picture, behind the trees.

My grandmother, mother, and me all studied there. It is an American school run by Roman Catholic Maryknoll nuns. It’s amazing that one of the sisters taught all 3 of us !!!

I started tinkering with pens since 4th grade. I started with Hero and I am proud to say I had a nice collection of Parker 45 (Burgundy, Grey, Forest Green, Navy, Black, Flighter, Insignia to name a few). My parents threw them away (arghhhhhhh) during a recent house-cleaning, I was thinking that I could immigrate the pens to US for their retirement. Oh well …

The last time I was in Hong Kong was 1995 summer. I was there for a business trip. This time I am glad that some PT-ers have helped me find my way home by taking care of some of my babies. I am eternally grateful to all of you for your help. I got to pay for my plane ticket plus spare change for shopping.

Every now and then people would ask where to shop for a pen in HK on PT. Well, there is this place called Hop Cheung. This is their name card front and back:

It is smaller than an average size cosmetic counter in an American department store but the total value of the pens can easily go up to the $100K. It is a 30+ year old store located in busy Central where the bankers, lawyers, politicians work and party. How did they do it? Well, think and utilize space like any HK person would …3 layers of pens per shelf and from floor all the way to ceiling of the shop.

This is a glimpse of the density of pens/square inch :

I think they can easily get on the Guinness Book of Records as having the highest $/Sq inch of pen. Ok, it looks like a reasonable place since both men can fit side by side in between the 2 walls of pens and still maintain their personal space between themselves. But remember, they are average Chinese men with a slender build. So do not be surprised that the shop feels smaller when you pay a visit if you have average non-average-Asian build.

The owners are John and Addy. They are very friendly, humble people and not snobbish like some department store pen department sales clerk. They are easy to talk to, too. According to them , they have a loyal local customer base. Those who started off as office workers and young law school graduates would get a pen from them. Over the years as they move up in the world, they keep coming back for more pens. Some of their customers have since become prominent business people and politicians.

I have seen some newspaper clippings of them being interviewed in the store. According to Addy, they also have a lot of business from politicians and consulate people. One time an important Canadian politician was visiting Hong Kong and he paid a visit to their place. Addy said he thought he was just another tourist. Then he realized the police and Canadian secret service were blocking off the busy street for his visit. Only a day later did he realize the “tourist” who got a pen from him was an important Canadian politician. He visited them on his “free” day in HK.

They have all kinds of LE e.g. MB, Pelikan, Aurora to name a few. A multitude of regular edition pens e.g. Pelikan, MB, Cartier, Dupont, Dunhill, Stipula, Visconti, OMAS, Waterman, Parker, etc. Imagine at least 90% of Fountain Pen Hospital catalog on display.

At the end, got to get something to remember this pleasant visit. So I got a Dupont mini Orpheo BP/ 0.7mm MP. Nice handy wallet pen in black lacquer with PT at a nice price.

So the other question is : Is it worth the visit ?
Answer is yes, but it will really be a savings over American/internet prices if you pay with HK$ versus charging them on a credit card. This is because my bank charged me a transaction fee and exchange rate adjustment against the purchase which is about 5% additional. In that case it is almost the same price as it is on sale here.

If you are looking for cheap Hero, how about less than US$3 ? You can still find some at Yue Wah Department Store. You can take the subway (MTR) to Jordan station and take the Yue Wah exit :

This is a neat Chinese Department Store. The stationary department is on 5th floor. They have a limited supply of fountain pens e.g. Waterman, Parker and close-out Hero model 323. These are not the highest grade Hero but they are pretty decent for less then US$3 mint.

Also found pens for sale at full MSRP at Sogo, a Japanese Department Store in Causeway Bay. They carry brands such as MB, Waterman, and LAMY. They carry Rotring ABC that Richard Binder posts on his pen site as part of his collection for about US$25 or less.

So, here you go, friends, enjoy pen-hunting in HK when you get a chance to visit.

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