I just got back a little while ago. This was my first pen show and it was a bit overwhelming. Seeing so many beautiful writing objects but knowing so little about them - not really knowing what I was looking at - kept me from making any vintage purchases. I ended up buying ink, converters, a few pads, and a Preppy and a Varsity for a neighbor who expressed some interest in fountain pens.
My one regret is not getting a Kaweco wave-brass Liliput in B (or was it M?) at a very good sale price from Anderson Pens - better than any online or Massdrop price I'd remembered seeing.
It was fun to see pens I'd only seen pictures of before, like the new Lamy Aion (unfortunately not inked up anywhere I looked), as well as brands I'd never heard of, like handmade lacquered Japanese-made pens from Taccia.
Many thanks to Josh Lax for his generosity in discussing nibs and feeds when he had some spare time. At his table I was able to experiment writing with different nibs, and I learned that although I am a lefty the oblique right nib is not for me (I did better with the oblique left, oddly enough), and that, for whatever reason, I got along pretty well with architectural nibs too.
The people in Philly were all very nice and helpful, on the show floor and in town. I went to the Starbucks across the street and the coffee urn for the roast blend I'd just ordered started blinking, meaning it had just expired. The barista offered to make me a fresh one-person pour-over of it. Not an offer you'll usually get at a Starbucks in NYC.
I did make it to Steve's Prince of Cheesesteaks. Huge. Got mine 'wit' and soon thereafter my gut bacteria were covered in Cheez Wiz like ravers at a foam party.
Did you take any workshops? I originally only planned on going Friday as a day trip, then decided I wanted to take workshops on Saturday and go home right after. I ended up staying until past closing on Sat and almost going again on Sunday at door price. Both workshops were really good and worth the trip by themselves. FYI, all the amazing calligraphers I talked to said the same to me- many of the best calligraphers are left handed!
It was my first pen show too and I think Friday was really overwhelming (or confusing?) for me. Saturday was a lot more vendors and people, thus more energy and I ended up having so much fun. It was so cold today I ended up not doing much walking around Philly and I *almost* went back to the show. I am now trying to see what other pen shows I can hit up before the Long Island one.
My happiest take homes are some inks I've been looking for (Organics Studio and Akkerman) and my first vintage pen, an Esterbrook SJ.