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What Do You Take To A Pen Show?

pen show

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#41 Bookman



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Posted 03 February 2018 - 17:50

I'm looking forward to my first show this year.  Is there a lot of ink, paper, journals, stationary, etc...  or mostly just pens at a typical show?  I have several pens I'd like to have adjusted, but I'm not sure I'd be able to tell someone with any clarity what I'd exactly like done to it, other than the less than helpful plea, "fix it."


If you attend a big show like L.A. or S.F., you can expect to see a lot of ink, some paper, some journals, not much stationery, and mostly pens.  A lot of pens.  Rows and rows of tables of pens.  Mostly vintage, all shiny like new, but several current-production penmakers like Edison, Yafa Brands (Conklin, Delta, Monteverde, Hugo Boss, and more), Bexley, S.T. Dupont, Montegrappa, and Franklin-Christoph frequently have tables.  If you see somebody there wearing a suit, he's from one of these tables.  Local pen shops like Bittner Pens of Carmel and The Pen Shop of Monrovia have tables and Anderson Pens always has pens along with a big supply of ink, pads and notebooks.  There might be a table or two with calligraphy books and their authors showing how it's done.  There are tables with spare pen parts, so if you're missing something, you might find it there.  There are tables with repair/maintenance tools.  There are seminars, workshops.  You might see Dr. Stephen Brown or Matt Armstrong.  Pen repair specialists and nibmeisters usually have tables.  If you have problem pens and can convey their symptoms, that should suffice to get started.  S.F. has a massive ink-testing extravaganza, several tables where you can use pre-loaded pens to test hundreds of inks.  On Sunday at the L.A. International Pen Show, expect to wait in line to get in no matter what time you arrive.  Take the goody bag that someone hands you.

I love the smell of fountain pen ink in the morning.




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#42 KreepyKen


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Posted 03 February 2018 - 19:12

My recommendations:

  • I'll mimic the comfortable shoes...you'll be on your feet a lot
  • Bring a light jacket/sweatshirt...depending on heating/AC, outdoor temps, how crowded it is, and how much rushing around you're doing, you might find yourself alternating between warm and chilly, so it's nice to have a jacket/sweatshirt you can put on/take off as needed.
  • Bring a LIST of things you want to look for or test. My first show was Arkansas last year, and I was so overwhelmed and excited, I forgot about half the (bleep) I wanted to look for. This can also help you curb the impulse buys (that's cool, but let me see if I can find this other thing first)
  • Water - Nothing sucks more than standing there talking to someone and you're so thirsty you have to cut the conversation short because you're dying for a drink. It's also easy to get dehydrated if you forget to keep drinking amidst all the excitement (I get migraines from being dehydrated, so this is a really important one for me). So take a bottle of water with you.
  • Any pens you might want to be repaired or adjusted - get on those lists early (some of the nibmeisters take reservations electronically, so you might be able to book a time well in advance...Dan Smith does this and it's awesome).
  • Anything you might want to trade or sell.
  • A notebook for testing pens/inks (especially if there are ink testing stations). Write down everything you think you might want to revisit and what table you found it at. Taking pictures of the pens helps, too.
  • Interesting pens/nibs to share: There's always something going on after hours at the bar...it usually involves pens getting passed around all over the place. Bring some to share and remember your notebook for playing and writing down any awesome discoveries you get to play with. It's also handy for writing down names/social media accounts of people you meet.

#43 JotterAddict62



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Posted 03 February 2018 - 23:06


Beside $$$$$

Sell the pens first, then you have money to buy parts and have pens fixed.

#44 cabbie



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Posted 29 March 2018 - 03:40

A pen show is not an ordeal !  Just wander the aisles and take in the sights. Meet the people.  I am all about the impulse purchases and go with no plan at all.  To me, going with a list takes the fun out of it. 


What you should bring:


Comfortable shoes.

A bag with a shoulder strap.

A case for the pens you buy. 

Your loupe if you like using it. 

I like the idea of jotting down the location and price pens you want to go back and look at again, but I never do this. I figure that if it is not still on my mind after walking around, I don't want it badly enough to matter.

If you are looking for a pen to put into regular use, bring your favorite ink and favorite paper to see how it performs for how you will use it.  

And bring your curiosity. Look at pens you aren't familiar with an ask questions. I love seeing things that are new to me, or seeing iconic pens that I have only seen in books or on line.  


Love your attitude.  Sometimes it all about just enjoying the moment and being in tune with the atmosphere.


#45 Buzz_130


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Posted 30 March 2018 - 13:40

I've been to the Baltimore Pen Show for 3 years. Baltimore is not a DC or LA-sized show where you can spend 3 days looking through the dark corners of the show to find hidden treasures and great finds. You'll enjoy a medium-sized show with lots to look through but small enough to sit and talk to dealers.


I'll re-emphasize the cash. Bring cash. The ATM machine will be out of service by the time you get there. I think it's a law of physics. Hit an ATM on your way in, and stick to your budget. If you go with a card, you won't get the best deals, and some vendors don't want to deal with cards.


If you are bringing pens for a nibmeister (especially someone like Richard Binder and the team from Indy Pen Dance), you need to sign up the first moment of the day. First moment! They will probably only get through 20-30 people in the entire day, and they often fill their day's work in the first two hours. Even with an early sign-up, you may be waiting hours for your chance to get that perfect custom italic cursive grind.


Enjoy the show.



#46 sidthecat



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Posted 30 March 2018 - 17:15

I’ll second the loupe...especially one with a light. And something to sell is always fun. I came away from the LA Pen Show with a gold dip nib and several notebooks on the proceeds.

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