Thoughts and feelings from my very second pen show! Very second does not sound as exciting as first, but the DC Fountain Pen Supershow is pretty much the biggest pen deal on this side of the globe, as far as I know. It doesn’t even all fit in the big ballroom.
After an excruciating 9 hours spent being hassled through an unentertaining series of public transit options (would have been just under 5 hours by car), I finally made it to the hotel just in time to miss everything about Friday, except for possibly the most exciting freebie: the 24-hr ink testing station (the free Esterbrook dipless pen base I scored would win this title, but that wasn’t available to everyone).
Hundreds of inks and dozens of dip pens for the testing. An unprecedented opportunity to add to my resources and have a huge rundown of ink examples to consult in person. So many inks to try without having to gamble on buying a bottle! If I lived in a fountain pen commune, this would be a staple of the house.
Some people also saw fit to refill their own private pens from these reserves—I’m not sure if that’s entirely in the spirit of the thing, but beside that I’m REALLY not sure that all the kiddies playing with the inks didn’t cross contaminate the bottles. I know I tested a very dirty Shoreline Gold on Saturday. But hey, if you’re willing to fill your new pens with ink of dubious purity, you go right ahead.
First order of business: get more ink. Especially since I have yet to convince my local pen store to stop carrying Private Reserve and switch to Noodler’s instead (no one’s perfect). I ended up getting a bottle of long-coveted Noodler’s Bernanke Blue, plus a bottle of Diamine Kelly Green and Diamine blue-black cartridges from Deb Kinney.
Ever since the Stipula Passaporto hit the virtual shelves of JetPens I’ve been wanting one, but the relatively astronomical price (remember, I am poor and should probably not be buying all the pens I buy) kept it firmly confined to the wish list…until Speerbob had them for 50% off the JetPens price. Plus I got a free leatherette 1 pen case.
Unfortunately, the bugger didn’t want to work properly. Enter Pendleton, another pen wizard (Richard Binder was booked out the door, and Pendleton had a cool coat so, at the recommendation of a friend, I gave him a try). He brought the pen to working order, hooray! And he sent me to Richard Binder to buy myself a bottle of J. B. Perfect Pen Flush, where I also accidentally bought a 2004 Bexley Tuck-Away. Oops.
From Frank Tedesco I picked up a restored Esterbrook fountain pen body and new Gregg-style nib—
Actually, you know what, let’s just look at the whole haul:
That’s the business right there. Aw yeah. Got some dip pens from Frank Hoban, old glass ink bottles and an Esterbrook dipless pen stand from Charm City Pens (I think; the business cards I collected are a little jumbled), some Pelikan cartridges from Anderson Pens, a Rotring Surf from my local pen store after he came back from some other booth with a tray full of them, and just about most exciting of all, the nib smoothing kit from Richard Binder. I audited the class, and was so excited that I rushed over to his booth afterward to see if they had any of the kits from the class left. Two practice pens and all the hoopla of smoothing devices. I’m gonna learn how to fix my own pens and it’s gonna be the best.
My local pen store, Office Supplies and More, had a great location in terms of neighbors—Martin’s Pens 51 & Snorkel Solutions was right across from us, Frank with the dip pens was behind us, and Alan Shaw was the next table over across the aisle.
I brought my custom-made Shaw Pen to say hello to its brethren.
Next to Shaw, I met Chris Manning, of Silver Hand Studios, who rode a motorcycle all the way from Canada to be at the show. Pretty stuff.
After some sleep-deprived failures, I eventually found my twitter buddies of S. T. Dupont. Pretty, heavy pens made of Chinese lacquer which, unlike the material of Mont Blanc pens, does not melt under open flame. Yes, somewhere in this world, this has been tested. Much to the horror of the Mont Blanc owners.
The DC Pen Show was awesome and overwhelming; I undoubtedly spent way more than I needed to but I honestly wouldn’t take a single thing back. There were a lot of pens. A LOT. LOTS OF LOTS. Unless you’ve been, I’m not sure you really have an idea of how many, many pens there are to look at, and how many awesome penthusiasts there are to chat with.
Bye-bye, DC! Until next year!