Let me warn you in advance, this will not be one of those posts filled with awesome pictures of pens and people that you sometimes get from pen show recaps. Despite my best laid plans, I only took two pictures at the DC pen show and they were just boring wide shots of the main ballroom. Anyway, here goes…
Since I worked the pen show into a family trip to DC, I only attended the festivities on Saturday. I did my best to take it all in during this one full day but I still felt like I was rushed. As weird as this may sound, 7 hours is not enough to take in all there is to see at this largest of pen shows. I have been to the rather small Long Island and Philadelphia pen shows in the past couple of years. To make some size comparisons, the LI show occupies an area roughly equivalent to a small town middle school gym from the 60’s. This is a total guesstimate, but I would say there are about 25 vendors at the LI show. I live about 80 minutes from the LI show so it’s worth my travel time. The Philly show is about three to four times the size of the LI show so it’s worth a noticeably longer travel time for pen folks. While it’s not much larger in terms of floor space, the Washington DC show is a lot more tightly packed than the Philly show. In terms of the numbers of vendors, DC may come close to doubling Philly. So, the Long Island show is worth an afternoon’s worth of time, the Philly show is worth a full day and DC might be worth two full days.
Back to the DC show itself. It was an easy 20 minute drive from my hotel in Arlington to the DC show. (Side note – if you ever stay in the Arlington area, be sure to check out a place called Nice Cream Factory. Holy cow was their ice cream good.) Parking at the hotel was a little tight, but I found some free spots around the back. There is paid public parking in the area but thankfully it was not needed. I arrived shortly after 9:00 and the line was already double-backed on itself but it only took about 15 minutes to get through it. Apparently, people with some super special postcard could get in at 9:00 and the general public needed to wait until 10:00. Well, I didn’t have a postcard and the folks at the counter took my admission money just fine around 9:20. To the right of check-in was a fairly large ink sampling table (didn’t have time) and you entered the main show on the left side of the lobby. I would guess that there were 15-20 vendors in the lobby area. So, add another 10-15 vendors and you have yourself the Long Island Pen Show. Save for a few vintage folks and a repair booth, most of the lobby was filled with modern pen vendors.
Shawn Newton of Newton Pens was in the lobby area. Shawn did not have a huge selection, but what was there was impressive. I spoke with him for about 5 minutes and he could not have been nicer. Pen Addict Brad Dowdy was working the Vanness table. I had the chance to chat with Brad shortly after arriving and just before leaving – good people. Mike and Linda Kennedy of Indy-Pen-Dance (thanks Gordon!) were in the lobby area doing pen repairs and nib work. I had Linda work on one of my nibs. It was a Platinum 3776 in fine which has trouble dealing with my slight lefty hook. Linda did a pretty good job of making life a bit better but I’m not sure this pen/nib is long for my collection. I really like the weight, balance and ink flow, but sometimes the nib and my left hand don’t play nicely. Too bad because I wanted a Japanese fine nib to work for me but I may be in the market for a different nib on this pen soon enough.
This post is getting a bit long already so I’ll just hit a couple more highlights. In addition to the aforementioned folks, I also had a chance to chat with Mary Collis of From the Pen Cup, Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit and Tim Wasem and Johnny Gamber of Erasable. Sorry for all the goofy name dropping, but everyone was exceedingly nice and enjoyable to chat up. I look forward to chatting some more with everyone in person should the chance arise.
Purchases. I made three purchases but I’m only going to go public about one of them right now. As you may know, I’ve been trying to reduce the number of pens and pencils in my possession so going to a pen show and adding 3 more to the collection is not helping. That said, I know I’ll be keeping the one I’m about to mention while the jury is still out about the other two. Anyway, one of the pens I got was an Edison Menlo with a fine steel nib in a blue swirl finish. The weight is great. The balance is nearly perfect and the steel nib, after Brian Edison did a bit of tweaking, works great. Surely I’ll do a review of this pen in the days/weeks to come but I want to spend more quality time with it before doing so.
That’s it for now. I’ll end with my favorite picture from the DC weekend.