As anyone who chooses to read this blog should know, The D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow is the largest fountain pen-related gathering in the world. The show spans four days (Thursday-Sunday) in August every year, and takes place at the Sheraton Premiere in Tysons Corner, Virginia. I’ve attended for the past three years. Usually, I arrive early Friday morning so I'm there for the first full day of trading. This year, however, I got in on Thursday afternoon. While some trading goes on in the atrium Thursday afternoon, it’s mainly vintage. The Sheraton had about 15 tables set up, and the trading seemed brisk.
Thursday night, a group of pen bloggers/collectors/enthusiasts assembled in the hotel bar, following dinner at the restaurant next door. Brad Dowdy and Jeffrey Bruckwicki, Mary Collis, Thomas Hall, Leigh Reyes, Gerald Taylor, Paul Joynes, and many others had made it in to town by dinner, and it was fun catching up.
Thursday and Friday are the “pre-show,” open only to exhibitors (who have tables) and “weekend traders” who have purchased the $45 show pass. Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. Lot’s of people ask: why pay extra when you can attend on Saturday and Sunday for only $7 or so? The answer: you avoid the crowds. Saturday at the D.C. Pen Show is very, very crowded. We’re talking shoulder to shoulder crowds most years, with lines backing up out the hotel doors in the morning. Sunday is better from a crowd perspective, but at that point a lot of the vendors have sold out of their choice pens and inks.
After grabbing a quick breakfast with Mary Collis in the morning, anybody who needed nib work done joined a mad rush to put their names on the list of their favorite nibmeister or pen repairer. Most of the major players perform nib work and/or restoration work at this show, including Mike Masuyama, Richard Binder (who now does shows only), Ron Zorn, and Deb Kinney. I was able to get on Mike, Deb, and Ron’s list, and I purchased a spare nib for my Aurora Ipsilon Quadra from Richard Binder, which he tuned as part of the deal. So with spots in line secured, I scoured the show for pens that caught my eye.
As I’ve talked about recently, I’m not in “acquisition mode.” There are a lot of nice pens in D.C., and many caught my eye, but this year I focused more on improving the pens I already have an getting nib work done. I did, however, pick up my Newton Shinobi! No pictures or teaser reviews yet—I want to use this pen and post a full write-up once I’ve spent some time with it. It’s everything I thought it would be and more.
Some more Friday observations and purchases:
Vanness brought a huge amount of ink, as always, and they were set up down the aisle from Bung Box, who is attending the D.C. Pen Show for the first time. Bung Box brought a suitcase full of their ink and limited edition Sailor, Pilot and Platinum pens, which were going fast.
I picked up some ink samples from Franklin-Christoph’s new line, a bottle of Akkerman Shocking Blue that I had ordered, some Bung Box Norwegian Wood, and a couple of spare TWSBI nibs that I had ground to an architect’s nib (by Mike Masuyama) and a .6mm cursive italic (by Deb Kinney). Finally, just before the proverbial bell rang and the show closed for the day, I got a Parker 51 vacumatic from a random eBay lot completely restored by Ron Zorn. The pen works perfectly and my vintage Parker collection continues to grow. Some other pictures:
Friday night: The Pen Addict Meetup
Brad Dowdy of the Pen Addict podcast and Nock Co. sponsored an after-hours gathering in one of the hotel ballrooms following the D.C. Pen Show Friday happy hour. From what I could tell, the turnout was excellent, including a periscoped appearance by Brian and Rachel Goulet! (I made a brief cameo on periscope, but I have no recollection of what was said given my state of exhaustion after about 12 hrs straight on my feet). Stay tuned for more Saturday fun!