At some point over the past few days, while I was collecting my thoughts and recollections of this past weekend's Atlanta Pen Show, I realized that I have now attended eleven pen shows. That's insane for me to think about, especially given how nervous I was attending for the first time, when I jumped in the car and drove up to Columbus on a whim in November 2012 for the Ohio Show. Since then, I've made dozens of very close friends, developed a deep appreciation for the companies we all know and love, and spent an ungodly amount of money. Wouldn't have it any other way!
This year's Atlanta Pen Show was a quick trip for me, due to a work commitment, but after doing the math on travel and traffic logistics I figured that I could make it down well in advance of the live Pen Addict podcast recording and the after-party. Traffic was light and I actually ended up making it down by 3:45, which gave me a little over an hour at the show to pick up some inks that I was worried might sell out. I also picked up a Col-O-Ring Ink Testing Book from Vanness Pens and Ana Reinert!
This year's show definitely had more of a modern theme than any other pen show I've attended, with vendors of modern pens and inks attracting the majority of the attention. Nock Co., Franklin-Christoph, Vanness, and Anderson Pens were busy all weekend. Other vendors included show sponsor Total Office Products/The Pen Show, Kanilea Pen Company, Ryan Krusac, The Carolina Pen Company (Jonathon Brooks), Fisher of Pens (Carl Fisher), Story Supply Co., Karas Kustoms, Susan Wirth, and Federalist Pens, among others. I apologize in advance for leaving anybody out, but this was a quick trip for me, and I didn't spend as much time as I usually do circling through the rooms and taking roll. Show attendees had multiple opportunities for nib work and pen repair, with Mike Masuyama, Mark Bacas, Indy-Pen-Dance, and Martin's Pens all there grinding away.
I did note a smaller vintage presence at this show. Many of the "vintage" pens that were on sale are what I refer to as "new vintage" or "near modern" pens - discontinued models of Pelikan, Waterman, Omas, Montblanc, etc. from the 1990s and early 2000s, which are starting to attract attention from collectors. Actually, if you're interested in dabbling in the world of older pens, this isn't a bad place to start. The price point can be high, but these pens are often very easy to maintain since the components are often similar, if not identical, to what these companies still use. If the pen requires repair, most of these companies will still have parts and expertise necessary to fix it, provided the company is still in business.
Saturday Night Festivities
As I mentioned, I arrived shortly before the live recording of Episode 253 of the Pen Addict Podcast, which featured 2 guests: Vito Grippi from Story Supply Co. and Jonathon Brooks from the Carolina Pen Company. If you haven't listened yet, don't miss this one! The podcast was well-attended, with standing room only along the back wall.
Following the show, Kenro Industries (the distributor for brands such as Montegrappa and Aurora) hosted a launch party for Montegrappa's new "Game of Thrones" line of pens, complete with pizza and prizes. Nearly everyone there went home with something! Afterwards, I crashed. It had been a long day, and after dinner with friends and a couple beers in the bar I was spent. Besides, I knew I had a limited window in the morning to shop.
Sunday Show and Overall Observations
I purchased a discounted trader pass that allowed me to get into the show early, before it opened to the public. Shockingly, Mike Masuyama only had four people on his list Sunday morning, and I was number two. I had two pens adjusted to increase ink flow (my Parker Sonnet Great Expectations and Sailor Pro Gear Realo Soleil), which took Mike less than 10 minutes.
Given how much pen shopping I've done over the past two months - and especially at last month's Baltimore Pen Show - I took it easy. I purchased two pens, both newer vintage, that I'd been looking to add to my collection for a while. The first was the Lapis Blue Waterman Man 100 Patrician, which completes my set. The second was a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage purchased from Jim Rouse of Franklin-Christoph, which sports a custom barrel made from "Tiger Red" acrylic. Both have nice medium nibs, that write more on the finer side.
AND, I got to pick up my Nock Co. Lanier briefcase before heading out the door! I'm still putting it through its paces, and haven't had too much of a chance to use it yet, but look for a review up on the blog in the future.
The Atlanta Pen Show is a great smaller pen show, and since it's not overwhelming compared to a massive show like D.C., I'd consider it the perfect "first show" for those looking to break into the pen show scene. Of course, there's also plenty for veteran pen addicts to do as well, though if you're looking for a heavy vintage presence you might be better served focusing on Chicago or Columbus. So what's next for me? Probably the D.C. Pen Show in August, unless something changes at the day job and I'm able to break free for Chicago the first weekend in May. No dates for the D.C. Pen Show have been announced yet, creating a lot of consternation among vendors who typically have made travel arrangements by now. Apparently there's been a location change, and the organizers are trying to lock down the new venue. Stay tuned! I'll let you know as soon as I hear something.
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