While there’s not really anything on my acquisition list for this year’s show - I’ve done enough damage to my wallet in the four shows I’ve attended so far - I’m still excited for the 2019 D.C. Pen Show. It is, after all, the “big show,” and the one that I recommend everyone attend if they can only do one show. For the second year in a row, I’ll be behind the Vanness Pens table near the entrance to the main ballroom, so please stop by!
So who all will be in D.C. this year, and what am I excited to see?
Vanness Pens. Lisa is bringing pens from Faber-Castell, Conway Stewart, Opus 88, Kaweco, and Diplomat. I’m told we will have tester pens from Diplomat inked up for people to try at the table. As always, Vanness will have the famous “wall of ink” with brands such as Vinta, PenBBS, Colorverse, some Akkerman, Herbin, Lamy, Organics Studio, and Robert Oster. There will be clearance pens and show specials on ink, so stop by the table for details!
The Nibsmith. Dan is back in D.C.! Appointment slots for nib work have already filled up, but if you purchase a pen from Dan it may come with complimentary nib tuning or even a free grind, depending on price. Dan is also an authorized Visconti dealer, and will have Visconti at his table!
Anderson Pens. The Andersons are your stop for Sailor Pens in D.C., particular the King of Pen and Bespoke series! Also, be sure to check out the Wahl-Eversharp Signature Series, a smaller version of Wahl’s Decoband pen!
Nib Grinders! Dan Smith is booked in advance, but others will be there including Mike Masuyama and Josh Lax. If having a nib ground or tuned is on your list of things to do in D.C., be sure to go and sign up first thing in the morning on Friday or Saturday.
Other vendors who will be present include Kanilea Pen Company, Franklin-Christoph, and Dromgoole’s. I can’t list everyone who will be in D.C. - this post would be pages long! - but rest assured there will be more pens, paper, pencils, and ink than you could ever hope to see in one place.
A Few Notes on Pen Shows
People always ask me for my “best pen show advice,” and my number-one pointer is simply “have fun.” Don’t take the show too seriously, and don’t be overly concerned with seeing everything because you won’t. There’s just not enough time. A few other tips:
Have a Plan, But Don’t Be Wedded to It. If there are 1-2 things you really want to see and know that they might sell out fast or, with respect to appointments for nib work, book up, then make these a priority and hit them first. “Time-sensitive” pen show items include Franklin-Christoph prototype pens, vendor-specific limited or special edition inks, and handmade pens from smaller vendors like Kanilea Pen Company. Make those tables your first stops, but afterwards take some time to see the show. If you’re going to hunt vintage pens, there will be so many your head will spin, so there’s no reason to buy the first one you see. Take your time!
Pay Extra to Go on Friday. If you can, buy the “weekend trader” pass. Saturday will be crowded, and on Sunday the wares might be picked over. That’s not to say you won’t find good deals, but limited-quantity items will be gone.
Participate in the After-Hours Festivities. Typically held in the hotel bar, “Pen Shows After Dark” is a thing. (Seriously, check out #penshowsafterdark on social media.) In addition to fellowship, camaraderie, and alcohol, people trade and sell pens.
Don’t Forget to Eat and Hydrate! Self-explanatory, but easy to do. If you want to have the energy to indulge in the after-hours bar scene, you’ll need things like food and water. I also like to take a rest in the mid-afternoon, if I’m not working the show.
If you are attending your first pen show, you may want to check out my “Pen Show Primer” series, including Pen Show Primer, Volume 1: Why Visit a Pen Show; Volume 2: Getting Ready for a Pen Show; and Volume 3: Tips for Surviving the Pen Show. Also check out my 2018 D.C. Pen Show Recap to get a sense of what awaits you, and if you didn’t make it this year, what you’re missing out on!
See you in D.C., or at the next show!
Disclaimer: This post contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates.