I visited the Commonwealth Pen Show earlier today. I didn’t take any pictures and didn’t leave with a large (or even medium) haul but it’s worth a recap.
While there was a Boston Pen Show last year the 2014 show is put together by different organizers and is outside Boston. The show was at the Somerville Holiday Inn and in a relatively small ballroom. I heard there were 18 vendors and that seemed about right (I’m terrible at estimating these things). The venue was nice, I really appreciated the free parking right at the hotel. It’s also about a half-mile from the local MBTA station. The room was well lit and didn’t feel congested. Even though 18 vendors is on the small side the room was obviously sold out as there wasn’t any more room for tables without making things feel cramped for the sellers or attendees. There was enough room to walk around and browse, at least when I was there from about 10 to 11:30 am.
Most of the pens were vintage. Richard Binder and Paradise Pens were the only vendors I saw that had primarily new pens, so the brands were limited. Richard Binder was also doing nib work. Also, I think it was Jim Baer I also saw doing pen repairs or nib work.
Jay Potter from PaperForFountainPens.com was also there with pads made from Tomoe River paper. I made my only purchase of the day from Jay. A hard cover notebook of white, blank Tomoe River paper. A review of the notebook was done by The Unroyal Warrant. Jay had only brought seconds to the show so the price was only $20 (regularly $29). I couldn’t tell what the defect was, if I had to guess I’d say it’s because the paper is ever so slightly misaligned where it’s glued into the covers.
A couple Sheaffers caught my eye but I resisted buying them. There were a lot of flex pens being sold, at least they claimed to flex. Since flex is lost on me I skipped those. There was a lot of variety among the vintage pens. I’m not familiar enough with pricing to know if there were good deals or not, but there did seem to be a lot interest in the pens that were there. If I had gone there wanting to buy a pen, rather than show restraint and wait for a perfect pen, I could easily have found one.
The small show size worked in my favor since I had to leave by noon. There was enough time for me to see everything and visit with a few people. I could be wrong, but I would guess that it would get busier after lunch but there seemed to be a good turnout when I was there. Hopefully there were enough attendees and sales to bring the show back next year.