Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – Long Island Pen Show Edition

My fountain pen usage picked up a bit over the last two weeks, mainly because I’ve been trying to spend about 1 hour a day writing with my fountain pens. It’s usually in the evening, as a way to relax.

I wrote the Sailor King of Pen dry. I inked it up with Sheaffer Peacock Blue from the yellow box & inkwell bottle days. Not really vintage, although probably manufactured in the 1990s. I’m not a fan of turquoise or blue inks, yet I like Peacock Blue. It’s the nostalgia and Sheaffer’s reality distortion field that gets me. The pen was inked up from January 6 through March 3, 2020.

I inked up my Red Bamboo Vanishing Point with a Pilot Black cartridge and a custom XXXF nib. My Sailor Regency Stripe, which I carry in my Fodderstack XL, is nearly out of ink, and the VP will replace it. I inked it in preparation for the Long Island Pen Show on Saturday. I wanted a full pen for any notes. More importantly, the clickable VP is easier and quicker to use than the screw-cap Regency Stripe. The reality was – no notes or need for the pen while at the show.

Long Island Pen Show

I went to the Long Island Pen Show on Saturday. I went with a friend who drove, so it was a relaxing day for me. I was looking forward to the show because I figured there would be a lot of vintage pens there. And there was. Yet, I didn’t walk away with any vintage pens. Several Sheaffers caught my eye, along with a couple Parker Vacumatics, but they all had at least one strike against them. At this point, I’m looking for perfect, so gold furniture (except gold in Sheaffer two-tone nibs, or on an otherwise exceptional Sheaffer material) was an immediate disqualification. As was the size of the pen. Oversize Sheaffers are hard to find, at least in my experience. There were several beautiful Sheaffers, but all were too thin for me to use regularly or were in a material I already had. I did walk away with one modern pen, a Diplomat Aero in Orange/Black, along with a Rhodia dotPad.

Photo of my new Orange/Black Diplomat Aero

I lucked into the Aero since it wasn’t on display. Black, red, and blue models were on display, and I had decided on the red. I asked if they had it with an extra-fine nib. The reply was they didn’t but had EFs for the black model and the orange model. However, he probably said “orange and black,” meaning only in the pen that I eventually got. But I interpreted it as meaning two different models. To which I replied, “What? Orange? Can I see that one?.” I had known about the orange, but I had completely forgotten about it and had never seen the color in real life. The orange/black combo came as a complete surprise, and it was an instant decision. I bought it from Fountain Pen Hospital, so I was able to use the $10 gift card they were giving away with admission. This brought the price down to $135, which is in the ballpark of random, sketchy eBay and Amazon sellers and a good deal among reputable, authorized sellers, which includes FPH. I’ve yet to use the pen, but it seems to be a size and weight that I’ll be able to use for long writing sessions.

Not knowing about the orange/black and lucking into it reminds me why I’m not particularly eager to buy without researching. The Aero had been on and off my want-list multiple times, so the model was well known to me. But, I hadn’t researched all the available options, and it was an impulse buy. After all, there was nothing else to bite into my pen budget and no other reasons to use the gift card. At a previous show, I used the gift card for a parts bag but didn’t find any bags that caught my attention. There was a bag of Sheaffer nibs, but the reality is that I’m a long way from being able to do nib replacements.

The one other pen I saw and really liked was a large, oversized pen by Armando Simoni Club, which I had never heard of, or if I did know of it, I had forgotten. I forget the model and can’t find it online (I was told it was new). It was grayish celluloid with silver furniture which is right in my wheelhouse these days, with a rare (in modern pens) pneumatic filling system. I was able to quickly find out that they are Italian made, and I found vague references that indicated some link to Omas. However, that Omas just have been the inspiration for the pens. Armando Simoni was one of the Omas founders. At nearly $900, I wasn’t willing to try a new to me pen brand. Plus, they promoted the nib as “Flex,” which I don’t want, although if they really mean “soft” or “springy,” it would be more acceptable to me. I do prefer nail hard nibs. While I’m willing to pay $900 for the right pen, I decided that this wasn’t it. I admit to some regret, but not enough to head back today (Sunday) and buy it. I will keep them on my radar and possibly revisit them at a future pen show. It’s the type of pen I wouldn’t buy online without seeing the material in real life first. The material is too intricate to trust to the whims of online photos and computer monitors.

I was at the show for a couple of hours around lunchtime on Saturday, and I thought the crowd was a little sparse. It was easy enough to move around and see the pens, with only the occasional congestion. So, it was great from my point-of-view. The show space was remodeled a few years ago, and since then it has been bright and relatively spacious. It has not deteriorated with time. There were tables with space to sit down and try your new ink and pens or have the coffee/tea/food that was available. It was mostly vintage pens, although Kenro was there with their brands and a spattering of other modern pens among venders. My friend bought a Lamy Safari and some notebooks. I was on the lookout for Sailor Pens but only saw a few 1911s.

My one pet peeve about vintage pens is that they usually aren’t priced. (Although a few vendors at this show had priced their vintage pens.) While I certainly don’t mind asking the price, it could save us both a lot of time if I knew that the price was well above what I’d be willing to pay for the pen. I’m not particularly eager to negotiate price, especially when I don’t know anything about current pricing levels. I don’t want to lowball the guy (or gal, but they always seem to be guys, often in fishing vests, with unpriced pens). I don’t necessarily need a great or eBay level deal. Still, unless I really want the pen, I don’t like blind negotiating when I can’t feel justified in the offer. In the end, the only thing that matters is we both accept the price. But based on this pen show, the price I’m willing to pay is well below the asking price. The exception being vintage Sheaffers, where I’m both more familiar with current pricing, and ready to pay more for the perfect vintage Sheaffer.

On the way home, we stopped at Chip’s for breakfast. While it’s a popular local chain, there’s none near me, so it was my first time there. Naturally, I had to try the meal that gave me the most variety – eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes, and toast. All were delicious, and I’d stop back if I’m ever near one when I’m hungry. A good ending for a good day.

Links

Vintage Pen News: Los Angeles pen show recap // Only one point of view, but it seems long-established, and what I’d call old-school pens shows such as LA and D.C. are having troubles. It seems like part of it is organizers resisting change, or just coasting on past success. Of course, the instances of theft is also a problem not directly attributable to organizers. At the Long Island show there were signs announcing hidden cameras all over the place. Not sure if there were a lot of actual cameras (one non-hidden one) or if they were meant as a deterrent. But as this article mentions, the camera are useless if local police don’t take it seriously.

My Supply Room: The Beatles

Tuesday Toolset, Top 5 Fountain Pens Under $50 — The Pen Addict

Nibs – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

New Find: Made to Order Samples – The Well-Appointed Desk // I’m not big on sampling ink these days (I still have too much), but this seems interesting, useful and unsustainable.

Vintage Pen News: Hicks and Tiffany

Scenes from the 2020 Baltimore Pen Show: Day One — The Gentleman Stationer and Baltimore 2020 Pen Show Recap: And It Keeps Growing! — The Gentleman Stationer

I’m Back from the Baltimore Pen Show! – Notebook Joy // I came across this one from another pen blogger but forgot to make a not of which one, so a h/t to someone.

The Pen Addict #400: Pen Addict 101 – Relay FM // The Pen Addict broke out their time machine and review the history of the podcast, and then jump into pen & ink basics. An enjoyable hour, even for this longtime listener and their coverage of pens I have no personal interest in.

Where It Happens – Goodwriterspens’s Blog // OK, not very informative, but I like seeing people’s work areas.

The Pen Addict Live 2020: Atlanta and Dallas by NockCo — Kickstarter // The Pen Addict Kickstarter for 2020 has gone new live. The Coronavirus, and its potential impact on travel, is mentioned as a risk. But the main (aka higher level) reward is a Retro 51 pen.

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