Long Island Pen Show 2017

The Long Island Pen Show is happening this weekend. While this is as close as it gets to a local show for me, I unfortunately won’t be able to make it this year.

There will be a calligraphy workshop on Sunday, which is new this year. The cost is $25, which covers materials, including nibs and holders. The workshop runs 10am to 2pm.

The website also lists a Playing with Your Letters workshop on Sunday that runs an hour on Sunday and is free (space may be a limiting factor).

Richard Binder missed last year but is returning this year and will join several others for nib work and pen repairs.

The weather forecast calls for rain through Saturday morning but then precipitation free for the rest of the weekend.


Fountain Pen Show Season Is Here

Delta Vintage Green with Fine Nib

My first ever pen show purchase

This year’s pen show season is already well underway with Philadelphia and Arkansas, along with the Eastern Pen Show in the UK, already part of history. Although for me it begins (and may end) with the Long Island Pen Show coming March 14th and 15th. I’ve only been to four pen shows (Long Island twice, Boston and Washington DC) so I’m far from an expert, but here’s my pen show strategy.

Pre-Show Prep

  • Check the pen show’s website or Facebook page, if they exist, to see who’ll be at the show and any workshops that may be available.
  • I keep a wishlist of pens I’m interested in buying. If it’s not updated I research typical prices and what I’m willing to pay. Plus any other info about the pen such as finishes or nib sizes I’m interested in. When I was collecting Esterbrook nibs I kept a list of the ones I didn’t have along with what they were generally selling for if they became available along which which ones were on the rare side.
  • I make of a list of pens or brands I want to see even if I’m not particularly interested in purchasing one of them. For example, when considering Pelikan M800 and M1000 I took a look at several samples at a show and was able to write with one of each. This let me know that the M800 was more my type of pen, but I wasn’t ready to buy until recently.
  • Set a budget. It’s easy to go crazy at a pen show so I set a budget. This also forces me to be more careful about what I buy. I don’t want to hit my limit and then find something I really want.
  • Generally, pen shows are more vintage than modern, although Washington DC is big enough so almost all brands and models of modern pens are represented. Smaller shows, like Long Island may not have a lot of modern brands. So adjust your expectations accordingly.

Part of the pen show fun is finding and learning about new things so I certainly don’t limit myself to these lists.

Esterbrook Dollar Bandless with 9555 nib

My first ever vintage purchase was at a pen show.

Things to Bring

  • Bottled water and energy bars/snacks. Most shows (if not all) have some sort of restaurant or cafeteria at the show so this is optional but it does make it easier to stay in the show if you’re pressed for time.
  • A loupe to examine nibs.
  • A pen case to hold any pen purchases, especially used pens which may not have a case.
  • A bag or backpack to carry any purchases. Many vendors will have bags so this is optional and also depends on how much you could potentially buy.
  • A vial of water. It can be used to test vintage pens for leaks. It’s not a bad idea but I admit I’ve never used it and didn’t bring one my last show. Some vendors will allow you to dip pens. But always ask before filling with water or ink.
  • A pocket notebook and pen to make any notes.
  • Cell phone. You’ll probably already have this just because you carry it all the time. But it can be used to take pictures of things you want to remember. You might be considering a pen but decide to move on and see what else is available. Take a picture of it and the table it’s at. This can also replace your pocket notebook, but where’s the fun in that?

At the show

CS Marlborough with Binder Stub Nib

My first nibmeister visit – also at a pen show

  • If I want nib work done the first thing I do is find the nibmeister I want to do the work and get on their list. Maybe not all of them maintain a list, but the three I’ve been to at nib shows did. While it may vary by person, if all you need is a nib tuning it’s probably OK to be inked, but if it’s going to be ground to a new point it should be empty. It never hurts to bring the pen empty since they’ll have ink to test it with. Richard Binder has a pen show FAQ, while specific to him it will give you a general idea of what to expect from anyone else.
  • Either first (if I don’t look for the nibmeister) or second (if I do) I make a pass around the entire show to get a general lay of the land pen show. Unless there’s something I want and it’s rare or a really good price I won’t do any actual shopping yet.
  • Enjoy the rest my time at the show.
  • I usually buy ink and paper when I’m getting ready to leave (unless, of course, it’s a bottle of Montblanc Bordeaux for $10) so I don’t have to carry around the heavier items.

Anything suggestions or anything I missed?

Additional Reading

I wrote about my first pen show and the Washington DC show.

2014 Atlanta Pen Show – The Pen Addict

2014 Commonwealth Pen Show (Boston) – Modern Stationer

2014 Long Island Pen Show – EDJelley.com

Commonwealth Pen Show Recap

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.

Pen Show Weekend

Wow, looks like there’s three fountain pen shows going on this weekend.

The east coast (of the U.S.) has the Commonwealth Pen Show, just outside of Boston in Somerville, MA. It’s one day only, just Sunday September 28th from 9am to 5pm. I’m hoping to make it to this show.

It’s not exactly the west coast but it is the other side of the Mississippi, the Dallas Pen Show started today and also runs on Saturday. No Sunday show according to their site. {Update: Chris posted in the comments that the show does run on Sunday too – it was a last minute change].

There’s also the Tilburg Pen Show in Holland (aka The Netherlands). I couldn’t find a website for the show but it’s on Saturday. This FPN thread has details.

I put together my pen show list, although my pen budget (aka my PayPal account) is low at the moment.

  • A extra fine nib for my Pelikan M620(s) – I really like the look of all three of that I have but don’t use them enough because of their wide nibs. OR Get my Pelikan M620 medium nib ground down. It seems a waste of gold tipping to get a medium nib ground to an extra fine, but it would be cheaper than a new nib.
  • Sheaffer Crest (modern) Ultramarine Blue or Cadium Yellow – my current obsession is the modern Sheaffer Crest. While there were more variations I’m looking to get all four that have the Nova pattern. I’m half-way there.
  • Any Esterbrook nibs I don’t already have.
  • Any Esterbrooks or Sheaffers at bargain prices.
  • Just browse any Sheaffers or Esterbrook eye candy that may be there.

Anyone else visiting a pen show this weekend?


Washington DC Pen Show Haul

This was my first visit to the Washington DC Pen Show (or, as it calls itself on the website – ‘The Washington D.C. Collectible Fountain Pen SUPERSHOW The Largest Pen Event in the World’). I’d been saving all year and had a pretty good budget. I had no problem spending it. My pen haul is shown here…

Photo of my latest pens

My fountain pen haul from the 2013 DC Pen Show

The Esterbrook nibs came from Anderson Pens and complete the 9314 nibs in my collection.

The next three pans, all Sheaffers, came from Sarj Minhas. There’s a reason he’s called “the one man pens show”. He had some amazing pens. Just looking at what he was selling made me wonder what his personal collection is like.

The Marine Green Balance was my first pen purchase of the show and was before lunch on Friday. His table was right across from Richard Binder’s and the pen called out to me as I was waiting for some nib work. I did try to resist by looking around the room but soon returned to buy it. It’s got a custom Mottishaw stub nib and is a lever filler.

The other two Sheaffers weren’t mine until Saturday. Both have fine nibs. The Balance is a lever filler. Unlike the Marine Green Balance this one has a ink view window. The dark blue PFM I is my second Snorkel filler and my first PFM.

The first two modern pens were also Friday purchases. I stopped by the Edison Pens table to see the new Menlo filler and select some possible materials for a future pen order. Instead I walked away with the Menlo Pump filler shown. The picture doesn’t do justice to the material for this pen.

The small pen is the Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Pocket in the Smoke and Ice finish. It has a Needlepoint nib which F-C has ground by Mike Masuyama. I don’t think any Needlepoint nib can be called smooth, but with smooth paper this nib is very smooth. The pen is just big enough to jot a quick note without posting, but in general the pen is meant to be posted since it’s small.

The final pen was also the most expensive of the bunch and one I’d been debating about all day Saturday. It’s an Omas 360 Vintage Collection Turquoise with a medium nib. (It’s a modern pen, “Vintage” is just part of the name) Being able to handle it at the show confirmed the triangle design wouldn’t bother me. It was also the first time I’ve seen a new one selling for less than $500. By late Saturday I decided to buy it. I considered returning on Sunday to have the nib ground to a fine (the medium was the last pen they had) but decided I’d try the medium nib for awhile.

I also had nib work done on three pens. Richard Binder stubbed my Sailor 1911 Sterling with a medium nib. It’s a Sailor medium so it makes for a thin stub, but I like it.

Mike Masuyama stubbed a Pelikan Broad nib for my M620 cities series pens (I have three, the nibs are swappable). During the conversation I asked for a grind on the smooth rather than crisp side and on the thin (dryer) side of writing. I don’t like wet noodle nibs so this was perfect. The Pelikan Cities have gone unused because they all have wide nibs. This one adds some character so I’m going to use it more.

Finally, Ron Zorn repaired the nib on my Sheaffer Triumph. It’s again a usable pen.

In addition to the pens and nib work  I also returned with Franklin-Christoph Penvelope Six and 40 Pen cases along with a couple of their pads to try. There was also some ink and paper from Anderson Pens in addition to those Esterbrook nibs. While I skipped the Fountain Pen Hospital parts blow-out on Friday they still had bags of parts available on Saturday. I found one with some Sheaffer Balances and a Parker Vacumatic all suitable for practicing repairs so picked it up for $50.

I also returned with a sore throat which has added all the features of a cold, probably from the constant and cold air conditioning in the hotel. Hopefully I can shake it soon. It’s the only thing I don’t want to keep from the show.

All in all it was a successful pen show. Friday was leisurely enough to be able to browse and talk with the sellers (and other attendees). More detailed pen reviews will follow as I use them.

Did you attend the show? Return with any loot?

D.C. Pen Show List

The upcoming Washington D.C pen show will be my second pens show. I don’t have a long list of pens I expect to come back with, but I figure I better have some sort of list going in so that I at least have some focus while I’m taking it all in.

  • A new Edison Signature Line pen is on my want list this year. I want to look at the materials available and hope to find a translucent acrylic. I also want to see the new Menlo pump filler.
  • Franklin-Christoph – The Pocket 40 pen interests me. I also want to get a second Penvelope Six case. The Collegia also seems worth checking out as a low cost way to get a F-C nib. Also worth checking out are their inks, papers and nib options.
  • I’ll compare the Pelikan 800 and 1000 again. At the LI Pen Show I tried them and preferred the 800. I’ll look again although I’m not too fond of the standard models. I’ll look around for some older models. I’m on the fence for this pen, I’m not sure it’s worth the price for me, but I can browse and dream.
  • Nib Work: I need to get the nib on my Sheaffer Triumph aligned. I’ve also grown fond of stub nibs and left oblique nibs so Ill pick out a pen or two that might benefit from the regrind.
  • Esterbrook nibs: I have about 20 Esterbrook nibs and it’s the one thing I started to collect with the goal of getting them all. Maybe eventually the cartography nib, but for now I’ll look to add the more common ones.

According to the forums, nibs.com (John Mottishaw) won’t be there which is disappointing. I was hoping to see the various finishes and models of Nakaya pens. I might see some around the show, but probably not a wide selection.

Ever since the Long Island Pen Show I’ve been more interested in vintage than modern pens. My current interest is Sheaffer and I suspect I’ll add at least one more Snorkel filler if nothing else.

What’s on your show list?

Recapping My First Pen Show

Photo of my pen show haulI just got back from my first pen show, the Long Island Pen Show. The photo above shows my new additions. All-in-all it was an enjoyable day.

I left on time with 24 oz. of fresh brewed coffee for the two hour trip. I arrived shortly after the 10am public opening and was a bit surprised that initially there wasn’t much of a crowd and there were several empty tables. But vendors were still arriving and setting up. Before long the tables were full and the crowd had grown. Since this is my first show I can’t compare it to any others. I’d estimate there were 40 – 45 tables (most – vendors had more than one table). I’m guessing, but vintage tables seemed to considerably outnumber modern.

So how did I do on my pen show list?

Upon arrival I decided to do a quick lap around the room to get an idea of what was there. When I got to Richard Binders table I saw his list wasn’t very long so I added my name and went on to continue browsing, A couple hours later the factory medium nib on my Conway Stewart Marlborough Vintage had been stubbed and adjusted. I’m using it to write the draft of this article and the pen now writes as good as it looks.

CS Marlborough with Binder Stub Nib

While I did a lot of browsing, all my purchases came from Anderson Pens which had a entire row of tables to themselves, just inside the door.

I got my third list item first since that was the easiest – a Delta Vintage in Green with a Fine Nib. It’s a small pen and I’ve been hesitant on small pens since I’m finding some of them less comfortable to use these days. But this one seemed comfortable and I’m lacking in green pens despite it being my favorite color, so I bought it.

I did make one stupid mistake. The pens doesn’t come with a convertor and it’s too small for a standard size convertor. I had planned to work through my various cartridges with it. But since I was at a pens show I really should have looked for a Monteverde Mini convertor, which apparently fits, to see how well it fits. The first ink in this one was Pelikan Brilliant Green cartridge. Although I haven’t actually used it yet.

Delta Vintage Green with Fine Nib

Delta Vintage with fine nib

Then it was time for my first vintage pen. There were several Parkers and Esterbrooks to choose from. I was in a green mood I guess, because I was drawn to several green Esterbrooks. I ended up picking this one because of its fine, firm nib.

Esterbrook Dollar Bandless with 9555 nib

Esterbrook Dollar Bandless with 9555 nib

When I got home I looked up the 9555 nib and found it was a “Firm Fine – Gregg Shorthand”. I purposely din’t ask too much about the pen, I was looking for a pen I liked and didn’t want to be swayed by history. Brian did mention it was a Bandless. I did some quick research and found it’s a dollar pen made for a short time just before WWII. Finally, something in the house that’s older than me.

Those were my only pen purchases. I did get some ink. Montblanc Burgundy Red and Irish Green. The now discontinued Bordeaux and Racing Green where two of my favorite inks. While not the same color, the new inks looked good on the swabs.

I did see some Faceted Vanishing Points but didn’t pull the trigger. None really caught my attention and I didn’t want to buy one just to be able to check a box off my list. I did see that it will be comfortable enough for me (the modern ones are too) so at least now I’d be willing to buy one online if I see one I like. Otherwise it will be back on my list for D.C. and I’ll search harder.

I compared the Pelikan M800 and M1000. I like them both but the M800 was a bit more to my liking, mainly because of the nib. I suspect I’ll add one eventually. Maybe I’ll win the Tortoise that FP Geeks is giving away.

I did see the Delta 82’s. The pen looks great but I’m passing for now.

I didn’t compare the Montblanc 146 & 149’s. I’m sure they were there but I didn’t see them. I have to admit, I didn’t look very hard or ask if anyone had them.

While there were Edison production line pens there I was more interested in the material for the Signature Line pens. I have Signature Line pen on my list for this year. I’m sure Edison Pens will be in DC so I can see the selection there. Also, as expected, no Nakaya’s so I’ll wait until DC.

Wrapping Up

I’m happy with my first show and it was a good day. I was able to restrain myself and stick to my list. I even decided to wait  and see what other VPs might be out there, It’s very unlike me to show that much restraint when I have pen money in my pocket. But the promise of the D.C. show makes it easier to show restraint.

Just looking up the Esterbrook information has me hooked. It gives me some focus and a starting point, rather than just reading a bunch of information. I wanted to limit myself to one vintage pen and pick one strictly based on whether or not I like it, rather than a specific model. Buying it in person also avoids potential disappointment when the pen arrives.

Now that the show is over (for me that is – it runs through Sunday) I’m really looking forward to the Washington D.C. show.