Review by Laura Cameron
This past weekend I attended the inaugural St. Louis Pen Show. This time around I didn’t go to work, I just loaded up the car with another knitting pen-loving friend and we went as guests. We both had to work half-days on Friday, so we didn’t arrive until Friday evening, but we managed to meet up with pen friends old and new in the lobby and all head to dinner together.
Friday evening I attended my first pen auction. I decided that I would just go to watch, but before the auction opened I got myself a bidding number just in case. You see where this is going right? I was fairly restrained and only bid on and won one pen that I had my eye on, a Gold, single jeweled, Parker Vacumatic that was advertised as “in working condition.” I haven’t gotten to flush it out yet, but I’ll do that this evening. For now I just love staring at it.
We had a wonderful time at the auction, and lots of laughs, but by the time it was over and we had all settled our bills it was time to head to bed. Saturday awaited us!
Saturday morning we got up early and enjoyed a nice buffet breakfast in the hotel and hit the pen show! I was excited because it was my friend’s first pen show and I wanted to show her how it’s done. We wandered through the rooms and immediately stopped at the Franklin-Christoph table. My friend ended up buying her first Franklin-Christoph – a pocket 45 Italian Ice. She wanted it from the get go but I threatened to buy it if she set it back down. I’ll just have to wait another year for those right?
We wandered through hallways and two ballrooms of exhibitors and found lots of fun things. I was actually fairly restrained given how much I haven’t been at other shows. I purchased a mug from Ask Wooster’s, a vintage Rolodex from Ana and Bob, a notebook from Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherworking, and of course the show ink and pin. I also won a bottle of David Oscarson ink in the Pen Show after Dark social on Saturday evening.
I also enjoyed seeing so many new-to-me vendors. I was absolutely fascinated by the pop-up cards and paper art at Roses Without Thorns. I couldn’t resist and ended up taking home a Cherry Blossom Card. Each of their cards is pieced together by hand!
I also loved seeing the beautiful wood pen cases by Ray Jones Woodcraft.
Saturday night was a typical pen show evening. We settled into the bar for some food and drinks and lots of passing pens around the table. It is always a blast getting to see and try out other people’s pens as well as welcome new people into the pen fold.
Overall I have a few thoughts about the show. This was the first year for the St. Louis Pen Show and overall I think for a first show, it was well done. The hotel was nice, the rate was reasonable and included a really nice breakfast buffet. The food at the hotel was a little pricey, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was well made and delicious. Also the cinnamon ice cream I ordered was amazing!
The show attracted a huge variety of vendors, big and small, so there was opportunity to shop at your favorite vendors and meet new ones at the same time.
I’m not sure the venue was entirely perfect for the show, however. The setup was that there were two ballrooms, one slightly bigger than the other, and two hallways. The hallways and the smaller ballroom were fairly cramped, with not a lot of room in the aisles. The larger ballroom had nice wide open aisles and seemed slightly brighter lit than the smaller ballroom, and one of the hallways was terribly dim which is terrible for trying to look at pens. It seemed like the larger ballroom had better “pen show buzz.” Finally, although there were tons of vendors to see, it seemed like traffic was a little light and I don’t know exactly how well the vendors did during the show.
Overall, I would say it was a successful first show and that there are definitely things they can look at to improve it for next year. Today I’m just home with pen show hangover and hungrily waiting for my next show!