I’ve been thinking about the best way to review the Philadelphia 2019 Pen Show. I know there are plenty of pen show reviews out there and if you didn’t attend a show it can be overwhelming to look through all of the reviews; if you were at the show, it can get repetitive to read through several reviews since you were there and know what generally took place.
Knowing all of that and trying to present something a bit different, I have decided to present my pen show review from the view of a vendor since, well, I am a vendor. This means it will be heavy on photos before and after the show, totally lacking some events* (if I was too busy to even touch my phone’s camera), and perhaps a different viewpoint than other reviews. It also means that if you want to see what happened during the busy daytime, you will want to supplement this review with another. I hope you enjoy this slightly different take!
* Seriously missing from this review is the great time we all had at the Pen Show Mixer arranged by the lovely and hardworking Lisa Vanness from Vanness Pens. It was a blast, but I wasn’t able to take any photos. Kimberly has a nice collection of photos from the mixer here, though!
As a vendor who usually takes a flight to shows, a big part of packing up is cutting down on weight. I’ve tried to find good ways to protect pens in the smallest space.
It’s amazing how much you can fit into a suitcase. Sometimes it’s only tough finding room to pack clothing.
I find flying over the midwest to be a beautiful experience. I personally like to see rivers through farmland.
I’m always ready for the pen show as I fly out. Headphones let me actually believe planes can be quiet.
Those who drove to this particular show found the parking a bit on the expensive side. As far as I could see, though, this was the only downside to the location. Beautiful hotel, lots of restaurants close by…
This is a view of the hotel restaurant from the mezzanine level where the vendors’ tables were located. As I said, beautiful hotel. Lots of space as well.
A BIG hotel. I thought it was great that there was no 13th floor.
The view from a hotel room was never too big of a deal to me – until suddenly it was. So now I always get a photo.
Before The Show
We were allowed to set up for the Philly show the night before it opened. That helps quite a bit since no one wants to arrange anything at 7 am. It’s a great time for me to talk to people who have arrived early — a laid back feeling with the excitement of the show ahead. Nik Pang decided to get more calligraphy practice in by making me a lovely sign for my table.
Just behind me, the Andersons were setting up as well. Sandra (The Cupcake Master of the Universe) looked like she was ready for the show to get going! Phil and Ashley (aka SgtStretch and MrsSgtStretch) stopped in for chat time.
Nik has quite a way with pens and ink.
My table was all set up the night before, ready for the public on Friday.
This is my favorite part of my table! The Esterbrook testing station all ready for people to try lots of vintage nibs. I love being able to help people find the nib they enjoy, one that they know how it feels before they head home. I was overjoyed to come across this testing station a few years ago. This may have graced the counter at a department store in the early 1950s.
I may or may not eat healthy food while I’m at a show. However, at least it is colorful!
I also have amazing friends who will bring back stir-fried noodles for me late at night.
And of course, there are plenty of treats and snacks and possibly a rogue bottle of wine. After the pen show closed for the night, personal pens and cookies came out, this time supplied by my wonderful roommate, Kimberly.
So, the reason pen lovers come together for these shows: the pens! One popular spot was the Franklin Christoph Prototype Trays. These were placed out each morning — one of a kind patterns and materials. On Friday morning, the trays were laid out but no one was allowed to pick them up until 9 am. It was a tough rule to follow.
The dark purple pens on the tray to the right are Franklin Christoph’s most recent pen model, the 46. It is the same length as the 45L but slightly wider and it uses a #6 nib (a standard size in many modern fountain pens).
And the Esterbrooks! This collection brought joy to my heart.
Of course, I needed to purchase a Franklin Christoph. This is a Pocket 66 pen in a beautiful rose, brown and gold material from Mike Allen’s Woodshed Pens. I call it Chocolate Covered Strawberry.
Even though the pens are central to a pen show, the people are what make a pen show memorable and worth all of it. Franklin Christoph announced the return of their popular S.I.G. nib due to the hard work of Dr. Audrey Matteson who is now their main nib grinder. Audrey did an amazing job at the show!
Mike (Inkdependence), Kimberley, and Andy stopped by with big smiles for me! They often provided me with food, soda, and restroom breaks. Thank you!
At the end of the show, I was finally able to get a photo of the ever elusive Ralph Reyes. And a computer bag.
Andy and I shared a ride back to the airport on Monday. Notice how well her hair matches her scarf!
Lisa Anderson has been a good friend to have and has a wonderful smile.
Nik Pang and Ian Schon were catching up with one another as the last vendors packed up to head back home.
Heading back home after a show is bittersweet. Saying goodbye to everyone after a busy time together is tough but I love going back to my family and the (relative) quiet of home. The end of the show means it’s time to head back to my beloved workbench to restore more pens and nibs for the next show.
This time, I had plenty of cold and snow waiting!