Since Laura wrote a more extensive recap of the Arkansas Pen Show, I thought I’d just share a little about my experience and my purchases. Since the Arkansas show is much smaller than most of the shows I attend, its different for me in two ways: first, I have my own table and second, I often get to shop.
Arkansas was the first show I ever had a table which was a great way for The Well-Appointed Desk (and Skylab) to cut its teeth at a pen show. Its only a 6-hour drive from Kansas City so its drivable for us and its manageable in terms of overall costs. If we didn’t sell much, we wouldn’t be out too much money since we didn’t have to pay for airfare and such. That said, this is the third year that I’ve attended the show as a vendor. Having Laura come with me as a helper was awesome. It was also expensive because it meant I could shop.
I was tickled that my first purchase came to me in the form of a wandering seller who said he was selling some Sheaffers and one of the other vendors said to bring this pen to me to sell. It was a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. I wish I knew which vendor sent the man over to me. I suspect it was Danny Fudge or the Byler brothers which warms my heart to know I’ve become known for my Sheaffer collection.
I was WAY too close to the Dolive’s table which lead to two purchases throughout the weekend. The first was the Penlux snake pen, a close-facsimile to the Montblanc Agatha Christie pen (the earlier version of the Rouge et Noir which in and of itself was a reproduction of an earlier model). While I normally wouldn’t be inclined to purchase a “knock-off” pen, I have been taken with the look of the snake cap and the earlier Agatha Christie model and hence, the Penlux model features red crystal eyes which looked like glowing pink to me. It’s a bit wider pen than the Rouge et Noir and features a piston filling system and a Schmidt nib. It cost me a fraction of the price of a Rouge et Noir or an Agatha Christie. I feel so “poisoned pen” when I use it.
My other purchase from the Dolives was a Sailor Procolor in demonstrator clear with suspended gold flecks. It came in a box set with a bottle of Sailor Shikiori Shinmokusei ink. I had considered purchasing this particular pen at a couple shows but when Jimmy showed me I could swap out the steel nib for a gold nib (for an upcharge, of course) and how nice it upgraded the whole pen. Of course I was sold! I got a M-F nib which I’ve never owned before and I absolutely love it. And I already had a color converter that would look perfect with it.
While it was my very last purchase of the weekend, I won’t make it the last purchase I mention. I stopped by Shawn Newton’s table throughout the weekend to chat and admire the vast array of color and material. Like I said, the Arkansas Show is small enough to allow for browsing and selection. I spied several fabulous green pens on his table but couldn’t make a choice so I waited until Sunday to see what would be left. Luckily, the one I liked best was still available and I always take that as a sign. I don’t know if anyone else will see it but when I picked it up, I saw jellyfish in the brown details floating in the sea green resin. I excitedly said “JELLIES!” and claimed the pen as mine. The scepter to my mermaid princess-ness — well, in my own head anyway.
One of my greatest weaknesses at any show is An Tran’s table. While his table often looks like chaos and he may require learning how to haggle (which is not something I am all the comfortable with) it is often worth digging around to see what he has and piercing his steely demeanor. When I walked by his table, he was going through a BOX of NOS Lady Sheaffers in brushed silver basketweave. I told you his table is dangerous for me. I asked about the pens and it turned out that they were not standard fountain pens but marker tip versions. Well, I had to have at least one. If I’d been rolling in dough, I would have tried to negotiate for the whole box. I also found the Pilot V in brown plastic with a stub nib. After some haggling, I was able to walk away with both pens and still have gas money.
I also spent a lot of time at Vanness Pen Shop where I grabbed a basket full of things like the Nuuna A5 Mood notebook. Each page is a different range of color like a horizon and is absolutely mesmerizing. We did quick tests in the back to see if the paper is fountain pen friendly. The ink didn’t feather though with some pens, there was a little show through or bleeding depending on the ink. I felt that was a fair trade-off for the amazing color. Using full flex nibs on pre-printed paper is probably not going to be the best option but finer nibs should be great.
I also grabbed the new Lamy AL-Star in Bronze and matching ink.
One of my most unexpected finds was a vintage bottle of Akkerman Chinatown Red in the original bottle. I posted the bottle and box above next to a regular, modern bottle for scale. That’s a lotta ink!
Some of my miscellaneous purchases included a VP stub nib from Dan Smith for my Decimo, lots of ink samples from Vanness Pens and Davina laser etched a water bottle for me (photo will be posted on my instagram later since the bottle is at work right now).
So, like I said initially, the show was expensive for me but many shows, I don’t get to shop much and I seldom get time to walk around and visit with vendors because I am often busy behind a table. So, for me, Arkansas is often as close as I get to a true pen show experience.