D.C Pen Show 2011.. Were you there?

It was crowded that day. Of course, that’s a business area and its crowded pretty much every day; there was just something different about this day. Instead of the hectic, crowded streets I’m used to with pedestrians who can’t decide whether they’re actually in a hurry or just sightseeing, there was a business-like feel in the air. People acted like they had places to go, people to see, and like me, conventions to attend .Yes,finally the much awaited DC Pen Supershow is here. The streets were overflowed with vans, cars and busses(I agree they are all not going to show..must be the new Metrorail project coming in VA area the roads were narrowed and my GPS kept saying to take a right where there was no right turn) . I reached the convention area (of course I switched off GPS and figured it out myself) and already the parking was diverted to the deserted HUMMER building .I parked my car and walked to the hotel, and I saw many vehicles bore company workers, seasoned pen collectors, new collectors, and anyone else that just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Groups of people in matching work clothes were pulling tables, chairs and supplies out of their cars and carting everything through the front entrance of the Sheraton Hotel at Tysons Corner, Virginia. (I’ve always liked this hotel chain, mostly because they don’t feel a need to flaunt their prestige.) The front of the building was simple; it had uniform rows of windows that cast a stunning reflection of the gray and white clouds that blanketed the sky. In the building’s center hung the words “Sheraton Premier” in unassuming red font.
Around 11am ,the Ballroom was buzzing with activity. There was a sizeable amount of shoppers and vendors alike, but not enough where I felt crowded or uncomfortable.They bustled through the various displays and stations in what could only be called a Pen Bazaar (only , you know, inside a building.If you don’t believe me ,look at the picture here in the right .Where else would you see hundreds of pens spread on a table like vegetables).Pen-Bazzar A cheerful feeling permeated the space, affecting everyone who stepped into the room. Whether their actions were methodical, purposeful or relaxed, everyone in the room had a pleasant, unperturbed air about themselves. The pleasure of being at a spectacular event dedicated to one of their strongest passions was written in the faces of everyone I saw. It was a happy affair, and it showed. As I walked around, I realized that the people in attendance were just as interesting as the products they were inspecting. I saw seasoned pen collectors who looked around and walked with a purpose at all times. Like an eagle hunting a rabbit, they scoped out the tables with a hungry look in their eyes until they found their prize. Others were veterans who came equipped with tools like magnifying glasses to inspect the pens.They would hold up anything that caught their interest and examine the nib, body and inner mechanics. Many of them were so skilled in discerning pen designs that they could immediately identify the type of nib, who made it, how old it was, how often it had been used and, of course, if it was a fake. Advanced knowledge and recognition of pen structure, which would probably take me at least ten minutes to identify, came as second nature to them. Mixed among these were the first timers and young children who were just being introduced to the world of fine writing.I remember seeing a table who were educating kids to use Fountain Pens(though I personally feel that kids under the age of 7 should not use Fountain Pen,the lady in the counter was persistent that even 2 year old should hold a fountain pen.) Their excitement and fascination with the incalculable number of mechanics, inks, designs, and pens was as obvious as it was heartwarming.
Many customers were just there to get their pens repaired. Many had broken barrels, dismantled clip and some of them even roamed around with almost irreparable pens. Many queued up to get their nibs repaired with Yukio Nagahara,the legendary master nib maker from Sailor.
Companies like Conklin,Montegrappa(with all those icons in the background,it reminded me of the Expendables movie banner)MGP and Delta all had many tables manned by company subject matter experts. Dressed in freshly pressed black suits with a no-nonsense demeanor, they were almost as intimidating as they were professional. Certain tables had no brand owner and were manned by one or two staff members who just offered ink samplings. These stations were piled high with row after row of so many different inks that I barely even knew where to start. (After glancing over the choices I resorted to the age-old habit of just going “Oh! This looks pretty! And so does this! Oh, oh, and that too! I want that too!”) Other non-brand tables were occupied by vintage collectors selling items from their personal inventories. Most, if not all of them, were extraordinarily affordable.
Calligraphy classes were being held in an adjacent room (Maria Weyraugh's calligraphy Workshop,New Calligraphy Chisel Point Workshop). This room had less traffic, as a class reservation had to be made in advance, but it was no less interesting than the rest of the convention. All of the students – adults as well as children – were dutifully bent over their work making concise, beautiful words with apparent ease. (Though if you asked each one of them personally, I’m sure they would speak to the contrary.) I didn’t spend much time there as I had more area to cover..
Of course there wouldn’t be a pen show without David Oscarson –the guy with the totally awesome pens – making an appearance. As usual, he sat quietly in the special booth that he gets every year. He was very polite and greeted everyone who passed his table warmly. He seemed a little weary, but he spoke in length with anyone who stopped by about his collections and upcoming products.
Even though there was so much to see and so much to do, I had to check on Pen Boutique’s tables, which, I might add, were doing quite well. The artful table displays were composed of Rhodia notebooks, the Namiki 2011 Pink Vanishing Point, Filofax Flex organizers, Moleskine notebooks, Pelikan, Retro51, Parker and Waterman pens all going at dirt cheap prices. What was especially interesting about our table, though, was the raffle. The item being raffled was an antique Parker wooden pen collection box with gold-colored handles on either side. The lid was mostly made of display glass with two extra drawers underneath. It was very attractive (I really wanted it, I must confess) and I was not the only one that thought so. Just about everyone who came up to the table entered the raffle and by the end of the day the bin was completely stuffed with applications. (Hmm, the more I think about it the more I really wanted that box... I don’t believe Parker even makes it anymore...I should have entered even though I told myself I wouldn’t.) Pen-Boutieuq-Table
In the end, it was a lovely event. I got a couple vintage pens to add to my collection and made a mental note of others I plan on hunting down next year. The convention was an exciting, unbelievably informative and, as usual, extraordinarily fun event. I can’t wait until next year; it’s going to be so awesome.
While driving back home, I realized that the theme of the DC Pen Show – Delta Demonstrator IT Vermil..Oops I totally forgot to take a look at it….(Did you?) ..Well..how much can you see in a day? I had my measure of fun with pen today..