As I live directly outside Washington D.C., I was ecstatic to learn that the largest pen show in the world, the Washington D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow, was held right in my hometown. The pen show is one of many, with a new location as of last year, Marriott Fairview Place in Fairfax VA, outside of D.C. I had been to one pen show before, the Baltimore Pen Show, and I decided to go in with low expectations, knowing that if I raised my expectations too high (which I was struggling not to do) I could be disappointed. What I was greeted with, though, was far from disappointing.
The D.C. pen show consisted of two large rooms, a main ballroom that was off the the right, and a smaller room directly to the left. In the entrance hallway were a few stands. Upon purchasing tickets, my father and I were promptly handed two bottles of “D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow Blue” ink which we had been rewarded for being among the first people there (We came on a Sunday to avoid the large crowds.) The first room was small, but had some interesting vendors; Kanilea Pen Co, Herbert Pen Co, and Toys from the Attic, just to name a few. We walked around a little, scanned, and decided to move on, to come back if we felt the need. Taking a quick glance at the hallway, I discovered that the Nock Co. table was outside, run by Brad Dowdy, (Of The Pen Addict podcast) celebrity of the pen world. We looked briefly, and decided to move into the main ballroom.
The main ballroom of any pen show is the place where much of the magic happens. Here you will find vintage and modern pen dealers, nibmeisters, and many connoisseurs and collectors scanning the tables. Many vendors that I knew were there, as well as many that I didn’t. Some of the more prominent ones included Bittner, Fountain Pen Hospital, The Nibsmith, (actually in a hallway to the left of the ballroom) and Anderson Pens, as well as nibmeister Mike Masuyama. I ended up discussing vintage flex nibs with a nice man that collects and sells vintage pens he finds with wet noodles, as well as talking to people from The Nibsmith, Crazy Alan’s Emporium, and Karas Pen Co. Everyone was very kind and willing to share their pen knowledge. Next, we entered the hallway to the left of the ballroom where we examined some vendors (Sailor Pen Co., The Nibsmith) and then moved back to the main hallway. It had been a fantastic day.
In the end, I left with two bottles of Monteverde D.C. Pen Show ink, a Pelikan M400 green stripe fountain pen, (review coming soon!) and lots of business cards. I ended up seeing Brad Dowdy as well as Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens. Calligraphy classes were held on Saturday and there was an ink sampling room upstairs. Pen shows are a wonderful opportunity for pen collectors and others alike to learn more about pens, and a great time for a new pen or ink or to get a nib fixed/ground. There are pen shows all over the country, just look into one near you. The link to the D.C. show is here.