As readers of this blog know, I’m a fountain pen user from way back. But I’ve never been to a pen show, and I didn’t even know they existed until the wonders of the internet enlightened me. This year I discovered that the Chicago show coincided with the weekend after the end of classes, so TheHusband and I decided to combine a quick holiday with attending our first show.
Neither one of us are pen collectors per se; we both have more pens that we can use in our regular rotation, which makes me, at least, anxious that I’m not treating them properly. We have old but not vintage pens, valuable but not “collector” pens. You get the idea. But I’d been having trouble with one of my nibs, and pen shows have highly skilled nibmeisters on the premises. Plus, all those pens. So off we went.
We were staying in the city near Lake Michigan and the pen show was held in the northwestern suburbs. Since we couldn’t leave home until Saturday morning, we spent the rest of the day we arrived in the city and then drove out to the pen show on Sunday. We got there around noon and bought daily passes. We were immediately drawn to the Franklin-Christoph table (more about that in a bit). I’d read about these pens but seeing them in person was much more satisfying, and they had the full range of nibs available for testing.
We wandered into the main room, which was about the size of a ballroom, and were immediately overwhelmed. So many pens. If you’re a Parker fan you have tables and tables to choose from, but all the brands were well represented. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming to newbie visitors. I chatted with one vintage pen collector/seller, who listened to my description of my faulty nib and thought it was just in need of a simple adjustment. He kindly pointed me to the nibmeister present, Linda Kennedy, whose named I recognized from the Fountain Pen Network website. I wandered over and put my name on her list.