DC Pen Show – 2016 – Friday

Compared to the Thursday, the Friday of the show was totally different. Friday was really when this show got started. All the three rooms were full of vendors and every table had its own treasures. When I just entered the room, I was overwhelmed, because the show was already full of people and I did not know where to start browsing. Fortunately, I kept the small notebook with me, so I was pretty sure about my priorities and started to walk the show floor.
The Friday was the day that many of the larger exhibitors started to show up, particularly larger pen shops, fountain pen manufacturers, and distributors. This would be a great opportunity to take a look at the pens and inks interested before purchasing, or find things that are less commonly found locally or even online. One item that I really wanted to get from the pen show was the Akkerman ink. The Akkerman ink bottles have a very interesting but practical design, therefore I had always wanted to have one in my ink collection. However, there are a lot of colours in the lineup and it’s not easy to pick which one to buy. That makes the pen show the perfect place to get it, because I had the chance to take a look at all the ink swabs to help make the decision. In the end I chose to purchase the akkerman #16 Oranje Boven, a vibrant orange ink.
While browsing the tables, I found that the Kobe inks were also available at the show. Similar to the Akkerman inks, the Kobe inks also have a huge lineup of different colours, and these inks sometimes are not the easiest to get. At the show, there were also posters on the table that helped show what each Kobe ink colour should look like. I certainly wouldn’t want to miss the good chance to get my first Kobe ink. I bought the #37 Island Blue.
After those purchases, I felt that I already had a wonderful start on the day. I started to get back to my main priority for the day, finding the Montblanc Meisterstück 149 that suits my preferences.
Pen shows are excellent places to look for pre-owned pens, especially the ones that are fairly popular like the Montblanc Meisterstück 149. There were a lot of Montblanc Meisterstück 149 fountain pens available, with varying prices representing different production times, nib and feed materials, and overall conditions. Having so many options available, it really surprised me. It really took me a long time to decide which one to buy. Eventually I found the one that I really like. This pen is in the near mint condition and has an excellent nib in around the medium width. The pen box was also provided, which is what I always prefer, regardless of whether it’s a brand new pen or a pre-owned one. The old style Montblanc bottled ink was also in the box. Once I saw this pen, I quickly decided to purchase it.
For the other pens on my wish list, I was also trying to see if any of them showed up at the show. There were certainly interesting finds. I always wanted an Aurora Optima in my collection. But I would love to see the pens in person before getting one, because it seems to me that this pen is on the light and short side. I had also heard that Aurora’s nibs tend to write with quite a bit of feedback. I wanted to make sure that it meets my preferences. At the pen show, there were actually quite a variety of discontinued and limited editions of the Aurora Optima. What’s even better was that those pens were quite reasonably priced, compared to the regular edition currently on the market. After spending some time looking at the different options available, I finally bought the Aurora Optima Mare. The pen is also in excellent condition and has a beautiful 18K gold medium nib. The complete packaging, including the matching bottled ink and the matching ballpoint pen, was also provided. This was really a wonderful find.
Friday was a good day to look for the pen offerings from some of the pen manufacturers at the show. For instance, both the Edison Pen Company and Franklin-Christoph were attending the show. For pen companies like these two, what you see during the pen show can be hugely different from what can be usually purchased locally or online. The Edison Pen Company had a long display stand of its Signature Line pens. There were so many different varieties of filling systems, pen materials, and pen shapes. These Signature Line pens are not available through other retailers, which only carry the Production Line pens. Meanwhile at Franklin-Christoph’s tables, there were several trays of the colour prototype pens that may be harder to be seen outside of the pen shows. There were also a plenty of pens from the particularly popular pen models or pen materials. One example at the DC pen show was the Pocket 66 model in the Antique Glass finish. And that’s the third fountain pen that I bought at the show.

What I bought at the DC pen show:

  • Akkerman #16 Oranje Boven
  • Kobe ink #37 Island Blue
  • Montblanc Meisterstück 149
  • Aurora Optima Mare
  • Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 Antique Glass

What I love about the DC pen show:
Being one of the largest pen shows in the world, the DC pen show is a wonderful event to attend. Whether you are looking for modern pens and inks or vintage ones, or just to meet old and new friends in this community, you can find them at this show. Also, whether you have a limited budget or not, there will be pens that meet your preferences. It’s the perfect opportunity to try so many different pens and inks in one place, see what other people have or look for, and maybe even spend the entire day to talk about just fountain pens. More than often I could hear great suggestions from the other pen show attendees, or get more knowledge about a certain pen model from the exhibitors. The other pen shows surely are great places to be, to enjoy and share the fountain pen hobby, the DC pen show is still one of the best shows to attend, because it’s huge and offers so much varieties to pen enthusiasts with different tastes. It’s an amazing hub for really anything fountain pen related.

What I do not love about the DC pen show:
For anyone who will be attending the show for the first time, it’s always essential to know the basic information, such as the show location and schedule. The website of a pen show certainly is the ideal place to find such information. The web page of the DC pen show certainly shows such basic information, but the organization is just messy. The viewers may have to look around a bit to find the information they are looking for. Also the pages are filled with information and news that are old or obsolete. It can be difficult to figure out what’s still relevant and whether there is any update to the show.
Another improvement that I would love to see is the Thursday of the show. I definitely enjoyed the show on the Thursday, but considering that it is one of the pre-show days and requires a higher admission fee than the regular pen show day price ($45 against $8), I would expect to see either a more complete show on this day or a more reasonable pre-show admission price. Compared to the Friday of the show, Thursday was too quiet and the number of exhibitors simply could not compete.

This is my first time attending the DC pen show, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Regardless of what your focus is within the hobby, this show has something to offer. I had a lot of fun finding the items that I wished for and meeting many great people in the community. It’s a show that I definitely will consider attending again in the future.