If you are in the fountain pen community for a while already, it’s very likely that you have heard of the DC Fountain Pen Supershow, one of the largest pen shows in the world.
The DC pen show actually doesn’t take place in the Washington, D.C.. Instead it is held in Tysons Corner, Virginia. It is not very far from the Washington D.C., and is accessible through public transportation (Washington Metro, Silver Line, Spring Hill Station).
This is my first time attending the DC pen show. Before going to the show, I had already been doing research on what I could expect to see in the show, and what suggestions were given by the people who had attended the show in the past.
I didn’t have a long list of items that I would like to purchase at the show. I did not have a huge budget either. I planned to attend the show on the Thursday and Friday. I heard that the show is usually very busy on the Saturday, so that there will be less time to interact with the exhibitors. Therefore I decided to skip the Saturday and Sunday of the show.
Thursday was the first day of the show. Also it is only a pre-show day. Many of the vendors did not attend this day. I went to the show in the morning. There were three main halls that held the show: a main ballroom, a smaller one, and the main lobby. Even though the two ballrooms were almost empty, the central lobby already had a decent number of vendors and a small crowd walking around. I had heard that Thursdays are usually quiet compared to the other days of the show, but I was still surprised and glad that there were a lot of things to look for already.
One of the first few vendors that I was able to recognize was Sarj, the “one man pen show”. He already had his table fully occupied with pens, a lot of pens. Pen in small sizes to very huge. Pens that can be commonly found to the ones that are very rare. Pens that fit all kinds of budget limits. I started to look for pens that are on my wish list. Unfortunately he did not have the exact pens that I was looking for. However, he had so many pens that not only I don’t have in my collection, but also I wasn’t even aware of. That was one of my first few stops in the show and I already saw so many pens that I wish I could have. However, I wanted to know what everyone had to offer, so I continued to walk the floor.
Before the DC pen show, the last pen show that I attended was the Toronto pen show. The scale of the DC pen show on the Thursday was not much smaller than the entire Toronto pen show (which is a one-day show). Meanwhile it had a heavier focus on vintage pens and pre-owned modern pens, because most of the retailers who sell brand new pens and inks were not there yet on the Thursday. Also I wasn’t able to find any nibmeister on that day. I was mainly looking for pens. Therefore I was happy to keep browsing and I could have more time chatting with several vendors at the show, since the floor was not very busy.
My top item on the wish list was the Montblanc Meisterstück 149. It’s a pen that I always want to have in my collection. But I can’t justify the full retail price, considering that I will keep the pen frequently in the rotation and carry it around, hence not necessarily try to keep it in the mint condition like my other special edition pens. I would be perfectly happy with a pre-owned Montblanc Meisterstück 149 in fairly good condition. Therefore I kept browsing the tables to see what the offerings are. Many vendors were also happy to explain the details of each pen, so that I could understand better what the price differences represented.
While walking the floor, I had a small and thin Leuchtturm1917 Jottbook with me all the time, so that I could note down the prices of the pens that I was interested in and also where I found them.
There were also a few vendors setting up tables in the two ballrooms. After I completed browsing through all the tables, it was already at noon. I went back to my hotel room to take a short break and organize my notes from the morning.
I went back to the pen show in the afternoon and browsed a few tables again. Overall, the Thursday looked very relaxed. Even though the floor was not busy and there were fewer exhibitors, it was still a good day since I was able to have more opportunities interacting with the people there and also had no rush to purchase anything. I could get a better understanding of what’s available, so that I was able to slightly adjust my wish list based on the item’s availability or price. At the end of the Thursday, I hadn’t made any purchase. But I felt prepared and knew better what I could focus on for the show on the Friday. More importantly, I had a great time meeting so many people in the pen community.