Northern exposure: My first pen show!

IMGP1269It takes a lot to lure me from the safety of my cave in the northern wastelands of England. But the Northern pen show managed to entice me out before summer (in truth I am away having a few days holiday too, but I digress)

I had seen the advertising for the Northern pen show on the internet and decided that as it was near the place I would be staying that I would pay a visit and see what all the fuss was about…

IMGP1271So I found myself outside the Queens Hotel in Chester on Sunday last. I mounted the carpeted steps of this plush hotel and was directed by the omniscient concierge around the hotel’s colonnade to a function room and behold there it was. A room full of pens! Pens that were new and pens that were old, neatly presented in row after row. I duly paid my entrance fee, donned my ‘visitor’ badge as I wasn’t a fully paid up member of the WS (Writing Society, ho hum) and entered this brave new world. Here are my impressions of my visit…

IMGP1273My first impression was that I was very conscious of being a newcomer. I was welcomed politely at the door and then freed to roam where I would, so I did. It seemed that most people knew one another to varying degrees and that is almost always disconcerting. Thankfully the organisers of the event were very friendly as were most of the sellers and happy to engage in conversation with a newbie to the pen show circuit. I say most, a couple were less so, content to glower from behind their stall and sigh with exasperation when asked a somewhat obvious question, I guess the pre-show party had taken too much out of them, they sat behind their stall talking of some fabled vintage pen they had once seen many many years ago… I didn’t bother them again and left them to their reverie

IMGP1272The sheer amount of pens was a little overwhelming too. I had no definite purchase in mind so was content to mostly ‘window shop’ but even then I was bemused by the sheer volume of vintage pens on show. I think it is definitely better to go knowing what it is you want.

For novices the fact that pens are not always labelled doesn’t help. We’re not all experts and as I have said to grow this hobby we need to be as welcoming and helpful as possible – vendors take note.

IMGP1267I have to say I enjoyed my time meeting enthusiasts, retailers and pen makers. I managed to meet a few people I knew  and enjoyed putting a couple of faces to names. As always its a caveat emptor (buyer beware) situation and you have to be careful not to be overtaken by pen buying madness or indeed believe everything you are told by the seller, if not it could be a very expensive lesson…




5 thoughts on “Northern exposure: My first pen show!

  1. I was wondering if you were going to go to the Northern pen show. I was considering making the trip, but they moved the venue a couple months beforehand, and that’s just too far for me. I’m planning on going to the North East pen show in September since that’s in Newcastle, and closer to home.

    I’ve never been to a pen show either, and I expect it to be a bit intimidating too, but how often do you get to try out some really nice pens?

    I hope you picked up a bargain.

  2. I’d entirely agree with your comments Gary, my trip to the Cambridge Pen Show this year was similar, very polite, but most people already knew each other and I felt like I was intruding on their private party. I did not make a purchase, feeling I was too clueless as to what I was looking at, I do think you need a goal, or rather an idea of what you would like to buy, going just to look will leave you bamboozled!

  3. I had the same experience at the Long Island Show. I found some vendors were short tempered with my questions. Yet other vendors like the Andersons and Susan Wirth were wonderful. I spent good money with them. I like supporting vendors who are informative and patient. Yet, all in all the people at the show were very friendly and easy to talk too. If you are a newbie, do learn the etiquette for shows, like taking the cap off a pen….always assume it unscrews….then if it doesn’t you can pull off…or ask the dealer to take it off for you. I got told off by a dealer for trying to pull off a cap on a screw top.

  4. Thinking about going to the Triangle show,but it is a 200 mile drive. If my experience were like yours with gas at $3.69 a gallon and a”bad” back I might break into tears. Might just wait till November and go to Columbus only about 150 miles and it might relieve the winter’s chill. Thank you and as always yr fthfl srvt brthr Shirl.

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