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Thread: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

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    Default The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective


    The weekend of fun rolled around again. This year was the third time for the new show organizers, and it was the best yet: still fun (funner, actually), very good attendance, all cylinders firing. I try to give a bit of a feel for a show when I report about it, and since many people post the pen porn shots, I may have fewer of those in favor of people and events. So...

    THE VENUE...

    As in previous years, the location was the Sofitel in Redwood City. The hotel is mingled among some of the tech firms (Oracle, Electronic Arts) and situated on one of the bay lagoons. Nicely appointed and very user-friendly:


    Location is good, with a fair-sized shopping center about 1/4 mile away, including a well stocked market and deli, and a number of food places (if you don't choose to eat in the hotel). Beyond that, though, there are a couple of eating districts within about 1-2 miles that have a lot of nice options. We enjoyed Vesta for a fine wood-fired pizza and craft salad one night, and the big date night was Donato Enoteca.Spacious indoor and outdoor seating with spot-on N. Italian cuisine:


    Ok, suffice to say, if you have civilians with you for the weekend, you can treat them nicely.

    THE SHOW...

    Now, on to the show. After entering the hotel, you find your way back to the main ballroom/exhibit hall. In the lobby outside, you'll be greeted by the friendly staff at the Registration Desk. Actually, you may actually see Franz Dimson, whom I call the "Walmart Greeter" of the show! (and I'll now add that due to my camera going south on me, many of the photos will be from Franz, whom I gratefully thank with @FD!) Here's Franz welcoming you!


    The reg desk was staffed by a rotating group, many of whom are connected to the SF Pen Posse. These Posse people are without equal in their hard work and enthusiasm, and the show simply couldn't function at the level it did without all their great volunteer work!



    Lena, Laralyn, Margaret, Rachel, and Spenczar are here to help! (@FD)

    Then it is time to enter the main show room. There was good signage this year, assisting you with the times and locations for events, seminars, and classes. Once inside, the panorama of pens and stuffs awaits you...


    THE INKS...

    The Ink Testing Stations, a signature of the SF show, were even more impressive this year: 868 inks in individual pens, identified on the pen and on menu cards. Additionally, there was a "Black Ink Shootout" station that had a big number of unnamed black inks, identities of which were revealed later. The stations were in constant use throughout the show.



    So many inks, so little time!



    Marta (aka "plistumi", of "The Devil's Dictionary" fame, sampled each ink! (@FD)

    Once you had the opportunity to try out all these many inks, there were vendors who could help fulfill your... needs. Both the Andersons and Vanness companies had veritable "walls of inks", including some of the newest players in this arena. I had Lisa Vanness set aside three of the new Robert Oster "Signature" inks, and I am quite pleased with them! In addition to these commercial offerings, there were vintage inks to be had by individual sellers, and one of the highlights of a pen show is finding those items not easily sourced elsewhere. Here is one offering, Valley Oak Iron Gall ink, hand-crafted by my friend Greg Weddig. This ink has received high marks from none other than Michael Sull.



    Greg's own blend, perfectly suited for dip pens. Really nice, antique-looking ink.

    Next up: THE PENS...
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; September 5th, 2016 at 03:19 AM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Part Two: THE PENS...

    What can be said: we come for the pens (initially). The SF show strikes a good balance between large vintage collections, and sellers with current (and recent) pen offerings. There is something for virtually everyone, with the added bonus that you'll get assistance in making a sound purchase. Don't be intimidated or shy, because you have to figure that each and every person in that room loves pens, and is more than happy to talk about them and try to be of help - ask questions! Here is just a sampling of what your eyes feast upon in the aisles of the main room:



    Pens for days, stretching to the horizon...



    Knowledgeable dealers, such as John Strother of Berkeley, have decades of experience to draw upon.



    A colorful display of Italians at the Anderson Pens table. (@FD)



    Oh, my, all that Aurora beauty. (@FD)



    Penman Stuart Hawkinson has been to a few rodeos in his time, and he assisted me in finding a pen I was looking for.



    Teri Morris of Peyton Street Pens had a really colorful display of their pens, made in collaboration with Indian pen maker Ranga.



    Here's Ricky Chau (aka AltecGreen), one of the principals of the show, trying some of Teri's pens. (@Teri Morris)



    If you are looking for a Pelikan, you can't do much better than seeing Rick Propas and his wonderful Pels. (@FD)



    A great mid-50s Pelikan 400NN set at Rick's table. (@FD)



    Penmaker Ryan Krusac had some new models of pen featuring caps and bodies entirely of fine woods. Stylish minimalism. (@FD)


    Next up: THE VENDORS and THE ACTIVITIES...
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; September 5th, 2016 at 03:54 AM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Part Three: THE VENDORS...

    Even when I was posting pen pics above, I can't help include the folks behind the tables. It might be that we overuse the phrase "come for the pens, stay for the people", but I honestly believe that to be the case. Once you start to get to know the fine personalities involved in this activity, you realize that you are building life-long friendships. Getting to know the vendors can really assist you in finding what you are looking for, and they'll even point you in the right direction elsewhere if they don't have the right thing. It is an invaluable resource, these many peeps who have years and years dealing with pens, the pen makers, and the history surrounding them.

    Additionally, you are in good fortune if one of the current nib specialists happen to be at the show. Not only do you avoid waiting weeks or months to get a pen back (but sign up early for a spot in their queue!), you get to have a feedback loop as they hand you the pen, mid-adjustment, to see if it is meeting your needs. Here are just a few of people making a show happen...



    It wouldn't be a show if not for Susan Wirth! With Deb Basel on the left and John Martinson behind, Susan lives by
    the mantra of "finding just the right pen for your writing style", and always does a seminar on that very subject.




    Lisa and Brian Anderson cover all the bases, from paper and writing supplies to pens, new and old, and a ton of ink.
    You can spot Ana Reinert of the Well-Appointed Desk helping out, too. (@FD)




    Up from Monrovia, CA, Fred Krinke (2nd from left) brings an entire
    lifetime of working with pens to each gathering. What a resource! (@FD)




    If you will ever do repairs or restores, you'll want to see Dale Beebe of PenTooling.com.
    He has every tool and supply imaginable, and even some only he dreamed up! (@FD)




    Mario Campa of Toys From the Attic assists Christina and Brian with one of his fine pens.



    One of the nibmeisters at the show, Dan Smith was always busy, adjusting and grinding pens. The nib guys get busy early! (@FD)



    A true master, you can see the intense focus of Mike Masuyama. Believe me, this is as good as it gets for nibs. (@FD)


    THE ACTIVITIES...

    There is always so much to do at a pen show. SF had a full array, starting with Friday, which had beginning and advanced classes with Master Penman Michael Sull, and Parker Vacumatic and Sheaffer Touchdown/Snorkel repair classes from Joel Hamilton and Sherrell Tyree, respectively. I signed up for both the repair classes, and was in that room most of the day, which put a severe crimp in my pen show socializing, but was totally worth it. Saturday had an array of free seminars all day long, including a valuable entry-level class called "Pens 101", and both days also had informal meetups for journaling, planners, and snail mail activities.



    The question was not if I could get my Vac Shadow Wave apart... but could I get it back together and working?



    The massive pile of washi tape at the planner/journaling meetup. (@FD)

    On top of the educational events, there were nightly 'official/social' get-togethers and fun hangs...



    Friday night, Brad Dowdy (The Pen Addict) hosted a hang-with-beverages that included him giving away stuff. FREE STUFFS! (@FD)



    Saturday night saw a return of the great rockabilly band, The Royal Deuces, with drinks and dancing for everyone.
    A fabulous way to end the day, hanging with friends and good tunes.

    Next up: THE PEOPLE...
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; September 6th, 2016 at 12:34 PM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Part the Last: THE PEOPLE...

    I'll admit it: I'm biased. I simply love the people I've gotten to know in the pen world. From notable people, that I revered and respected from afar in print, to the other ordinary folks like me who just fell down the same rabbit hole, we come together in a unique and goofy way, pulled together by a world that many people don't even realize exist. In the last few years I've formed friendships deep and numerous, so I hope you don't mind me giving just a glimpse of the human side of the pen show world. Before I even post, I already know how many of my pals I've left out!



    One of the greatest treats this year was spending time with Mr. Insanity on Two Legs, artist Joey Feldman.
    Joey designed a poster for the show via Vanness, and was custom coloring them (see below). (@FD)




    Joey custom coloring a copy of the poster for us, and chatting about Rob Oster inks.



    Here's Lisa Vanness goofing with Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit. (@FD)



    Away from the show floor and hectosity, I was able to have some time with
    show organizer Todd Eberspracher (aka Farmboy). Great moments. (@FD)




    Master Penman Michael Sull, in his element - just look at that NIB! (@FD)



    The conversations that come about with people of this caliber of wit and intellect, I'll tell ya. Left-to-right:
    Todd of ISellPens.com, Mario Campa, Paul Erano of the Black Pen Society / Fountain Pen Journal,
    and Scott Franklin of Franklin-Christoph. Cheers, gents! (@FD)




    Show sponsor and CEO of the Wahl-Eversharp Company, Syd Saperstein and his wife, Judi. (@FD)



    Dan Smith (the NibSmith) again, working with a member of the next generation of pen lovers.



    People be giving stuff away!!



    However, do not trust people like this. No matter how many dinky badges they are wearing. (@FD)


    THE WRAP-UP...

    All in all, it ends too soon. I was lucky to be able to take some time off of work, drive TEN hours up from San Diego to Redwood City (I HATE YOU LA TRAFFIC WITH THE PASSION OF A THOUSAND BURNING SUNS!) and eight hours back, all to be able to enjoy 2.75 days doing ridiculously enjoyable things. I was missing it all within minutes after heading south. For a person who loves pens, pen shows are simply indispensable. You. Must. Attend.

    I'll leave with just a couple more images, and I'll have to post later a photo of the total haul from this show (not large, but varied). Doing these shows isn't just good, it's crazy good.



    One I had, along with my two pen purchases: the 1937 Parker Shadow Wave Vac I restored in class,
    a new Aurora 88 in matte black and rose gold, from Dan Smith,
    and a 1st gen Vac in Burgundy, gratefully acquired fromStuart Hawkinson.




    A big score for me: from Vanness, a silver Rhodia journal, the back laser-engraved with the
    show poster, and the inside annotated for me by Mr. Feldman. Priceless.




    From Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork, the superb and superior fountain-pen-friendly journals of the show.



    That's a wrap, SFPS. In another year, it will be time to go nuts once again.

    Jon Szanto
    Sept 5, 2016
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    What a nice job you did, Jon!

    Thanks for that.

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Great report, Jon.

    I thought about going since I missed both LA and Washington DC this year, but it's a long and expensive trip from here in Ohio. After seeing your pictures, I sure wish I had! I'll put it on my calendar for 2017!

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Fantastic post, Jon. I'm sorry to have missed the show, but glad to have been able to virtually have been there thanks to you.
    greg

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Wonderful, just wonderful reportage, I wish you're coming to the Dallas Pen Show, Jon

    And looks like the guy with the bowtie doesn't look as shifty as his posts here...
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    And looks like the guy with the bowtie doesn't look as shifty as his posts here...
    My disguises and characters are almost as numerous as my GODDAMNED WRINKLES! (Can you tell I just had another birthday?) I swear, I'm going to ban people snapping pics of me!
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    It's good to be able to associate a face with a name.
    One wrinkle for each year on earth?
    We have met the enemy and he is us.
    -Pogo

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Jon, thanks for the wonderful report. I felt like I was there and I liked the emphasis on people as it's what makes a pen show so special.

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Interesting! Someday I want to get to a pen show. They don't have them in North Dakota, so I'll need to find one in another state, and it has to be in a location where a country boy can get his bearings!

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    This is awesome, I love pictures of shoes showing rivers of pens arrayed and the people behind the stores and online handles. Thank you.

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Waski_the_Squirrel View Post
    Interesting! Someday I want to get to a pen show. They don't have them in North Dakota, so I'll need to find one in another state, and it has to be in a location where a country boy can get his bearings!
    Hi! I could be wrong but probably the nearest pen shows to you are the Dallas Show happening 9/23 - 24, and the Colorado Show 10/7 - 9. =)

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Thank you for the report, Jon. It makes me look forward to Dallas. I really think you should make an effort to come. I want to see all those badges in person.
    Lady Onogaro

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Waski_the_Squirrel View Post
    Interesting! Someday I want to get to a pen show. They don't have them in North Dakota, so I'll need to find one in another state, and it has to be in a location where a country boy can get his bearings!
    Actually, while Franz mentioned the Denver and Dallas shows, Chicago would be closer than Texas, and that has become a very nice show. Plus, there are quite a few people on this forum that are either involved with the show, or would certainly be in attendance and help you navigate. That won't be til next year, but something to think about.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Waski_the_Squirrel View Post
    Interesting! Someday I want to get to a pen show. They don't have them in North Dakota, so I'll need to find one in another state, and it has to be in a location where a country boy can get his bearings!
    Actually, while Franz mentioned the Denver and Dallas shows, Chicago would be closer than Texas, and that has become a very nice show. Plus, there are quite a few people on this forum that are either involved with the show, or would certainly be in attendance and help you navigate. That won't be til next year, but something to think about.
    That does sound interesting. I've driven (on the highway) through Chicago a few times. I actually think it's easier driving than Minneapolis. Many of these shows seem to be when I'm working, but maybe I can manage a day off. And, absolutely, help would be appreciated! The big cities I get to would be laughable to someone who is used to Chicago!

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Waski
    You mean like the town I lived in where 5 cars waiting at a traffic signal was a traffic jam?
    San Francisco Pen Show 2017, August 25-27, 2017, Redwood City, California
    www.SFPenShow.com

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Terrific--thanks so much.

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    Default Re: The 2016 San Francisco Pen Show: a personal perspective

    Wow. Thanks for a great review!

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