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Thread: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Part the First (because you can only put 15 images in a post)

    The eight-hour drive to San Francisco sometimes gives me pause, if only for how to avoid LA traffic, but never has the trip been more worthwhile than this year. The showrunners for the last few years (Todd Eberspacher, Ricky Chau, and Syd Saperstein) managed to eclipse any of their other shows previous. Bigger, better, funner! I haven't had this good a time at a pen show ever.

    (Caveat: I didn't take as many photos this year but just enough decent shots to cover some bases. Keep an eye out on other sites, too, because there were plenty of people documenting)

    The venue (the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City) is a fine location for the show, with good lighting in the showrooms and what *had* been plenty of room. They are already planning on another 1000 sq ft for next year. The night before the frenzy begins, a lovely sunset over the lagoon (taken from our room).


    I usually take a photo of my pen case before I enter the show. It reminds me what I brought, but also serves as something I can show that I actually *own* the pens I'm carrying, as well as being helpful if one or more are missing (or heaven forbid, pilfered).


    One of the first vendors as you first enter the lobby of the show, Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork. Steve Curnow puts out a great set of products, unique and usable journals with Tomoe River paper and interesting bindings, and he and Dianne and Katie are a real positive start to the show.


    Right off the bat, in the bright morning sun of the outer lobby area, are the vibrant offerings of Brian Gray and Edison Pen Company. Such a great guy, with pens to match. Brian had a beautiful limited edition pen made for the show... in a run of 10. They were gone in the first hour of the early access hours on Friday. He'll make more next time!


    Right inside the main ballroom was the traditional location for Peyton Street Pens. Teri Morris has one of the widest selection of pens to choose from: vintage and NOS to Indian ebonite to hand-crafted pens and pens from private collections. If you were new to pens and shows, you could do worse than spend a good deal of time here.


    My friend and one of the great nib artists, Mike Masuyama. He's shown here, working on one of three pens I had him touch this time. I had two tunings and one custom grind, an Aurora Optima going from a B to a nice crisp italic. It is a wonder to hand him a pen and mere minutes later get back an entirely new writing experience. I just love spending time there, chatting and watching the magic happen.


    Heading back into the ballroom, Papier Plume of New Orleans was a new attendee this year. They brought a lot of very cool stuff, including glass dip pens, fountain pens, writing supplies and a big selection of their house brand inks.


    These wild pens were part of the Papier Plume display as well. They also were doing good business with a large selection of sealing waxes and stamps. Very classy and unique items.


    I'll admit it: bling is not my thing. If it's yours, you could do far worse than the glittery offerings from Benu Pens!


    Another new product line that was very handsome were the products from Galen Leather of Turkey. They had their own table but these were also being sold by Vanness Pen Co., a regular attendee of the show. Vanness had a very good selection, well displayed.


    All manner of things can be ordered online when you need them, but one of my must-stops at every show is Dale Beebe's Pentooling tables. If you need something - supply, item, tool, part - to repair or restore a pen, he has it, along with a nice selection of restored vintage pens.


    Among the many well-known vintage sellers at the show was Cliff Harrington. From the very first pen show I attended, I've made it a point to do everything I can to have good conversations with people like Cliff. I learn so much from them, and even if I don't happen to purchase anything at the moment, you start a relationship. They love their pens and are happy to share info, the best part of community. Cliff brings quality stuff.


    (... to be continued ...)
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; August 28th, 2019 at 01:47 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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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Part the Second (...whereby we show the rest of the images)

    Typical pen show scene: two sellers (David Ushkow (l) and Ray Walters (r)) making a (possible) transaction. Ray brings a serious collection from the UK and David has some find niche pens as well. Ray also showed us on Saturday night what a good dancer he is!


    "Life is good!" You'll hear Miroslav Tischler say that many times at a show, and he's right! This time he had a whole slew of pristine vintage Pelikans, including about twenty (at the start) tortoise 400NNs. I succumbed. These pens, from the 50s, are pretty much unsurpassed in everything from their great 14k nibs to a superb piston. What a treat, and what a good reason to attend a show.


    I'm a huge fan of Daryl Lim and his Atelier Musubi. He is one of those rare people who has taken high principles and respect for people and rolled it into a project/product/business. Makers, in the best way possible, of high-end journals, the one shown here is from a limited set of journals made with a rare Japanese bamboo paper and had been adorned with by artistry of the singular Leigh Reyes. If I understood correctly, they found precisely one box of this paper that was still in existence.


    Amidst all the giddy energy of the show, this shot gives me pause. A friend, who is a pen collector/user and maker of iron gall inks, lost his home and everything in it in last years Paradise Fire. What you see here is all that was left of the pen/pencil collection that had been *inside* a metal document filing cabinet. In the tray to the front, you can see remnants of nibs and pen parts; some of the little round balls are gold nibs, melted by the fire to a small blob. In the bottom left, before-and-after photos of the house. Sobering moments.


    One of the best parts of the SF Show is they allow a variety of the visual arts to become part of the mix. There were calligraphers in the entrance lobby doing custom work, various writing and craft seminars and a number of "non-pen" (but related) tables. This year included Roses Without Thorns from Ontario, Canada. They make the most amazing "pop-up" paper cards... so creative and exquisitely done.


    Here's another shot showing (hopefully) the intricacy of the designs that still fold flat, and then spring to life when you open the card!


    Finally, my favorite part: people. To start with, the show had FIVE active nib professionals; you've already seen Mike It Work. Here is Gena Salorino, taking a breather from the daily grind. One of the fresh new faces in the nib world, she trained with John Mottishaw and has done journeys to Japan for further craft. A bright future.


    A show gives you the opportunity to finally meet people you've chatted with online, sometimes for years. This is Claudia Astorquiza of Bauer Inks of Toronto. What an absolute sweetheart she is! The ink-art on display is done by her daughter; Claudia came bearing a full assortment of Robert Oster inks.


    A quick candid turned into one of my fave shots - PenCelebrities! L-R: Brad Dowdy (PenAddict), artist Joey Feldman, dear Lisa Vanness (Vanness Pen), and Jonathon Brooks (Carolina Pen Co). The bomb, they are.


    One of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen took place Saturday night, right outside the room where a live band was playing for show attendees. In the corridor, in the middle of a crowd of people, Leigh Reyes, Joey Feldman, and Dan Hoizner proceeded to do a live, collaborative ink-oriented art work. It was insane! Ink and brushes and spray bottles in a big mash-up! Here they are with the finished piece.


    Sun flare and all, this photo captures it for me: noted pen dealer Joel Hamilton, ready to greet the day with energy and good spirit to go along with all his beautiful pens. What a joy it is to spend time among these people.


    The finale: a rarely seen Waterman "Doll" pen, fully functional even at that minuscule size. Often referred to as "The World's Smallest Pen", they are over 100 years old. This one now belongs to the friend that holds the pen, made all the more special that it came from another great friend and pen collector. This was as I was leaving the show and it has made me happy for days.


    I feel like I've babbled incessantly but I've only scratched the surface. There was so much to do and so many enjoyable ways to spend time that the fact they call this "The Fun Pen Show" really rings pretty true. All the producers worked their butts off, as did the many volunteers, a large number of them members of the SF Pen Posse. There are tons of these people and those showing their wares that I've missed mentioning. Keep your eyes open for other reports coming in - Ricky (AltecGreen on most forums) usually does a stellar write-up with a million photos - because I've barely covered it. (I'll make a post about my pen show haul elsewhere on the forum)

    Oh, and the show got covered in the SF Chronicle!
    Some Of These Pens Are More Expensive Than The Sword

    So that's it. Another great weekend in the Bay area and I wouldn't miss next year for anything. I hope to see some of you there.

    It's worth the trip.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; August 28th, 2019 at 01:56 AM.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
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    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    It all sounds magical and makes me wish I had been there. Thanks Jon.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Fantastic photos and reporting, Jon! Some really great shots. Sigh. The next best thing to being there....

    Thank you!
    _____________
    To Miasto

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Very interesting! The San Francisco show highlights the creative side of things much more so than any pen show I attend on the east coast. And then the organizers arrange a live band for the attendees? Very cool. It's a fresh approach that other show promoters need to see.

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Thank-you for a great job, Jon!
    "What are moon-letters?" asked the hobbit full of excitement. He loved maps, as I have told you before; and he also loved runes and letters, and cunning handwriting, though when he wrote himself it was a bit thin and spidery.

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    So, okay, you *make* me log in for this, by sending me the link and telling me in your sweet Jon way that I could if I want to check it out though it's no big deal, and I've known you long enough to know that means it's probably something amazing.

    And yes, of course, I have to log in, because, omg, always with this site throwing me out....

    And what do I find? Perhaps the finest photo essay I've ever seen on a pen forum. These are amazing. Thank you.



    So now, I'm not letting you off the hook: you have to come to Chicago next year and take our photos. Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 3, 2020.

    Write it in fountain pen ink in your sure-to-be-paper calendar and journal(s). And bring many Californians with you. You will find that planes do, indeed, fly east. (No, really, they do. And not just to NYC.) And we are very chill here, like California used to be, and the weather in May is always lovely, I promise. (Or it could be raining, but you're already there, so what are you gonna do.... )

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Very interesting! The San Francisco show highlights the creative side of things much more so than any pen show I attend on the east coast. And then the organizers arrange a live band for the attendees? Very cool. It's a fresh approach that other show promoters need to see.
    Fred! Hi!

    Many other shows do this as well. Chicago does, for sure. It's possible that *showgoers* need to start going to other shows, instead of just going to DC again.... Next year, try Chicago, try San Francisco, try Baltimore....

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    What a fabulous writeup! I wish I wasn't so many thousands of miles away!

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Fabulous reportage, Jon.

    No doubt that the folks in the Bay Area set up a high-bar as far as shows go.
    GOOD JOB!! Y'ALL!!

    But that's why the other 16 shows should be excited about this, seeing so many people are interested in our hobby.
    - Will
    A place to look for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    But that's why the other 16 shows should be excited about this, seeing so many people are interested in our hobby.
    Absolutely. If I never felt it before, and bearing in mind there are a few things at play in SF, this show made it patently obvious there is a sea change going on in the pen world. A new generation. I think, in a way, the Chronicle article touched on it a bit.

    And, frankly, it is going to impact the vintage world, and the way vintage sellers present themselves, in a significant way. The pen show model of the 70s - 90s or so is going to have to be re-evaluated as the original vintage crowd ages. The pens are still intensely valuable and some new paradigms in presentation and selling will need to be considered, both on an individual and show level.

    At least that is my impression, from observations over the last couple of years.

    BTW, Will, look for a contact from a Bay area pen peep who will be visiting Dallas and had a question on nib work.
    "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."

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    I really need to get to this show!

    Next year. Hell or high water.

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Jon, thank you very much for the excellent writeup and photos! You not only gave a great description of the show, but also conveyed the energy and vibe that infused everything there. I don't think I have ever experienced anything similar in a show of any sort. Out of all the recaps, yours is the best IMHO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Absolutely. If I never felt it before, and bearing in mind there are a few things at play in SF, this show made it patently obvious there is a sea change going on in the pen world. A new generation. I think, in a way, the Chronicle article touched on it a bit.
    A sea change to say the very least. My jaw dropped after walking into the ballroom and seeing the tsunami of people there. Ho. Lee. Toledo. How did that many people know about the show? Maybe the article in the Chronicle had something to do with it? The number of pens and other pen-related products available now is staggering. We really are at the dawn of a new fountain pen golden age.

    A new generation to be sure, there were very many young people there. What was surprising was that there were also some very old people there, they must have been in their 90s. All ages in between, too.

    Thanks again, Jon. You totally rock!

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon View Post
    A sea change to say the very least. My jaw dropped after walking into the ballroom and seeing the tsunami of people there. Ho. Lee. Toledo. How did that many people know about the show? Maybe the article in the Chronicle had something to do with it? The number of pens and other pen-related products available now is staggering. We really are at the dawn of a new fountain pen golden age.
    First off, thank you for those words of appreciation, it means a great deal to me in light of wanting to give back to the community. It's a tough time in the world today and hard to shut that all out. For a couple of days, there was so much positive energy and good times I really just keep putting myself back there.

    But there is adulting to do, I suppose...

    As to the Chronicle, that came out at the end of the weekend so it wouldn't have affected the crowds. The SF Pen Posse, a large (now) and loose-knit group of pen afficianados, including two of the three show producers, has a big impact on the area. There is a LOT of fp and related arts activity in the Bay and surroundings, and word has gotten out with each successive year. Many campuses, the current trends, some of the well-known podcasts in attendance (Pen Addict did a live broadcast on Friday night with Brad, Myke and Ana). So, yeah, the new gen is onto it, and they know a good pen show.

    I never thought I'd see this: most pen shows have an "All Access" pass that costs more and lets you in earlier in the day before the general public. This is usually the hard-core collectors, and usually sold in advance. I couldn't figure out why there were so many people on Friday early in the morning, and it turns out that 60+ people showed up and paid for AA passes that morning. Crazy.

    Well, it was certainly fun. I really appreciate your kind comments.
    "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: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    The last time I checked, the SF Pen Posse was just a few people. Good to hear it has grown and been so successful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    It's a tough time in the world today and hard to shut that all out. For a couple of days, there was so much positive energy and good times I really just keep putting myself back there.

    But there is adulting to do, I suppose...
    Sometimes our world can seem a little crazy, but there are still many places where there are super positive vibes and memorable experiences to be had. As you note, that energy doesn't go away. Enjoying the little pleasures in life is part of adulting, too. RWS is no doubt experiencing that now riding up Highway 1.

    If you ever get a chance to spend a little time before or after the pen show in the area, I highly recommend visiting Filoli. It is a large, very well preserved and exceptionally beautiful estate open to the public. Only eight miles away from the Pullman Hotel, it is like stepping into another world. The vibes there are different from those at the SF Pen Show, but just as beneficial.

    If anyone decides to go there, the website is https://filoli.org/. It is on Caņada Road, which is closed every Sunday between Ralston Ave. / Highway 92 and the Filoli entrance. You can still get there from the Pullman on Sunday by taking Brittan Ave., Google Maps provides good directions. If you are there later in the day and want to grab dinner afterwards, the nearby town of Woodside has some great restaurants, including locally produced wines.
    Last edited by Pendragon; August 28th, 2019 at 07:13 PM.

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    But that's why the other 16 shows should be excited about this, seeing so many people are interested in our hobby.
    Absolutely. If I never felt it before, and bearing in mind there are a few things at play in SF, this show made it patently obvious there is a sea change going on in the pen world. A new generation. I think, in a way, the Chronicle article touched on it a bit.

    And, frankly, it is going to impact the vintage world, and the way vintage sellers present themselves, in a significant way. The pen show model of the 70s - 90s or so is going to have to be re-evaluated as the original vintage crowd ages. The pens are still intensely valuable and some new paradigms in presentation and selling will need to be considered, both on an individual and show level.

    At least that is my impression, from observations over the last couple of years.

    BTW, Will, look for a contact from a Bay area pen peep who will be visiting Dallas and had a question on nib work.
    Sometimes I feel that only you see what I'm seeing also.

    As people, we can only grasp what we know, and the vintage crowd, being the more knowledgeable of the two "generations" (I loathe to use that word because it conveys age division as though it matters), should extend the imparting of knowledge which I don't see it happening, at least not in the scale that it should.

    I wrote in another post, the vintage crowd today deserve a lot of credit for bringing this hobby to life through their diligence, research, and sheer tenacity when nothing is out there yet. But I observe that there are many of these vintage vendor and collectors rest in this laurel, thinking that the next generation will just pick it up somehow and magically know that that first generation Parker 51 with a blackened silver cap is a lot more valuable than the shinier lustraloy cap next to it.

    Deep inside we all know, that knowledge transferred with the mindset so the next generation can continue to enjoy what we have, is a good thing. But the correlation with what you said is this, unless there are enough awareness of this among the vintage collectors, I predict that we'll see the gap becoming more pronounced as each pen show goes.

    Of course, this doesn't leave the next generation off the hook either. Bridging the gap is best done when both sides are working together instead of alienating each other.

    Just my view on this.
    - Will
    A place to look for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    But I observe that there are many of these vintage vendor and collectors rest in this laurel, thinking that the next generation will just pick it up somehow and magically know that that first generation Parker 51 with a blackened silver cap is a lot more valuable than the shinier lustraloy cap next to it.
    IMHO, it is not worth worrying about. While some vintage collectors and experts might rest on their laurels, there are many, many others who are very happy to share all that they know. For example:

    To get people started in fountain pen use:

    The Love Of The Ink: A Book About Fountain Pens: For Beginners: Learn All About Fountain Pens In One Day Paperback
    by Harrison West

    Fountain Pens: History, Repair, and Current Values Paperback
    by Cliff Lawrence
    Perhaps the first book on the subject, or at least one of the first.
    This book was published in 1977. The Amazon description for it appears to be taken from the book, and states:

    "Until a few years ago, old fountain pens and mechanical pencils were relegated to cigar boxes and usually in flea markets. We pen collectors found them to be the perfect collectable. In them we saw beauty, craftsmanship, and nostalgia all trimmed in gold."

    https://www.amazon.com/Fountain-Pens.../dp/0891450645

    This dates start of fountain pen collecting to the early to mid 1970s.

    Fountain Pens of the World
    Fountain Pens Vingate and Modern
    Fountain Pens of the USA
    Fountain Pens USA and UK
    Fountain Pens of Japan
    by Andreas Lambrou

    The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 1: Glossopedia
    The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 2: Restoration
    The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 3: Filling Systems
    The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens: Volume 4: Learning About Pens
    Fountain Pen Profiles: Wahl-Eversharp
    Fountain Pen Profiles: L. E. & A. A. Waterman
    Personalized Pens: History in Your Hand
    By Richard Binder

    Fountain Pens: Past & Present, Identification & Value Guide
    by Paul Erano

    Collectible Fountain Pens
    by Juan Manuel Clark

    Fountain Pens: A Collector's Guide
    by Peter Twydle

    Fountain Pens: The Collector's Guide to Selecting, Buying, and Enjoying New and Vintage Fountain Pens
    by Jonathan Steinberg

    Fountain Pens: Their History and Art
    by Jonathan Steinberg

    Identifying Fountain Pens: The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier (Identifying Guide Series)
    by Jonathan Steinberg

    Fountain Pens: History and Design
    by Giorgio Dragoni and Guiseppe Fishera

    Fountain Pens; the Complete Guide to Repair & Restoration
    by Frank Dubiel

    The Fountain Pen Book
    by Tony Thomas

    Pen Repair: A Practical Repair Guide for Collectable Pens and Pencils
    by Jim Marshall

    The Write Stuff: A Collector's Guide to Inkwells, Fountain Pens, and Desk Accessories
    by Raymond G. Jaegers and Beverly C. Jaegers

    Collectible Fountain Pens: Parker, Sheaffer, Wahl-Eversharp, Waterman & Many More
    by Glen Bowen

    The Book of Fountain Pens and Pencils
    by Stuart Schneider, George Fischler, et al.

    Fountain Pen Anthology
    by Ron L. Dutcher

  34. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Pendragon For This Useful Post:

    fountainpagan (August 31st, 2019), Kudzu (September 17th, 2019), penwash (August 30th, 2019), Zhivago (September 16th, 2019)

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    Senior Member fountainpagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Fantastic writeup, Jon.
    Thank you a lot for making me live the SF pen show as if I was there. Really, great travel.
    I appreciate the fact you cover all aspects of the show, not only trays and trays of pens, as many do.
    Thank you also for letting me became acquainted with some faces I have been hearing the names for a long time.
    Geat photos and infos.
    Just... thank you.

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  37. #19
    Senior Member Voiren's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Pendragon: Yes, but... I think the notion of buying a reference book about fountain pens is something you do after you have already become a fairly in-depth collector and not before. It certainly isn't what I do on starting a new hobby.

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    Senior Member Pendragon's Avatar
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    Default Re: 2019 San Francisco International Pen Show Recap!

    Quote Originally Posted by Voiren View Post
    Pendragon: Yes, but... I think the notion of buying a reference book about fountain pens is something you do after you have already become a fairly in-depth collector and not before. It certainly isn't what I do on starting a new hobby.
    I purchased a fountain pen book, Collectible Fountain Pens by Juan Manuel Clark, and it lead directly to my first fountain pen purchase. I do get your point, though, which is well taken.

    @penwash seemed concerned that the expert collectors of today would go offline, retire, etc. and their knowledge would be lost. I was merely pointing out that there are a large number of reference works on the subject. We don't need to worry about that knowledge going away. Not all of those books are still in print, but virtually all of them can be readily found for sale online in ether new or used condition. There were even some at the SF Pen Show. Now there is an opportunity for an enterprising bookstore - an entire table full of different fountain pen books.
    Last edited by Pendragon; September 2nd, 2019 at 07:35 PM.

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