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Thread: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

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    Senior Member david i's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    David, I think you are definitely well connected. :P

    I'm sure pen shows differ, the one I attended didn't even have a public day and private day. It just had its weekend and you paid to enter whichever day you went.

    And I'm sure it makes a huge difference that I'm not really a collector, I'm a user. I happen to have a niche I love to use which creates a "collection" so to speak. But I'm not really a collector. I look for pens I want to use, not pens to fill a "hole." And my budget is a fraction of what we're talking about above. A $700 pen for $350 isn't a bargain for a user like me, because my whole pen show budget (when I went) was $150. (Plus the money I brought to have a nib ground.) That puts things in a whole other range. I buy antique, I have really zero interest in most modern pens either. And maybe pen shows post internet really just cater to the higher rollers? Perhaps the lower end antique collecting market has moved almost entirely online? Because I found it very, very difficult to find those fun quirky pens for under $200 that I enjoy.

    My other question to pen show expects... Frequently dinners and drinks events are mentioned... Yet as someone who I think is at least a familiar name on a board like this, and would love to meet folks in person, how does one even find out about, or snag an invite to these events? I would have loved to spend some time with pen folks just talking pens and passing things around and sharing stories, but I suppose I'm just not well known enough? Again, this is probably linked to my inability to buy and sell at the level of many others and I understand that. I'm really not trying to be whiney, just wondering how a small change pen enthusiast might get to rub shoulders with the pen elite a little tiny bit.
    Hi,

    You raise a couple points I can address. In general and at the very least I would note that one (or at least I) cannot capture every nuance and every variable in a a couple page note, just as one cannot teach how to practice medicine in a couple page chapter

    My "Can't buy a $100k collection when one has $20k to spend" was meant to be a dramatic example, not implication that one must spend that sort of green at a show in order to matter. Pens at pen shows can be found retail, in the $30 to $10,000+ range, and pens that retail at that range often show up discounted to some degree or another, even before one negotiates or offers to buy an entire personal pen hoard. Knowledge of the market and ability to assess-- or at least to attempt to negotiate with-- a given seller matters at least as much. Obviously, some situations will require hefty expenditure. Not all do. As someone else noted in this thread, my friend Miro (present on FP pen groups now and on ebay, along with just a few shows d/t his commute), was offering Peli 140's, vintage, working, sometimes with flex and other exotic points, made of celluloid, for $80 to the public. Given that restoration of these can run $40-90, this was a rather good deal. Most of us offer these pens at $140 or so. Indeed in prior years I worked deal with Miro to buy 20 of these at at a time, as they make great website stock.

    As to dinner meetings. Yes, I was a bit casual perhaps in describing the process of connecting with collector/dealers at shows, but it isn't that tough to do. When engaging with dealers on the quiet days while rounding Thursday and Friday, one can mention it would be great to join in for evening events. Certainly if such is said to me, to Erano, to Susan Wirth, that can be a big door opener. Indeed, I have invited newer collectors who email me about pens on my sales website when they mention they will be at a show. Some collector/dealers though courteous enough tend to use the shows to catch up with a specific clique of pen friends. That's fine, but they probably are not the ones you will join. My pen show count is down from 10/year prior max to about 5-6/year now. I go to the majors. Having bought several private collections en masse this year, some of which had more pens than I typically buy at shows, my need to buy stock is a bit less urgent than in the past, and my hospital takes care of me well enough that I have to think carefully before taking vacation day for a 12 hour shift (or a few shifts) to attend a smaller show.

    I'll leave open the offer to those reading this. If you plan to attend a show I'll attend, and if you plan to be there on the early days, drop me an email before the show. You likely can end up at dinner with my group or with another congenial group of table holders.

    The evening lobby gab often is present, though some shows lack a good lobby, though it is a bit diminished as the crowd ages. We don't have wheeling dealing, trade stock open until 1am as happened in prior decades. There is no barrier to participation though.

    regards

    david
    Last edited by david i; February 20th, 2014 at 04:39 PM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    31000 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by lsmith42 View Post
    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we get from Pen Shows to, um, er, not-pen-shows in 18 steps...
    Thanks for the,um....."de-briefing".....


    John

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    "I'll leave open the offer to those reading this. If you plan to attend a show I'll attend, and if you plan to be there on the early days, drop me an email before the show. You likely can end up at dinner with my group or with another congenial group of table holders."


    I wouldn't mind meeting you at or after a pen show,David,but the only one I've been able to go to in recent
    years was the Miami Pen Show,and that was only in 2009 and 2010. Don't know if you intentionally don't go to
    that one,but as much as I would like to go to a different one--even the Atlanta show--it hasn't been financially
    feasible. Still,if the possibility comes up to go to a different pen show....then maybe that might be possible.


    BTW,what is your area of practice?



    John

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    Senior Member david i's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by sumgaikid View Post
    "I'll leave open the offer to those reading this. If you plan to attend a show I'll attend, and if you plan to be there on the early days, drop me an email before the show. You likely can end up at dinner with my group or with another congenial group of table holders."


    I wouldn't mind meeting you at or after a pen show,David,but the only one I've been able to go to in recent
    years was the Miami Pen Show,and that was only in 2009 and 2010. Don't know if you intentionally don't go to
    that one,but as much as I would like to go to a different one--even the Atlanta show--it hasn't been financially
    feasible. Still,if the possibility comes up to go to a different pen show....then maybe that might be possible.


    BTW,what is your area of practice?

    John
    Hi John,

    Well, any show I attend usually is not by accident

    In my trimming from 10 to 5-6 shows per year, and with Miami having left the Biltmore Hotel, itself a world class resort that made the trip a special vacation, and given that this nice show is a bit small (I have bought and sold some nice pens there), I have not been attending of late, also because it tends to fall when I am working, and giving up three days of work for a small show would not make sense. If the show this year falls when I am off, I might pop down.

    Happy to get together if we share a show.

    My practice focuses on Hospital Medicine. I have done Emergency Medicine as well.

    regards

    david
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    31000 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    The LA show was/is outstanding. (First Attendance 1993) David takes the time to pass along creditable advice and concern for those with less knowledge and patience, (not to forget those of us who can learn something new every day). Like most things in life you can pay for an education in many ways. David is one of the few who are willing to share knowledge and advice! That is rare!

    Every show is enhanced when he is in attendance!

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by ladynib302 View Post
    David, your comments are insightful, valuable and instructive! Thank you for the effort you put into this post. It is a real contribution to learning to appreciate the culture surrounding pen collecting in general and the pen show environment in particular. When we began collecting, Roger Cromwell's class in Philly addressed early on identifying what kind of pen person one is: A user, collector or investor (or a mixed-breed). His perspective helped refine our goals and confirm our identity within this experience. You, too, have done a fine job, using your own life experience, explaining how you have accomplished your own goals and perhaps as an outcome helping newbies better understand how to best navigate within pendom. It is always fun to learn new things from you at a show about the pens you manage to amass. Those of us who will never do what you do still can appreciate what you have put together that you so beautifully write about, photograph and catalog for posterity. You are a fun mentor at the shows. Thanks again for all the clarifying comments you made. I am sure it will help many going forward.
    Thanks.

    My only poke at your post would be to note I believe no one should be an investor in old pens. Pen Collector? Sure. Pen User? Why not?

    My quite old thread on "Collector vs User": http://www.vacumania.com/website/peneducationuser.htm

    Pen Businessman? You betcha.

    But, "Investment" perhaps should not be used in association with old pens.

    I can expand on this, but perhaps readers can see some of the issues already...

    regards

    david
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    31000 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Would like to be at Baltimore, but timing is bad. And, again, I'm trying to wean the habit of taking vacation days for smaller shows. Have had fun there. Erano will be there. He should cause enough trouble to keep things interesting...

    regards

    d
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    31000 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    David, Do you think Balto- Show will grow now that the new venue will accommodate more dealers and there is free parking and an airport location for convenience with travel (shuttles, light-rail, etc); plus access to more restaurants and shopping? Too, it falls 5 months from the big D.C. Show in August. Wonder if Bert will continue to shoot for two days versus three? What would you like to see?

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by ladynib302 View Post
    David, Do you think Balto- Show will grow now that the new venue will accommodate more dealers and there is free parking and an airport location for convenience with travel (shuttles, light-rail, etc); plus access to more restaurants and shopping? Too, it falls 5 months from the big D.C. Show in August. Wonder if Bert will continue to shoot for two days versus three? What would you like to see?
    Hard to read tea leaves.

    Any business venture newer and smaller than established competition faces hurdles. Time will tell.

    regards

    d
    Last edited by david i; February 21st, 2014 at 12:42 PM.
    David R. Isaacson, MD

    http://www.vacumania.com : Sales site for guaranteed, restored collectible pens.

    The Fountain Pen Board /FPnuts : Archived Message Board with focus on vintage.

    The Fountain Pen Journal: The new glossy full-color print magazine, published/edited by iconic fountain pen author Paul Erano.

    Facebook pen group "Fountain Pens"/FPnuts: Davey's casual Facebook group for collectible pens.
    31000 members and growing. World's heftiest daily vintage pen eye candy

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    I like fountain pens. I spend some time on them. My wife (and others) probably are amused by this. But, relatively speaking, I see that I don't hold a candle.

    Here's my take on the LA Pen show as a newbie pen show attender. I went down there Sunday and got in when it opened. I had made a couple decisions about what specifically I was going to look for (a Sailor Realo and a Pilot Justus 95). I made the rounds rather quickly, and asked about prices on the pens I wanted when I saw them. I enjoyed seeing Mottishaw's booth, and trying the various Mottishaw grinds on his dip pens. I ran into Mr. Krinke again. And I got to actually handle some of the nice urushi pens I'd love to have. Bottom line is that I ended up buying the Pilot Justus 95 for significantly less than I would have been able to get it online or anywhere else, and I bought it from a guy who it turns out has a small home pen business not too far from my house, who I will try to deal with again in the future. 90 mins in and out, taking home a very nice new pen (oh and a bottle of Eclat de Saphir and a box of Pilot violet ink cartridges). All in all, a fun experience and well worth the trip.
    Last edited by eqlzr; February 25th, 2014 at 01:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    I'm enjoying this thread. I'll make it out to my first pen show ever (Toronto in November). Might get a pen or two. Looking forward to learning lots. This thread serves to further stir my enthusiasm.

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Well, I reported that enterprising matey spammer. Alas, dude, Jon is already the King of Clubbing.

    But it's an excellent reminder that the 2015 Chicago Pen Show is next weekend, April 30- May 3. We are having a little FPG meetup on Saturday morning at 10 am at the Anderson's table. All are welcome. Feel free to PM me for more information or if you want to try to find us later in the day.

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Has there ever been a Phoenix Pen Show?

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    David, I think you are definitely well connected. :P

    I'm sure pen shows differ, the one I attended didn't even have a public day and private day. It just had its weekend and you paid to enter whichever day you went.

    And I'm sure it makes a huge difference that I'm not really a collector, I'm a user. I happen to have a niche I love to use which creates a "collection" so to speak. But I'm not really a collector. I look for pens I want to use, not pens to fill a "hole." And my budget is a fraction of what we're talking about above. A $700 pen for $350 isn't a bargain for a user like me, because my whole pen show budget (when I went) was $150. (Plus the money I brought to have a nib ground.) That puts things in a whole other range. I buy antique, I have really zero interest in most modern pens either. And maybe pen shows post internet really just cater to the higher rollers? Perhaps the lower end antique collecting market has moved almost entirely online? Because I found it very, very difficult to find those fun quirky pens for under $200 that I enjoy.

    My other question to pen show expects... Frequently dinners and drinks events are mentioned... Yet as someone who I think is at least a familiar name on a board like this, and would love to meet folks in person, how does one even find out about, or snag an invite to these events? I would have loved to spend some time with pen folks just talking pens and passing things around and sharing stories, but I suppose I'm just not well known enough? Again, this is probably linked to my inability to buy and sell at the level of many others and I understand that. I'm really not trying to be whiney, just wondering how a small change pen enthusiast might get to rub shoulders with the pen elite a little tiny bit.
    I have a friend who makes fountain pen name tags, with magnets to hold it on. Would be great for shows, pen clubs. You might contact him. Ryan Brenner ryan@brennerluggage.com20160723_153958.jpg
    Sandy
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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Thanks for giving us 'newbies' a little history of pen shows from a decades-long perspective of experience.

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by david i View Post
    Pen Show Dynamics.

    My thread about one of the cases full of pens I bought at the Los Angeles Pen Show last weekend prompted discussion about a number of issues related to pen shows, particularly the pricing of pens found there, the difference in tenor of the show on different days within the four day event, and the hunting of pens at good prices. That thread can be seen here, with more eye candy yet to come (as of Feb 19)


    http://www.fpgeeks.com/forum/showthr...14-Booty-Shots

    Some frustration was expressed that buyers did not find bargains. I don't begrudge that emotion, and certainly will not endeavor to talk anyone out of such feelings/positions, but I figured it was time to address some of the larger issues about pen shows, to put things a bit in perspective. I certainly am not new to the pen show experience. I've been to more than 100 in my 15+ years in our hobby, and- hell- I still consider myself a proud hack amateur newbie, though some have given me grief for that claim. Something tells me this will end up as a Profile over at Vacumania.com

    Here are a couple of some of the reviews I did ten years ago 2003. You might recognize some of us, a bit thinner, with darker hair...

    Los Angeles 2003. For Stylophiles Online. 11 years later I still share room with Mike Dvoretz. Show host Boris, now 82, has not been able to attend the last few years. I bought some gem old pens from him back when.

    http://www.stylophilesonline.com/archive/jan03/03la.htm

    Philadelphia 2003, run by Berliner Pen, no longer an active dealer, though I'm happy to run into Geoff and Bernie here and there.

    Philly http://www.stylophilesonline.com/arc...an03/03phl.htm

    My friend Richard, who I met via pen shows long before he set up restoring pens on site, when he was hawking post cards with pens shown on vintage scenes/advertising, offered a guide to the show scene on his website, essentially a synthesis of jabber engaged in by those of us who ponder such things (as both of us do), but of course from Richard's perspective on it.

    “First Show” by Richard.

    http://www.richardspens.com/?page=re.../firstshow.htm

    And, “rules” by Susan Wirth, hosted by Richard, back in 2004. Susan's points are well taken, even if the Internet is bigger today than it was even then. While we had some listservs, and one threaded board, there were no forum-based pen message boards online then, yet most of us managed to do just fine. Those of you who are unhappy with pen pricing set by table holders probably should at least consider Susan's points.

    http://www.richardspens.com/?page=re...ules_wirth.htm


    Pen shows started back in the very early 1980's, and while pen friends already had hosted occasional home gatherings, the meetings in Don Lavin's basement in Chicago served as nidus for what became the first formal Pen Show, the Chicago Pen Show, now more than 30 years old and still running. Pen Shows started as vintage events, trading amongst collectors who still found many pens in the wild, when Cliff Lawrence's paperback guide and Pen Fancier's Magazine were not yet enough to set well defined structure for pen pricing such as we have today. Baskets full of old unrestored pens were tossed on tables, trading was based perhaps more on “Oooh, I like this one” as “But, my Wahl Decoband is worth $50 but your Parker red double jewel Vac Major is worth only $30; you need to come up with more for the trade”. Rivalry existed for “finding the best pen in the show”, and it really was as much or more about finding something neat as today it is “paying big bucks to buy something special”. If you're not sure of the difference, you need to spend more time at pen show dinners with me, Erano, Wirth, Binder, Lehrer, Nishimura, Hoover, Minhas and many others.

    Pen shows had started before there was an internet, before there were more than a handful of books and magazines about pens, when the only way to buy modern pens was from store or from catalogue (few at that) and when the only way to buy old pens was to find them, to buy from the very few sources (eg. Lawrence's PFM) that offered them retail, to go to a (also rare) local gathering or show to trade or to buy from those who had found old pens. Even as shows became more formal things, vintage dominated.

    Unlike my original thead with the 58-pens-in-30-minutes chat, in which some lamented that Sunday (the affordable public day) saw “retail only” sales by table holders, a position with which I somewhat disagree, in the old days Sunday was a major opportunity for bargains, since for those who had come to a pen show, paying for flights, table, hotel, food (today, this can run more than $1000 per show, and there is no guarantee of earning it back in sales), that once or twice per year event was their main chance to sell at anything other than steeeeep wholesale to the couple known dealers.

    Thus, on Sunday afternoon, facing taking all that stock home for another six months, many table holders were very happy to sell a bunch of pens at discount. The fellow with fat wallet could do quite well at 3pm on Sunday. This is far less so today, as in the era of Ebay, Message Boards, personal Websites and other online venues, returning home from pen shows with one's stock in hand is well less anxiety provoking to those who actually feel the need to move stock than it was back then

    Realize too that most of the people you encounter online, even seemingly “big names”, are still Second Fandom within the organized hobby of collectable pendom, that hobby dating arguably to 1977 when Cliff published his first book, lending a sense of organization to what had once been merely individuals hunting something they liked to hoard. Many of us date to the 1990's in the hobby, well seasoned now with 15-25 years in play, but still not the First Fandom starting in the early '80s or earlier, those who found oodles of pens at flea markets and via ads in newspapers, local circulars, the occasional national antiques mag. It was via pen shows that most of us met first fandom, the truly early players. It is at pen shows that today's newbies meet the major forces in our hobby, mostly made up of Second Fandom players

    Pen Shows today are a bit of a different beast, most dominated by modern pens, featuring tables held not just by collectors but by dedicated full time retailers of (usually) modern pens. Some shows can cost more than $1000 to attend, factoring in Hotel, Travel, Table, Food, Drink. It can be argued that modern pen collecting in America owes a great deal to the evolution of pen shows created by collectors of old pens, stimulating interest in fountain pens in general here in the USA where there were very few products available in the USA by the mid 1980's.

    I do poke a bit at the touchy-feely element that pops up a bit on internet pen chat. Realize that those who take tables at shows do so to buy and to sell pens at prices they deem appropriate, prices based on their experience, and on their choices regarding positioning themselves in the overall market. Some will succeed more than others. Many of course are happy to encourage newbies, at least philosophically, but complaining that a dealer is failing to energize the new population by cutting is price in half on some pen one just must have, is akin to opining that Lexus is failing to create a customer base if it does not drop price on its coupe from $44,000 to $31,000 to facilitate my buying one. There in fact is huge opportunity to bargain and to find bargains at pen shows, but invoking some sort of obligation on behalf of those selling their own pens seems to me not to be reasonable.

    Am I “connected” when it comes to buying pens, particularly old pens? Maybe. I'm known, I have an active website, I've networked with collectors for fifteen years, I can buy collections en masse when the time for that is right and when the opportunity presents itself. I know the market enough to pay a fair wholesale price while having the outlet to market pens to allow me to do that. It took me four years after college to become a doctor, one more year to get a license to practice, two years beyond that (completing Residency) to become Board Eligible then Certified. 7 years. I'm not sure how good I am at pen collecting, though I harbor conceit about being a pretty good doctor. But, if one can become a practicing doctor in 7 years, the active pursuit of collecting, including buying/selling/appraising, should allow for a hefty skill set/market role after 15 years in play. And I say that accounting for Richard's frequent screed that “Some people get ten years experience in ten years; some people get just one year of experience ten times over”. Not everyone grows into a force in buying/selling either d/t skills or d/t direction. Not everyone wants that. I know some 30 year veteran collectors who never have sold a pen.

    Do bargains happen at pen shows? Yes. They can happen freshly, without prior connection, without collections “meeting” one at the show (brough to the show for a pre-made deal). They can involve chunky collections. To do so with entire collections though requires a bit of luck, the ability to fairly rapidly evaluate a collection for a reasonable wholesale-retail spread and for its affordability on one's budget. If one has $20k to spend even tapping reserves, a $100k collection (wholesale value) just won't happen, though there are approaches even to that situation (partnerships, etc). But, more important than assessing the collection, when one wishes to buy pens en masse at pen show, is assessing the potential seller. This can be tricky. Figuring out directly or indirectly that someone is amenable to selling a large bunch of pens and is not holding out for retail price on each pen takes... practice. Being willing to take a whole collection or a diffuse chunk of it can be key. You can't walk over to sellers after watching a mass deal occur and hope to get one pen at a proportional price. Doesn't work that way. Learning to judge who is ready to leave the hobby and who is a full time retailer in no rush takes.. practice.

    The collection I bought at LA this year is a prime example. It did not meet me there. The seller had had no particular plan to sell it to me. He did not have a firm plan how to sell it. He had a hoard of mostly near-modern pens he in turn had bought en masse years ago. I won't... and really cannot... offer a protocol to you for how to do that dance, but I explored with him if he was up for a mass sale. I discussed how it could work from my perspective. I found out if my view was in sync with his view. Had he not been up for mass sale, had my view of value been out of sync with his, I would have passed. There were plenty of people who had for sale as many pens of this sort, but had a goal set not in sync with my approach. I don't complain about that or about them. I just moved on. I myself would not (at least not in my current state of life) have sold the pens at the price I bought them. Someone approaching me could not have made this deal, were the pens mine. That's the gam. But, the arrangement of pens, the discusison that ensued suggested this was my kind of deal. Pen bud Ed Fingerman (First Fandom no doubt) who was hanging out during the chat (and who was making similar overtures) and I each took a a huge chunk of the fountain pens, and were able to skip the BP/RB/Pencils for the most part. The few nice vintage pens were icing on the cake. And after all that, a hefty degree of bargaining still was required. Here are those pens; absent are one of the black/pearl Duofolds, a Mosaic Duofold and a purple Connaisser by Sheaffer, all of which I in turn sold from my table within a day. I bought these on Friday, and early trading day.

    To buy modern-ish pens at good prices one also should recognize the sweet spot in depreciation for these things. Most modern pens lose value within a couple years of issue. Some never regain it. Some do, but usually after a lull. Some dealer/collectors have made a business of buying hoards of these things near nadir, then waiting sometimes 5-10 years for the pens to gain a collector following. This can be risky. But, they don't expect to find recent issue high demand pens at bargain prices. There might be a lesson there for those unhappy about attending a pen show and not finding a recent issue high demand pen at bargain price



    Ahhh.. pen shows, no doubt one of my key joys in the hobby.

    When you go to a pen show, you should consider paying the $50 to be an Early Trader, to join the fun 2-3 days before the “retail day”, for those shows that still reserve Sunday for that. At least several multi-thousand dollar vintage pens traded hands Thursday and Friday. Keep in mind that four figures is non-trivial for an old pen, though modern monstrosities-- I mean masterpieces-- cross that line indeed rather trivially. The people who bought those old pens did not get bargains. What those Early Traders got via early attendance was... access. Of course, to appreciate that one must be steeped in the hobby enough to recognize what is special to serious collectors. I see and can turn down all day Parker Vacumatic Senior Maxima. But the two little Vacumatic prototypes I scored at this show? Just marvelous.

    Bargains for the non-connected non-player? They happen. Anyone could have bought the Stipula Etruria 991 tenth-anniversary pen that was sitting on a collector's table this weekend. I don't collect modern pens, though if I did so, Etruria would probably be the one with which I were to start. I had the original fat cigar amber pen back in 1997, a few years old already iirc, back before I was into old pens, found at Bertram's Inkwell at nice discount from retail. I regret selling it. During the 15 years since the Etruria that most appealed to me was the 991. Vintage-look cellulose acetate with glorious trim. I think it retailed $700, eventually drifted down in a couple years (there is that pattern again) to $350 or so, now back up selling around retail. I found one in box on a table asking $275. So I bought it. But, the price hardly was special for me. Hell, some of the “special prices” for me at pen shows are prices raised above normal, by those anticipating negotiation when I wander through But, this was a rare Happy David modern pen buy, no doubt.

    Realize that at the pen show, traders have a huge agenda range. Some need (whether admitted or not) or just want to blow out half a collection. Others are secure retailers with (today) a huge internet buying base or with a large brick-and-morter operation. They are quite fine with your not buying a pen because they won't cut it below a gray-market internet price. Bargaining, whining, wheedling, posturing... won't help. Others are collectors like you, who take a table to move a few pens and to have a place to chill. No joke, after my first two pen shows (Boston and Philly) in 1999, I ended up taking a half table at my next show even though I had nothing to sell, just to have a place to rest. Pen shows are more exhausting for me than a 12 hour shift at the hospital. But, the collector-owned tables do offer opportunity, for deals both on new and on old pens. But, watch out for those with problems, revealed and hidden. You can get taken for a ride on a pen that has been, as we say, played with. But, collector-tables offer better chance to trade, better chance to find a new-ish pen that was bought to begin with below retail and that is not dear to the owner's heart, perhaps to be offered for less still than its original cost to him. But, again, you have to explore the psychology involved and have to know your market. There is no tag to wear that says, “I came to pen show only to find a discounted pen, so damn it, sell me a discounted pen!”

    So, Sunday. Sunday used to be a day for bargains because many sellers had no outlet to sell pens besides the show. That day is gone. Pens you see on tables in some cases have traded hands a couple times at the show, priced up each time. Big collections offering bargains have been scooped up. Many owners don't mind taking pens home https://zumbaliciouscrew.com/en/zumba-for-beginners/ to sell on websites or on ebay, but still there are opportunities.

    My suggestion is go to the pen show for what it offers uniquely, an opportunity to immerse in the culture of collectable pendom among a horde of like minded collectors. Connect to the connected crowd and/or old guard. Do dinners. Sit in the lobby on Friday until 1 am and talk to those who have been to dozens of these, who have owned and/or sold some of the Great Pens. Circle the bourse on Thursday and Friday, when there is no public crowd pressure and show you gem pens to those who sit behind the tables. You might be surprised what you learn. Acquiring superficial pen knowledge and learning the trappings and simple facts today is perhaps depressingly easy. What once took major hunting of info now often requires just reading a book or peeking at an online profile or seeking crowd-sourced answers on message boards, the latter sometimes of dubious value. If you talk to some who are First or Second Fandom, you might hear some disdain for the mass answers found online, where five newbies who “know” shout down a valuable tidit offered by a Nishimura, Erano, Hamilton. But, gaining depth of knowledge is difficult even today. Pen shows give you the chance to see how seasoned collectors interact, to watch a 30 minute back and forth about clip evolution for the Parker Vacumatic, to preview new pen books, to watch restoration masters do their work. You might find a Visconti at lower price than the best gray-market website, but you might not. But, you should be going to pen shows for reasons beyond bottom feeding on a specific pen.

    Different shows offer different opportunities. LA is a massive show and one of the best in my view. The last five years I have done my largest scale show buying for my website and collection at this show. But Sunday indeed is nuts, probably the biggest public presence on any pen show on any day. You won't catch the pen show culture or benefit from the willingness to share wisdom by dealer/collectors if you go only then.

    Thoughts?

    Regards

    David
    David, I wanted to express my gratitude for the invaluable insights and guidance you consistently offer. Your contributions are truly enriching, and they underscore your dedication to our shared passion for pen collecting and the unique culture it encompasses. Much like Roger Cromwell's early teachings, your perspective has been instrumental in helping enthusiasts like me identify their niche within this diverse realm. Your personal experiences and the way you've charted your journey serve as a compass for newcomers, making it easier for them to navigate the multifaceted world of pens. Your passion shines through not only in your knowledge but also in your exquisite documentation of the pens you curate. It's a privilege to learn from you at each show, and your mentorship is always an enjoyable aspect of our shared journey. Your clarifications and insights, as demonstrated once again, are certain to benefit many, both now and in the future. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our community.

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    Default Re: Pen Show Dynamics. Los Angeles and far more...

    Quote Originally Posted by david i View Post
    Pen Show Dynamics.

    My thread about one of the cases full of pens I bought at the Los Angeles Pen Show last weekend prompted discussion about a number of issues related to pen shows, particularly the pricing of pens found there, the difference in tenor of the show on different days within the four day event, and the hunting of pens at good prices. That thread can be seen here, with more eye candy yet to come (as of Feb 19)


    http://www.fpgeeks.com/forum/showthr...14-Booty-Shots

    Some frustration was expressed that buyers did not find bargains. I don't begrudge that emotion, and certainly will not endeavor to talk anyone out of such feelings/positions, but I figured it was time to address some of the larger issues about pen shows, to put things a bit in perspective. I certainly am not new to the pen show experience. I've been to more than 100 in my 15+ years in our hobby, and- hell- I still consider myself a proud hack amateur newbie, though some have given me grief for that claim. Something tells me this will end up as a Profile over at Vacumania.com

    Here are a couple of some of the reviews I did ten years ago 2003. You might recognize some of us, a bit thinner, with darker hair...

    Los Angeles 2003. For Stylophiles Online. 11 years later I still share room with Mike Dvoretz. Show host Boris, now 82, has not been able to attend the last few years. I bought some gem old pens from him back when.

    http://www.stylophilesonline.com/archive/jan03/03la.htm

    Philadelphia 2003, run by Berliner Pen, no longer an active dealer, though I'm happy to run into Geoff and Bernie here and there.

    Philly http://www.stylophilesonline.com/arc...an03/03phl.htm

    My friend Richard, who I met via pen shows long before he set up restoring pens on site, when he was hawking post cards with pens shown on vintage scenes/advertising, offered a guide to the show scene on his website, essentially a synthesis of jabber engaged in by those of us who ponder such things (as both of us do), but of course from Richard's perspective on it.

    “First Show” by Richard.

    http://www.richardspens.com/?page=re.../firstshow.htm

    And, “rules” by Susan Wirth, hosted by Richard, back in 2004. Susan's points are well taken, even if the Internet is bigger today than it was even then. While we had some listservs, and one threaded board, there were no forum-based pen message boards online then, yet most of us managed to do just fine. Those of you who are unhappy with pen pricing set by table holders probably should at least consider Susan's points.

    http://www.richardspens.com/?page=re...ules_wirth.htm


    Pen shows started back in the very early 1980's, and while pen friends already had hosted occasional home gatherings, the meetings in Don Lavin's basement in Chicago served as nidus for what became the first formal Pen Show, the Chicago Pen Show, now more than 30 years old and still running. Pen Shows started as vintage events, trading amongst collectors who still found many pens in the wild, when Cliff Lawrence's paperback guide and Pen Fancier's Magazine were not yet enough to set well defined structure for pen pricing such as we have today. Baskets full of old unrestored pens were tossed on tables, trading was based perhaps more on “Oooh, I like this one” as “But, my Wahl Decoband is worth $50 but your Parker red double jewel Vac Major is worth only $30; you need to come up with more for the trade”. Rivalry existed for “finding the best pen in the show”, and it really was as much or more about finding something neat as today it is “paying big bucks to buy something special”. If you're not sure of the difference, you need to spend more time at pen show dinners with me, Erano, Wirth, Binder, Lehrer, Nishimura, Hoover, Minhas and many others.

    Pen shows had started before there was an internet, before there were more than a handful of books and magazines about pens, when the only way to buy modern pens was from store or from catalogue (few at that) and when the only way to buy old pens was to find them, to buy from the very few sources (eg. Lawrence's PFM) that offered them retail, to go to a (also rare) local gathering or show to trade or to buy from those who had found old pens. Even as shows became more formal things, vintage dominated.

    Unlike my original thead with the 58-pens-in-30-minutes chat, in which some lamented that Sunday (the affordable public day) saw “retail only” sales by table holders, a position with which I somewhat disagree, in the old days Sunday was a major opportunity for bargains, since for those who had come to a pen show, paying for flights, table, hotel, food (today, this can run more than $1000 per show, and there is no guarantee of earning it back in sales), that once or twice per year event was their main chance to sell at anything other than steeeeep wholesale to the couple known dealers.

    Thus, on Sunday afternoon, facing taking all that stock home for another six months, many table holders were very happy to sell a bunch of pens at discount. The fellow with fat wallet could do quite well at 3pm on Sunday. This is far less so today, as in the era of Ebay, Message Boards, personal Websites and other online venues, returning home from pen shows with one's stock in hand is well less anxiety provoking to those who actually feel the need to move stock than it was back then

    Realize too that most of the people you encounter online, even seemingly “big names”, are still Second Fandom within the organized hobby of collectable pendom, that hobby dating arguably to 1977 when Cliff published his first book, lending a sense of organization to what had once been merely individuals hunting something they liked to hoard. Many of us date to the 1990's in the hobby, well seasoned now with 15-25 years in play, but still not the First Fandom starting in the early '80s or earlier, those who found oodles of pens at flea markets and via ads in newspapers, local circulars, the occasional national antiques mag. It was via pen shows that most of us met first fandom, the truly early players. It is at pen shows that today's newbies meet the major forces in our hobby, mostly made up of Second Fandom players

    Pen Shows today are a bit of a different beast, most dominated by modern pens, featuring tables held not just by collectors but by dedicated full time retailers of (usually) modern pens. Some shows can cost more than $1000 to attend, factoring in Hotel, Travel, Table, Food, Drink. It can be argued that modern pen collecting in America owes a great deal to the evolution of pen shows created by collectors of old pens, stimulating interest in fountain pens in general here in the USA where there were very few products available in the USA by the mid 1980's.

    I do poke a bit at the touchy-feely element that pops up a bit on internet pen chat. Realize that those who take tables at shows do so to buy and to sell pens at prices they deem appropriate, prices based on their experience, and on their choices regarding positioning themselves in the overall market. Some will succeed more than others. Many of course are happy to encourage newbies, at least philosophically, but complaining that a dealer is failing to energize the new population by cutting is price in half on some pen one just must have, is akin to opining that Lexus is failing to create a customer base if it does not drop price on its coupe from $44,000 to $31,000 to facilitate my buying one. There in fact is huge opportunity to bargain and to find bargains at pen shows, but invoking some sort of obligation on behalf of those selling their own pens seems to me not to be reasonable.

    Am I “connected” when it comes to buying pens, particularly old pens? Maybe. I'm known, I have an active website, I've networked with collectors for fifteen years, I can buy collections en masse when the time for that is right and when the opportunity presents itself. I know the market enough to pay a fair wholesale price while having the outlet to market pens to allow me to do that. It took me four years after college to become a doctor, one more year to get a license to practice, two years beyond that (completing Residency) to become Board Eligible then Certified. 7 years. I'm not sure how good I am at pen collecting, though I harbor conceit about being a pretty good doctor. But, if one can become a practicing doctor in 7 years, the active pursuit of collecting, including buying/selling/appraising, should allow for a hefty skill set/market role after 15 years in play. And I say that accounting for Richard's frequent screed that “Some people get ten years experience in ten years; some people get just one year of experience ten times over”. Not everyone grows into a force in buying/selling either d/t skills or d/t direction. Not everyone wants that. I know some 30 year veteran collectors who never have sold a pen.

    Do bargains happen at pen shows? Yes. They can happen freshly, without prior connection, without collections “meeting” one at the show (brough to the show for a pre-made deal). They can involve chunky collections. To do so with entire collections though requires a bit of luck, the ability to fairly rapidly evaluate a collection for a reasonable wholesale-retail spread and for its affordability on one's budget. If one has $20k to spend even tapping reserves, a $100k collection (wholesale value) just won't happen, though there are approaches even to that situation (partnerships, etc). But, more important than assessing the collection, when one wishes to buy pens en masse at pen show, is assessing the potential seller. This can be tricky. Figuring out directly or indirectly that someone is amenable to selling a large bunch of pens and is not holding out for retail price on each pen takes... practice. Being willing to take a whole collection or a diffuse chunk of it can be key. You can't walk over to sellers after watching a mass deal occur and hope to get one pen at a proportional price. Doesn't work that way. Learning to judge who is ready to leave the hobby and who is a full time retailer in no rush takes.. practice.

    The collection I bought at LA this year is a prime example. It did not meet me there. The seller had had no particular plan to sell it to me. He did not have a firm plan how to sell it. He had a hoard of mostly near-modern pens he in turn had bought en masse years ago. I won't... and really cannot... offer a protocol to you for how to do that dance, but I explored with him if he was up for a mass sale. I discussed how it could work from my perspective. I found out if my view was in sync with his view. Had he not been up for mass sale, had my view of value been out of sync with his, I would have passed. There were plenty of people who had for sale as many pens of this sort, but had a goal set not in sync with my approach. I don't complain about that or about them. I just moved on. I myself would not (at least not in my current state of life) have sold the pens at the price I bought them. Someone approaching me could not have made this deal, were the pens mine. That's the gam. But, the arrangement of pens, the discusison that ensued suggested this was my kind of deal. Pen bud Ed Fingerman (First Fandom no doubt) who was hanging out during the chat (and who was making similar overtures) and I each took a a huge chunk of the fountain pens, and were able to skip the BP/RB/Pencils for the most part. The few nice vintage pens were icing on the cake. And after all that, a hefty degree of bargaining still was required. Here are those pens; absent are one of the black/pearl Duofolds, a Mosaic Duofold and a purple Connaisser by Sheaffer, all of which I in turn sold from my table within a day. I bought these on Friday, and early trading day.

    To buy modern-ish pens at good prices one also should recognize the sweet spot in depreciation for these things. Most modern pens lose value within a couple years of issue. Some never regain it. Some do, but usually after a lull. Some dealer/collectors have made a business of buying hoards of these things near nadir, then waiting sometimes 5-10 years for the pens to gain a collector following. This can be risky. But, they don't expect to find recent issue high demand pens at bargain prices. There might be a lesson there for those unhappy about attending a pen show and not finding a recent issue high demand pen at bargain price



    Ahhh.. pen shows, no doubt one of my key joys in the hobby.

    When you go to a pen show, you should consider paying the $50 to be an Early Trader, to join the fun 2-3 days before the “retail day”, for those shows that still reserve Sunday for that. At least several multi-thousand dollar vintage pens traded hands Thursday and Friday. Keep in mind that four figures is non-trivial for an old pen, though modern monstrosities-- I mean masterpieces-- cross that line indeed rather trivially. The people who bought those old pens did not get bargains. What those Early Traders got via early attendance was... access. Of course, to appreciate that one must be steeped in the hobby enough to recognize what is special to serious collectors. I see and can turn down all day Parker Vacumatic Senior Maxima. But the two little Vacumatic prototypes I scored at this show? Just marvelous.

    Bargains for the non-connected non-player? They happen. Anyone could have bought the Stipula Etruria 991 tenth-anniversary pen that was sitting on a collector's table this weekend. I don't collect modern pens, though if I did so, Etruria would probably be the one with which I were to start. I had the original fat cigar amber pen back in 1997, a few years old already iirc, back before I was into old pens, found at Bertram's Inkwell at nice discount from retail. I regret selling it. During the 15 years since the Etruria that most appealed to me was the 991. Vintage-look cellulose acetate with glorious trim. I think it retailed $700, eventually drifted down in a couple years (there is that pattern again) to $350 or so, now back up selling around retail. I found one in box on a table asking $275. So I bought it. But, the price hardly was special for me. Hell, some of the “special prices” for me at pen shows are prices raised above normal, by those anticipating negotiation when I wander through But, this was a rare Happy David modern pen buy, no doubt.

    Realize that at the pen show, traders have a huge agenda range. Some need (whether admitted or not) or just zumba online class want to blow out half a collection. Others are secure retailers with (today) a huge internet buying base or with a large brick-and-morter operation. They are quite fine with your not buying a pen because they won't cut it below a gray-market internet price. Bargaining, whining, wheedling, posturing... won't help. Others are collectors like you, who take a table to move a few pens and to have a place to chill. No joke, after my first two pen shows (Boston and Philly) in 1999, I ended up taking a half table at my next show even though I had nothing to sell, just to have a place to rest. Pen shows are more exhausting for me than a 12 hour shift at the hospital. But, the collector-owned tables do offer opportunity, for deals both on new and on old pens. But, watch out for those with problems, revealed and hidden. You can get taken for a ride on a pen that has been, as we say, played with. But, collector-tables offer better chance to trade, better chance to find a new-ish pen that was bought to begin with below retail and that is not dear to the owner's heart, perhaps to be offered for less still than its original cost to him. But, again, you have to explore the psychology involved and have to know your market. There is no tag to wear that says, “I came to pen show only to find a discounted pen, so damn it, sell me a discounted pen!”

    So, Sunday. Sunday used to be a day for bargains because many sellers had no outlet to sell pens besides the show. That day is gone. Pens you see on tables in some cases have traded hands a couple times at the show, priced up each time. Big collections offering bargains have been scooped up. Many owners don't mind taking pens home to sell on websites or on ebay, but still there are opportunities.


    Regards

    David
    David, your insights add a wealth of knowledge and depth to the discussion! I greatly appreciate the thoughtful effort you've invested in crafting this post. Your contribution goes beyond being informative; it's a genuine guide for anyone looking to delve into the captivating world of pen collecting, especially within the unique ambiance of pen shows.

    Much like Roger Cromwell's early teachings on identifying one's role as a pen enthusiast—whether a user, collector, investor, or a blend of these—you've eloquently shared your own experiences. Your perspective not only refines goals but also helps individuals solidify their identity within the diverse realm of penmanship.

    Your narrative, drawing from your personal journey, serves as a valuable resource for newcomers, offering insights on how to navigate the intricate world of pens. Your accomplishments and the way you've achieved your goals are not only inspiring but also serve as a compass for those embarking on their own pen-collecting adventure.

    I echo the sentiment that learning from you at pen shows is always a joy. Your ability to amass and manage an impressive collection is admirable, and your dedication to documenting, photographing, and cataloging pens for posterity is a gift to the community.

    Thank you once again for your clarifying comments—they undoubtedly shed light on the intricacies of pen collecting and will undoubtedly guide many enthusiasts as they venture forward in their own pen journeys. Your mentorship at the shows is a true asset to the community.

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