Dear Blog Friends,
This actually isn’t a blog post. What it is is a report of the LA Pen Show for my friends on the Pentrace. Since I can’t figure out how to post photos on Pentrace, I’m writing my show report here. You are, of course, welcome to read it, but if you aren’t a pen collector, it might be not your cup of tea.
Okay, to the show report. First and foremost, if you live (as I currently do) on the East Coast, it’s deepest, darkest chilliest winter. This long Presidential and Valentines weekend, the Polar Vortex has New England (and most of Canada) in its grip, but I have flown away to the Left Coast. Here in SoCal, the lowest temps we see are in the 60’s. It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s a shot of the front of the show hotel, the venerable Manhattan Beach Marriott:
The LA Show has been held here for nearly 20 years, and amazingly enough, many of the hotel staff are still the same and greet us each year with warm smiles and amazing service. It truly is one of the delights of the weekend. The hotel is well situated near a lot of great restaurants, but the true salvation for the show is Bristol Farms, an upscale deli/grocery store nearby that sees a steady stream of pen folks all day long, happier for not having to deal with the overpriced hotel restaurant.
Before I get into show details, I want to post a picture of our genial Pentrace host, Giovanni Abrate. If you haven’t had a chance to meet him in person, you are in for a treat when you finally do. Giovanni, in addition to being a great support of the hobby, has been in the field since Hector was a pup and shares his passion and his knowledge with one and all:
The show normally fills a large ballroom and then spills into a long hallway that surrounds the ballroom. This year there was a bit of a kerfuffle on Friday because an Accenture conference took up part of our space for half the day, creating some cozy conditions that made most of us a little grouchy. But we bore it well, and here’s a shot of pen business going on regardless:
LA is a big show, and many of the exhibitors and traders have been coming for many years. Among the regulars are John Mottishaw and his Classic Fountain Pen crew (aka nibs.com), Susan Wirth, Sam and Frank Fiorella of Pendemonium, Pen World Magazine, Brian Gray of Edison Pens, Jimmy Dolive of Total Office Products, Joel Hamilton and Sherrell Tyree of Inkpen, Stuart Hamilton, Jim Leonard, and David Hood from my former club in Portland, Oregon, Lisa and Brian Anderson of Anderson Pens, Fred Krinke of the Fountain Pen Shop in Monrovia, local legend John King Tarkanian, Carmer Rivera, Bay Area stalwarts John Stother, Danny Aarons, and Phil Moss, Detlef Bittner from Bittner Pens in Carmel, local nibmeister Greg Minuskin and Georgia nibwonder Mike “Mike It Work” Matsuyama, the Franklin Christoph team from North Carolina, Montblanc Jedi Knight Osman Sumer, Croatian pen wizard Miroslav Tischler, and many, many more.
I am fortunate this year to work with Rick Propas, the PENguin, helping him show and sell his amazing collection of Pelikans and other makes and models of writing instruments. Here’s a shot of some of Rick’s prime offerings:
But perhaps what makes pen shows the most amazing is the sheer serendipity and coincidence that happens under your nose and all around you. On Friday afternoon group of Portuguese wine geeks brought in a bunch of bread and cheese a couple tables away from me and cracked open a case of wine. The resulting feeding frenzy was a sight to behold:
So there’s a little taste of our time in LA this year. All I can say is – if you haven’t been to a show, do try to go. There’s probably one within driving distance of wherever you are in the US (okay, aside from Alaska and Hawaii). And if you have gone, go again. This is a wonderful group of folks and a wonderful opportunity to feel like you’re at summer camp again, this time with credit cards. Thanks to everyone who is here this weekend with me.