How many of you have been to a pen show? If you have even a passing interest in writing utensils, but have not gone to one, I urge you to fix this right away.
There are few experiences in this shared hobby of ours quite like a pen show. When walking into one of these trade shows, the feeling is electric. As it is a niche industry, pen hobbyists are usually solitary in their interests. But at a pen show, people are allowed to fully express and share their passion with others. At any table, you’ll find conversations ranging from the best Parker to collect to people trading washi tape to debates on which nib is the best for calligraphy. And over all those conversations is the pleasant din of the nib grinders’ machines whirring at tables across the venue.
The people one meets at a pen show is just as exciting. From well-dressed business men to alternative-style collectors to mom-and-pop shops, there is an array of people at every show that all come together for their shared passion. It’s this mixture of cultures and economic or social backgrounds which is a testament to the wide-reaching interests that pens have over, well, just about everyone. There are few hobbies that transcend social lines so effectively and a pen show really does mirror the “real world” in terms of the various people you can meet at one.
Finally, attending a pen show is a great way to actually see the pens up-close-and-personal. Shops dedicated to pens aren’t as common as they used to be, so having brands set up their goods for you to see in a city close to you takes away the problem of location, while also letting you see in-person pens you’d otherwise only experience online. This is especially important in the pen world, to actually touch and feel a pen versus just simply ordering online, as the relationship between pen, ink, nib, and writer is truly unique and it’s best to test out something in person.
And, what’s more, many brands offer discounts or exclusive swag at shows that otherwise aren’t available online – all the more reason to attend one!
As you can tell, I’m a huge advocate of pen shows and try to attend when and where I can. The next show I’ll be attending will be the Dutch Pen Show. This show, scheduled for Sunday, June 4, will be the first international show I attend and I’m looking forward to meeting like-minded people while there. Being a central show for the European market, I’m sure that there will be many new brands I discover and friends I make during the weekend. And while I don’t speak a word of Dutch, pens are an international language all their own and I’m sure I’ll be able to find common ground with attendees from all over the world while there!