Welcome to The Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show!!!!!
The Annual Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show was held March 2 – 4, 2018, at the Marriott Inner Harbor Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. The show was run by Bert Oser and his staff from Bertram’s Inkwell of Rockville, MD. This was a new location for this show and it was the perfect venue. There were plenty of restaurant options with nearby parking and attractions if you needed to take a break from the show, but let’s be honest… why would you want to? This was my fourth year attending this show and I brought my father, Terry, with me. You could find everything from vintage to new pens, pencils, inks, papers, writing paraphernalia, classes, and accessories. There were also after-hours events, including a mini concert by Larry Ragland of Points of Distinction (the U.S. Diplomat importer). I want to bring you some of the sights from the show to help you feel like you were there.
Arriving at the show…
We parked at a nearby parking garage and after a brief but very cold walk, we arrived at the hotel. The hotel staff was very accommodating and helped direct us to the location of the show. After a quick stop for coffee at the hotel’s restaurant, we were ready to start the show. The show was spread out over a long hallway and two rooms branching off.
Entering the show…
The hallway began with a PenWorld Magazine table by the registration table. Further down the hall was a really impressive display of over 350 Victorian pencils dating from 1825-1920. Across from the pencil display was the always fun to speak with Mario Campa from Toys from the Attic.
The Big Show!!!
There were two side rooms off the hall with more vendors. The layout was very well thought out. The spacing of the vendor tables allowed plenty of room for traffic and easy table access without bumping into other pen enthusiasts. Many of the well-known names from the Fountain Pen community were present, as pictured below. My dad made an appearance in the first shot holding a coffee cup while deciding which Franklin-Christoph pocket notebook to purchase. He selected a brown fabric notebook to go alone with the denim one he already owns.
Bertram’s Inkwell’s table, which was run by the wonderful Adam, offered anything and everything you could want related to pens, ink, and refills.
Brian and Lisa Anderson from Anderson Pens were there. Brian and Lisa, as always, had great pen show finds to show off and jokes and stories to tell. They brought a wide collection of pens, pencils, paper, inks, and cases to sell.
Tom Harvey, owner of The Pen Guardian, had his amazing pen cases available in a variety of colors and styles.
Vito and Gabe from Story Supply Co. were selling their amazing pocket notebooks and journals, which I highly recommend and own a number of.
Michael’s Pens was in attendance, with a selection of U.S.-made fountain, rollerball, and ball-point pens, with really unique and eye-catching designs. My personal favorite is their Teslacoil model fountain pen.
Frank and Mark from Federalist Pens and Paper were present with a large selection of pens, pencils, and inks. These brothers are always a joy to speak and will gladly share their wealth of knowledge about pens.
Lisa Vanness of Vanness Pens had a wonderful selection of inks from all around the world. I brought home a few of the new Monteverde inks: Sapphire, Olivine, and Moonstone.
Mike Allen of The Woodshed Pen Co. had a great selection of pens he made and beautiful pen blanks for sale.
One of my favorite tables at the show wasn’t a vendor. It was a Pay-It-Forward table that was run by Oscar Rodriguez, “Penthusiast_Oscar” on Instagram. The whole goal of this table was to give out fountain pen starter kits for kids and beginners that contained: a pen, some ink, and paper. Also, if you donated new or used pens, ink, or paper, you could take an item from the table free of charge. I donated a few pens and some ink and picked up a really cool Monteverde pen that I hadn’t seen before. I think this is a wonderful idea and I would love to see this spread to more pen shows.
Many other great vendors were present, as well, including Franklin-Christoph, J.J. Lax Pen Co., Bexley Pen Co., Carolina Pen Co., Kenro Inc., and Ralph from the BYOB Pen podcast and @reachingralph (on Instagram). Seminars were held throughout the weekend with topics covering: Copper Plate calligraphy, Journaling, How to Build a Great Fountain Pen Collection, Ink demonstrations, Italic calligraphy, the History of Pelikan Fountain Pens, and Nib smoothing and tuning.
Saturday night ended with two after-hours events once the show ended. The first was a lounge hour with the musical stylings of Larry Ragland from Points of Distinction. This was a great way to end a show and wind down. My father and I sat with Larry’s daughter, Hillary, and Adam from Bertram’s Inkwell and had a wonderful discussion about pens and ink. We were also able to try the whole product line from Diplomat Pens. Later that evening there was a pen meetup hosted by Kenro Inc. and Cary Yeager (Fountain Pen Day), although I was unable to attend this due to time constraints.
The new venue for the Baltimore-Washington International Pen show is a wonderful location and I hope the show takes place there next year, as well. The variety of vendors and products covered everything that a pen enthusiast could ever want or need. Bert did a great job putting together this show and I can’t wait to see what he puts together for next year.