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Dallas Pen Show - Day 1

Fr. Kyle Sanders


Welcome to my newest online abode, Reverenced Writing. It was not my intention to start this blog off with my thoughts on the Dallas Pen Show, but that is what has happended. 

I had heard about pen shows before and I was excitd to experience one. The place of the Cowboys and George W. Bush seemed a likely market for fine pens. I found the Dallas Pen Club, who hosts the show, to be a vibrant pen community with 30 or so active memebers with total memebership being towards 90. It also helped to have a local pen company like Retro 51 sponsor the show. 

It had been recommended that I come with two things: a budget and a list. I saved up money for about six months and had a few things in mind: 

- a Franklin-Christoph Ice pen (what size and nib I would decide at the show)

- a Franklin-Christoph sugar paper notebook

- an Esterbrook (something my collection lacked) 

- a Delta Dolce Vita (that orange seemed too stunning to pass up) 

- a special edition Retro 51 (I figured they would bring things to the show one couldn't get easily on the open market) 

A view of the show

A view of the show

This list was in my mind, but all I can tell you is a list is of no good if you aren't faithful to it, because a pen show, for a pen addict, is sort of like setting a shoe-a-holic in the closet of Imelda Marcos. There is so much to choose from; you just don't know what to choose. There are so many beautiful pens, so many unique objects. Oh, I've only seen this pen in pictures! "Can I pick it up?" I just picked up an $8,000 pen, and no one yelled at me. What is this place of wonder? Am I in a dream? Did you just let me write with this pen which costs more than a used car? Wait they still make that pen? This pen is seriously older than my dad. I felt like a squirrel running around a grove of oak trees. I can't put all the acorns in my mouth! Noooooooooo!

Confession: everytime I told someone this was my first pen show they asked the same question, "Are you overwhlemed?" I said "no" every time, but looking back, yes, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. 

As I continue along with my story, there grew two interwoven lines: the people and the pens. Part of a pen show is the many pens to look at, try, and, for the vendors, hopefully purchase. The other part is the people, the pen community as a whole who have gathered here to proliferate pen culture. So through my story, I hope to share both with you.  

Shawn Newton and his wife

Shawn Newton and his wife

I started the day in the near manic state explained above. What brought me back down to earth was the people. I met ever so briefly the Anderson's whose podcast I enjoy. I met a nice genletman from Retro 51. I introduced myself to the Little Rock contigent of Lisa Vanness, of Vanness pens, and Shawn Newton, who makes his own beautiful pens. I returned back to them often for great conversation. I also connected with a man whose name I cannot recall, but who wore Hawaiian shirts the whole weekend. He was kind and open enough to share his booty everytime I walked by his table. The surprise though was as I walked into the area where the silent auction was held, right outside the show itself, I saw a familiar sight, a Saints jersey. One of the Dallas Pen Club members was originally from New Orleans. She made me feel at home in a place dominated by Cowboys fans.

Walking around I found quite a few sellers with Esterbrooks. I found the Franklin-Christoph table. I saw a small number of Dolce Vitas at two different tables. The Dolce Vita has been a  grail pen for a long time. The orange reminded me of close images of the sun, dynamic, luminescent, and untameable. Then I picked up the pen and, despite its attractiveness, it had eveything that turns me off to a pen. It was too wide for my small hands. It's grip wasn't terribly comfortable. It's girth and weight outweighed its beauty and price. So it moved from a grail pen to if-I-win-the-lottery pen. So early on the in the first day, I had this freedom of budget that took me searching. What will replace the Dolce Vita? 

Mr. Masuyama with an audience 

Mr. Masuyama with an audience 

At the beginning of the day, I signed up in Mike Masuyama's line for him repair some of my pens. I had been gifted a Montblanc 146 which was evidently from the 70's or so, but had a replacement cap. It wouldn't write. My first Vanishing Point had suffered the fate of a heavy handed newbie, whom I had lent the pen to, and who had written with it as if it were an ornery ballpoint. The page turned Jackson Pollock and the pen never wrote the same. Finally, I had an Aurora that wrote dry, too much so for my tastes. Mid-afternoon, Mr. Masuyama ressurected these pens into working order.

I also had a Parker Challenger I had purchased from a friend that had a misaligned nib. Next to Mr. Masuyama (he had already left by the time I took the above picture), a gentleman named Danny Fudge was repairing older pens. He graciously realigned the nib in under a minute for no charge. 

While I waited my turn to see Mike, I passed by the Franklin-Christoph table. They had a whole case filled with tester pens. I tried out quite a few nibs and settled on Mr. Masuyama's needlepoint nib. I had to decide whether to go with the pocket sized Model 40 or the regular sized 02 Model in the ice color. I found I preferred the larger of the two pens. It fit better in my hand. I also picked up another for a friend with the 1.5 mm nib. Scott Franklin himself tuned both nibs to perfection. The deal was capped off with a notebook and an extra nib, their new music nib. 

the Franklin-Christoph table

the Franklin-Christoph table

Myself with Dr. Bob and Jill Nisbet

Myself with Dr. Bob and Jill Nisbet

After Mr. Masuyama's nib wizardry, I roamed around going into deeper research on the available Esterbrooks. Quite a few tables had them at varying prices, so I dove deeper into the colors and the nibs. I was attracted to the ice-blue or blueish purple color with ripples. As for a nib, I was hoping for their accounting nib, but certainly would settle for anything fine. Here is where the fountain community both humbles and amazes me. I got talking with a lady, Jill, who had traveled with her husband, Dr. Bob, from Oklahoma. He had amassed a collection and was selling some of it. Much of his table was covered with Esterbrooks. We got talking about life, faith, and pens. He asks me which color I like. We search through the the table for the bluish color. We find our quarry, so he asks what nib I would enjoy. I said, "Something firm and fine." The nib already installed fit those parameters, but he provided another nib just a bit finer than the first. Certainly, they would characterize most of the dealers at the show in helpfulness and kindness, but he outdid himself in generosity. "Take it," he said, "it would be my honor." I am always uncomfortable with such generosity, so I attempted to resist, but to no avail. He gave me the pen and the nib. This is one reason why I love this community, because the community itself is more important the thing that brought them together.

I spent the closing hour of the first day of the show with my new Hawaiian shirted friend, who showed me his finds from day one and I showed him mine. There was a pen in his table I had been eyeing since our first conversation at the beginning of the day, an Eversharp Skyline. Those pens are made very well and many times have semi-flex nibs. This one did. There was a lite bit of wear on the cap, but the pen was well worth the price.  So I came back to my hotel room with:

Most of the quarry

Most of the quarry

- a Franklin-Christoph sugar paper notebook

- 2 Franklin-Christoph Model 02s

- an Eversharp Skyline with semi-flex nib 

-  an Esterbrook (with extra nib)

- 3 resurrected pens courtesy of Mike Masuyama (2 pictured)

-Realigned Parker Challenger

The day didn't end there. My fellow New Orleanian invited me to dinner with some of the Dalls Pen Club and the Edelstein's, a father and son duo of venders. I had a great time talking pens, sports, public radio (a topic I was admittedly weak in) and priests who were in the fountain community. It was a great way to end day one and great way to set up day two.