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Filtering by Tag: Pen Show

Atlanta Pen Show Recap

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Franz Dimson ,  Jeff Abbott , and myself (photo courtesy of Franz Dimson) 

Franz Dimson, Jeff Abbott, and myself (photo courtesy of Franz Dimson) 

I was looking forward to the Atlanta Pen Show all year. It was a long Lent, and I was anticipating a good time with my pen friends as we geeked out about extra-fine nibs and primary manipulation, knowing those were not underground sexual references.

It was different this year. Many of the regulars from the two previous years didn't come down, choosing, rather, to wait for the Chicago Pen Show. It opened up the space for something new, which included cupcakes and a contingent from San Francisco. The nights were filled with conversation and alcohol and pens. It felt like war. Back in the day, before the gun and the lamp, battles ended at sun down and all sat at camp recovering, licking wounds, and consuming comforting liquids, talking about the scars acquired and comrades lost. Thankfully the only thing spilled was Diamine Oxblood. In those camps was a communal atmosphere of 'we survived together' and it brought those soldiers closer.  We didn't experience violence, but like comrades in battle there was something shared that those outside camp wouldn't understand.


My first purchase was six-months in the making. I comissioned Shawn Newton to make me a holy water dispenser pen. (I'm going to spend another post on this and the full story behind it. ) It left Shawn's hands in February and travelled to the Vanness Pen Shop for a relief engraving, after which it was sent to Jonathon Brooks, of Carolina Pen Company, to do an abalone inlay on the cap. Jonathon delivered it to me on Thursday night as we all prepped for the show. I was ecstatic. I showed it to every person I could, and probably a few people multiple times. I was super excited about it. It's made it two years in a row that I've gotten a holy water pen at the Atlanta Show. 

This was my first year at a Friday of the show. It was evenly paced. It didn't seem overcrowded but was sufficiently attended. The only money I spent was on a brown luminescent Franklin-Christoph 45 to replace the one I purchased last year. The first disappeared (Sad face). I had Jim Rouse put the same grind on the nib, a stublique, as he calls it, or a SIG (stub italic grind) as F-C calls it. I have found the 45 to be my favorite of all the models Franklin-Christoph makes. I love the size and the grip. I promise I won't lose this one too.


I brought a few more pens for repair. I'm not ready to jump into the next 'stage' of pen geekdom, repairing my own pens. I know it's possible, and with practice anything can be done. However, I am more into seeing what can come out of the pen then what is in it. Not to say I don't appreciate a pen design, but rather I'm interested in creating sentences not pens. Anyway, I had an Esterbrook desk pen that needed repair and resaccing and an old Sheaffer Jade pen that needed a new sac and nib. The Esterbrook could be done at the show. I left the Sheaffer with Sharrell Tyree to restore. I'm looking forward to getting that pen back and playing with it. 

In my aimless wandering through the show (I wasn't lost, I just found myself talking to people rather that looking at pens), I came across Brad and Myke, of the Pen Addict Podcast, talking with Detlef Bittner. He was showing them the new line of Wahl-Eversharp pens. They've managed to design a semi-flex and full flex nibs to put in their Decoband model. This pen is a monster of a pen and makes a Montblanc 149 look like a Kaweco sport. I was impressed with how well the semi and full flex worked. Aurora's semi-flex had trouble keeping up. Being that the Decoband runs just shy of a grand. I'd have to save up get one.

Friday night was off the chain (did I use that slang right?). I've never seen so many Sailors in one place and there not be a boat. I was introduced to the King Eagle nib. The lower the angle of the pen to the page the wider the line, and it can be flipped over for a nice fine line. It's technically extraordinary not terribly attractive.


Saturday was the busy day. The rooms were packed for most of the day. It felt more frenetic. There were a lot of people who came up for the day which gave the show a high energy. Limited time, expendable money. I only picked up two things that day. I had been eyeing one the Karas Kustoms delrin models. It had a purple delrin body and a gold aluminum cap. They made it for LA as an homage to the Lakers, but in SEC territory purple and gold only has one team, the LSU Tigers. I couldn't not buy it. I prefer the Fountain K model to the bulkier Ink and in LSU colors it makes it a great daily carry pen. I also traded (my first trade) a Visconti Rembrant, I was trying to sell, for a seafoam green Sheaffer Snorkel. I love the color but the nib will need some repair. The Snorkel gives me more delight than the Rembrant. I was also able to sell two other pens that evening to fund a Sunday purchase.

Saturday evening was sushi and pens and pens and alcohol. Jim Rouse brought out some of his unique pens, like a demostrator Parker Vacummatic and a pen from the original run of Franklin-Christoph. Dave Rea also shared his brand new LB5, which about as large as the Decoband from the day before. Mr. Lambrou makes beautiful pens, but the more I handle the less I want one (and my pocketbook takes a big sigh).


I found Sunday tobe uncharateristically quiet. A storm did blow into the city which prevented some of the tentstive locals. Most of those there were vendors qnd weekend passers. Having been there for two days, I appreciated the slower pace. I spent the morning in front of Mark Bacas, the Nib Grinder. A few years ago I purchased a Visconti Salvador Dali. It never wrote well for me (I've owned 5 Viscontis and only the Rembrant I sold the day before wrote well out of the box), but I liked the body too much ot sell it. I also wanted a funky nib grind in homage to the king of surreal. Mark ground the broad nib into an italic, and, if flipped over, it becomes a fine. It's a cool little nib and makes the pen much more enjoyable to write with. I also had him turn the new Fountain K into a needlepoint. 


I ended the day with two purchases. All weekend I had been eyeing the special edition ebonite pens Johnathon Brooks brought. One in particular, with waves of light bluegreen at the bottom of the barrel, caught my eye. I must've picked up the pen 30 times over the weekend and Shea, Jonathon's wife, just egged me on each time. I liked it too much and had to have it. I had him put a 1.5 mm stub on it to just lay down ink. I left knowing I have a unique pen that is exquisite in a material I love. 

Over the course of the weekend, I documented every ink I possibly could. I had made it my goal to become a bit more familiar with various inks. I'd never laid down so many inks in so short a time. I enjoyed seeing the subtleties in different shades from the same brand. A few caught my eye, but I only purchaed one, the Franklin-Christoph Blue 72. It's a simple straightforward, bright blue. I enjoy its simplicity. While getting the ink, Jim sweetened up the feed and nib of the 1.5 stub in the Brooks pen. Sunday night I went to dinner with some friends in Atlanta. When I returned there was a small remnant, i.e. Ana Reinert and the Cali crew (who I'm pretty sure hadn't adjusted to Eastern time by the time they flew out.)

Usually a pen show does not satiate the thrist for pens. In my experience it drives it. I got to see great specimens of the OMAS arco celluloid I wished I could enjoy. I'm still in search for a Montblanc Heritage 1912 I could afford. Other than the new Decoband, I've added two more pens to the wish list, neither of which I could've bought on my limited budget this year. The first is the Maui Makai from the Kanilea Pen Company. They have multiple pens one can desire, but this particular material piqued my fancy because of the translucent blue in the middle of the pen, transporting me to memories of swimming in the Florida Keys. The second is the Earth pen in Carl Fisher's, of Fisher of Pens, four elements series. The green galaxy look of the pen captured my eyes and my imagination. 

 On a final note, I apologize to those who followed this blog on a regular basis. I've gone through a transition time in my life, and blogging became less of a priority to allow me to work on other things in my life. I can't promise you regular writing, as much as I would want to, but I hope snd intend to make this a regular part of my life again. For those of you who have emailed me or told me at the show that you miss the blog, I appreciated that more than you would know. Thank you. 

Calligraphy by  Nikola Pang

Calligraphy by Nikola Pang

Atlanta Pen Show 2016 Prep

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Coming off Lent and Easter, the Atlanta Pen Show is nearly here. And I am unprepared. I psyched myself up for the Arkansas Pen Show a month and a half ago. This is different. My excitement is more muted. I think that will change as the day goes on or on the drive to Atlanta tomrrow. Even now as I hear people arriving, it's growing.

Last year, I drove Saturday night and Sunday morning to catch the final hours of the show. It was great to meet so many people, even if they were getting over pen show hangovers and were somewhat out of it, except for Punkey. Punkey seemed to have boundless energy. It was probably that killer coffee he drinks (forgive the public inside jokes). 

This year will be very different. This year I'm traveling up with my sister, who declares she's not ready for the responsibility of a fountain pen. "So you're saying there's still a chance?!"

Her coworkers overheard a phone conversation I had with her where I tried to convince her of the goodness of fountain pens, sonthey created the above meme

Her coworkers overheard a phone conversation I had with her where I tried to convince her of the goodness of fountain pens, sonthey created the above meme

She's getting married in November. She's my best friend, but our relationship will change once she weds herself to her fiancé. So we're going on a sibling vacation, that starts at the pen show. She'll drop me off at the hotel on Friday and spend the weekend with her friends in Atlanta. She'll come by on Sunday, and I'll introduce her to this awesome subculture, which, at the moment, she finds odd. We'll then spend a few days in Asheville and Savannah. My excitement for the show is somewhat mitigated by my excitement at being able to spend some quality time with my baby sister. 

As the show approaches (tomorrow!), my mind is turning more to final preparations: what pens I'm bringing, what's on my shopping list, finalizing my budget (the IRS was not good to me this year). In the process of doing that, I'm also mentally setting up my game plan. 

Pens:   Since this will be the largest group of pen people I'll ever hang with, I figure I'll bring the jewels of my collection, inked up and ready to play with.  Having a collection of close to 100 pens is difficult to travel with, so I've chosen my 34 unique or favorite pens, housed in the large Monteverde case. I have four that need work that I'll be bringing as well.

Pen case user guide

Pen case user guide

On the lookout:  I have heard about and seen on eBay a holy water dispenser pen. There are Parker and Sheaffer models I've seen. Right now this is my grail (the irony is not lost on me). Hopefully, I'll be able to see Jim Rouse's, to at least see how they work. I'll be putting the word out that I'm looking. Shawn Newton has been posting some tasty pens on his social media. I will definitely visit him. OMAS will always be on my radar; I've been bitten by the bug. A Nock case might be in my future as well, oh and a Karas Kustoms Fountain K. I know the Franklin-Christoph table will be hopping, but something might tickle my fancy. 

The most important part of a pen show though is the people, getting to know new people, catching up with friends, having conversations about life, the universe, Nakayas, and everything. Most of the pens available could be bought online (should is another question I will intentionally avoid). The people, the face to face, are what bring the show its flesh; the pens are lagniappe. If not for the men and ever increasing number of women (which is a good thing), a pen show would seem more like a flea market, much product but very little relationship. That's no fun. A pen show isn't a captialistic vaccuum. It's the best part of a garage sale combined with the delight of a family reunion and the niche conversation of a comic book shop. The best part is that are no ludites or Gentiles. Newbies are just as welcome as the veteran (there are always grumpy people, but that isn't the norm). In fact, newbies can have the experience of a baby at the family reunion, being passed around from uncle to great aunt to cousin to learn all the varied stories of the family. 

My game plan, then, will revolve around the people, my introversion, and the fact that my back is currently spasming. As an introvert, I love those conversation of three or less about something we love. I'll eat up conversation after conversation, and I'll forget to take a break to rest myself. Breaks are of utmost importance for me, for food, for prayer, and for rest.

This time away does a few things. It gives me strength and a renewal of energy. It gives perspective to my prospective purachases. It allows me not to get completely overwhelmed and crash exactly when I don't want to. 

I know many of us are introverted, so heed this advice. It's okay to walk away for an hour. Fear of missing out will be greater than ever at a pen show. Be confident in yourself and walk away so you can recharge. The extroverts will keep talking, keep moving, keep going because they're in an energy feeding frenzy being around so many people. Don't confuse yourself into thinking you can do the same. An hour away here and there will enhance your experience tenfold, especially the late nights. 

Those who will be there I look forward to meeting or seeing you again. Those who won't be there we'll miss you. 

Laissez le bon temp rouler.   

Atlanta Pen Show Prep

Fr. Kyle Sanders


I wasn't planning on going to the Atlanta Pen Show. The Saturday of the show, I'm celebrating the weddng of a girl who is ostensibly my younger sister. It promises to be a great celebration for my family and for hers. I was going to miss the majority of the show so I ruled it out. Then, Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy decided to make it a party. Anna Reinert, from the Well Appointed Desk, Dan Bishop, from Karas Kustoms, and Mike Dudek, from the Clicky Post, all signed on, and surprisingly but awesomely (that phrase grinds on my English sensibilities but fandom is ultimately coming through) Leigh Reyes, the Southeast Asian collector extradordinairess, will be there, with her Nakaya collection. Plus all the usual pen show suspects will be in attendance: Mike Masuyama, Lisa Vanness, Shawn Newton, and the Anderson's. When I saw how much of the Pen Addict community would be there, I decided to do something foolish, for the sake of celebrating with this awesome group of people. 

I decided I would leave the wedding reception a little early (New Orleans wedding receptions go into the wee hours of the morning) and drive to Mobile to stay with a friend. I would, then, wake up early the next morning and arrive in Atlanta right at 10 am as the doors open on the final day of epic penness. I realize I will be arriving after the party. I realize some the of the peeps I wished to meet will be gone before I arrive. I also know that I will be that guy who shows up after the Thanksgiving meal ready to eat, when most of the hosts and guests are in tripophanic coma (only instead of turkey it's pens.) I'm okay with being that guy. The experience will still prove to be worth it, and as Anna said, when all others have blown their budgets I can get the deals as sellers don't want to return home with as much merchandise. 

I am no longer a rookie at this pen show thing so I think the overwhelming aspect of the show will be easier to handle (at least I hope). Much of my focus will be on the people. To be able to hang out with these people whom I know through the interwebs will be a delight. I'm looking forward to expectations being broken as I move from avatar to person. I know this won't be a get-to-know-you camping trip (we will be surrounded by 1,000's of cylindrical distractions), but I look forward to those conversation which I can't really have with many people. I'm looking forward to noticing the quirks about those people who online seemed so polished in their writing/typing. 

1) Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby 2) Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal 3) Parker Vacumatic 4) Parker Duofold 5) Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiaroscuro 6) Noodler's Neponset 7) Montblanc 146 8) Moore Lever-Filler w/ Flex nib 9) Pilot Metal Falcon 10) Aurora TU 11) Montegrappa Parolo 12) Visconti Rembrant

1) Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby 2) Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal 3) Parker Vacumatic 4) Parker Duofold 5) Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiaroscuro 6) Noodler's Neponset 7) Montblanc 146 8) Moore Lever-Filler w/ Flex nib 9) Pilot Metal Falcon 10) Aurora TU 11) Montegrappa Parolo 12) Visconti Rembrant

I'm also looking forward to sharing some pens, to allow people to enjoy or try out a pen they've never seen or used before. I must say my collection, on the whole, is pretty average. There are a few pieces that I would consider extraordinary. One would be my Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiarrascuro, which is a unique pocket pen that most people haven't seen. I will certainly bring my Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby along with my newly acquired Noodler's Neponset. I'll probably bring my Montblanc so someone can at least experience it since. On the whole, most the guys and gals don't see the price point. I'll also bring my currently inked pens. I'll probably bring my Parker Duofold and Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal. I haven't decided how many I'll bring but it'll either be twelve or thirty-six, due to my case options. I'm looking forward to that inking party. 


I have a few pens that need some nib work. Two have misaligned tines and another seems to have baby's bottom. I'm hoping I can get them ironed out. There might be a fourth or a fifth that need work that I'll bring as well (but they are less pressing). 

The pen show comes at the best and worst possible time in the year. I just got back my rather generous tax return. Having all of this extra, unplanned money going into the show presents danger to my temperance, and prudence for that matter, and fortitude as well. Okay, so my virtues will either grow considerably this weekend, or I will set back my pursuance of human excellence through the virtuous life.

I've already talked to Lisa Vanness. She's holding two bottles of ink for me. I'll let them be a surprise for the post-show post. I will certainly make a stop by Franklin-Christoph, first to play with all the different nibs but also to contemplate the purchasing of a Model 29 Bellus. I really did fall in love with that pen only to give it away. I'm also actively looking for a solid Sheaffer Snorkel; it's a pen I definitely want to add to my collection. I'm hoping to try out some of the peeps' Nakayas to see what I like. I'll give the Delta Dolce Vita another chance (I'm a priest. I'm always giving second chances). After that, I'm going to browse and hopefully find a deal or two.

If you don't already, follow me on Instagram at @colonel4God. I will hopefully be flooding my feed with photos and videos.