I spent a lovely Saturday at the Northwest Pen Round-Up in Portland, Oregon, immersed in all things pens and ink. This was my first pen show ever, and though it was small in size, it was big in camaraderie and kindness.
Saturday’s weather was perfect — the kind of day that makes you forget about all the rain we get in Oregon — and I decided to ride my motorbike to the show. It usually takes close to two hours for me to travel to Portland from my home, but I arrived earlier than expected. Perhaps excitement guided my hand on the throttle.
The show was held in a back room at the Lucky Lab Brewing Company on Quimby Street. It’s an excellent space for a gathering like this. I managed to snap a photo before the vendors had finished setting up their displays.
I’ve read Richard Binder’s guide to attending your first pen show, so I arrived with a plan and a cash budget.
After saying hello to some folks I met at the Portland gathering in May, I picked one end of the room and started perusing each vendor’s wares. The first table happened to be Sam and Frank from Pendemonium, who had driven all the way to Portland from Arizona.
As I browsed the tables, I noted the pens I was interested in by asking the vendor for their business card and writing down the pen and price on the reverse side. I ended up with a neat stack of cards after visiting every table, but with a strict budget, I’d have to make some decisions about which pens I really wanted.
So I grabbed a slice of pizza and a salad and a beer and thought about it for a while.
Then I went back into the show room and started buying.
I didn’t take very many photos of the show because it was crowded, and I try to avoid posting photos of people without their permission. But I did take a photo of these cool pen blanks made of Alumilite resin embedded with pine cones.
The finished pens look pretty darn unique, though far out of my price range.
I also met the CEO of Regal Pens, a Portland-based company that sells Taiwanese-made entry level fountain pens. I picked up one of their pens and have a lot more to say about it, so look for that post in the future.
With so many interesting goodies for sale, it was incredibly difficult to stick to my budget, but I did. Here’s a photo of the haul, which totaled up to $219.
- 6 vintage Sheaffer pens in need of restoration
- a Sailor Fude DE Mannen
- a Regal pen and converter
- a 28-pen folio case, designed by two gentlemen here in Portland but unfortunately no longer for sale
- a bottle of Delta Capri Blue Grotto ink
- half a bottle of Private Reserve Orange Crush ink
- 2 Montblanc ink cartridges, unknown brown
- a Visconti ink cartridge holder
- 10 replacement ink sacs for lever-filler pens
With all these Sheaffers in my restoration project queue, I’m going to be busy for a while!
Nevertheless, the three items I’m most fond of were given to me as gifts: a beautiful brown Sheaffer Balance with a military clip, a bore light (used to illuminate the inside of pen barrels), and an enormous bottle of vintage Sheaffer Skrip Blue-Black ink. The 32oz bottle is nearly full, and I love, love, love the ink. Huge thank yous to Jeff, Jim, and David for being so generous to this pen newbie.
I don’t think I’ve encountered a community of people as kind and welcoming as the ones I’ve met through fountain pens. While it was nice to see and buy stuff at the show, the most fun I had was talking to people. (And I’m a major-league introvert so that’s saying a lot!) The hours flew by, and suddenly it was time for the show to end. I said my farewells, loaded up my bike with all my goodies, and took the long way home.
If you ever get an opportunity to go to a pen show, you should. Maybe someday I’ll be able to attend one of the big shows, but it’s awesome having this one in my backyard.