Baltimore Pen Show Report – Days 1 and 2

My apologies for not getting a post out yesterday, but it was crazy all day and by the time we finally sat down and stopped working for the day it was time for sleep.  We rolled in to Baltimore and found the hotel around 10:30, after driving all night, only stopping for gas and our ritual morning breakfast muffin at a Hardees somewhere.

Let me first say the Hotel is an amazing piece of architecture.  It is an old Mason building converted and renovated in the last couple decades to a hotel.  30+ floors of rooms and some pretty amazing structures, stained glass, paintings and tapestries adorning the walls.  Now, that being said, finding our way into the actual ball room was a royal pain.  We had to come in the loading dock, go through a kitchen type area, take the service elevator, then go through two back doors and we were all set in our ball room.  Now this may not sound like a big deal, but when there are multiple other people trying to do this for more than just the pen show, and normal deliveries taking place at the same time, it becomes interesting.  We had been told it was difficult to get settled in but once you did it was fine.  Nothing more could be the truth.  After three trips up and down and through back doors, getting locked out, and losing our way at least once, we were ready to park the car.  Up nine steep and sharp turning floors later, there was a spot.  On to the bank.

Thankfully, our bank has a branch just two blocks down.  We took advantage of the warmer-than-wisconsin weather and walked down there to get some money for our bank bag.  After another odd go-through-a-lobby, down-the-stairs-and-through-a-door later, we were in the main bank lobby.  This place was packed.  There must have been thirty people in line to see a teller.  Six tellers wide, but then just as one person leaves, so does a teller.  I thought we’d never get out of there, but thankfully, a bit of jovial conversation with another frustrated customer alleviated the tension.

Now past eleven, and customers coming through the doors of the show and we’re finally getting everything set up.  This was a new set up for us this year, so it took me a bit to get everything situated just how I wanted it, all while talking with folks about this or that while I set up.  I’m not sure, but by the time I finally got 90% where I wanted it was probably two hours later.  Thankfully, a package we had shipped to the hotel with ink bottles and pens arrived and unpacking and rearranging began.

There were many dealers not present on Friday, but enough dealers in the two ballrooms to have some interesting stuff to look at.  Customer traffic was slow but steady and we had a satisfying first day at the show.  We could easily call it a success.

For dinner we caught a ride With Richard and Barbara Binder and David Isaacson and took a tour of the then rainy downtown.  The pub we wanted to go to was packed, a silly thing on a Friday night.  They assured us they could get us in by 11:00, or if the five of us wished to be seated at a four person table, most likely by 10:00.  Since this was about 6:30, we decided to go walk about and see what we could come up with.  Not two blocks down the road was an Italian restaurant that was busy, but not packed, offered immediate seating, and was an environment we could actually hear each other in.  Lively conversation and excellent carbonara and chocolate stout consumed a couple of hours and we all left satisfied.

Back to find our hotel and we crashed for the night, enjoying our first night sleep in two days.

Saturday morning was dealer setup at 8:00.  We started the wake up process before 7:00, but it took a bit to get going.  A cup of coffee and a shower and a few minutes later we were out the door and back to the show hotel.  Bert has been doing an amazing job thus far, and this morning was a really splendid treat.  We had heard there was going to be a breakfast.  To our surprise and amazement, it was a full hot breakfast, coffee, orange juice, scrambled eggs with cheese, potatoes with peppers, bacon, sausage, fruit, you name it.  There’s nothing like filling up with a nice warm breakfast before dealing in pens all day!

On to the trading floor we go and get organized.  We discussed what worked yesterday, what didn’t work, and what to do differently.  You only think you’re ready, but once those doors open to the public and they come rushing in, it’s a mad house.  We were slammed pretty much the entire day.  Sometimes as many as two to three people deep at the table.  Everyone wanted to see the new TWSBI 540’s and the ink bottles.  The more we told one person, the more someone else wanted to get one.

Kenro Industries was in the same room as us showing off Sheaffer, Aurora, Montegrappa, and Omas.  Some stunning new Sheaffer Prelude models coming down the pipeline, and we really liked the new Sheaffer Intensity.  The Omas were, well, Omas, that is beautiful as only an Omas pen can be.

I had a kind of “oh crap” moment at one point, talking to another collector about an Aikin Lambert pencil I was thinking of buying.  I was thinking if I didn’t find anything else interesting by the end of the show I would buy this.  Well, I mentioned it and moments later it was gone.  Oh well, no big deal I guess, that just means something else will find it’s way home with me.  We did scrounge up some esterbrooks and got a hold of Jonathan Veley’s new pencil book, so all was not lost.  🙂

We kept busy throughout the remainder of the afternoon and before you knew it it was closing time.  Bert had provided us all a nice boxed lunch of wonderful ham or turkey sandwiches, chips and a drink, and now that the show was closed, out came the free bar.  What nice way to end the day and finally get a chance to chat with some of our friends who were also quite busy.

Just off the top of my head, some notable people not already mentioned, Pendleton Brown was busy grinding nibs all day, Jim Rouse was always busy when I walked by his table to say hi, Susan Wirth and team were present, and Jimmy Dolive had a nice display of modern pens.  Terry Mawhorter was passing out Raleigh Pen Show brochures when not behind his table, Sam Marshal and Martin Ferguson were busy doing snorkel repairs, and Bert and Alice Heiserman were present, and many more.

After the cocktail hour we proceed back to our hotel and after a quick dinner proceeded to repair some pens.  Out comes the ultrasonic, heat gun, the shellac and talc and the repairs began.  New life has once again come to some old tired Esterbrook!

Off to bed.  Sunday show report to come later sunday or monday.

Brian & Lisa