We started late on Thursday night, getting in the car around 6:30 pm and loaded for bear. We rolled in about 9:00 am Friday morning, just in time to find our way up the back way through the kitchen to the trading room. This show requires you pull your car up to the loading dock in the parking ramp, go down a ramp, and around by the kitchen to the service/freight elevator and up to the fifth floor and through a narrow door frame with your carts full of stuff to find the room. Once up there it was a pretty good setup, but lighting was dim the entire weekend and many people had extra lamps and lighting for their tables. We were fortunate in that some other dealer’s lighting was close by and provided some much needed illumination for our tables.
Friday (or the first day of most any show) is always a little slower, but we managed to have decent traffic the entire day. Bert’s shows are well run and after setting up learned he had a box lunch for us. Nice ham or turkey sandwiches, chips, huge oranges, a chocolate chip cookie, and a soda. It really hit the spot, and since we have been forgetting lunch at the past few shows, was great to not have to make or bring our own lunch meat and bread.
The two rooms were about 90% full the first day and I really only had about twenty minutes the entire day to look around. But when I did I stopped by our friend Carl Daniel’s table where I spotted a bottle of Penman Sapphire in the box. I quickly ran back to the table, asked Lisa if she wanted it, she practically cut me off, and I ran back to get it. Bonus, it has the silver plated disk on the top of the cap with the previous owner’s initials in it. Pretty cool! I restrained myself from purchasing an Omas from him, figuring I’d wait to see what was in in the auction for Saturday.
The show closed and we went to the reception for a few brief minutes to grab a glass of wine and some cheddar popcorn and pretzels they had for us. We stayed for two glasses, had some interesting conversations about ink, then headed off in search of dinner and our hotel. We made it to Chili’s, were to my surprise and dismay, they did not have a single pasta entree on the menu. I found a suitable replacement in some ribs, Lisa had a salmon entree and we found our hotel and went to sleep. It was nice to stop moving for a few hours!
Saturday morning was early, but since there was security at the show, we were pretty much set up. We grabbed our few things and headed off to the show. Bert has a nice hot breakfast for dealers in the morning, eggs, crispy bacon, coffee, orange juice, tea, hash browns, biscuits and pastries and more. It’s pretty hard to not leave without getting your fill. I know our dear friend Eric teases us about mentioning food, but you need to understand that this is HARD WORK, and that a nice full, hot meal is not to be taken lightly. The room that breakfast is held in is over the top gorgeous as well, so it’s just overall, a nice treat. Early on that morning, FPGeeks called in for a show report. We finally had a chance to watch the show while driving home, there’s a lot you miss if you only hear five or ten minutes of their show!
The show really picked up on Saturday and we were busy all day. We had visits from good friends Hugh and Karol, Don and Meghan, and others. As soon as the day started, it was over and 5:00 came and we were packing up. We had dinner reservations with Don and Meghan at La Scalas, and I finally had some great pasta, and even better conversation and pen testing. Don’s really got some pretty cool pens! I had the carbonara, and Don, Meghan & Lisa had the spaghetti con funghi, and they were very nicely prepared meals. It was also really nice to get out of the hotel for a bit.
We had to cut dinner short to make it to the auction by 8:00. We got there and I realized I had left my auction number and sheet in the car so I had to run down to get it. In this hotel that means a minimum of three elevators to get to your car. I got back just in time and grabbed a seat next to our friend Stephanie in the front row in the Doric room (appropriate for a pen show auction, no?). There were some 60 pieces in the auction and a few had piqued my curiosity. Some late stragglers entered the room who had not taken the time to preview the items, and this slowed down the proceedings as they needed to examine every piece as it was being auctioned off. While I love being at a pen show, I also love being able to get some down time too, so if you are going to a pen show auction, please take the time to examine the pens before hand!
I did manage to be the high bidder on one of five Wirt pens in the auction. This one, in my opinion, was the best one there, and one of only two that were actually complete. A mottled hard rubber pen with correct nib and an overfeed. Excellent color and super condition. I was pleased to come out on top with this one. I tried to win another MHR pen, with an incorrect nib, but didn’t want to pay the premium it seemed to demand over what I paid for my pen, then have to source the correct nib. I was happy with this one purchase. Stephanie managed to grab one of the nicest Blue Jay pens I have ever seen. She was hesitant on it, so I examined the pen for her, and eased her worries on the condition. She also tried to distract me during the auction by pulling out several amazing pens, a 1960’s Montblanc, a gorgeous blue Omas, and other pens. While this strategy appeared to work, I was able to bid and look at her pens at the same time. 🙂
After the auction we headed back to the hotel and got some rest. Time to do it one more day. We awoke and checked out of the hotel, and grabbed breakfast again in the Oriental room, this time with Dick Krane and Jared Lutkowski from Kenro Industries. We talked about Sheaffer and the upcoming Long Island Show. After breakfast, it was back to the show floor and time to straighten up the tables prior to the public’s arrival.
Traffic is always a bit slower on a Sunday of a show, but we were once again busy most of the day. I had decided I really wanted a Franklin Christoph pen, and started out early in picking one out. I got the burgundy with a Broad Italic nib, done by Mike Matsuyama. It’s really a cool pen with its magnetic cap enclosure.
I also got a chance to wander about and while talking with another vendor about Victorian era dip pens and pencils, discovered he had an Aikin Lambert stockbroker’s pencil on his table. The price was right, so I snatched it up adding it to my weekend trophies, and my Aikin collection. Smooth overlays are hard to find without significant dings and dents and this one had one. If I can figure out how to get it apart, it will be an easy removal process.
As to be expected, as the day wore on, several dealers started to pack up and before you knew it, the day was over. Just a couple of carts worth of boxes and we were packed up and on the road again. It was a fun show and nice to see some of our east coast friends again. Baltimore is really a great show in one of the most fabulous venues on the show circuit. Highly recommended if you live in the area, heck, even if you don’t!
Until next week and the LIttle Rock Show report,
Brian & Lisa