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New York City Pen Show
Review of the 1st NY Show
from the fountain pen and camera of Len Provisor

Two hundred American flags were waiting.

Friday morning the doors to the first New York City Pen Show were thrown open, and excited dealers rushed in to claim assigned tables to spread their pens, wares and good faith.
Waiting was a sea of white tablecloths holding two hundred U.S. flags neatly lined up on every table.
It was a grand opening statement, without a word being spoken.

 

Pentracers Len Provisor and Bruce Bentzman

Pentracers Len Provisor and Bruce Bentzman

This first impression was a statement to a group of friends resolved and determined to continue business, in spite of the tragedy just sixteen days earlier conceived to stop America in it's tracks.
It did not work, and we were proud to be there. Every person attending was participating in healing our wounds and honoring the people of NY. I really felt a part of something important, a moment in time to remember because I had a really good reason to be there.

Honor is due to many overseas friends who came, yet did not know what to expect.
Peter Ford holds the mileage record coming from Melbourne, Australia. Others such as Simon Gray from London, owner of The Battersea Pen Home, who is organizer of the London Pen Show Oct 12-14, Jim and Jane Marshall from the UK, and several friends from Canada and Spain. The Maki-E artists from Japan exhibiting at Platinum Pen stated after Sept. 11 they would not even consider not coming to NY.

Friday started out with anticipated light traffic from the public, but slowly increased as the day came to a close. Exhibitors and visitors received a beautiful custom embroidered cap made by Krone also a commemorative bottle of ink from Marlen with the NYC Pen Show logo label. Of course the front table also had Pentrace ink blotters and literature along with Snailee badges for our Pentrace friends.

Rob Rosenberg from Conklin Pen Co. with his fiance Gayle.

Rob Rosenberg from Conklin Pen Co. with his fiance Gayle.

The room started humming late in the afternoon with the show progressing until eight in the evening. Not having a pre-show trading day as with other shows, this was a good opportunity for exhibitors to mingle among one another, do some trading, selling and to congratulate one another for making the trip.
New pen manufacturers set up in the first large room greeted the visitors. Here were Jerry Greenberg with Delta, Stipula, Dani, Rob Rosenberg from Conklin Pen Co. and what a surprise, his fiance Gayle. Congratuations Rob and Gayle ! Jack Leone and Howard Levy from Bexley Pen were showing off the new PCA Limited Edition mottled ebonite with taper cap and eye drop filler to benefit the Pen Collectors of America. This is the first modern pen of this type, and is beautifully created. Especially clever is the taper cap, which can be unscrewed to remove the pocket clip if desired, more closely simulating the original.

Jake Engel and Terry Wiederlight of FPH

Jake Engel and Terry Wiederlight of FPH

The main room held all the other new and vintage exhibitors such as Fountain Pen Hospital, Bertram's Inkwell, Bert Heiserman's Pen Haven and about one hundred others.
Steve and Terry from FPH happily told me this was their best show ever, with record sales loyal customers who came to show their support. Fountain Pen Hospital is located two blocks from the World Trade Center, was not damaged but was located too close to allow public access. They are now open for business.

Part of theKrone Display

Part of theKrone Display

Krone Pen, official sponsor of the show constructed a thirty foot display of about forty historical pens and documents, each in a lockable top hinged frame and mounted on panels for close up inspection. Displayed were writing instruments from U.S. Presidents such as a Martin Van Buren quill from July 4th, 1840, and Abraham Lincoln's steel dip pen used to sign the Homestead Act May 20, 1862. Other President's pens such as William McKinley, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Senator John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Carter, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George Bush. A Sheaffer No Nonsense pen was displayed that was used by Ernest Hemingway to edit his novel "The Dangerous Summer", a 14K and Mother of Pearl dip pen used by Audrey Hepburn, others used by Marilyn Monroe and an 1870 quill used by Charles Dickens along with a hand written document. Hopefully this display will be brought to other pen shows as well

.1870 quill used by Charles Dickens along with a hand written document.

1870 quill used by Charles Dickens along with a hand written document.

Friday night, and being a newbie to NY I was ready to see some city lights and the people of New York.
I really had mixed feelings. I imagine many others did as well. This was not a typical pen show nor was this a typical city. I have to say that most people we met, seeing we were in town on business were very pleased, and could not have been more polite and cordial. If I asked for directions, one would walk me to the next corner and point directions to be sure I could see where I needed to go, and I didn't get run over once in spite of typical tourist posture…looking up. Cabs were available in an instant, tables at restaurants with no waiting, parking lots were almost empty, it was pretty obvious New York was hurting.

Maki-E artist Hideaki Sone from Japan demonstrates the art of Japanese lacquer pen decoration.

Maki-E artist Hideaki Sone from Japan demonstrates the art of Japanese lacquer pen decoration.

The Hilton Hotel is nestled smack in the middle of the world, and this evening I met with Bert Heiserman, and a few others still awake, hungry and ready to explore. The mission was for one of the best Pastrami or corn beef sandwiches in the world. Period. Well, it was the first time in my life I ever split a mile-high corned beef on rye. A large screen TV on the wall was playing featuring the Carnegie Deli waiters and staff in a loud song and dance singing "Eat Eat Eat" to the tune of a Broadway song. Coincidently the owner is Milton Parker and his son Jeffrey Parker. No relation, but I was at least delighted a Parker was responsible for the best CB on rye I ever had.

Jerry Greenberg from Delta

Jerry Greenberg from Delta

After dinner Bert and I needed a walk so we headed south to Times Square.
For me, this was culture shock, really a beautiful blend of the crowds, vendors and lights.
I've been in crowds in Chicago and other big cities, but THIS is New York. Nothing compares.
A local cop told me this was really a "ghost town" compared to a normal night. Police everywhere were present from all over the country, coming to assist the NYPD and I saw squad cars and uniforms from as far as Oakland, CA. Street vendors were every few feet, it was either flags, pins or panorama photos and art renditions of the NY skyline. Every block was thick with the sweet smells of local restaurants and carts selling hot pretzels and rolls. As we approached Times Square the constant chatter grew louder, the crowds thickened, cell phones ringing, the lone saxophone player on the corner…it wasn't a movie, it was real.

Sonya and Terry Mawhorter, promoters of the Ohio Pen Show

Sonya and Terry Mawhorter, promoters of the Ohio Pen Show

And the reality showed with near empty parking lots, peeking into restaurants I saw empty tables, and traffic was moving, gridlock was a word from the past.
I stopped on the corner of Times Square and leaned against a wall and watched the crowds and absorbed that moment in time. I listened to the chatter as people passed, looking into their faces and I let the whole experience register.
From the very center of Times Square I looked up and saw a piece of the night sky above the brilliant lights and giant movie screens, there I saw the full moon directly over the Empire State Building. Now the tallest building in NY, the tower is bathed in red, white and blue flood lights.
Somehow that impressive moment is indelible in my memory. I will never forget the vision, the sounds, the activity of a city on the mend. I had the feeling that I was a part of this very pulse of America.
Oddly, I was up for over 36 hours and didn't even feel tired. Boy, was I ever wired.

Manny Erdtmann, Chartpak/Pelikan

Manny Erdtmann, Chartpak/Pelikan

Saturday morning set up, we had great expectations for the noon opening.
The people came slowly, but steadily. By mid-afternoon the rooms were filled and traffic was constant. The Pelikan table was extremely popular with everyone extending congratulations to Manny Erdtmann, National Sales Manager for Chartpak. Ken Haffner, VP of Chartpak arranged a clever promotion with Dean Tweeddale of Penlovers, called "Pens for Kids". Dean handed out 300 Pelikano fountain pens to children who attended the show. New Pelikan pen designs on display were brought from Europe to the U.S. market. The Pelikan USA web site will also be up shortly.

Scott Woodside of Platinum Pen

Scott Woodside of Platinum Pen

Scott Woodside of Platinum Pen hosted a magnificent exhibit of Maki-E writing instruments that were created especially for this show. First Class Maki-E artists Katsuhiko Terui and Hideaki Sone traveled from Japan to demonstrate the art of Japanese lacquer pen decoration. Magnificent lacquer bowls and boxes were completely sold out as were the special pens made for this show.

Saturday afternoon at 4:30 the charity auction of donated pens began with opening comments from Robert Kronenberger and the pen show publicity team. Allan Gross was the professional auctioneer who kept up a rapid pace and added lively comments which helped boost sales to a whopping $35,100. Robert Kronenberger's personal Anno Domini prototype was the star of the show, with bids rapidly increasing from $5,000 to a final price of $12,000. which is a U.S. record for a new pen at auction. Donal Higgins' generous donation of a Zoss LE from Bexley was sold for $200. Every item in the auction sold, there were some exceptional bargains and all bidders were very pleased.

The show room was locked down at 6pm so dealers were able to leave their goods in place, which was very convenient, and allowed for a quick set up the next morning.

 

Maryann Zucker at the auction preview table

Maryann Zucker at the auction preview table

Saturday night everyone scattered to various restaurants and events. The Zuckers hosted a dinner for the many people that helped the show. At the Hilton that evening there was a "Roast" honoring Hugh Hefner, Playboy kingpin, and many celebrities were seen walking through the lobby to stretch limos that lined the block.
I was more impressed as I watched EMT's and rescue teams in their bright red and yellow shirts and jackets, as they quietly walked to elevators. Solemn looking, dusty and carrying their heavy boots slung over their shoulders, some people applauded, some quietly said their "Thanks", everyone quietly stepped aside to allow them to enter the elevators first.

A convenient Italian restaurant across from the hotel was superb, with constant attention from the waiters. At most, about 20% of the tables were occupied. Another quiet and very long walk around Manhattan, down Broadway and 5th Ave. Bert Heiserman, an architect in another life, pointed out the finer details of St. Patrick's Cathedral where Presidents have come to worship since the 1840's, and the styles of other landmarks in the area.

Sunday had a consistent traffic of visitors for most of the day, and fortunately my sales picked up with more of my vintage and new old stock pens being sold. I finally made my expenses for the trip, which was a bonus, for I felt this trip was worth it at any price.

Sugar Ray Leonard accepts the giant $35,100. check from the Zuckers and Robert Kronenberger.

Sugar Ray Leonard accepts the giant $35,100. check from the Zuckers and Robert Kronenberger.

Around 4:30 Sugar Ray Leonard appeared with his publicity staff to accept the giant $35,100. check from the Zuckers and Robert Kronenberger. Sugar Ray Leonard was very cordial, signed many autographs, including a few on my ink blotters and posed with many of us for a memorable souvenir of this great show. I sold my display Parker Beechcraft airplane and the buyer took it, glad I did not have to ship it home. I also sold a few signed copies of The Short Stories by Bruce H. Bentzman. Bruce proudly showed me his newest purchase, a Chris Thompson Duofold in solid brass. Bruce is now contemplating the perfect Latin phrase to be engraved on the barrel, send him your suggestions.

As everyone packed up I noticed that every flag on every table was taken home.
The card placed with every complimentary flag noted that the donation was from Donal Higgins of Pentrace.com and myself. Thank you Donal.

Deb Crosby, author representing the PCA

Deb Crosby, author representing the PCA

Sunday nite was time for a great casual seafood dinner at the Redeye Grill with Dean Tweeddale, Lee Chait who casually claimed he can easily down a six pound lobster, and Chris Thompson who is getting incredibly busy making pens these days. We speculated on the future of pen shows over the next 12 months, and we agreed there will be a difference. Everything will be different.

We walked the 3 blocks back to the hotel in a steady light rain, all four of us wearing our NYC Pen Show caps, and I for one actually wanted to walk slower. The rain felt good in my face, the streets and sidewalks glistened wet with neon reflections, the air tasted cool and refreshing. Instead of hunching up and leaning against the slight wind and rain I stood tall and walked full face into the night. It just seemed more natural.

I felt as if this was a harbinger of a fresh new beginning. I finally felt a lot better inside.

 

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