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*14th Annual National Pen Show

The New Jersey National Pen Show 2000
A report from the Garden State pen show.
by Robert Helfrich
"Psst!, Buddy, Wanna' Buy A National Pen Show ? Cheap? For You $500 ! Its in The Garden State, New Jersey. Close to Philadelphia, NYC, in the heart of the eastern megalopolis. Just $499.00. Look, you don't take it and we'll have to put it up on eBay #486276428"

So, what do you get for your $499 ? Friday, the dealers get together and sell each other the real bargain pen for the show. On Saturday, displays set up, half the tables empty. At any given time, dealers out number visitors 4 to 1. This is the Mostly Vintage Day: Individual Dealers, in the main, collectors who have to part with some of their treasures in order to get more - or to keep a spouse happy - and what treasures they have: Large Jade Green Chilton Pneumatics, Scads of BCHR EDs, Duofolds, LF Balances in all colors, Flattops large and small, Sleek Black Swans, even J. G. Riders (only the Rorting 900 has a clip that looks like a rider), John Holland. . .

“Its not a difficult question, but repeating "Wha'cha' looking for?" gets me no closer to the answer.”

"Wha'Cha' looking for ?" says a dealer, and suddenly I can't remember. I'm a kid in a candy store, a motor head teen in the High Performance Auto Supply Store - what I want is everything ! Its not a difficult question, but repeating it "Wha'cha' looking for?" gets me no closer to the answer. I'm no longer here to shop, I'm a devotee at a pagan shrine, I'm here to look - not to look for, no, to look at. . . and to look at all of it.

Second time around the nearly deserted grand ball room, I can finally focus. Say, There's Doc David Isaacson down from Rochester. He's got the most incredible digital photos of Vacs - the photos, which must have taken forever, have enough backlighting to show the transparency and enough light from the front and sides so that the pens aren't silhouetted. The pictures glow.

The day gets broken in half when everyone must vacate the room by 3 p.m. - somebody's got it booked for a wedding or a party. Is this the Death Valley Pen Show? I feel sorry for the hobbyists who have to re-pack and unpack again - and then unpack and repack again tomorrow. How many of these fishermen will even get their bait back?

Sunday: a line, a long line, can this be for the Pen Show: yes ! The Death Valley blooms with a sudden flash flood. The dealers of Vintage Pens are joined by the Modern Pen Stores. Every table is filled, the crowds gather in little knots around each vender. No there are some dealers with no one, so my path is random, go where the crowd ain't, go on a schedule different from the knots which seem bound together.

"Wha'cha' want?" and the answer now is how much for that Jade Chilton. As I thought too rich for my blood - maybe I shouldn't have ordered that Stub Nib Montegrappa Cosmopolitan Gothic - next table "Wha'cha' want?" Got any Holland Hatchets ? "Wha'cha' want with them?" I like different filling systems. "Well I got a nice Crocker hatchet, here," So do I thanks. Next table. The New Conklin Nozac LE table. A Nozac that's an Onoto Plunger ? Weren't the Nozacs twist fillers, pistons like Pelikan and Aurora ? My picture of a Nozac is one of those os Herringbone patterned screw piston fillers.. I go looking for vintage Nozacs. First table: "Oh, I've got one, but its a part's pen only, doesn't work." Try that table. Three Nozacs, all standard size. My heart was set on an os - but if I'm collecting for techniques of filler size isn't than important. The price is good. "Do I want to dip the nib in Sheaffer Blue? " No thanks, its a brown pen, I'll probably fill it with brown, you're sure it works?

Not what I thought I'd get. How can I leave without hitting the huge FPH display? They're showing off the prototype of the new Krone H.M.S. Victory. One cool pen is you can stand the ugly Aqua colored cap. The pen is authentic antique ivory with H.M.S. Victory on it in scrimshaw - looks like a three masted Barkentine, or does it have four masts, hard to tell, its not in profile?. FPH rations out their 2001 catalogs but is free with 2001 Pen Calendars. Pick up a 40 pen leather case and a Rorting Core - "the one with the Orange Ski Pole Top and with an XS nib." A helpful FPH staffer looks oddly at my description of the rotring's cap, but swaps nibs with another pen." The nice folks at Yafa hand out mini fountain pens - clear demos that hold one small cartridge.

“Its always something you don't go looking for that captures you most at one of these expos, swap meets, shows.”

Didn't budget right, spend a tad more than I should. Found out that I maybe should have been a little more suspicious of the seller of the vintage Nozac - it leaks when I get it home - oh well, have to try my hand at repairing pens - but next time, I'm taking water and testing out the leakiness of pens. Should I have really blown the budget on an os Jade Chilton ?

Its always something you don't go looking for that captures you most at one of these expos, swap meets, shows. I saw the pen I thought I'd never see outside of a picture book. Not the $50,000 LE, the Parker Aztec, The Waterman Filigree, but a much plainer looking writing instrument.

I had seen, touched, and handled the Holy Grail. The object of my profound desire lay as it should have under glass protected from the hoi palloi. Aside from the owners, no one else even seemed to notice the 1932 La Plume d'Or Meteore "Pullman Meteore 35" - the first vanishing point pen. The owners operated the pen: one holds the cap with fingers and presses the barrel with the thumb, opening a trap door in the end of the cap and revealing an 18 kt. nib. That alone was worth the admission to the 2000 New Jersey National Pen Show.

"Psst!, Hey Buddy, Wanner' Buy a National Pen Show ? Cheap !" Only if it comes with a 1932 La Plume d'Or Meteore Pullman Meteore 35. That'd be a bargain: three different pen show experiences in three days - and the Holy Grail to boot.

$499.00 lots of pens cost more than that. I've spent more than that. Think I'll talk to my bride about buying a Pen Show. Well its all I want for Christmas. You wouldn't have to get me anything else - if the Pullman Meteore 35 were included. Get Yourself a Jersey pen Show - Three Shows in One - Find the Holy Grail !

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