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London Pen Weekend
A review of the recent pen events in London
from the fountain pen of Kristin Keller

London Pen Show weekend was a most enjoyable experience for Bernie Bauer and me after a glorious trip aboard the QE II. We had experienced some misgivings about travel after September 11 but found few difficulties other than waiting to get through security checks. But once in London we found locations easy to get to via the Tube or bus and walking was pleasurable due to sunny weather.

First stop was Bonhams and Brooks to check out auction items. I purchased a catalogue which listed 801 lots and only showed one photograph, a Parker Snake on the cover. Poor value for the cost. As we inspected items a general consensus arose among the ten or so people that the pens were generally neither in very good shape or interesting. I marked the catalogue for the next day and we walked over to Harrods.

There we were greeted warmly by a helpful and knowledgeable staff (quite unlike those at the auction site) who encouraged us to try pens from a vast assortment of modern manufacture. Yard-O-Led director Tim Tufnell was working on a British masterpiece and it was a pleasure to learn how his company produces their pens. Martin Lesny, pen manager at Harrods, was understandably proud of his department and his staff. A visit there would be well worth the time whenever anyone visits London.

Friday, October 12th was the auction at Bonhams and Brooks. The room was crowded, hot, seating inadequate, auctioneer seemingly uninterested. (If you gather I was not thrilled you would be correct) I purchased one pen and left after noting that few pens met the suggested values. It is to be hoped that the auction house finds someone to replace the departed Alex Crum Ewing or else the pen auction is likely to slip into oblivion deserved by the 2001 poor showing.

On Saturday we attended the WES meeting at Avenue House in Finchley. The building was the home of Stephens ink producer and houses a small but interesting collection related to "Inky" Stephens and his products. Most attendees were from the UK but Germany, Belgium, Australia, Israel, and the US were also present. The meeting was conducted in a pleasant upstairs room. Several presented perspectives of pen collecting and a general agreement was that the Internet has changed the hobby forever.Due to the Internet it was proposed that information travels swiftly and "new" discoveries are shared overnight. Also web sites (the great one on Parker 75 comes to mind) can provide a library without having to travel further than ones desktop. Auctions, sales, etc., can be conducted easily with the caveat of buyer beware still very important!

A trading session followed the meeting. There were many high quality items sold, traded, and admired. But the following day was to prove the trip highlight. Kensington Town Hall is a superb venue for one of the nicest pen shows I have ever enjoyed.We had anticipated seeing many items not commonly found at American pen shows and our expectations were fulfilled. I would guess that most of the dealers were from the UK .But Israel, Germany (special thanks to Regina for helping me), Australia, and the USA all managed to have vast selections of desk items, dip pens, wonderful vintage Conway Stewarts, odd items, and good food which kept me happy all day. The emphasis was on vintage items and many were unfamiliar to this newbie collector. Both Bernie and I enjoyed numerous conversations with dealers who seemed to enjoy explaining their wares. That atmosphere reminded me of the Columbus, Ohio pen show which is where we are headed in a few days.

In closing, I would suggest that the weekend as organized by Simon Gray is well worthwhile. All those who produced the WES meeting and London show combined to provide a memorable time. We hope to visit again.

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