July 05, 2015

The First Hotel Pen Shows

[Posted on L&P on June 5, & 6, 2008.]
        While reading some old issues of Pen Fancier’s Newsletter, I came across these paragraphs.
        Dec 1978, vol. 1, no. 12, p.1.  “Fred P. Krinke, president of our Southern California Chapter, called to tell us that his “Fall-Get-Together” meeting for pen fanciers was a success.  Fred is president of The Fountain Pen Shop in Los Angeles which sponsored this event.  A large room was rented at the Holiday Inn on Marengo Street in Los Angeles and tables were arranged at both sides of the room for pen display.  No less than 31 people attended this premier P.F.C. Chapter Meeting.  Al Fentiman displayed his magnificent collection in glass covered cases, and many fine pens and pencils were bought, sold, and traded.  Interesting ads and catalogs were also displayed and everyone had an enjoyable time.  I want to commend Fred for arranging this premier meeting and making it a success!  I also thank him for his untiring and effective efforts at membership recruitment.  We are featuring a fine article about Fred’s business in this issue”.
        Feb 1979, vol. 2, no. 2, p.1.  “John Cuevas, president of our New York Chapter, is planning a meeting for members and other collectors to be held February 25, 1979 in a mid Manhattan hotel or restaurant.  Knowledge and experience will be shared and pens will be bought, sold, and traded.  Another goal of this important event will be the recruitment of new members for our club.  Any collectors in the Northeast or elsewhere wishing to enjoy and benefit this rare opportunity are asked to call John for further details as soon as possible.  Some of the nation’s leading collectors are planning to attend.  We hear that Fred P. Krinke is planning a Spring meeting for his Southern California Chapter.  As you may recall, Fred’s Fall meeting was a great success.”
        May 1979, vol. 2, no. 5, p.1.  “George S. James, president of our Washington, D.D., Maryland, and Virginia chapter, is planning his first meeting to take place on May 12, 1979, at The Washington, D.C. YWCA building.  There will be sufficient tables for thirty people to set up in the fourth floor dining room.  The meeting will be held from 12 P.M. till 3 P.M.  George asks that you bring any Waterman-related material that you may have, such as catalogs, ads, repair manuals as he is planning a Waterman project.  George will show his wonderful slide show and give a talk on the fountain pen.  If you would like to attend this meeting call George as soon as possible.”

        Here are the opening lines and a
photo from an early history of the Writing Equipment Society in the UK.  It’s taken from a webpage titled “About the WES”.
        “The Writing Equipment Society grew from a group of enthusiasts who had two things in common–they were interested in all the paraphernalia associated with the act of writing and they all patronized ‘His Nibs’, the fascinating shop belonging to Philip Poole in Drury Lane, London.  Philip had written informal newsletters to his customers and friends, pulling together a group which met in London in September 1980, to realise that they had the makings of a really worthwhile new society.  So it was, that on 30th November 1980, an inaugural meeting was held in the Bonnington Hotel, London, and the Writing Equipment Society was born.  The idea was to promote ownership, conservation, study and use of writing equipment–to record knowledge and share it with others.  Philip Poole’s pre-1980 newsletters have now been brought together and re-printed in one volume to celebrate our first 25 years (2005). These newsletters were the ‘foundation stones’ upon which the current WES Journal has been built.”

        And here is a history of the dealer pen shows in the US titled
“History of Pen Shows” from Bill Acker’s website.  It’s written by Don Lavin, and it’s probably taken from a post on one of the pen message boards of the day, such as Penlovers, The Ink Spot, Pentrace, or Zoss, in January 2001.
        “Having just read some comments on pen shows, I feel the need to set some records straight.  In 1979, the Pen Fancier
s Club was publishing a monthly with the names of so-called presidents of local clubs.  I was a subscriber, so I looked up a number of the collectors whose names and addresses were published, and in 1981 I began hosting regular meetings.  Included were collectors from Wisconsin, Illinois, and eventually other bordering states.  By 1983, [we had] the first “dealer” set up, which placed our meeting at a new level.  [We moved] from meeting in my house to Mike Fultz’s mansion, [until finally] we were forced to begin using hotels and motels.  By 1984, we were attracting collectors from Canada and numerous states.  In 1983, 1984, and 1985 we were hosting two shows a year, in April and in November at Thanksgiving.  We were now the center of the pen collecting world as no other show was yet in existence, although Frank Dubiel had started up a meeting in Boston in 1985, I believe.  George Fischler and Stuart Schneider became great friends and attended our shows in the mid-80’s.  Eventually George and Stuart offered to help us out by starting a show in New Jersey, and we agreed to help them out.  The first NJ show was in 1986, if memory serves me correct, and so we scaled back to one show in Chicago, in the spring, and NJ picked up the fall show.  Attending all of these shows was the legendary Robert Tefft and his sidekick, the equally legendary, Peter Amis.  Bob suggested that it would be nice to have a show in a warm location on the west coast in LA, so February was picked, and Mike, Dan Zazove, who by now was a partner in our local endeavor, and I began to attend shows in LA, and we worked with Bob and other members of the then SCPCA, the pre-cursor to the PCA.  So Chicago is much older than 8 years and pre-dates all other shows by at least 2 years.  Eventually Michigan started up, as well as Philly, and Houston, and Miami.  The original Miami show lasted 2 years, and took a long hiatus.  Two shows were also set up in Toronto, both of which I attended and enjoyed.  Both Washington and Columbus were years away from organizing.  Another early show still in existence is the Little Rock show.  Small and mostly local, it has been on the show agenda since the 80’s also.  I will continue to give more information on the history of the pen show in additional postings.  If you have read this post you will now realize why we always bill the Chicago show as the oldest and largest show in all of our ads.  Oldest can never be debated, and largest is always debatable.  I guess I should start billing our show as the largest vintage show in the world because we always concentrate on vintage, and try hard to maintain a good mix of vintage dealers, modern retailers, manufacturers, and ink and ephemera dealers.”

George Kovalenko.