July 31, 2015

Canadian Collectors

[Posted on L&P on Aug 31, 2008.]
        I asked Stephen Overbury why he wasn’t chiming in, and he said that when he realized that not much was being said about the early Canadian group, he started to get angry.  He thought better of it, though, and decided he would stay in lurking mode and say nothing himself, but he decided, by his own admission, to put his “attention deficit disorder personality on hold” long enough to relate these stories to me.
        Stephen was another of those who attended some of the earliest pen shows in the US.  He recollects that one the first was organized by Lavin and Fultz in a small shop in Ohio, well before the Chicago race track shows.  Stephen began co-organizing shows in Toronto around then as well.  He had the help of Ken Rowe, the senior official who ran Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital, and a seasoned collector of postal items and other writing equipment, and Bill Gardiner, then president of Sheaffer Canada.  They started the first pen club in Canada, a thankless job to be sure.  Stephen was the first president, and they produced a newsletter of about 100 pages in total.
        At those first meetings a lot of rare pens showed up and collectors, Stephen included, didn’t realise just what they were giving up when they sold or traded them.  He remembers trading away his full size Conklin crescent filler Endura after a lot of pressure from an American collector.  Even Glen Bowen got in on the act of trading by mail up north, making one collector promise not to tell a soul that he had traded a BHR Sheaffer for that collector’s red hard rubber Waterman’s with a fine silver overlay!  Talk about being taken to the cleaners, eh?  He ended by saying, “There are likely about twelve or thirteen of us on the entire planet that truly care about learning about the history of writing equipment in some depth, as opposed to merely chasing it, bragging about it, and making a killing as the only goals”.  But that’s just a bit of Stephen’s usual hyperbole, the part about the 12 or 13, not the last part.

George Kovalenko.


July 29, 2015

Johnny Cuevas


  Nassau, December 1956, Cuban-American Johnny Cuevas with his Porsche Speedster.

, and the New York City collectors.

[Posted on L&P on Aug 31, 2008.]
        Nishimura wrote that Johnny Cuevas was a hugely important figure for New York City collecting, but Cuevas was before his time.  “Others will have to fill in his story”, he wrote, “but I know enough to know it deserves amplification”.  I mentioned three people who held pen shows in 1978 and 1979.  I already talked about Fred Krinke above, but George James was a National Science Foundation official who worked in the field of rocket science for the US government.  He also authored the 1979 article about writing instruments in the Time-Life
series, Encyclopedia of Collectibles, where he described himself as a Buck Rogers fan as a teenager when he bought his first fountain pen, a Parker 51 whose sleek, streamlined design reminded him of his teenage hero’s spaceship.  Now, as promised, here’s something more about Johnny Cuevas.
        There were some interesting threads on Pentrace a while back about the origins of pen shows, and about the most important and influential pen collectors and researchers.  These threads are now all long gone from Pentrace, but I archived them in my own personal library.  Concerning Johnny Cuevas, there was a thread on Pentrace in May 2005 called “Shapers and Changers”, and here’s the portion of that thread that dealt with Cuevas.  I archived it on L&P on Aug 31, 2008, and now I am saving it here.

        Daniel Kirchheimer posted on May 17, 2005, “In the mid-1970’s, I got my summer-camp friend Richie Golden interested in pen collecting, and subsequently, he met Johnny Cuevas at a flea market where he was set up as a general dealer.  Johnny already collected lighters, but Richie got him interested in pens, and since I lived in NYC and Johnny was in a basement apartment in the east ‘60s, we ended up spending a great deal of time together.  In exchange for teaching him about pens, he transported me to all the flea markets he was dealing at on weekends, and, of course, he got me in during dealer set-up!
        “Johnny’s first major find was at the flea market at Madison Square Garden in the late ‘70s.  He was meeting me at a deli on 8th Avenue to take me into the show early, but he had already walked around the show, and grabbed a Waterman 448, silver filigree overlay safety pen for $70.
        “Of course, he went on to be a major dealer in the early days.  We didn’t stay in contact so much after he had sold his whole collection, though he was continuing to collect.  As a teenager, the whole thing was a hobby for me, done out of love, and Johnny had bills to pay and had to make the hobby pay for itself, I think.  But I miss him. He was a really kind guy, and he treated me like a prince, even though I was a punk kid who thought he knew it all.  Has anything changed?
        “By the way, Johnny had an entire fascinating life before getting into the vintage stuff business.  He was a championship race car driver, and at one point he owned 17 cars.  He would show me his scrapbooks.  It’s fair to say he was cool.”

        Don Lavin posted, “Thanks for the stories about Johnny.  Do you know who he sold his pen collection to?  Try Ed Fingerman of the Fountain Pen Hospital.  And that is a story in itself.  I always enjoyed talking to Johnny.  Here is one story for the readers.  John had customers who wanted Waterman 58 ripples, so he concocted a story that there were 7 distinct patterns of 58 Ripples.  In this way he could continue to sell 58s to the same collectors long after they had acquired their first one!  A bit of a scam to be sure, but I still laugh at his salesmanship.  I also love the way he always referred to me as Laddie.  Laddie this, Laddie that.  I knew that he was from Cuba, but I did not know about his racing past.  Quite a guy.”

        And Daniel replied, “Yep, I knew about the deal with Ed.  I was withholding the name to protect the guilty!  I must confess that I served as an appraiser for that sale.  I should have stayed out of it to keep my conscience clear.
        “Cuevas was a top-tier racer who placed well at Sebring, etc., in the late ’50s early ’60s, I believe.  Raced Porsches, if I recall correctly.  Tooled around town in a gull-wing Mercedes.”

        Thanks for the stories, Don and Daniel.

    George Kovalenko.


July 25, 2015

PFC Lifetime Members


[Posted on L&P from Aug 30 to Sept 2, 2008.]
    Here’s a list of all the PFC Lifetime Members roughly in chronological order, or the order of their becoming lifers.  The numbers are not official membership numbers, just an organizational aid.  Now, here’s a teaser.  How many of the names in this list do you recognize?

1. Gilbert Nestel
2. Dr. Martin Abbrecht
3. Rose Ann Munoz
4. Raymond Sharpless
5. Glen B. Bowen
6. Dr. David H. Ahrenholz
7. John Craver, Seattle Pen Shop
8. Leon F. Dillenburg
9. Jerry L. Queary
10. Steve Cohen
11. Mrs. E. Loucopoulos = 141
12. Dr. Thomas MacDonald
13. Robert McAtee
14. Mary E. Strachan
15. Masamichi Sunami
16. Steve Wichert
17. Marvin Hardison
18. Richard E. Wehrli
19. Ed Goldfield
20. Prescott S. Smith
21. Kazou Tanji
22. Dr. David Biddle
23. Ian Belcher
24. Dr. Donald F. Bradley
25. Frank Proto
26. Dr. Burton H. Cohen
27. Curt McQueen
28. E. D. Powell
29. Heidi Nitze
30. Edith R. Peroff
31. Michael Silber
32. Hiroji Fukuda
33. Kay I. Kawahara
34. L. Michael Fultz
35. Cliff Lawrence
36. Judy A. Lawrence
37. Roy Nakano
38. J. R. Chen
39. Murray S. Hoffman
40. John G. Woodland
41. Lloyd S. Kozbelt
42. Dr. Gerald Zwiren
43. Hugh P. Hetherington
44. Dr. W. Thomas Rueff
45. Daniel Zazove
46. Dr. Stanley M. Hanfling
47. Richard E. Williams
48. Marc Ames
49. Constance Lovice Brown
50. Romain Brunett
51. Jane Crane
52. Cindy Lawrence
53. Susan L. Lawrence
54. Gerald L. Lucas
55. Julius Mortvedt
56. Dr. Leon Neiman
57. Daniel H. Pierce
58. Harvey L. Pollock
59. Dr. Dykes Cordell
60. Donald T. McSparran
61. Dixie Lea Smith
62. Rev. Barry Van Hoogen
63. Dr. Charles E. Wade
64. Roger B. Wilkenfeld
65. Mirza Alsharif
66. Charles V. Ricks
67. Rabbi A. A. Levene
68. Dr. Thomas S. Schultz
69. Joseph P. Vogt
70. Edward Fingerman
71. Thomas J. Revson
72. Borsa Alessandro
73. Richard G. Wood
74. Armando Dabbene
75. James J. Melton
76. Bruce A. Nichol
77. Patricia Lee Ross
78. Dr. Melvin Morrison
79. Judson H. Bell
80. Gerald Michaels
81. Chet Nichols
82. Rodney Hearne
83. Marilynn M. Olson
84. Robert A. Dospil
85. Ronald J. Geraci
86. James Bud Holcomb
87. Tan Poh Kok
88. Lina Ercolessi
89. Sharon L. Rice
90. Andy Lambrou
91. Dr. Robert L. Craig
92. Said M. Marouf
93. Antonella Mazza
94. Dr. Warren G. Smirl
95. Steven A. Mandell
96. Arthur Metzger
97. Curtis “J” Votaw
98. George P. Schiavelli
99. Emilio De Marchi-Gherini
100. Jack DeBartolo, Jr.
101. L. A. Carrier
102. James L. Livermore
103. Frank J. Lord
104. Dr. Ron Pruitt
105. Francisco Messequer
106. Arthur Twydle
107. Walt Boice
108. Dr. Ricardo Grillo
109. Robert Kazanjian
110. Y. K. Chan
111. Pendulam
112. Edmond Del Pilar Soto
113. Robert L. Cranston
114. Gianni Fantacci
115. Toshihisa Okamoto
116. P. C. Breunle
117. Luigi Negri
118. Dr. Alan M. Fogelman
119. Paolo Casella
120. Nello Moscatelli
121. Manuel Oliveira Simoes
122. Dr. Bernard H. Boal
123. Dr. Jacob S. Loke
124. Paola Maggi
125. Dr. James R. McCarty
126. Matthew L. Albers
127. Dr. Robert L. Berry
128. John DiBlasi
129. Urbano Proli
130. Arnold Schindel
131. Dr. Larry Cohen
132. Philip S. Slaugh
133. Ira Snider
134. Christophe Sabatier
135. Dr. Guiseppe Jacopini
136. Julius E. Bliach
137. Delfino C. Ferreira
138. George C. Chandler
139. Chuck Gardner
140. Peter Gold
141. Mrs. Ky = 11
142. Wilfred E. Beckwith
143. Takew Hirata
144. Robert Friggens
145. John C. Greaves
146. Monique Tattegrain
147. Wes Burgess

        David Nishimura wrote, “Ordinary PFC members, who, by the time I joined, were really just “subscribers”, never had their names listed.  Only Lifetime members were so named—Lifetime members being those who, instead of paying dues annually, had paid a single, large, sum that made them members for life, which for most turned out to be the life of the PFC, rather than their own”.
        Rob Astyk wrote, “Not only were PFC Lifetime memberships granted in return for a large payment, $250, if I recall correctly, but Cliff could grant and withdraw that distinction at will, usually for some contribution to the PFC other than in cash.  I know that he offered me such a membership in the halcyon days before I earned his disapproval by defending Stuart Schneider’s Fountain Pen Exchange”.
        And I wrote, “You had to pay extra for the privilege of becoming “eternal”.  All the “oldies” know that the regular subscription for a year’s worth of PFC Magazines was about $20-25 a year, but lifetime membership was a flat fee of $100 in the early 1980s, and went up in increments until it reached a high of $300 in the 1990s”.
        Claes Lindblad wrote, “Only Lifetime members were so named?  May I kindly direct you to page 1 of the Pen Fancier’s Newsletter, April 1978”.
        Then I wrote, “Claes showed me his page, which confirms that my copy is a later expurgated copy made by Cliff when he ran out of the original copies.  And yes, Cliff removed all the contact information.  What Claes refers to is a short list of ten names, not of lifetime members, but of PFC local chapter vice-presidents that were appointed by Cliff, which is as close as you can get to being a lifetime member without actually being one.  Some of these V-Ps later also became Lifetimers.
        “The idea for lifetime membership was born in the March 1980 issue when Gilbert Nestel became Lifetime Member #1 when he wrote the following letter to Cliff.  “Sorry for the delay in renewing my membership.  Enclosed is a check for $100.00 as payment for lifetime membership.  I hope others follow my example so that you can continue your fine efforts.  I am confident that the fountain pen will once again become the standard writing instrument.  If it does, then you will be in no small part responsible for its reemergence.”  Some other LMs were designated in the first short lists of LMs that appeared in the April and May 1980 issues, just the first four or five names, and listed in order by their LM number.  The list grows to 8 in June. The next list doesn’t appear until November 1980, and by then the numerical listing disappears, and the names are listed alphabetically.
        “There was also another short-lived development in the February 1981 issue.  That’s when Cliff elevated 5 members to his “P.F.C. Honor Roll”.  These were members who “generously contributed excellent original ads, catalogs, articles, or good quality reproducible photo copies for publication in this newsletter”.  There were five names in that list, including some duplicates form the LM list.  He also stated that he would list further members in this department in each issue, but I could find no further additions to the list in subsequent issues.  This list appears along with the above cheesy illustration of the Honor Roll medal cobbled together out of the chopped-up, leftover pieces of line cuts and ads for pens.  I want
s me one of them medals, sparkles and all”.

George Kovalenko.


July 21, 2015

Pen Shops, and Pen Sellers

, and pen repair shops.

[Doug Flax, also known by his username DocNib, posted this on Pentrace on Aug 29, 2008, and gave me permission to cross-post it on L&P on Aug 29, 2008, and now I am archiving it here.]
        “Major pen shops and pen sellers should be on that list, too.
        “Yes, the list could get quite long, but you can’t forget those pen shops in major or minor cities that helped keep interest alive in Contemporary and/or Vintage pens.
        “Chicago has Sam Himoto at the Pen Hospital, our Flax on Wabash, Gilbertson Clybourn (?) on Michigan Ave., and even Marshall Fields had pens.  We started with one 4’ showcase in 1978 in Chicago, and the same thing in Phoenix in 1980, and grew to about 15 within several years and got those “closet” collectors out into the light and got their collecting juices a flowin’.  Now, they had somewhere to go and talk vintage, modern, or both.
        “Many major cities had them, those bricks & mortar battlefields, in the early days before the Internet, that really worked hard to change the mind-set of the populace to using FP’s again, whether vintage or contemporary.  After the “closet” collectors came the “believers” who just didn’t have many places to go to feed their habit and after them came the “non-believers” who had to see what the fuss was all about.  Well, we see where that’s gone today, collectors and users everywhere you look, which is a good thing!
        “By no means am I forgetting the shops that had been around for umpteen years, the FPH’s, the Arthur Brown’s, the Fred Krinke’s, the Jack Price’s, etc., these guys were, and still are! pioneers, but the addition of all the other shops helped bring this hobby into the limelight and make it a truly Global phenomenon!
        “So let’s add the pen shop owners (current, retired or passed on) to what could become a very long list, and give them their due.
        “Just my 2-cents, or maybe 4-cents, as I’ve rambled on a bit!”

        And I wrote, “Along with Doug Flax’s list of pen shops and pen sellers we should include a list of the pen repair shops.  Most pen shops had a repair shop in the back, but there were also some self-styled pen repair shops that also sold pens.
Most people are familiar with the Fountain Pen Hospital in New York, but most people aren’t aware of all the other shops that used that name.  The Angelus Pen Hospital in Los Angelus is now named The Fountain Pen Shop, and is owned by Fred Krinke.  The Fountain Pen Hospital of Baltimore was owned by Michael Quitt.  Gregory’s Fountain Pen Hospital was located in Detroit.  There was a Reliable Fountain Pen Hospital in New York before the present day one.  The Fountain Pen Hospital of Texas was owned by Judy Barnett.  Tucker’s Fountain Pen Hospital was in Philadelphia.  And the Universal Fountain Pen Hospital, owned by Sam Himoto in its last years, was in Chicago.  It went out of business in 2004.
There was also the Good Service Pen Shop in Boston run by George Salustro, and later taken over by the Bromfield Pen Shop.  There was the Golden Gate Pen Shop in San Francisco.  The Kentucky Pen Shop was Bud Wilkinson’s shop in Louisville.  Joseph Lipic’s repair shop was called “The Pen House of St. Louis”, and later “Lipic’s Pen Corner”.  There was a Pencraft Pen Co. in Toronto.  Rapid Fountain Pen Repair Co. was located in New York.  And the owner of The Stationery Shop in Haverhill, Mass., advertised that, “I am a fountain pen doctor, and prescribe free of charge for all minor ills”.  There was even a repair shop called Specialty Repairs here in my city, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada.
George Kovalenko.


July 17, 2015

The Fourth Decade

, the blog decade.

[Posted by John Chapman on L&P on Aug 29, 2008.]
        “I think there needs to be another set of circumstances mentioned in the timeline—perhaps as a subset of period 3, but I think marking it’s own point of departure, and that is the online research tools that have become available in the last 2-5 years.
        “There has been a critical change in the information on the web.  It started out in the early 90s as the “land of 100,000 brochures”, without a lot of content behind pages.  As you mention, there was a period where the pen-collector boards and websites were born and a wealth of information could be had from serious collectors and historians.
        “But there is a more recent phenomenon as more and more primary source materials are made available on the web, which opens up new avenues for research.  Sites like the New York Times online archives,,; government archives such as the Federal Record online (to 1934 I believe), the FTC annual reports; and online resources where public libraries are digitizing local business directories and historical archive material all provide access to primary sources that was not available a couple of years ago.  So when a question is raised about an obscure vintage brand, we can find ads from a dozen newspapers from 1928, or business directories from Rochester in the 1850s, or the 1918 draft cards of obscure nib-makers, etc.  As you have said in another post, we are approaching a golden age of online genealogical research, and I would ad, pen research.
        “I would also add that there is another trend in pen collecting and pen research which needs to be mentioned either in the 3rd or 4th era of pen collecting.  As the mainstream and “highly collectable” brands increase in value (and therefore cost) there is a growing interest among newer collectors in the 2nd and 3rd tier brands and sub-brands.  Companies like Ingersoll, Wearever, Ajax, Thompson, etc. as well as sub-brands like the depression-era Thrift-time Parkers and WASPs that were often considered unworthy of interest to the collecting community are getting a lot more attention.  Newer collectors who can’t afford a complete collection of early Waterman, are finding our own obscure niches in the collecting world and, I think, making us all the richer for it.
        “Unfortunately the transition that you mention in the 3rd period is more representative of the information overload scenario that faces the internet.  As more and more information becomes available, and more communication happens on the web, the signal to noise ratio increases and the difficulty in finding information among the noise is harder.  It is a problem in wider areas than pen collecting.”

        And I wrote, “Yes, and along with the USPTO, EPO, Google patents websites I should have listed such sites as “Making Of America”, the great newspaper archives, government archives, online business directories, historical archives, and genealogical sites.  Thanks for reminding me about what I said about the golden age of online research, and I agree, it is having a great impact on pen research as well.  But there has to be some way of managing the information overload without adding more load to the overage.  There has to be some way to get down to the basics.
        “I remember when the depression-era Parkers were considered worthless, and then suddenly everybody caught on to them, and the prices skyrocketed.  Obscure pens are where it’s at these days.  I remember at one pen show Dick Johnson decided to put together a complete selection of Sheaffer “Lady Skripserts”, and it suddenly created a mini boom for some sellers.”

        Then Pavlo Shevelo posted a pen-collecting-timeline riddle.  “What’s the difference between pen collectors in the 20th century and those in the 21st?  The pen collectors back then chewed their pen caps, while today they chew their flash drives.”
        Blogs are the vanity-press publications of the digital age.  In fact, this decade could be called the blog decade.  Everyone and his dog had a
blog in this decade.

George Kovalenko.



July 13, 2015

The Problematic PFC


[Posted on L&P from June 6 to July 14, 2008, photo posted Oct 25, 2021.]
        David Nishimura posted, “While we are assembling this material for the record, it should also be noted that the mentions of collector get-togethers in the early Pen Fancier’s publications were expunged in the later reprints of those early issues.  From what I understand, it wasn’t long after the efforts to promote independent regional club activity began to bear fruit that there was an abrupt about-face.  I joined the Pen Fancier’s Club in the mid-1980s, and by then it was a club in name only, with no provision made for “members” to contact each other directly.”
        Claes Lindblad wrote that, “The first list of pen lovers I can remember is the one which “His Nibs”, Philip Poole, distributed in the 1970s.  Around 1977, when I joined the PFC, there was a club directory which was circulated, and I assure you that we did have cross contacts. :-) By the mid-1980s, Cliff presumably wanted to keep his list all to himself.  Oh, how time flies.”
        Rob Astyk wrote, “This brings back memories.  Dick Bauer and I organized the very first Boston Pen Show in January, 1980.  It was held at the Somerville Historical Society, which is about 2 miles from the Holiday Inn where the current Boston Shows are held.  When we decided to hold it, we sent the information to Cliff Lawrence who suddenly created a new policy of not printing such notices in the Pen Fancier’s Newsletter.  The consequence was that the attendees consisted of Dick, me, George Salustro of Bromfield Pen, and one young woman from Harvard.  Contributing to this small disaster was the fact that the caretaker of the Historical Society had forgotten about the event and failed to turn on the heat, not a good thing in New England in January.  The show was almost as brief as it was poorly attended.
        “Claes is, of course, correct about the directory in the original PFC Newsletters as is David about their removal.  As I’ve noted before, Cliff Lawrence is a very problematic fellow.  The only explanation that I’ve every been able to come up with for his behaviour is that he had convinced himself that he, and he alone, would control pen collecting forever.  It’s worth noting that the Pen Fancier’s Club was named as if there were one and only one pen fancier, whereas, had Cliff admitted of the existence of others, it would have been Pen Fanciers’ Club.  He interposed himself between the host of pen collectors, and the result was that he marginalized himself.
        “We all owe Cliff a great debt for popularizing and publicizing this hobby.  He is unquestionably the godfather of pen collecting, yet it is terribly sad that he couldn’t embrace that role.  He fought to keep pen collecting his exclusive province and has become the sad, bitter, soon to be forgotten man of the hobby.”

        And I wrote, “It’s a sad fact, but quite early on pen collecting diverged from pen research and became a big business.  And when big money was involved, it was every man for himself.  Every collector became blinkered, and thought he or she was “the center of the pen collecting world”, and that they deserved all the pens that were out there.  I say “he or she”, because there were quite a few women who were members of the Pen Fancier’s Club.  There’s a great early photo of Susan Wirth in those early issues of Pen Fancier’s Newsletter.  You might almost not recognize her.  When she was younger, she was as skinny as a rail, and she looked like a 1970s fashion or glamor model.
        “Claes contributed those great articles titled “Filling Systems In Fountain Pens”, and “A List Of The World’s Fountain Pen Companies” in the first few issues of Pen Fancier’s Newsletter.  It’s a shame that Cliff published only the first two installments of the pen company list.  He stopped at the letter “P” for some reason, probably because it didn’t suit his purposes in the newsletter, which was mostly concerned with the American companies.  And his article about filling systems reads like an ur-Taxonomy of the fountain pen that preceded my taxonomy by about 24 years.  I note that we both agree on the split of the fountain pen family tree into two major limbs, those that fill into the barrel, and those that fill into something inside the barrel.  And also about the other minor, or smaller branches on those limbs.
        “I don’t know whether Cliff Lawrence will be forgotten, or not, in the future, but if he deserves to be remembered for one thing, then it’s for those early issues of the Pen Fancier’s Newsletter, 1978-1981, and the Pen Fancier’s Magazine, 1982-1993, which were still full of youthful enthusiasm, and crammed with pen pictures, and ads, and catalogues, and pen company histories, and other information.  The Magazine quickly devolved into a disorganized pen-sales list, the Pen Trading Post, 1993-98, which at first was a section that colonized the back pages of the magazine, and then
in its last years completely took over the magazine, title and all.  And also not to be forgotten are the other books they published by distilling those early issues of the Newsletter.  But most important of all, we should not forget his co-conspirator and helpmate, his wife Judy Lawrence.  She received equal billing as co-author on all of his books, and not only did she help to put together the issues of the magazine and the books, but she also helped with the pen sales from the Trading Post.  I think it’s time to give both of them their equal dues and refer to them as Cliff & Judy Lawrence, as they themselves do on the covers of their books.
        “But it will be those magazine issues from the first fifteen years that will make up the major portion of the legacy that they will leave behind for posterity.  No one can expunge or redact that.”
        Claes Lindblad wrote, “Took me ages to make those illustrations look right in that article about filling systems.  Remember, all this was well before the computer era.”
        And I wrote, “I can believe it.  I remember doing some of my early university essays with the old-fashioned-cut-and-paste method, that is, with actual scissors and glue and Scotch tape.  Claes, you really should place those articles onto the net, maybe on your website.  They really deserve to be preserved on the net somewhere.”

        David Nishimura wrote, “If we’re still talking about the Lawrences, what I find sad is that the divergence between pen collecting and pen research took place long before pen collecting became anything remotely like big business”.
        Rob Astyk wrote, “You’re correct about the timing.  Back in the early 1980s, all anyone knew came from company histories, or from the pens themselves.  I don’t think that more than four or five people had looked for primary source material, spent any serious time in a library, or even thought about looking at patents.  I was amazed that so many pen companies were simply forgotten because they’d made contract items almost exclusively.  When Stuart Schneider published my first article on The Moore Pen Company it was poor and insufficient, but it was all but unique.  Even nearly a decade later when Jeff Krasner and I published a history of Crocker and Chilton in Pen World, there were only a handful of pen company histories.  As an example, just look at the Kraker threads on L&P.  They all stem from Dennis Bowden’s question, “What happened to all those Kraker pens?”  That a collector should have to ask that question in 2005 is both sad and revealing of what is and is not important in this hobby.”
        David Nishimura wrote, “Don’t be too glum, Rob.  I actually find all the research opportunities inspiring.  Glass half full and all that.  Look at other fields of historical inquiry that have been worked over by scholars for generations, and you still find new and revealing questions being asked.”
        And I wrote, “Don’t forget that some of the earliest pen company histories, Parker, Waterman’s, Wahl Eversharp, Conklin, were published in Pen Fancier’s Newsletter in 1978-79, and more were to come in the 80s.  They also were the first to re-publish the Maginnis Cantor Lectures.  I never met the Lawrences, but I corresponded with them briefly when I purchased copies of their books, and subscribed to their magazine and purchased back issues.  I never bought pens from them, but I have heard both good and bad stories about this.  My only encounters with them have been through their books and magazines.  Now, some can choose to see their experiences with them as half empty, but I choose to see my experience with them as half full.  Still, in hindsight, it’s too bad that the glass wasn’t completely full.”

        Rick Krantz wrote, “I had an opportunity to correspond with Judy a few years back.  I am unsure how Cliff and Judy will go down in history, with regard to the hobby, but I really want to think that they will be remembered as the pioneers they were.  My first encounter with any written item related to fountain pen collecting was an issue of Pen Fancier’s Newsletter that undoubtedly sparked my interest in the hobby tenfold.  I’m glad I was around from the late 80’s onward, but I can hardly imagine those that were out there in the 70’s collecting, and learning.  I think that it is important for a collector to consider establishing a library of early resources, and some of those resources are, in my honest opinion, a collection of PFC newsletters, and a collection of Cliff and Judy’s other printed works.  I spent several years gathering copies of all the publications I could, not too many of the newsletters, but I can say, I got all the books, and the repair guides.  Funny, all my pens are out on display, and being used, but my mint copies of the PFC price guides, and Illustrated History are all locked up in my safe. I would love to have access to a complete collection of the PFC magazine and trading post on CD, or flash drive, etc., or anything, just to have the resource.”
        And I wrote, “Rick, you should suggest that to the Lawrences.  It would be another way for them to merchandise that data in a digital age, and another way for many new collectors to encounter the resource.  Craig Bozorth recently wrote on Zoss, ‘If someone were to mention Cliff and Judy Lawrence, would someone else shout, Hey, they are from the BCHR days, and don’t relate?  Not so’.  I agree with him.  The Pen Fancier’s Newsletter is a resource for posterity.”
        David Nishimura wrote, “I was fortunate enough to assemble a complete run of the PFC magazine, excluding the later issues where all but the Trading Post was cut, and it is still an invaluable reference resource.  Many of the early issues are reprints, unfortunately, with the material regarding the early efforts at getting collectors together expurgated.  Yet while this diminishes, in a way, their value for retracing the history of pen collecting, they remain full of reprinted ads that are not always available elsewhere.  Digitizing the PFC magazine would be a big project.  I’m not sure it would be worth the effort; instead, one might more profitably put the time into scanning the original ads from which the magazine was compiled, this time in color, and with full references.”

        And I wrote, “Here are a couple of statements in old issues of the Pen Fancier’s Newsletter.  In the editorial in the February 1981 issue, Cliff Lawrence wrote, “There’s hardly a day that goes by without some one asking me when I’m going to write another book on our favorite subject.  Actually, I feel that I have been writing one during the past thirty eight months since Fountain Pens was published in 1977.  So far, it’s nearly a thousand pages long and is growing every month.  I call it The Pen Fancier’s Newsletter.  I’ve concluded that this newsletter is by far the most important “book” that I can write”.  And in truth, every book that the Lawrences wrote after that point was a distillation and re-arrangement of the information in those magazines.  And in the January 1981 editorial the Lawrences wrote, “This is our way of giving something back to the hobby we love”.  This is one of the first uses in pen collecting of some variation of the phrase ‘giving something back to the hobby’.”
        David Nishimura wrote, “There’s still a lot of pen collecting history that needs to be filled out by those who were there.  For example, while I’ve never asked anyone about it, it’s pretty clear that there was a rift between Glen Bowen and the Lawrences that opened up around the time Glen published his first pen book.  Before, Glen was one of the Lawrences’ lifetime PFC members in good standing.  Cliff wrote in the PFN about Glen’s book being in the works, all positive stuff.  Then, poof!  No more mention of the book, no more Glen Bowen in the list of lifetime members.  I have what I believe is a first edition of Glen’s book, and as I recall, there’s no mention of, or credit given to the Lawrences, or the PFC there.  Cause, or result of the rift?  I don’t know.  Before my time.”
        And I wrote, “I don’t care about the rift between them because on my shelves their books are side by side”.
        Rob Astyk wrote, “I don’t know what transpired between Glen and Cliff, either, though it was well within my time.  Still the sudden switch is absolutely typical of Cliff.  His attitudes toward people tended to swing like a pendulum.  One could be a good friend one moment, but let Cliff decide that the person was after a piece of the pen hobby which should be Cliff’s alone, and suddenly that person was persona non grata.  On the other hand, I cannot conceive of not crediting Cliff and Judy on some level.  This hobby would not be what it is today without the Pen Fancier’s Club.  By the way, I’ve always considered the placement of that apostrophe in “Fancier’s” quite revealing.  I’m sure that Cliff meant it to be the plural “Fanciers’” but that he made that particular grammatical error reveals something about his attitudes that his actions confirmed.”  And I wrote, “It’s a true Freudian slip”.

        Then I wrote, “That’s interesting behind-the-scenes info, David, but it’s not the full story.  I’m slowly reading and skimming through all the early issues of the PFC newsletter and magazine, so all the dealings are a little closer in perspective for me.  Glen Bowen Communications was still in Illinois at the time, and he actually placed a full-page ad announcing his “new book” in the October 1982 issue of Pen Fancier’s Magazine, p.46.  The same ad appears again on p.26 of the December 1982 issue, and then no more ads after that.
        “But here’s the curious thing.  There’s an uncharacteristically long, three-page editorial in the next issue of Pen Fancier’s Magazine, January 1983, pp.4-6.  In it he talks about his tireless efforts to find and publish information about pens, and about the relative “ignorance [that] prevailed in our hobby” before he published his newsletter and magazine, mostly at his own expense, and just barely breaking even.  He states flat outright, “We have been subsidizing this deficit with profits from our pen sales catalog.  How many other pen dealers do you know who would do this for your hobby?  All of those we know simply take the money and run”.  He then goes on to make a very telling statement.  “If someone has an original and worthwhile contribution to make to the hobby, we will be the first to endorse it.  But when they “borrow” heavily and unfairly from material that we have accumulated and published at no small effort and expense over the years, and do not even acknowledge this magazine as their source, we are not exactly enthralled.  Especially when they have the gall to claim this material as their own.  This kind of activity is not only unethical, but robs the P. F. C. of money desperately needed to continue serving you”.  It’s very simple.  And it sounds like a legitimate beef.  Bowen ripped off the Lawrences without citing his sources and giving credit.  It also sounds like what Ed Pasahow did later on in his books.
        “I’m up to 1984 in my reading of the newsletter and magazine, and Glen’s name still appears in the Lifetime Members list in all the issues for that year.  I looked ahead, and although I’m missing a few issues in 1985-86 I can say that Glen’s name disappears from the list somewhere between October 1985 and March 1986.  It should be noted that Glen was first listed as Lifetime Member #5 in the May 1980 issue of the newsletter, so he jumped onto the band wagon quite early on when ordinary subscriptions were still $20.00 and lifetime memberships were only $100.00.  Within a year or two that fee had gone up to $250.00, and ordinary subscriptions were only $25.00.  At the higher rate that should be good for at least 10-years-worth of issues, but $100.00 is only worth four years.  Perhaps Cliff felt that Glen had received his money’s worth, especially after that kind of mis-treatment.
        “As an aside, I think I found the source for another of those errors propagated from one pen book to another.  This one is for Ron Dutcher and Bruce Speary and all the other Wirt pen collectors.  There was an article about Paul E. Wirt in The Press-Enterprise newspaper published in Bloomsburg, Pa., in 1979 that was reprinted by Cliff in his January 1981 issue of the newsletter.  The article by Ted Fenstermacher states that Wirt “patented his pen in 1878”.  This is clearly wrong, because Wirt’s first patent dates to 1882, but the short history of the Wirt Pen Co. in the Fischler-Schneider “Blue Book”, on p.296, repeats the older date, probably another silent and uncredited steal from the PFC source material, but the smoking gun exposes it.”

        Then I also wrote, “And here’s a portion of another long editorial in the May 1990 issue of Pen Fancier’s Magazine, p.26.  He listed all the pen company histories that had been published first in his newsletter and magazine, before they had appeared anywhere else, so that “you can appreciate the scope of our research for this publication over the past thirteen years”.  Then he writes, “We have been and are now publishing this vital information to promote the development of our beloved hobby.  We have never refused any request for permission to use our work as reference material for articles and books.  And, although we’ve been hurt and dismayed when people have used our material without permission, as they have on more than one occasion, we have always refrained from taking any legal action against them.  This is because we do not want to discourage anyone who is trying to make a contribution to our field.  We believe our unselfish behaviour is the best proof there is of our sincere desire to foster the growth and development of our hobby”.  In an article called “Pen Tricksters” in the same issue of the magazine, p.9, he writes about another type of pen fraudster, and ends with, “Believe it or not, I had to watch four Frank Capra films to restore my faith in human nature after this episode”.  Nice film-history reference by a film-buff.

         David Nishimura wrote, “I suspect pen collecting is no worse than most other fields of collecting as regards rampant plagiarism.  Nonetheless, plagiarism is plagiarism, and absurdly easy to avoid simply by crediting one’s sources.  One of the reasons a full collection of the Lawrences’ magazines remains such a valuable reference is that so many subsequent books either ripped off the Lawrences’ information wholesale or, in turn, ripped off books that had done so before.  In nearly all cases, rather than refining the Lawrences’ conclusions with independent research, the copyists added distortions as they inexactly rephrased their source material.”
        And I wrote, “And here’s part of the editorial in the next issue of Pen Fancier’s Magazine, June 1990, p.6.  “We’ve also believed that the best way to beat the competition is to outperform it.  We’ve always tried to accomplish this by giving our members what they want in an honest, efficient and courteous fashion.  We do not subscribe to libel, defamation and innuendo in dealing with competitors or anyone else for that matter.  We sincerely feel that the limited space we have available each month in this magazine is much too valuable to waste a single line of it on tasteless mudslinging.  And besides, as publishers of the world’s oldest, most respected and most widely circulated vintage pen collecting magazine, it would be beneath our dignity”.  He leaves us to guess what to read between the lines.”

        Then I wrote, “As per what Rick and David said concerning the digitization of the PFC magazine, here’s a letter by David from the March 1992 issue of Pen Fancier’s Magazine.  “Any chance that the earlier issues might be reprinted, perhaps in book form?  There is so much information there, and it seems a pity that so many might remain unfamiliar with your tremendous contribution to pen scholarship.”
        “As I read through all the issues of the newsletter and the magazine it occurred to me that it would be nice to have all of Cliff’s “Editorial” and “Pen Trickster” and “Enrollment Information” articles, at least, collected together in a book, with personal and family photos and all.  It would serve well as a great history of the Pen Fancier’s Club.  Another book could also be put together from just the pen company histories.”
        And finally, David Nishimura wrote, “And sure enough, there was no collected reprinting, and the Lawrences’ contribution became that much more easily overlooked”.

George Kovalenko.


July 09, 2015

Pen Shows and Pen Meetings

[Posted on L&P on Aug 28, 29, 2008.]
    Don Lavin wrote, “I would like to comment on your initial pen-collecting timeline as I was there during that period.  You stated that the LA, NY, and DC areas had pen shows followed by Chicago with Mike, Dan and me.  That is not the case.  In 1980 after having been a subscriber to the Cliff Lawrence publication and being an ardent pen collector I decided to try to contact other collectors in the Chicago/Wisc. area.  Using the Lawrence magazine as a starting point and the few contacts I was making I called for a gathering of collectors in 1980.  This enlarged into the Chicago Pen Show which at first was held in my house.  We soon outgrew the space as the first of the pen dealers began displaying pens for sale which took up a lot of room.  The first dealer was the Allen family from Minnesota and Carl Morton a local collector.  Up to then we basically traded pens amongst ourselves.
    “During this period of time I was not in a partnership but as the numbers grew and the space became limited I needed to expand into another space.  I had met Mike Fultz and he suggested using his Victorian home in Chicago.  From Mike’s house we moved to the Villa Modern motel in my neighborhood which was where I first met Keith Zaransky as a very young dealer.  Also during this period of time we were holding two get togethers a year—in the spring at the end of April and in the fall around Thanksgiving.  We continued to grow with collectors coming in from Canada and a number of states in the mid-west, east and west which is where we met Bob Tefft and Peter Amis.  By 1985 it was becoming too difficult to hold 2 shows a year so George Fischler and Alex Montgomery asked if they could hold a show in NJ in the fall.  We decided that that would be a great idea so we continued to hold our spring show and NJ held the fall show.
    “By now Dan had come on board so Mike, Dan and I were running the show in Chicago and George and Alex were running the NJ show.  Then Bob and Peter asked about running a show in February so we could get together in the winter in LA.  That was a great idea so now we had a spring, fall and winter show.  So the SCPCC did not come into play until years after the Chicago show and the first of the NJ shows.  When Alex died while rushing to a flea market on a weekend, Stuart Schneider came on board for the NJ show.  Alex’s death prompted Dan, Mike and I to host the first pen auction connected with a show.  The process were given to Alex’s wife but we had so much fun that we continued to hold an auction each and every year until the past few years when health issues and the internet affected consignments etc.
    “Another comment—I would like to apologize for referring to our events as “pen shows”.  In fact they were never shows—they were and are pen collector conventions with bartering, sales and purchases along with educational activities such as workshops and seminars or presentations.  A true show would be a continuous setup over a period of days with fully assigned tables such as antique shows.
    “We had different events each and every part of each day.  I loved pen parts to such an extent that for a period of time, we set aside Saturday afternoon for parts only sales.  While this did not last long as dealers wanted to include complete pens, it was a lot of fun while it lasted.  And then pen parts became an important commodity at every show from that point on.
    “I should also mention that prior to the LA show, Frank Dubiel was holding his own shows in Boston but for geographical reasons, Boston never really became a national show.  It was considered mostly a regional show.
    “If you, or anyone else, would like more info on the pen show history, just ask away and I will try to be of assistance.”

    And I wrote, “Thanks for the early Chicago Pen Show history.  When I stated that the first pen shows were sponsored by the PFC, I was going strictly by what Cliff Lawrence wrote in the early issues of the PFC Newsletter about some of those “First Hotel Pen Shows”.  He said that Fred Krinke in LA, John Cuevas in NY, and George James in DC held meetings in 1978 and 1979 where pens were bought and sold and traded.  And let’s be generous and call all those early get togethers actual pen shows.  No need to apologize for referring to those events as “pen shows”, even though they were and still are, as you said, pen collector conventions.  By the way, I kept all the advertizing and brochures and auction catalogues for all the Chicago Pen shows I attended in the 1990s.  Did you or anyone else keep any of the paper ephemera for those pen shows in the 1980s?
    “I remember the first similar pen-show-get-together that I attended.  It was the Parker Archive visit in Janesville on May 29-30, 1992 that John Mottishaw organized.  It was a small get together, and everyone was staying in the same motel, and at one point we all congregated in a meeting room and spread out our pens, and wandered around and networked and bought and traded pens all evening.
    “Another thing that should be mentioned is that about the time of these early pen shows, Bob Tefft and Peter Amis purchased and saved the Pen Sac Co. equipment.  Most pen collectors, even if they never met Bob or Peter, probably at one time or other bought sacs made by them, or owned a pen that was restored using pen sacs made by their company.  We owe them a great debt of thanks.  Here’s the link to the Pen Sac Co. History.  Please, everyone, chime in with more info on early pen collecting history.”

    Don Lavin wrote, “I recall that in the late 70’s some California collectors held meetings.  I also remember that in the mid or late 70’s they tried to have a pen show in New York with the legendary John Cuevas and they stopped after one get together.  What I heard was that the various collectors did not get along all that well.  Go figure.
    “When I refer to our early shows, or conventions, I am referring to the days when we invited dealers and collectors from other states and from Canada and Italy.  Max Steidman had relatives in Chicago and learned about us and started coming in twice a year, and then he brought other Canadians with him.  The Italians and some of the Brazilians found our show due to business or conventions in Chicago which brought them into our community.  Then they went back home, told their friends and voila—international attendance with France and England providing additional attendees.
    “As for early show material I believe that my archives go back to 1984 with notices which were sent out to pen collectors and schedules of activities.  I will try to locate them.  I have all of the auction catalogs somewhere.  I am going through my paper material these days and will try to isolate materials for putting up here if you are interested.
    “I can also relate that the first people to meet with me in 1979 or 1980 included Harvey Rabinowitz, who still sets up in Chicago, Pat Peterson, the only woman collector we knew for years and who now is a full time professional graphologist, Chet Nichols, who has since died, Richard Bitterman, who still sets up in Chicago every other year or two and Tom Mornier, who is now an antiques dealer in Vegas.  So we then all went out to enlist others to expand our group and it grew really fast.
    “One thing to note—while we had meetings on a regular basis, over lunch in the loop in particular, we never ever organized a Chicago Pen Club.  We did not want politics to get involved.  We did not want officers, directors voting, etc.  We were all one big happy family for many years.  Some of my fondest memories were of lunches in the loop with Glen Bowen, Dan Zazove, Mike Fultz, Pete Barron, Harry Bouras and others.  We would have show and tells and talk pens throughout the lunch.  Now with everyone having moved on, some have passed away, others have moved from the city and others just no longer work close to other collectors, those gatherings are few and far between.
    “If you or anyone else has any questions about the early days, feel free to ask away.  Oh, one last comment on the early LA days.  I once called Cliff Lawrence and when he answered the phone and heard my voice he immediately went into a tirade about how some of the California collectors were starting to meet with one another and believe it or not, this really upset him.  He felt that they would cut him out of the commercial link, and that they would start trading and dealing only with one another.  That is the last thing he wanted.
    “While Cliff was probably off the wall with the Chicago shows, we did extend invitations to him for years in order to honor him.  He never accepted any invitations and to my knowledge, he never attended any pen shows.”

    David Nishimura wrote, “Some random additions to this very worthwhile thread (thanks, George, for starting it off).  Before my time, but Johnny Cuevas was a hugely important figure for New York City collecting.  Others will have to fill in his story, but I know enough to know it deserves amplification.
    “I think Don is right in differentiating between pen shows and pen meetings.  Obviously, there will be shades of grey here, but the significance of the first pen shows may get lost when one doesn’t try to draw a line between informal get-togethers at collectors’ houses and larger events at rented or borrowed venues.
    “For the publications list, please add Stilomania, the journal of the Accademia Italiana della Penna Stilografica.  Letizia Jacopini was the driving force behind much of it, though her father Giuseppe was the original pen collector in the family and I believe the main founder of the Accademia.  The Accademia sponsored the first national pen shows in Italy, starting in 1991, in Grosseto.  I was there.  Their shows were small by American standards, but quite ambitious in terms of integrating modern penmakers into a promotion of fountain pens old and new—and were invariably held in beautiful historic buildings, not in hotels.
    “Some mention should be made of the impact of Ebay on pen collecting.  Note that Ebay started in 1995, not 1997.  In the USA, it was in 1997 that Ebay began to make its influence felt on the pen market.  1998 was the year a flood of new collectors showed up on Ebay, bidding up fairly common items to ridiculous levels.  That insured that a matching flood of new sellers appeared, quickly balancing supply and demand and, for the most part, putting online and offline pricing on the same level.  Over the next couple of years, the supply of pens coming to market through general antiques dealers steadily dried up as the flow increasingly went to Ebay.  The same pattern played itself out in the UK several years later.  This is actually a huge topic on its own, about which I have a rather lengthy article in the works.
    “My website, Vintage Pens, was launched in January of 1997.  So were the sites of the Battersea Pen Home and John Mottishaw.  Jonathan Steinberg’s site was up shortly before mine.  [Vince Fatica’s site was another early one.]
    “Periodization is a necessary evil in historiography.  Even with our little pen history, we have to deal with a multitude of overlapping and interacting developments, many of them cyclical.  One thing I’ve noted, and written about, on many occasions, is that the rise of online collecting happened to coincide with the aging of the previous generation of collectors.  This meant that many of the mainstays of pen collecting were becoming less active just as a large number of new collectors were coming on the scene—newcomers who otherwise would have become part of the established collecting community quickly at pen shows, but who instead ended up forming online communities overwhelmingly dominated by other newcomers.  To put it bluntly, the torch was dropped.  The field has slowly but steadily been making good the fumble, but there has been a real and unfortunate loss—which this thread may do something, belatedly, to repair.”

    And I wrote, “Don, please dig out your early pen show material, and put some of it online.  
I recently corresponded with Harvey Rabinowitz, and he mentioned that he still has his PFC general membership card, member #32, way back when Cliff still issued membership numbers.  I’ll post the list of Lifetime Members soon.
    “When Len Provisor interviewed Cliff Lawrence for The Pennant article a while ago, he asked if Cliff had any materials left over from the PFC.  He said he did not have a thing.  Everything, including all his back copies, ads, and literature was either dumped, sold, or given to his members.  Remarkably, he has nothing left, he claims.  Steve Braun posted that he was a fairly prominent antique toy collector for many years, but has since divested himself of nearly all of the toys, and now collected pens.  In a move opposite to that, Cliff now sells Lionel trains on Ebay for his main income.  I’ll post something that someone else wrote about Cliff Lawrence.”

    David Nishimura wrote that “others will have to fill in his story, but I know enough to know 
it deserves amplification”.
    And I wrote, “And that’s it exactly.  That’s the whole point of this thread.  I know some of the stories, and only from my point of view, and that is far from the whole truth.  Everyone, from the experts and veterans down to the newest researchers and collectors, has to dare to jump in and give his or her own version of the stories, that is, if they have the pertinent information.  Everyone brings their own special expertise to the table.  Everyone will have to fill in the whole with his or her own story.  I’ll post something that someone else wrote about Johnny Cuevas.
    “Thanks for the correction about Stilomania.  I thought that Penna was the only Italian pen magazine.  And when I stated that Ebay started in 1997, I was using the date of the first update listed in “The Wayback Machine”.  But I realize now that Wayback didn’t start collecting information until 1997.  I see the copyright date at the bottom of the Ebay homepage now.  I look forward to your lengthy article on the topic.
    “Periodization is totally unnatural, but as you say, a necessary evil.  I agree with you about dropping the torch.  The pen field needs to converge the old and the new collectors, but the effort has to come from both sides of handing-off the torch.”
    David Nishimura replied, “My involvement with the Italian pen scene by and large stopped somewhere around 1996.  This was mostly due to changes in my personal life, though the downturn in the up-till-then booming Italian economy contributed, as did the disintegration of the Accademia.  I don’t know if it has been formally dissolved, or if it’s just been in permanent suspended animation, but the Accademia is for all intents dead and buried.  The Italian pen collecting scene evolved very differently than in the USA.  Rather than starting as a social phenomenon, collector to collector, vintage pen collecting largely took off via a number of pen shops which sold old as well as new pens—Brunori & Mazza, and Ercolessi, both in Milan, the Casa della Stilografica in Florence, Stefano Germano and Marina Vecchietti in Bologna, Stilo Fetti, Antonio Vannucchi, and Agostino Parascenzo’s shops in Rome, and probably several others that also deserve mention, but which have slipped from my memory.  The relationships were more dealer-to-collector than collector-to-collector, which didn’t change a lot with the advent of the Accademia, which also was sort of a top-down enterprise—which is one reason, I think, factional infighting managed to do it in so easily.  Since then, Italian pen shows have been much smaller and more regional, but that’s a story for others to tell.  As for Letizia, she is doing well, busy raising children and still managing to publish outstanding reference works on Italian pens.  
I expect as her boys get older, we may hear more from her.”

George Kovalenko.


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.


July 01, 2015

A Pen Collecting Timeline, again

, the four decades of pen collecting.

[Posted on L&P on Aug 11, 2008, and revised on May 28, 2015.]
        After reading through all my issues of the Pen Fancier’s Magazine in 2008, I realized that 2008 was the 30th anniversary of the publication, so I said happy 30th anniversary to Cliff and Judy, and all the other pen fanciers out there.  Afterwards, I drew up a parallel-bar graph, or timeline of the major pen-collecting activities of the previous 30 years, and it became graphically obvious to me that we had gone through two generations, or decades, or waves of pen-collecting activity by then, and that we were nearing the end of the third, so I started up a new thread on the topic,
“A Pen Collecting Timeline”, with bar graph and all.
        The next 17 or 18 posts here are a continuation of that post with other bits of information from that original thread on L&P about the first three decades of pen collecting.  Almost another decade has passed since then, so let’s subtitle this revised series of posts “The Four Decades of Pen Collecting”.  The first installment is a cross-posted message from a thread on Pentrace by Len Provisor.  It was titled “Significant and outstanding contributors to the pen hobby”, and he gave me permission to archive it for him on L&P.  And now, I am saving it here as well.

[Posted on Pentrace on Aug 22, 2008, and on L&P on Aug 28, 2008.]
        “I had a revelation the other day when I read of the significant honor bestowed upon Brian Jones when he was installed as a Member of the British Empire.  Thinking of all those I know, met, or heard about who can also be considered as making significant contributions to this small and seemingly insignificant hobby, I jotted some notes.
        “Several years ago someone once projected what appeared to be a reasonable number of pen collectors in our hobby at around 100,000 or more world wide.  This includes an estimate of those that may be “closet” collectors, quietly going about their business, lurking on web sites and maybe attending shows or reading pen magazines.  Among this tally of collectors you can count a very small number of individuals that have been significant and influential to the 100,000 plus.  These people are researchers, authors, pen show promoters, and all of them are pen collectors.
        “Here in no particular order as they come to mind, friends, acquaintances and authors whose books I treasure, but most significantly:
Cliff [& Judy] Lawrence, who literally single [double] handedly started this hobby with his [their] Pen Fancier’s Club, which begat every pen club and pen show in existence today.
Brian Jones, WES member, one of the founders of the Pen Room Museum, Birmingham.
Andreas Lambrou with his prolific works including Fountain Pens of the World.
David Shepherd, dedicated pen researcher and author of books on Parker pens and history.
Stuart Schneider & George Fischler, authors of the blue and brown books, pen show promoters.
Henry Gostony & Stuart Schneider history of ballpoint pens.
Pierre Haury & Jean-Pierre Lacroux, pen historians, authors of A Passion for Pens.
Henry Simpole, UK pen historian, craftsman, and collector.
Donald Jackson, author of The Story of Writing, he was the Scribe for the House of Lords.
Philip Poole, “His Nibs”, UK pen historian, founding member of the Writing Equipment Society.
Michael Finlay, author of Western Writing Implements with many Philip Poole pens and items.
Arthur Twydle, UK pen historian, collector, and master pen mechanic.
Jim Marshall, UK pen historian, collector, prolific author, master pen mechanic.
Alexander Crum Ewing, UK pen historian, author.
Toshiya Nakata, Nakaya Fountain Pens, saving & restoring significant trade craftsmen.
Bernard Lyn, Danitrio, significant work to revive the art of maki-e.
Paul Erano, authored many books, prolific author in hobby magazines.
David Moak, published a book on the history of Mabie Todd.
Frank Dubiel, “da repair book”, the rascal responsible for people opening pens and looking inside.
Bob Tefft and Boris Rice, PCA founders, started pen clubs and the LA Pen Show.
Don Lavin, Dan Zazove and Michael Fultz, started one of the first major US pen shows in Chicago.
Maryann and Steve Zucker, life long collectors, and N.Y. pen show promoters.
Letizia Jacopini, expert on Italian pens and author of The History of Italian Pens.
Paolo Maggi, author of Fabulous Fountain Pens.
Jurgen Dittmer & Martin Lehmann historians and authors of Pelikan Schreibergate.
Osman Sumer, expert on German pens and significant repair person.
Miroslav Tischler, author, pen historian, book on Penkala pens, and more to come.
Thomas Neureither, researcher and work-in-progress author on German pen makers.
        “This is a short list that comes to mind at the moment.  I am sure you can name a few more who have been significant to the hobby.”

        Other posters added the following names.  David Nishimura, Jim Mamoulides, John Mottishaw, Brian Anderson, Rick Conner, Rick Horne, Tom Westerich, Regina Martini, and Jonathan Donahaye all maintain superb, well-researched, and regularly-maintained websites.  Also Glen Bowen & Nancy Olson of Pen World, and Jon Messer & Mel Strohminger of Stylus.

George Kovalenko.