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DC Pen Show 2014 (Massive Post!)

This was a great year for the DC Supershow. It wasn't a great year for my camera, however. The darn thing ran out  of battery power while we were still in the atrium of the show. So, lots of these pictures were taken with my iPhone 5s. They came out surprisingly well.

I think someone must have gotten the word out for this show, because we got to the hotel just a little after 9am, and the line was already too long to capture with a picture. The line actually curves around to the left after it is lost in the frame below.

 Here we are, all fresh and ready to do the show. I walked in thinking, oh, there's going to be coffee. I totally forgot about the coffee until it was long gone, and I didn't get any caffeine for hours.

My mission, going into the show early, was to run and find Pendleton Brown for some nib work. We circled the room, looking where he usually was in past years, and couldn't find him anywhere. The Andersons and Ryan Krusac didn't think he was there, and they were right. But, luckily, Mike Masuyama was there (by the Franklin-Christoph tables) and I got on his list. I really like the work he does on the F-C nibs, so I was excited to get on his list. There were lots of names ahead of mine, but I did end up getting the nib of my Sheaffer Targa ground to a very nice architect's stub, though. It's a somewhat unusual grind, but I've wanted one ever since I saw someone else's on a blog (Pen Addict, maybe?). It's sort of like a sideways stub that does thin down-strokes and thick side-strokes. Very cool.

Since we were right next to the Franklin-Christoph table, I had to see their new nib. I talk to Scott and Jim pretty often, so I knew that they'd have this new music nib at the show. It's a great nib with lots of line variation, and flawless flow. Not too crazy, but it doesn't run dry, despite the triple tines and wide, crisp line. The feed is a little unusual, but I'll have to show that in its own post.

The picture below was the first one that Audrey took at the show (as official camera-woman), and it's actually the pen that she ended up getting at the last minute of the show. Her's doesn't have the clip, but Scott says he can get one put on for us later, since we live so close to their (new) factory space in Raleigh. It's such a cool pen. I'm a bit jealous. Maybe she'll let me use it sometimes. ;-)


Syd from the new Wahl-Eversharp was in his usual spot in the atrium. This year he was unveiling the new Skyscraper pen. It's a limited edition (just 100 are made), and it comes in a pretty awesome package. That glass (crystal? I didn't ask) skyscraper below is the box for this pen.

 Inside, you have a beautiful rose gold pen with translucent blue dome and section.

I didn't get a good picture of this pen, unfortunately. Our camera's battery died as we were snapping shots of this pen, and we had to switch to the iPhone. Fortunately, Syd told us about this app that he uses for close-up shots ( it's called Mag Light Pro, if you're interested) and I've used it for several of the pictures in this post. You'll find one below of this pen's nib in my hand. The rose gold is stunning, the blue section is beautiful, and the two-tone nib is really pretty. I kinda love this pen. For better pictures of this full pen, check out the FPGeeks' write-up

The other 100 year commemorative pens are pictured below. They're piston-fillers, which is a step up from the cartridge/converter pens (in most people's estimation). I like the c/c system, but pistons are a bit classier. Check out the caps on these pens. Nice work, Syd!


Just down the row from Syd, you'll find Sam. We love running into Sam. He's a consummate salesman, but he's also just a super-nice guy. He knows that his wares are way out of our price range, but he'll always talk to us about every detail of his pens and such. The packaging, the details, the audience, the value. This guy is passionate about all of it. He's also unfairly attractive. You can see the ladies swoon as they catch sight of him. His company, Edelberg, is making some really fine pens that are at least half art.

The pen he's holding isn't really available yet, but it's a very limited edition that is entirely hand-painted. Every stitch of that denim is drawn by hand. On each pen. That's a crazy amount of work. It's a fairly informal pen, but no less cool for it. It really looks like the pen is covered in denim, but it's all drawn-on.

 It goes really well with Audrey's nails, right? 

 These are varieties of the Tachys pen that they've been making for a while, now. They're very stylish pens with a motoring motif (the line on the clip and the markings around the cap recall the speedometer of a fancy car) and a semi-flex titanium nib. They're aimed at a high-end audience, with a price in the high three-figures or low four-figures. Yikes. If Sam wanted to send me one to review, I wouldn't hate him for it. 

 Here's another hand-painted limited edition. There's a zebra one coming out soon, but he didn't have one to show. The coolest pen of the line wasn't at the show. Check this thing out on their site, though. It's been hit with lightning. Lightning!

S.T. Dupont

The S.T. Dupont table had some really interesting pens on it this year. The Limited Edition Orient Express pen is one of the more tasteful art-pens, I think. It's got a nice train-look, but it's not too over the top. I don't know that I'd want to write with it, but it would look nice on a shelf.

Their other pens feature more subtle lines. These pens feel really nice in the hand, and the flared cap is attractive. I didn't ink any of them up, but they sure look classy.

 These are just ballpoint click-pens,but the whole top of the pen acts as the knock, and I like the look. I think they're too pricey at 89 Euro, though.


This Italian brand makes some really beautiful pens. The one on the far left, below is my Grail pen. I passed one up at the Raleigh show, and I've been kicking myself ever since. Blarg. Oh well. One day, lava-pen, you'll be mine. MINE. (Of course, Ed Jelley got one at this show and had to tell me how awesome it is.)

They've really expanded their watch selection this year. They're all very cool, but also very expensive.

 This twisted shape is pretty rad,right? It's a heavy pen, and not too flashy. 

This watch's exposed gearing and chronographic dials are pretty neat. 
Newton Pens

I've seen Shawn's pens online, before, but I'd not met him in person. He had a really nice table of hand-made pens with interesting filling systems and materials. There are wooden pens and micarta pens and ebonite pens, and button fillers, and bulb-fillers.

I think the next two are the most beautiful ones of the bunch. The first one has a depth that was difficult to capture in this picture, but I gave it a shot.

 This second one is an ebonite pen that felt great in the hand. There should be more modern ebonite pens.


The Yafa tables are some of the first that you see upon coming into the show, and they're packed with pens. You can see that there are quite a few missing, despite the early hour. Yafa distributes Monteverde, Stipula, Conklin, and Delta pens.

 The Regatta is back, and it's got carbon fiber, now. Everyone is getting into carbon fiber these days.


I'd got some pens and, I think, pencils from this German company, but this is the first time I've seen their fountain pens. They're pretty reasonably priced, even.
 The pens below feature wooden barrels that are lightly lacquered. They wear in as they're used, and take some color from the oils in the user's hands.
 The finish on this white one is really, really nice. It's the higher end pf these pens, though, and a little pricey. I really like the extended clip on these pens, and the wooden inlay is a nice feature.
The pens in the case are the highest end pens, but I think they're too gaudy. The wooden inlay on the clips are nice, but the rest of the pens aren't for me. That ink well is hot, though.
 And...pencils. These are some hi-tech pencils. The grain of the graphite is extra smooth, and the eraser has been replaced by a touch stylus. That huge cap is a combination cap, eraser-holder, and pencil sharpener. It's a little unwieldy, but maybe it's the future of pencils?


Sailor was absent from last year's show, but they more than made up for it this year by bringing their master nib-smith all the way from Japan to tweak Sailor nibs for free at the show. It made me wish that I'd had a Sailor pen and that it didn't write well. Unfortunately, no Sailor for me. Yet. Maybe soon.

Write Notepads & Co. 

Chris and Marc were there again this year with their excellent notepads. This year they had their regular pads, their student pads (that are donated to schools), a special District edition, and a version of the pads with a chalkboard cover. There's more coming from Write Notepads, and it's always good to hang out with those guys.

 I checked, and these donating pads (below) are also fountain pen friendly. Not that most grade-schoolers are using fountain pens in the US, but it's still good paper.


The Diplomat reps were there again, and they had a big spread of pens. I don't know for sure, but it really felt like there were more than usual this year.

I really like the coppery brown of this pen

The matte texture of the Excellence A (4th from the left) is really neat, but it seems to be prone to changing over time. One of the reps had one that he just tosses in his briefcase, and it was a little scuffed up and it had been worn smooth-ish from use. If you like a pen to wear in, then that's a finish you'll like. Otherwise, check one of the others. 
 These colored Travellers don't seem to wear like that one does, though. Audrey has been using hers for a couple of years without any problems.

Last up from Diplomat is the new Aero. The fountain pen version of this pen is really nice, and the nib feels very smooth. I hope they'll send me one to test out. It comes in a matte silver and this very cool brown. I don't know which I like best, but I think the brown is going to be the winner.

Ryan Krusac Studios

Ryan had a really nice spread of pens, as usual. I thought I got some pictures of his friend the chocolatier, but I can't find any on my phone. Chocolate and pen pairings might seem strange, but it was doing brisk business all day long. I didn't even get a sample. It was 3 rows deep all day.


This Chinese pen maker has some very fancy wares at the show again this year. Audrey really liked the ones on the right side of the picture below, but the price was in the $300 range. Whew!

 They're a little fancy for my tastes, but the clockwork motif is kinda neat. 


The Kenro tables were a bit mobbed this year with people looking for Aurora and Sheaffer pens. The Montegrappa side was a little quieter. They're super-high-end pens, but they've got an over-the-top style to them that isn't going to be appealing to everyone. Sly Stallone is involved in at least the Chaos design, and it's pretty intense. Also, skull pen.

 These pens are the tamest of the lot, and I really like that blue one in the middle. 

Among the people I met at the show is Ed Jelley. His blog started at the same time as mine, I think, and he's just taken a job with Kenro doing photography and social media. His blog has some of the best photography on the web, so he's totally deserving of that sweet job. He and Audrey were talking science for a while after he and I were talking pens and such. Really good dude, and I'm glad to finally meet him.


 I didn't catch this dude's name, but we had a long chat about the humanities. He's a writer, and a nice dude, whoever he is.

The pen on the left was just refurbished by Gerry Berg (the Sheaffer Vac expert), and the one on the right is what it looked like before. Both of these pens belonged to my grandmother, and Gerry did a great job restoring the one I sent off with him. I need to get him to do the other one. 

The pen below is the new limited edition Delta Unica from Anderson Pens. I'll have a review of this pen up in the very near future. There are only 50 of these, and the price is really reasonable. The material has an awesome depth to it, and it looks awesome in the sunlight. The nib (which I don't have a picture of yet) is steel, but it's got a sort of frosted appearance to it. I haven't gotten to write with it all that much, but I'm very pleased with it so far.  


I didn't pick up much ink this time, and what I did get was either grey or black. All of it is limited edition, so that's cool.

 I took two pictures of this ink to show the differences between them that aren't apparent from straight-on. The Noodler's ink is really dark, and the MontBlanc is extra cool. There's some blue in there, I think, and some sheen.

Here's the wide-shot of the stuff we found at the show. Audrey got a Franklin-Christoph 02 with a music nib, I got the Delta Unica, and some other pens and such to either keep or give away. There were three that I found in someone's $5 box. A Monteverde Artista ballpoint, a Platinum Plasir, and a Lancelot fountain pen for a total of $15? That's a deal if you ask me. The Sheaffer Intensity there was sold to me at a silly-low price, and the Targa is the pen that I had Mike Masuyama grind for me. I should have taken some pictures of him at work, but I was too busy watching him. I also came away with a new pocket knife from the show. That's a CRKT Bladelock knife. It's got a really interesting lock on it, and it's gonna be in my pocket for a while.

Not pictured are some pens and paper that we got for other people as gifts. I forgot to take pictures of those pens, but Audrey did, so I'll append them when I can.

And, lest you think we didn't shut the place down...we totally did. In fact, we got to talking to the Andersons (Lisa, pictured) and Chris Rothe (Write Notepads) that we almost got locked in. We totally missed the Kenro after -party, which Ed had invited us to. It would have been cool to go to that, but it was after 7pm when we left the show, and we were both exhausted.


Post Comment
Brad said...

Awesome post - it's like I was there!

Mike Matteson said...

Thanks, Brad!

Anonymous said...

Wow awesome writeup! And thanks for the mention.

Brian Anderson said...

Love the picture of Lisa! Best review of the show on the web thus far. :)

Mike Matteson said...

Shawn: Thanks, man. It was great to meet and talk to you at the show.

Brian: Thanks! I hope Lisa likes it, too. Always a pleasure seeing you folks.