Wrapping Up the 2016 Chicago Pen Show: Part 1

Marriott Hoffman Estates atrium

This year was the pen show’s first at a new venue, the Chicago Marriott Northwest in the Hoffman Estates.The show will be there next year, too. Compared to prior years, this hotel is farther west of the city, but closer to the western suburbs.

The new location worked for me.  The area had good food options and free parking, and the Marriott was nice. Behind that fountain above, you can glimpse the hotel’s skylighted atrium. The pen show spread through both that atrium and the large ballroom that you see on the first page. There were 159 tables, and 103 dealers and exhibitors.

Here in the atrium is the table of one of my favorite pen show people, John Hinkel. John collects vintage inks, and he brings a different display to Chicago every year. 2016 was the year for Davids Ink.  John is the best.

2016 Chicago Pen Show John Hinkel vintage ink collection

The other room is two ballrooms combined, so it’s huge. Here’s what it looked like on Saturday or Sunday morning, before opening to the public. Only vendors are here this early, but you can get some sense of the scale of the room.

2016 Chicago Pen Show main ballroom

For this 2016 show, we focused on having a lot of different options. Not just vintage dealers, but also people bringing in modern pens, paper and inks.

On the ink front, there was ink to try and ink to buy. New this year for us were ink testing stations, with 300 pens filled with different ink. People seemed to really like it. I saw a lot of people looking for the perfect shade of blue black or turquoise or green, or what have you.  Also people trying a new ink before deciding whether to buy it. Here’s Seth trying the new Lamy Dark Lilac.

2016 Chicago Pen Show ink testing station

Vintage pen vendors always bring bottles of older ink, but this year we had more new, current inks than ever. We had both Vanness Pens in from Arkansas and Anderson Pens from Wisconsin, along with Papier Plume from New Orleans, and Bertram’s Inkwell from Maryland. Here’s Bert at his “refill wall.”

2016 Chicago Pen Show Bert Oser Bertram's Inkwell

Here are a just few of the ink bottles from KWZ and Callifolio that Vanness brought. And you can see Lisa Vanness back there, too.

2016 Chicago Pen Show ink display Vanness Pens

And here are some of the inks Anderson brought. This photo was taken before opening on Saturday morning. By Sunday afternoon those shelves were much emptier.

2016 Chicago Pen Show ink display Anderson pens

Pen show lesson : I learned not to put off ink purchases till the end of the show.  Many of those Montblanc bottles had been sold when I came back on Sunday. Alas, Montblanc Blue Hour Twilight Blue, you are gone.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Lamy Safari Dark Lilac fountain pen and ink

And here’s the new Lamy Dark Lilac ink and fountain pen. I saw this on Friday. I’m not sure the stock of bottles for sale even lasted through the day.

Here’s a writing sample of the Dark Lilac ink,  which Lisa Vanness was nice enough to load into one of our testing station pens for people to try.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Lamy Dark Lilac ink writing sample

Which reminds me: Lisa Vanness brought Brad Dowdy of the Pen Addict and Ana Reinert of The Well-Appointed Desk, to help behind the Vanness counter. That was great. Brad and Ana are super talented, but also just really nice people.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Vanness Pens Brad Dowdy Ana Reinert

It’s funny how pen shows are. It felt so busy, overall, but crowds ebbed and flowed. There was some traffic from the public on Friday, and those people were smart. If you can ever leave work early and get to the pen show on Friday, you should. There’s more stuff available, and the vendors aren’t as busy as they’ll be on Saturday.

Saturday is the busiest: I heard that there were 370 paid admissions Saturday. Add in everyone with the weekend pass, and all the kids who are admitted free, and you’ll understand that Saturday saw a lot of traffic. It was fun, but hectic.

For  most of Saturday, the tables looked like this.

2016 Chicago Pen Show crowd at Vanness Pens

And here’s the scene at the Franklin-Christoph table.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Franklin-Christoph table

Sunday is a little quieter. A lot of the weekend pass holders leave early Sunday to get home. But then there are a lot of locals who can only get there on Sunday. People were more relaxed, it seemed, and it felt mellower. If you come Sunday you have more time to talk.

But the truth is, there’s time to talk every day. Here’s Susan Wirth with a customer. There are a lot of people in the pen world who really want to help people find a pen they’ll love, and Susan is one of them.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Susan Wirth

We also got to let a lot of people see and try the Venvstas 77 Chicago edition fountain pen made for the show, as well as the Venvstas inks. The carbon fiber pen case was a big hit, too.

2016 Chicago Pen Show Venvstas 77 fountain pen

I’m going to stop my overview of the Pen Show here. Part 2 will have more on (some of) the pens that I saw there.

5 thoughts on “Wrapping Up the 2016 Chicago Pen Show: Part 1

  1. Yes, I love R&K inks. Alt-Goldgrün isn’t really my favorite, but everyone I know loves it, and it’s a great match for the Lamy Charged Green Al-Star if that ever makes it into your pen collection.

    I did hear about Tekker ink! It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? I look forward to hearing more about it. I notice they emphasize that the inks are tested and safe, and that’s really important to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They have quite a discussion going over at FPN about those inks. I’m curious to hear more of them soon, too. They’re not too long in business yet, it seems.
      I don’t (yet) do matching of pens and inks, mostly because I don’t have that many pens yet. I still am in my trial phase. 🙂 I’ll have some Italix pens up soon, by Mr. Pen. Those would be gorgeous for your reds and greens, really. The pens are really beautiful, and the nibs are, as the name says, available in various italic options – which is why I got some.
      I am looking forward to some Tekker reviews by people who can actually buy them 🙂 They don’t (yet) ship internationally.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally would have slummed the whole weekend at the ink testing station 🙂
    Perfect shade of blue… you still evade me. And I recently expanded my search into browns and reds and greens… such folly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s my problem: I love them all. 🙂 Blues and blue blacks, unusual greens, reds even. And definitely browns. And you didn’t mention pinks or blacks, but I love those, too. Fountain pen inks suck you in that way, because the variety is fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not so much one for pinks and blacks, to be honest. Though I might be taken in by some of the purples. 🙂 So yeah, same here. I might even go for an interesting grey tone sometimes, though I’m too deep into the others as of yet. As for unusual greens, did you try the Rohrer + Klingner Alt-Goldgrün yet? That certainly is an unusual one. I love it – and they come really cheap here, since they’re German (finally one that doesn’t cost a fortune here…)
        So yeah, I might not love them all, but I certainly love most of them.
        And you might kill me next, but did you hear of Tekker ink yet? 🙂 I saw this review
        ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvV0tHxR9O0 )
        on the inkspot youtube channel the other day, and it certainly sounds… tempting 🙂 They’re just not as highly saturated as I like them, it seems, but… still tempted. The only thing keeping me from trying them out is that they’re in the US and I’d pay a fortune in shipping again.
        (and no, not affiliated at all, just stumbled upon it and really love the concept)

        Liked by 1 person

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