Pen Show weekend was a most enjoyable experience for Bernie
Bauer and me after a glorious trip aboard the QE II. We had
experienced some misgivings about travel after September 11
but found few difficulties other than waiting to get through
security checks. But once in London we found locations easy
to get to via the Tube or bus and walking was pleasurable
due to sunny weather.
stop was Bonhams and Brooks to check out auction items. I
purchased a catalogue which listed 801 lots and only showed
one photograph, a Parker Snake on the cover. Poor value for
the cost. As we inspected items a general consensus arose
among the ten or so people that the pens were generally neither
in very good shape or interesting. I marked the catalogue
for the next day and we walked over to Harrods.
we were greeted warmly by a helpful and knowledgeable staff
(quite unlike those at the auction site) who encouraged us
to try pens from a vast assortment of modern manufacture.
Yard-O-Led director Tim Tufnell was working on a British masterpiece
and it was a pleasure to learn how his company produces their
pens. Martin Lesny, pen manager at Harrods, was understandably
proud of his department and his staff. A visit there would
be well worth the time whenever anyone visits London.
October 12th was the auction at Bonhams and Brooks. The room
was crowded, hot, seating inadequate, auctioneer seemingly
uninterested. (If you gather I was not thrilled you would
be correct) I purchased one pen and left after noting that
few pens met the suggested values. It is to be hoped that
the auction house finds someone to replace the departed Alex
Crum Ewing or else the pen auction is likely to slip into
oblivion deserved by the 2001 poor showing.
we attended the WES meeting at Avenue House in Finchley. The
building was the home of Stephens ink producer and houses
a small but interesting collection related to "Inky"
Stephens and his products. Most attendees were from the UK
but Germany, Belgium, Australia, Israel, and the US were also
present. The meeting was conducted in a pleasant upstairs
room. Several presented perspectives of pen collecting and
a general agreement was that the Internet has changed the
hobby forever.Due to the Internet it was proposed that information
travels swiftly and "new" discoveries are shared
overnight. Also web sites (the great one on Parker 75 comes
to mind) can provide a library without having to travel further
than ones desktop. Auctions, sales, etc., can be conducted
easily with the caveat of buyer beware still very important!
session followed the meeting. There were many high quality
items sold, traded, and admired. But the following day was
to prove the trip highlight. Kensington Town Hall is a superb
venue for one of the nicest pen shows I have ever enjoyed.We
had anticipated seeing many items not commonly found at American
pen shows and our expectations were fulfilled. I would guess
that most of the dealers were from the UK .But Israel, Germany
(special thanks to Regina for helping me), Australia, and
the USA all managed to have vast selections of desk items,
dip pens, wonderful vintage Conway Stewarts, odd items, and
good food which kept me happy all day. The emphasis was on
vintage items and many were unfamiliar to this newbie collector.
Both Bernie and I enjoyed numerous conversations with dealers
who seemed to enjoy explaining their wares. That atmosphere
reminded me of the Columbus, Ohio pen show which is where
we are headed in a few days.
I would suggest that the weekend as organized by Simon Gray
is well worthwhile. All those who produced the WES meeting
and London show combined to provide a memorable time. We hope
to visit again.