Monday, November 12, 2012

Leadhead's Tread: The Ohio Pen Show

It feels good to be home.

As it is every year, I’ve been running around across pretty big chunks of the country all year long, meeting people, talking pencils and even buying one or two . . . give or take a few. Each November, when I walk in the door at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Dublin, Ohio, it feels like crossing a finish line after a long, long journey home.

There’s more to that statement than it might sound. Yes, I live a mere forty minutes or so from the hotel – close enough that I usually commute back and forth for a couple days – so of course I’m home. But the more people I talk to at this show, the luckier I feel that I live here, because I think most of us that come to this show agree that it wouldn’t matter in what city this show is held. No matter how far away you live, this show feels like home.

People usually start trickling into Columbus on Wednesday afternoon. I picked up Michael Little at the hotel on Wednesday. We said hello to a few people in the hotel bar, but since we didn’t see any trading going on in the trading room, we scooted on home to Newark where, as Janet described it, we looked like a couple kids playing with baseball cards. By the time it was over, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Michael and I each had a big pile of things we’d pulled out of each other’s stuff. The next morning, we started trying to figure out who owed money to whom, but after we horsed around with the math for awhile we decided we both felt like we’d gotten a good deal so we called it even.

(Thursday morning, Janet took one look at our respective piles of pencils, kissed me to leave for work and said, "Those will be gone tomorrow, right?")

Thursday trading is a one room affair, but that one room was FULL. Dealers and weekend registrants were allowed half a table each to display pens and pencils, and there was not one empty half table in their. With little room side to side, stuff was stacked on tables layers deep, giving real meaning to "mining" for pencils! In my little corner of the world, space was even more limited since I’d chosen to display (on a not-for-sale basis) David Moak’s Mabie Todd pencil collection, which I’d purchased from David earlier in the week and which had arrived by FedEx Thursday morning, just before Mike and I left Newark to scoot back over to the show:

When I trooped back over Friday morning I had an overnight bag and I checked into the hotel. One of the best parts of the Ohio Show is that once you set up on Friday, you can really settle in because there’s no teardown. Friday night was the pizza party, Saturday night was the dessert party and second auction, and by Sunday afternoon people were starting to look a little haggard but everyone was still ready for more. In fact, Joe Nemecek decided to crash at our house Sunday night, since Newark is on his way back to Maryland, and we were up past midnight this morning taking pictures of his Columbus finds and talking pencils.

("What the heck were you guys talking about after being together for four days?" Janet says. "Pencils," I respond. "No really," she says. Repeat conversation several times and give up.)

I really don’t think I’m being biased when I tell you that I can’t think of anything that would make this show a better experience. The Crowne Plaza is very nice, with more amenities than we hobbyists would ever use. The restaurant serves a nice breakfast buffet for ten bucks, and the bar across the hall will make you a double Glenlivet for ten bucks, too. That might be perfect symmetry if I only had one breakfast and one scotch per day! A private courtyard outside the pool area breaks the November wind nicely for drinks and cigars into the evenings – and this year is the first I can remember that you could get by with just a light jacket.

Show organizer Terry Mawhorter got a lot of us into this hobby, myself included, and his knack for bringing people together always keeps things running smoothly for everyone. Here he is, announcing a door prize, under the close supervision of Howard Levy of Bexley Pens:

The only complaint that I heard was that the public attending the show was sparse and stingy, but without exception that comment was followed by "but boy, I bought some really fantastic stuff!" It’s hard to say where all that money goes, but plenty of money did change hands and I think nearly everyone – certainly the vintage collectors – went home happy.

Most of the people that have appeared here at the blog over the last year were at the Ohio show this year. Here’s Michael Little, on the left, doing another of his multi-million dollar deals with Frank Hoban:

And Rob Bader:

And here’s Rob with Roger Cromwell on the left, and Lee Anderson on the right:

Dan Reppert, showing no signs of stress:

Gary Garner’s mug shot:

Pat Mohan:

Tim Pierson:

Bruce Mindrup:

Jack Leone, on the right, shown here with John Hall, a friend and local pen maker and enthusiast who somehow fell in with the "pencil crowd’:

Francis Bulbulian, shown here with blog enthusiast Greg Proctor:

Dale Yessler:

Cliff Harrington:

Mike Kirk, who after this photo was taken with Don Castle, said "Wait a minute. Can I see what I was pointing at?":

Brian and Lisa Anderson:

Lee Chait:

Andy Beliveau, on the left, here with Don Lansford:

Rob Morrison, left, with John Hubbard:

I’m sure there’s others I've forgotten to mention. After all, I didn’t realize until I got back to Newark that I’d forgotten to get an action shot of Joe Nemecek at the show, so here he is touring the Museum:

And . . . drum roll . . . here's the pencils that I found at the show:

But the best of the bunch are shown in this tray:

From left: Moore, Moore, Eclipse, Parker, Parker, Eversharp, Sheaffer, Waterman, Autopoint, Presto, Dow and Ross-Memo.

Yeah. There’s some killer ones in there that you’ll see me write about. However, great as the pencils are, as the 2012 Ohio Show closed up and my friends from all over the world dispersed to the four winds, I think the memories they left with me are even greater. As write this, as the first day after the Ohio Pen Show dawns, I’m already looking forward to the day, early next November, when all my friends come home with me again.


Vance said...

The Columbus show is the highlight of the season, for sure. By the way, that last double photo is of Rob Morrison and John Hubbard.

Enjoyed gabbing with you as always, even if you left me out of your photo gallery.

Jon Veley said...

You are correct, sir! Too many pictures, and guess I got them mixed up. BTW, where were you when I was pointing the camera around willy nilly??

Email me a pic today if you get a chance - I'd like to include you in tomorrow's swan song--

Brian Anderson said...

Glad I could add one more to the collection! I agree, Columbus is the vintage highlight of the year. While other shows have their fair share of vintage (DC, Raleigh, Chicago, etc.), nothing comes close to Columbus in all it offers. We're exhausted but had a great time. Hope to chat more soon, we were too busy to get out from behind the table!