PenInHand - Musings on the Hobby
A Great Place to Learn: Pen Clubs
by Jim Mamoulides, May 4, 2002
Deb Kinney's Smile Says It All - Pen Clubs Are Fun!
If you want to learn about pens, the best place to go is where people who love pens congregate. Unfortunately, pen folk don't have migratory patterns like some birds, but they do get together periodically at pen club meetings. If you live in or near a major metro area, the chances are good that a pen club has sprung up near you.
The Triangle Pen Club, started by Ross McKinney and Deb Kinney, is the club nearest me, and meets about every other month on a Sunday afternoon. It started, as told on Ross' website, RossPens.com, literally as the result of Ross and Deb putting together a vintage pen show in 1998 and taking names to start a club. The first meeting was in early 1999, at a local restaurant. As it says on Ross's site, "We thought it would be empty. Ha! We barely had space to sit and compare notes."
Frank Kauffmann Passes a Pen Down the Line
Triangle Pen Club meetings usually have a theme, such as unusual nibs, smoothest writers, pretty pens, repairs, to name some recent themes. Regardless of theme, there are always plenty of new and vintage pens to try out!
This past month's meeting was held at the Wellspring Grocery Store cafe in Durham, NC at 2pm on Sunday April 28, 2002. The theme was "unusal nibs", so club members were to bring pens with nibs such as stubs and obliques, so that others could try them. I have to admit, all my pens walk on the normal, boring, ordinary F/M/B side of the street, with the only nibs that might even raise an eyebrow would be an extra fine on a Parker Challenger and a double broad on a Parker 61. I might have an italic in that cabinet somewhere, but I'm not really sure. The good news was that several club members are stub and extra flexible nib freaks, so I knew nibs from the "wilder" side would make an appearance in force.
Probably The Only Pause in the Whole Meeting Was to Say "Cheese"
So here is the gang that attended, an elbow to elbow turnout, starting from the left front, are Mark Anderle, Deb Kinney, Glenn Jones, Trish Jones, Frank Kauffman, David Brown, Leigh Moser, Dean Moser, Ross McKinney, Fran DeRespinis, and Doug Addington. Daniel Addington and yours truly were not available for photographs that day.
One of the best things about a pen club meeting is being able to try out new pens in a friendly environment. There are always pens running around the table that I have seen only in catalogs or on the internet, and it's great to be able to actually see how they write and ask the owner what they are like to live with. Some people focus on new pens, some on vintage, some on particular brands or features, such as stub or flexible nibs.
Because of this club, I now have tried stubs and really appreciate how they write. I'm not yet at the point where I want a stub, but I might never have known the unique way one writes without going to a club meeting. Stubs just aren't in stores, and when they are, many stores discourage dipping to the point that you almost have to commit to the pen, or you won't get to try it. This is where the pen club shines. There are others like me who may never have tried a stub and would never have realized how much they like them. The pen club gives this opportunity in a stress free environment.
I Brought Along Some Goodies from Hal Arnold - The "Club" and a Parker Lapis Set
I brought with me, along with some of my personal pens, a special package from Hal Arnold, of Pen Restoration Services fame, that included some gorgeous pens he had restored: a Parker Duofold Lapis Ringtop set and an engraved Sheaffer TM Signature Snorkel set which he included a picture of and the story of the original owner. Hal also sent the "Club", a large pen he created to show off his creative side, with a beautiful marbled barrel he turned and a modified Cesare Emiliano which includes a jewel on top.
Pen club meetings are a great place for members who collect vintage pens to exchange information on repairs and restoration.
Ross McKinney Is Smiling In Spite of His Leaky Conway Stewart!
As always, pads of paper were passed around and ink flowed. People passed around their pens and got to try out the pens of others. Some had pens for sale and as a result, several changed hands. And the ink really flowed. One of Ross McKinney's pens, a blue vintage Conway Stewart with a stub nib decided that this club meeting was the right time for its sac to let go and several people got inky fingers.
The most interesting and appealing pen I used that day turned out to be a small no-name pen that Ross brought that had a very flexible nib. Writing with it was almost like wiping with a brush. An amazingly expressive pen. As always, I learned something new. Here was a no-name pen that did not cost much and it made some of the biggest smiles among all those expensive and exotic pens.
Armed With A Case of Pens, I Came Back With One of Ross McKinney's New Cards
So, how do you find out if there is a club in your area? Many clubs, including the Triangle Pen Club, post their meeting information to the Zoss Pen List, Pentrace, or on alt.collecting.pens-pencils. Links to these discussion groups can be found in the Pen Discussions section of PenBookmarks. Some groups have home websites, which can be found in the Pen Information and Collector Sites section.
If you are in the Raleigh / Durham, NC area, definitely come to the next meeting. As Ross says on his website, "membership is free and *everyone* is invited - no matter how far they have to drive!"
So go join your local pen club! It's a great place to learn more about the hobby and meet other collectors!
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