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April 2004: The Pen Show Jones

Extra Fine Points Index  ]

BY DON FLUCKINGER • It’s been a year since my last pen show.

I’m fairly shaking with what many of you know but have not yet named, but I have: The Pen Show Jones. Needing to rub shoulders with my favorite dealers. Courting many pens, but marrying only one. Or three. Shoring up some holes in the collection. Locating some parts to make whole some wonderful, yet incomplete, pens I already have.

People laughed at me last year in Boston when I said I’d be checking out of the pen show scene because Kate was having a baby. No one believed I would stay away. Yet it seems that this might be my only show this year, too, making it the only one in — gasp — a 24-month span.

People laughed at me last year in Boston when I said I’d be checking out of the pen show scene because Kate was having a baby. Extra Fine Points

There will be something interesting there waiting for me, tucked among the tables. I can’t wait to find out what.

I don’t always get pen stuff. Let me share what happened the last two times.

At Philadelphia in 2003, this guy comes up to Richard’s table, where I’m working. Backwards beret, “Iron Butt” and BMW Motorcycle Club patches on his jacket. Fountain pen collector and a biker, like me.

(Bikers all know what the Iron Butt patches mean — you’re not only serious about riding obscene distances in ridiculously short times, but also insane enough to get witnesses to the rides, turn in receipts, and pay independent club members to verify you actually did it. For your pains you are rewarded with patches, like Scouts get merit badges.)

So I tell this guy I have a cruiser bike, but I want to upgrade to a sport tourer, and soon. I wanted to get that whole trading-up process out of the way — and get a good summer of riding in — before the kid comes. I ask this guy what he rides. What kind of BMW? He’s got one of the big boys, can’t remember which one but it’s a classic 1980s BMW “airhead,” and he’s put tens and tens of thousands of miles on it, like all riders of those bikes, it seems, do.

To make a short story long, he tells me to look into a used K75, which is exactly the bike it sounded to him that I wanted. While I didn’t ultimately buy one (they stopped making K75s in 1993 and I just couldn’t abide getting a bike that old), this guy essentially sent me on an obsessive trek through every Internet BMW trading board, which led me to choose a Kawasaki Concours instead — after numerous online chats with more BMW freaks like him, who told me I really wanted a Kawi Concours and not one of their bikes.

On the first day of spring last year, I flew one-way to St. Louis and rode a used Concours home after buying it from a guy I’d met on the Concours Users Group “For Sale” board.

I was happy as a clam. If Kate ever catches that Iron Butt guy I met in Philly, however, she might have a few words for him.

Anyway, so the other story is this: Last year at the Boston show, after having written off going to any Red Sox games during that season, I ran into a pen-and-watch dealer who was trying to get rid of some nice grandstand season tickets. I bought a pair to a Kansas City game on April 30. The game ended in a bizarre but strangely entertaining way: The Sox were down 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th but won the thing after then-new Royals closer Mike MacDougal hit three batsmen, catcher Brett Mayne dropped an easy pop foul, and then first baseman Mike Sweeney committed an error that scored the winning run for Boston.

What could be better than all that?

I’m looking forward to this pen show. My Sox-tickets dealer pal is saving me a pair of tickets for the Orioles in Fenway for April 14th that I will pick up at his table. If trends hold, that game should end on a balk or something.

Might actually find some pens this year at the Boston show, too. And some nibs I’m seeking, as well as some pencils to complement the striped Duofold set I’ve been building …

If they held it right now, two days early, the annual Beantown convocation of fountain pendom could not start soon enough. That, in a nutshell, is the Pen Show Jones.

cover Further Reading: Fenway In Your Pocket, by Kevin T. Dame

Touring in Boston and planning to take in a Sox game? Get a copy of this gem, required reading for anyone with an interest in the history of baseball’s most storied venue.

Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
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