Visiting Anderson Pens, and the Philly Show

With the change in years, two annual events on my personal calendar have arrived and passed — visiting Anderson Pens and the Philadelphia Pen Show.

For two consecutive years, clearly a trend, I’ve spent a few days at the end of the year with family in my hometown, Milwaukee. Part of that trip, which reminds me every year that New York City’s winter really is not cold, is driving up to visit Brian and Lisa Anderson in their amazing Anderson Pens store in downtown Appleton. Their business gives one hope that there is a future for modern, Internet ( and storefront, family-owned business in America. Central Wisconsin rent aside, their store could be on Madison Avenue and do well. The front is all pens, the long wall is all ink, there are large MontBlanc and Sailor cases in center islands…most important, there are Brian and Lisa, whose passion for their work shines through. There are a lot of reasons to visit Wisconsin; now pendom has another.

The Philadelphia Pen Show, just past, was a fun afternoon. The Show is at a crossroads, but that’s for another day. What pen shows are really about is talking, and I had wonderful conversations with two vintage pen restorers I had not met before: Fred Gorstein, with whom it turns out I share some professional background, and Michael Quitt (Charm City Pens). From Michael, I purchased a very nice black 1930’s Parker Duofold, sporting a jeweled Challenger Deluxe three-ringed cap, which to me looks much nicer than the turbaned black crown of the Duofold. It carries a lovely original nib that writes a wet, full medium with some spring and a touch of flex, very different from the contemporaneous Vacumatic “nails”. Although my collection is getting another culling, this one, having just arrived, will be staying.