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BWIPS 2024

Posted in Fountain Pens, Ink, and Pen Shows

You’ll have to excuse the tardiness of this post. Last week was a bit crazy. That said, let’s just pretend I got this out in a timely manner, shall we?

Another Baltimore Pen Show (BWIPS) is over, far too quickly in my opinion. I’m happy to report that the “off” feeling I experienced last year was completely gone this year. I had a blast at the show.


Friday seemed a little slower than I’m used to. While it made conversation easy, I head talk from vendors that it wasn’t a great day for sales. Saturday and Sunday, though, seemed normal in attendance. Some vendors seemed to be selling well, while others were still having difficulties. I wonder if economic concerns are starting to affect the pen world now. Everything is just getting so expensive. But that’s not the point of this post.

Once again, Ryan Krusac was absent, but in his place (literally, they were in the corner he used to occupy) was Edison Pen Co, with a big range of pretty pens. There were quite a few new vendors this year, alongside the veterans. And that leads neatly into the new layout.


BWIPS is fast outgrowing the show hotel. An additional room was added to the vendor space this year. So, on top of the main ballroom and front area near the registration desk, the hallway down around the ballroom had tables running the entire length and another, smaller, room had a handful of indie makers.

There was a bit of a learning curve on Friday with how best to maneuver people to the extra areas, but it seemed to have been better handled by Saturday.

At best, with this year’s layout, a kiosk-style table could be added to the smaller room, and another 2-4 tables could be added to the hallway. Beyond that, you’d have to start “stealing” the class/seminar rooms, which might be doable if the schedule is closely managed.

Aside from needing to invent extra space, parking continues to be an issue at the hotel, one many people raised with Bert.

Show Requirements

That issue is how I learned of the trifecta of pen show hotel requirements: location, rates, and parking.

The first is fairly easy: the hotel needs to be easy to access from a major airport — Baltimore/Washington International Airport in this case. This generally means close proximity to the airport so the hotel has a shuttle. Bonus points if the shuttle runs 24/7 or close to it.

The next requirement significantly increases the difficulty: low show rates. Especially in the expensive DC region, lower rates can help make the show more accessible to out-of-towners.

And last, but definitely not least, is parking. Not necessarily amount of parking — or at least not just amount of parking — but also price. Free parking, or very close to it, is also considered highly important to entice locals. At my first Baltimore show, I was just barely a fringe member of the pen community and I remember how much people complained about parking costs. The was the year (or maybe final year?) that it was in Baltimore proper.

I had no idea there were so many considerations to choosing a show hotel. Or perhaps I should say I’d never given much thought to the requirements outside of show space. The discussion that enlightened Jim and me was certainly interesting. And, probably obvious to you by now, I learned a lot.


This year, for me, the show was really about friends and community. Even during show hours, nearly all of my time was spent socializing with vendors and pen friends. I always make sure to check in with Guy of Jinji’s chocolates, Jonathon of Carolina Pen Co., Cary at Kenro, Brian of Iron Feather Creative, Greg of Hardy Penwrights, Damien of All in the Nib, Tammy of The Write Stuff, Les of StyloSuite, and the list goes on. Please forgive me if I didn’t name someone specifically.

It’s always great to catch up with vendor friends who I only see at shows. While I’m still battling shyness with new acquaintances, I made an effort to talk to new vendors, too. I had lovely chats with Mikayla of White Bear Pens and Zach of Skogsy Pens. I also got to know Akhila of Smruti Pens much better.


I also made an effort to socialize more at the after-show events. Jim and I attended the vintage event on Friday and had every intention of attending the standard Pen Show After Dark event, but got caught up with friends. I had a great time chatting both nights, both during and after events, until I got too tired and headed up to bed.


And so, I conclude with my shopping during BWIPS. Allow me to start with a pat on the back for both following my purchasing rules and staying under budget. My rules for this show were my current standard rule: no pretty ink sticks with a caveat that I was allowed to buy a pen in Warm Primary Manipulation if I found one I liked.

My nib haul
Left to right: a feather pen nib engraving for my Little Women pen, a peacock nib engraving for my Pride and Prejudice pen, and the BBG ground nib.

I started with a nib appointment with J.J. Lax, getting a medium nib ground to a BBG (big bottom grind). It’s a cursive italic on the front and a F/M on the back — mine runs closer to a F. Once that was complete, I set to work crossing items off my shopping list:

  • Wearingeul Tinker Bell
  • Colorverse Mystic Mountain
  • 2 Kaweco converters
  • 2 Pilot Con-40 converters
  • Pay for and pick up my Mayfair Pens commission
  • Pick up my custom-engraved nibs
My ink haul

Unfortunately, no one had Robert Oster Jewel in the Crown or a medium TWSBI 580 nib.

On top of my planned purchases, I also picked up Wearingeul Half Moon with Dimmed Light, Taccia Umemurasaki, a secondhand bottle of Birmingham Gunpowder Tea, a Mini Saguaro model from Skogsy Pens, some Jinji Chocolate, and a handful of stickers.

I did most of my shopping on Friday, only picking up the Jinji chocolate and Taccia ink on Saturday during the show. I thought my shopping was done by lunch on Saturday, but then that evening, a DC Pen Crewer had a London Pen Co Christopher 14 for sale in Warm Primary Manipulation, and I had to get it.

My complete haul
I forgot to pull out the converters I got. Oops. Uncapped pens are only shown because my new nibs are in them.

Despite my short shopping list and relatively small haul, this year’s BWIPS ranks among my favorites. It was a great show.

Did you go to BWIPS this year? If so, did you have fun? If not, are you interested in going in the future? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Make sure to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss any posts. I generally post at least once a week.


  1. Kit

    I don’t live in the DC area, but next year I expect to move to Virginia, so the Baltimore show makes more sense. I worry a little about how the attendance, hotel and parking costs will compare to the Chicago show, which is the only one I’ve been able to attend. Of course, when I’m actually living in Virginia, I’ll get on the necessary mailing lists and do my homework about costs.

    March 20, 2024
  2. Michael G. Ellis
    Michael G. Ellis

    I didn’t know the economy is bad.

    March 17, 2024
    • At least in this area, the price of everything has skyrocketed and keeps increasing. While that many not equal horrible economy, it’s not great, and reduces the amount of money people have to spend on luxuries.

      March 17, 2024
      • Michael G. Ellis
        Michael G. Ellis

        I have doubts about luxury buyers facing a bad economy. I think it’s become a buzzword by all the complainers and cry babies. Just my opinion.

        March 17, 2024
      • You’re welcome to your opinion. I’ll point out, though, I said luxuries, as in things that aren’t required to survive, not luxury as in expensive name-brand goods.

        March 17, 2024
      • Michael G. Ellis
        Michael G. Ellis

        Where I am prices have been dropped or stabilized, gas is lower. Incomes have risen as unemployment is pretty low.

        March 17, 2024
  3. Michele

    I am still new to the pen world and also shy! I want to go to a show but also worry about expense and being too shy to talk to anyone so not getting the full experience.

    I hope you share a close up of that warm primary manipulation pen on instagram! I want to inspect it! 😁

    March 13, 2024
    • If you’re concerned about pen show costs, find out if a show near you has after-show events or hang outs. So far all but 2 of the shows I’ve been to have had after show hangouts that are completely free.

      Also, single-day tickets for most shows are generally under $20. Many are as low as $5.

      I hope you’re able to check out a show. And I’ll be sure to post pen pics. Maybe a material appreciation post.

      March 13, 2024

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