Monday, March 30, 2009

The Köln penshow

Ahhh, Germany

Apologies for the silence, but this has been an exciting few days. Last night at dinner with Knut Dorn, the Director of Sales and Operations for Otto Harrassowitz, and his wife Renata, I explained my appreciation for Germany, which came not only from my love of German craftsmanship, but the friendship of Dr. Ekkehard Jecht in the 1970s. But I get ahead of my story . . .

For us, the Köln penshow began Friday morning with a meeting at our hotel in Neuss with Gerhard Brandl, whom I last saw at his home in Regensburg and then at the penshow in Munich almost four years ago. We also remembered Gerhard Baur, who organised that show. Gerhard and I caught up on things and, as it is with those such as us, some pens changed hands. Gerhard has been a great friend to me and it was wonderful to see him.

Later that day, Sharon and I visited with Jürgen Kuhse, his mother Hannalore and another pen friend. Once again, stories were told, pens changed hands and we caught up with one another. It was great to meet Jürgen’s wife Marina and to see their newly remodeled home. They were about to be married when last we visited in the summer of 2005.

After a brief rest at our hotel in central Köln, we all met for the traditional pre-show dinner at the Hotel Falderhof, owned by Christian Zeumer-Peer, who is himself a pen collector. It was great fun to be included in such a festive and traditional gathering.

The show itself was great. There are many differences between American and European penshows. The latter tend to be smaller in size and briefer. But the commonalities are probably greater, the sense of anticipation, the rush to see pens, the community and the sharing.

The show began at 10:00, although some people were earlier and had begun setting up. The site is the Rüder and Tennisclub Germania, which looks out over the Rhein River. It is a nice setting, surrounded by a park and some residences and with a very pleasant bar and restaurant directly adjacent. Most people tend to feel, however, that the room is a bit too small and certainly the atmosphere is intense the tables are very close, the aisles between them small. After only an hour or so, I got rid of my jacket. As the room and the show heated up, literally and metaphorically. When the show opened to the general public at 1:00, things became very crowded and many people retreated to the restaurant to eat, drink, chat. By 4:00 however things began to slow down and the atmosphere became more what it had been earlier.

For me, one thing was different about this show. It was the first show I have gone to in many years as an attendee and not a seller, and I had to remember the advice I often give to newcomers to pace oneself, take breaks, not to become overwhelmed by all the choices.

Soon enough, the show was over and my pen portfolio was filled with many nice things, some for me and some of which I will share on my website when we return.

For us, the show ended with a small brunch Sunday morning. There I was able o actually meet Christian Zeumer-Peer and his family and was able to catch up with a friend with whom I had lost touch, Peteris Seja, and got to meet his wife.

From there it was on to Wiesbaden Sunday afternoon and for the second time now I have visited Cologne without seeing the Dom (cathedral). Although I did visit it way back in 1971 and I suspect it has not greatly changed, I have. Next time.

In the dining room of the Hotel Ibis in Neuss, Gerhard Brandl and I discuss, what else? pens.
Apologies to Jens, whose surname I do not remember, along with Jürgen Kuhse and his mother Hannalore
At dinner Friday night, Eizo Fujii looks intently at a pen while Duncan Sewell looks on. It was great to finally meet Duncan after hearing so many stories about his pen exploits over the years.
Osman Sümer, Christian Ott, Tom Westerich and Gerhard Brandl
David Parisi's left side, Miroslav Tischler, Claus Holten, who I was most pleased to finally meet after all these years, and in the foreground Michael Gutberlet. Meeting Mike was another highlight of the show and I look forward to seeing him again at the Nürnberg Show, which he organises, in May.
A scene of the Köln show before the crowds.
Jürgen Dittmer, the Pelikan archivist, who has been another great friend over the years and who has been a patient and deep source of knowledge.
Later in the day, things got a bit more crowded. At that point, however, it was impossible to take pictures.
Gerhard Brandl, across a crowded room.
Just two hours earlier, this last row, to the right overlooking the river, took me ten minutes to traverse.
This scene gives a better sense of the room at mid-day. While many people favour a larger venue, several I spoke with liked the intensity of this setting. I tend, a bit, toward that view, though I probably would not had I tried to sell at the show.
Jürgan Kuhse and to his left Matthias-Josef Zimmermann. One of the few regrets I have is that Majo and I did not get more time together.
Thomas Neureither, from Heidelberg, known to those of Fountain Pen Network, as a great source of information on all European makers. He and I have corresponded about possible contributions to the PCA poublication, The Pennant, and it was great to meet him and to chat briefly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me how to contact Thomas Neureither? I have a question or two about some older German fountain pens that he may be able to help me with. My great grandfather was Heinrich Koch, of KAWECO. Email me at thomas.elliott AT Thanks.