I was nervous, unsure of myself – I had never seen a vintage pen outside of a photograph. I also had no idea of what to expect. Would people be as accepting in-person as they had been online? Would this even be the same crowd I spoke to through my computer? Would I be proven a fraud who knew nothing about fountain pens? I didn’t want to leave the show feeling humiliated and alone.

I gathered up my courage and my fountain pens and headed out to the show.

This was not the same group that I had come to know through forums and social media. In fact, there were very few of the retailers I had been supporting (with any funds I could spare) for the last few years. Instead, I found a whole new bubble of the fountain pen community.

Rather than finding a closed group where I was an outsider, I found a group who was welcoming, talkative, and ready to share knowledge with anyone who was willing to listen – or even anyone who was willing to argue!

One topic of discussion at a pen show is often how to get younger enthusiasts to attend.