Pen Shows for Noncollectors 

Most pen show reviews concentrate on how good they are for collectors.  Many collectors cannot or do not wish to attend solo, however, raising the question of which shows are best for those noncollecting friends and family members who are going to be dragged along.

Although our ratings below are necessarily subjective, they are based on certain widely-applicable considerations: most importantly, the immediate location and nearby facilities, and the accessibility of other places of interest.  Shows are listed in calendar order, and include only those which we have attended personally.


Philadelphia's main problem is timing: so soon after New Year's, many potential participants would just as well stay home, and the show has had its share of bad weather over the years.  The show hotel is rather sterile and not as central as the old Warwick of times past, but it is still quite easy to get everywhere on foot or by taxi.

Los Angeles is a favorite destination.  It offers a balmy break when much of the country is still wintry, and it is held in a comfortable hotel with good amenities, including a handsome golf course.  A range of decent food is within walking distance, as are movie theaters and basic shopping.  The beach is not far, and can be reached by using the hotel shuttle.  Rental cars can be obtained through the hotel as well.

Boston was for many years actually out in Somerville, but is now once again right in the center of town, putting all of its riches within easy reach.

Chicago is a venerable destination, but the only thing good to be said about the Rosemont venue is that it is close to O'Hare.  It is far from the city center, and though one can take the El into town, it is a long walk to the station and a substantial train ride from there.  Hotel food choices are poor, surroundings are sterile, and there is little else in walking distance.

Washington DC is a good choice for a family vacation.  The hotel is good and the rates excellent; other hotels (including apartment hotels) are in walking distance.  Several major shopping malls can be reached by hotel shuttle or taxi, and central Washington is not far away. By this summer's show, the Metro extension should be open, putting a station just a few blocks from the hotel's front doors.

London is now held in a hotel in Bloomsbury -- a great location just a block from the Russell Square tube station and in walking distance of the British Museum. There are many other hotels in the immediate area, so there is no shortage of choice in accommodation.

Columbus is a fine show in the suburb of Dublin, unusual in that the hotel food and drink prices are reasonable. Other food and shopping choices are not far away, but this is still not a place for noncollecting companions to be stuck without access to a car.