A penchant for pens is written all over this weekend’s International Pen Show

Wed, Jul 21, 1999 (9:36 a.m.)

Pen show

What: Las Vegas International Pen Show.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Tropicana hotel-casino, Caribbean rooms 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Admission: $6; Children 12 and under admitted free.

Information: Call 739-2222.

Pens take center stage at the Las Vegas International Pen Show this weekend at the Tropicana hotel-casino. Open to the public, the show will feature pen dealers and collectors from more than 16 countries assessing, selling and even giving away top-of-the-line pens.

"It goes beyond just an object, it's something people like to use," Boris Rice, tresurer and business manager of Pen Collectors of America and past president of the nonprofit organization, says. "The feel of the writing is what it is all about."

The first successful fountain pen, by American inventor L.E. Waterman, made its debut in 1883. Pens became prestigious, ornate and popular until around the middle of this century, when, he says, people became blase about them.

"Pen shows really started in 1985 in Chicago," Rice says. "It was mostly vintage pens (on display) until collectors discovered them."

Pens were bought for a few dollars and sold for hundreds as they became more popular. Manufacturers caught onto the rekindled interest and began making more intricate instruments that can soar in price to thousands of dollars.

Interest in pens, the industry and exhibits has grown with more than a dozen shows now held annually around the country. "Doctors, educators, people who write, are caught up in the fever," Rice says. "It's more men than women. Men like the prestige of a pen, having it in their pocket, the feel of it, the handling of a pen."

Large manufacturers are courting curious consumers with giveaways at shows, and this one is no different: Omas of Italy pen manufacturer will give away two 18-karat gold pens: the $475 Jubilee Roma 2000 and the $2,000 Millennium II Limited Edition.

"There's nothing like a smooth writing nib that glides over the paper," Rice says. "It can improve anyone's handwriting if you get the right pen."

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