On Saturday, March 7th, after I left the Baltimore Pen Show, we drove to Bertram's Inkwell, the Pen Store who was sponsoring the Pen Show.
One Central Plaza Building (1st floor, #101)
11300 Rockville Pike
Rockville (North Bethesda), MD 20852www.bertramsinkwell.com
Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM-6:00 PM
At the Pen Show, I realized that it was geared more towards vintage and specialty pens, so I figured the store would have a good selection of current offerings. That's what I get for thinking. The owner of the store took a lot of his pens with him to the Show. In addition, the pens that were there at the store, that were on my list, were medium nibbed, and I wanted fine.
But remember- it is a pen store. Yes! A store that sells all kind of pens.
This is a very nice store, and if it's not during a Pen Show, they have a nice selection of pens in all price ranges; as well as supplies. The salespeople were very nice, and sensing my frustration, were very accomodating. Kudos to them for being patient with me, and working with me to buy something I was happy with. That is, till I got home. Let me explain.
As I was perusing their inventory, in one of the cases I saw an Ivory Monteverde Napa which looked nice and felt nice. Then beside it I saw a brownish one which I thought was nicer. I decided to get it, and I wanted the original box, but he couldn't find the original box, and gave me a Monteverde box for the same model, but the color was listed as blue. He wrote the correct model number on the box for what I was getting, but not the description. Now admittedly I am color-blind with reds and greens, and under the store's fluorescent lighting, it looked brownish. However, when I got it home, under my task light, it looked pinkish or rose-colored. My wife thought it looked orange. But when I looked up the model number, the manufacturer labels it as red. If I would have had the original box, and seen it was red, I would not have gotten it. I would have gotten the ivory version.
But, thankfully, I got a good price, and I still think it is a beautiful, well-made pen; and I will use it. So, I've learned another valuable lesson.
Even though you can order anything online, you MUST do business with your local Pen Stores. First of all, you get personal attention. Second, you can handle the pens, dry write, possibly dip, and look at the nib with a magnifying glass to examine if the tines are in alignment. I'm not sure how many mail-order vendors out there "tune" their nibs before shipping them out. Third, you can see the detail of the design. Up close and personal, they can look different from the picture or video you saw. I ordered the amber Conklin Duragraph from Goulet Pens (a great company to deal with), but when I got it, it just didn't look the same. It feels good and it writes good, but after I saw the cracked ice version in person, I wished I would have ordered that one. However, Bertram's didn't have it in a fine nib. And, lastly, always try to get the original box.
I like Bertram's Inkwell, and when I'm in the area, I'm going back. They do have a large selection of pens, supplies (paper, inks, refills), and I was impressed with how big the store is; and how professional and caring the staff is. Why can't there be a pen store in my neck of the woods.