A couple of years ago we had the great pleasure to meet Mike Kirk from Wixom, MI while at the Columbus Pen Show. For those of you that were present in 2009, that was the year of the now infamous Jotter auction (“Mabel’s Whorehouse and Grill” imprinted on a Jotter, which was not discovered until the lot went up for sale). The crowd could barely stop laughing and sitting next to Mike was comedy in and of itself. I was crying I was laughing so hard.
Since then, we learned Mike travels around the midwest and ends up in our own Appleton about once per quarter. Lisa and I started meeting Mike when he came to town, often at the local Applebee’s restaurant for drinks and dinner. Appetizer conversation often covers the “lighter” stuff such as family, work, news and such, and after dinner we work up to the “serious” stuff and call our Pen Club Meeting to order. Ok, so maybe it’s not really a Pen Club per se, but when the three of us get together it is always a good time and we will talk for hours on end. Since Mike travels a lot, he has the opportunity to stop at all those antique stores you wish you could stop at and occasionally comes up with some incredible finds. It’s never a competition, and always lively show and tell, and frankly, the man works hard at his pen hunting and the incredible stuff he roots out of those dusty, dirty antique stores, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Now Mike’s a collector of all things, but this man knows his Parkers. Jotters, 51’s, Vacumatics. He’s one of our go-to guys when we can’t figure something out. A couple years ago we had the pleasure (or maybe it was displeasure) of attending an auction in Janesville where pens (some Parkers of course) were found. I took the day off of work, drove the almost four hours there and we sat all day waiting for the pens to come up. During the preview we plotted which ones were worth bidding on, then went out to the car and texted Mike. The text went something like this:
“No vac bands, but two vac imposters. Look like vacs, but say ‘Golden Arrow’ on them”
Then we waited another five hours to text him back. I could tell he was squirming when I called him only to tell him we were joking. Well, he never forgot that day and we joked about it often.
Fast forward to last night. We held the “Meeting” at our house and had a lovely meal, then showed Mike some improvements we had made in the house. The new Photography Studio, the new Printing Room, and then went upstairs to our office and played with some of the new Noodler’s pens and the Edison Collier’s and Hudson’s we are now carrying. We had some lively conversation about ink, J.G. Rider Pen Company, Kraker, Michael George and Pencraft, even Repair tools. It was fun.
Before dinner, Mike had alluded to a real find he had picked up at our own local antique mall. Now, Lisa and I had just been there a couple weeks back, but as is the case with many places, it’s same old, same old and you just never know what you’re going to find, or not find as is often the case. He was saving the unveiling for after dinner, and now was the time. He pulled out this Sheaffer box, then inside was a round plastic pen tube. He carefully opened the tube and unwrapped the pen from tissue paper to present us with a truly hard to find, dare I say rare vintage pen. I won’t spoil the suprise, as I know Mike wants to tell the story about this find himself, but suffice it to say this was not something you’d see every day. We were kind of in shock we had missed out on something so close. Then he dropped the hammer. It was a prank. He didn’t get it locally, but did find it in an antique store a couple months ago. This pen looked like it was used a little bit then put in a drawer. Sharp chasing, crisp imprints you could cut yourself on and BIG. Not a bad mark anywhere on the pen. Simply stunning to see in this condition. We had a good laugh about it and the expression on my face was apparently a sight to be seen.
So there it is, the first Appleton Pen Club Meeting of 2012. I think we’re even now, Mike!
Brian & Lisa