In the past, long before computers, cell phones or even home telephones, few things brought people more joy than a handwritten letter. The experience was even more meaningful because of the time invested in crafting a message with ink and pen. With digital devices now dominating our communication, penmanship sometimes seems like a lost art.

Exhibitors Shawn and Liz Newton

Local collector Dave Morgan and his wife, Anne, launched the St. Louis Pen Show in 2018 to ensure that handwriting continues to occupy an important page in our history. The event is a place for designers, sellers, collectors, calligraphers and the public to view and purchase vintage and modern pens, special papers, inks, notebooks and more. This year’s show is scheduled for June 21 through 23 at the Sheraton Westport Plaza Hotel, and more than 30 vendors will be on hand with fascinating writing instruments. There also will be classes and demonstrations to educate attendees about pens, calligraphy, different types of paper and more.

The show is a wonderful opportunity for old and new enthusiasts to come together, says David Oscarson, a St. Louis-based designer of fine fountain pens. “I first became interested in writing instruments after working in the jewelry industry,” he explains. “Later, I went to work for a local pen company and decided to marry that idea with my jewelry background.” Oscarson uses guilloche, a centuries-old engraving process, to create intricate, colorful designs on heavy-gauge sterling silver pens. Crushed glass is mixed with metal oxides to achieve different enamel colors, and the pens are fired multiple times to produce layered hues.

Oscarson’s company sells about 1,000 pieces a year, either directly to customers or through Clarkson Jewelers. Sometimes he designs pens to commemorate special events like the anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony that connected the east and west coasts by rail. “These are pieces of art meant to last for centuries,” he notes. “We want them to have meaning and history. Writing instruments make some of the best conversation pieces.”

A David Oscarson pen design

Pen collector Don Lamkin of University City also will be at the show. He has been interested in the subject for about a dozen years and counts roughly 300 pieces in his collection, including fountain pens, rollerballs, ballpoints and mechanical pencils. “Some of my pens date back to the early 20th century,” he notes. “I display them around my home. I do sell some of them, mainly so I can buy more.” Lamkin will have a table at the show, where he plans to educate visitors and encourage young people to get interested in the art of handwriting. Pens are available in all price ranges, so even first-time buyers can start a personal collection at the event.

Lamkin says visitors are welcome to bring family heirloom pens for appraisal, and they can attend seminars to learn about cleaning and maintaining them. “An attractive writing instrument is like a special piece of jewelry,” he says. “It’s functional as well as beautiful.” He says the best advice he can give a person interested in the subject is to attend the show. “Exhibitors are more than happy to tell you whatever you’d like to know about pens,” Lamkin notes. “Bring a pad of paper so you can try out the ones you like best.”

For more information about the St. Louis Pen Show June 21 through 23, visit

Writing History
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Writing History
Local collector Dave Morgan and his wife, Anne, launched the St. Louis Pen Show in 2018 to ensure that handwriting continues to occupy an important page in our history.
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