Terry Brack has the write stuff.
For the past decade, Brack has organized the Long Island Pen Show, giving amateur pen collectors a stage to display the vintage and modern fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens that they use to scribble in an array of journals and on other stationery.
The idea grew out of a local club where “members met to show off their pens, trade and share their enthusiasm for the hobby of pen collecting,” Brack says.
But the event this weekend at Hofstra University in Hempstead has taken on more significance in recent years, as the flood of computers and smartphones into classrooms has led to a decline of penmanship classes in elementary school.
The mastery of cursive handwriting, which was once something of a rite of passage for third- and fourth-graders, is now becoming something of a lost art, he says.
“There is something lost in not taking the time to learn to form letters well and put your own ideas on paper with your own hand rather than on a screen with a keyboard,” Brack says.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Long Island Pen Expo is foremost for pen collectors, notetaking calligraphers and those who enjoy using fine writing instruments.
“It is also for people interested in making a connection to the past, when everyone communicated with letters and writing,” says Brack, 68, “when the handwritten note meant so much for distant friends and lovers.”
Brack, who lives in Coram and is an assistant chemistry professor at Hofstra, says the show, which attracts 600 to 800 people each year, is the only one of its kind in the New York area.
About 55 exhibitors including J. Herbin, the world’s oldest name in pen inks, and Exaclair, a prominent stationery and paper product maker, will have items on hand for sampling and to purchase.
Zorn’s Main Street Pens and Jim Baer’s Monomoy Vintage Pens also will be available to repair collectors’ items on-site both days, and on Sunday, there will be a letter writing workshop.
“People can expect to see lots of pens and pencils from about 1900 to the present with all sorts of styles and materials,” Brack says. “They will be able to try out pens, learn about the history of the fountain pen and the ballpoint.”
WHAT’S THE POINT
The digital age has caused a decline in the most basic forms of handwriting, and it has had an especially negative effect on the older art of calligraphy, Brack says.
Classrooms and kitchen counters used to be havens for handwritten shopping lists and homework assignments, but now, those kind of reminder notes often wind up punched into a smartphone or tablet.
This has shifted the way people write and has made pen expos all the more important, Brack says.
“When you write with a pen there is a more intimate connection to the page and words that appear on it,” Brack says. “There is a tactile pleasure involved in letting the ink flow out of the pen with your thoughts, putting them on paper that you are actually touching. That intimacy is communicated to the person who later reads what is written.”
Long Island Pen Expo
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, March 13, 900 Fulton Ave., Hempstead
COST $10 (half-price for seniors)