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Thread: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

  1. #21
    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    What Will has done is find an angle. He shows not only wonderful old pens with engaging enthusiasm, but also how much fun can be had with them from the perspective of both writer and artist. In other words, he has added a touch of sparkle to what may have been becoming a dry and dusty subject area. Just my opinion of course.

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    Senior Member Sailor Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    I was scared of vintage, too, at first. But I had inherited my mother's old Esterbrook, so I sent it out for repair. Then I joined a couple of forums, including this one. I read about re-saccing a pen. It sounded complicated and terrifying. Sac size? Pliers? Heat? No! Run away!!

    But then I grabbed a big ugly Federal pen at a pen show. It sat there for years. Until someone gave me a huge box filled with vintage pens. We thought, Okay, look at all these, at least we'll try. Mr. Kenshin and I bought books and gear, and he started repairing and re-saccing them.

    He even did Snorks and a PFM. I'm hooked now.
    Last edited by Sailor Kenshin; August 26th, 2021 at 10:31 AM.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!

    My eBooks. Because why not.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    ... he has added a touch of sparkle to what may have been becoming a dry and dusty subject area...
    True.
    The more of these contributions are made, the more interesting (and endearing) a forum is. (Just my opinion of course...)

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    A quick update on my earlier note: last week I had been tracking a batch of Legacys that had come up for sale. Immediately after those, the same vendor put six more up for auction. I tracked two particular pens, sterling silver barleycorn models. Two identical pens sold last week for $430. These identical pens both sold for $510 each, and the buyer has his bidding hidden (private). This is not normal consumption.
    I'll just stick to blaming money laundering.

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    Senior Member Detman101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by scud80 View Post
    As a person fairly new to the hobby (~6 months), vintage is intimidating. Modern pens are much easier to deal with, and by the time I'm getting comfortable enough with the knowledge to where I might look at vintage I already have plenty of pens.

    My personal problem with most vintage pens is that they're tiny, and the large ones are expensive. I'm most comfortable with a section that's around 11mm, and that's hard to find on vintage pens. Anything under 10mm I don't want to bother with unless it's a pocket pen, and even those are just because I have a thing for pocket pens and not because it's more comfortable on them. I would guess that many people who get into the hobby now might find something similar, since pens now are just bigger. They're not mandatory to have like they used to be which makes size less important, so they become more like show pieces with the large forms and bright colors/designs. Small vintage pens don't have that presence for me.

    Again, this is just what I've found after 6 months so maybe my whole attitude will change in another 6.

    I stand in solidarity with Scud80.
    The whole "Vintage" arena left me unimpressed. I spent a bit of cash on a 1905 Mabie Todd Swan only to acquire a pen that was made for a smurf of a human and unusable for me.
    It is VERY beautiful to look at, writes beautifully and is indeed the center of my collection of older items...but I can't use it for more than 2 sentences before my hand cramps.
    Vintage pens are just way too small...

    That and the fact that my Opus-88 SODF Demo runs circles around any other pen I've tried has gotten me out of the game for a good while.
    I've found home, no need to search anymore.
    "I can only improve my self, not the world."

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    Senior Member eachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    The pen you're describing wasn't made for a diminutive human being, Detman101. It was made as a chatelaine or vest pocket pen, only ever intended for use as a note-taker.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scud80 View Post
    As a person fairly new to the hobby (~6 months), vintage is intimidating. Modern pens are much easier to deal with, and by the time I'm getting comfortable enough with the knowledge to where I might look at vintage I already have plenty of pens.

    My personal problem with most vintage pens is that they're tiny, and the large ones are expensive. I'm most comfortable with a section that's around 11mm, and that's hard to find on vintage pens. Anything under 10mm I don't want to bother with unless it's a pocket pen, and even those are just because I have a thing for pocket pens and not because it's more comfortable on them. I would guess that many people who get into the hobby now might find something similar, since pens now are just bigger. They're not mandatory to have like they used to be which makes size less important, so they become more like show pieces with the large forms and bright colors/designs. Small vintage pens don't have that presence for me.

    Again, this is just what I've found after 6 months so maybe my whole attitude will change in another 6.

    I stand in solidarity with Scud80.
    The whole "Vintage" arena left me unimpressed. I spent a bit of cash on a 1905 Mabie Todd Swan only to acquire a pen that was made for a smurf of a human and unusable for me.
    It is VERY beautiful to look at, writes beautifully and is indeed the center of my collection of older items...but I can't use it for more than 2 sentences before my hand cramps.
    Vintage pens are just way too small...

    That and the fact that my Opus-88 SODF Demo runs circles around any other pen I've tried has gotten me out of the game for a good while.
    I've found home, no need to search anymore.

    I only own vintage pens, (except two moderns which are gifts), I disagree that they are too small, none of mine are, they are either Senior or Oversize

    Another advantage I find with vintage pens, Is that I can do most repairs myself, including resacking .

    Many modern pens you cannot even take apart
    Last edited by Wahl; August 26th, 2021 at 01:00 PM.

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    Senior Member Detman101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    The pen you're describing wasn't made for a diminutive human being, Detman101. It was made as a chatelaine or vest pocket pen, only ever intended for use as a note-taker.
    Very well then, with that intended use in mind...it definitely fits the purpose.
    It will, however, remain a "collectors piece" for me.

    Thank you



    Wow, i can only imagine the clatter that made...
    "I can only improve my self, not the world."

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    What Will has done is find an angle. He shows not only wonderful old pens with engaging enthusiasm, but also how much fun can be had with them from the perspective of both writer and artist. In other words, he has added a touch of sparkle to what may have been becoming a dry and dusty subject area. Just my opinion of course.
    David, you gave me too much credit.

    My thought process is simple. If you like something, you end up spending your time with it.
    If you already spent time with it, and you found a group of people who like it as much as you do, why not share the fun?

    Vintage fountain pens are such darling items from bygone era that are so neat.
    And based on my experience, there are still a lot cool things about them that can be appreciated by anyone -- who haven't closed their mind.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    I spent a bit of cash on a 1905 Mabie Todd Swan only to acquire a pen that was made for a smurf of a human and unusable for me.
    It is VERY beautiful to look at, writes beautifully and is indeed the center of my collection of older items...but I can't use it for more than 2 sentences before my hand cramps.
    Vintage pens are just way too small...
    This is a teaching moment.

    You didn't do your homework, as all it would have taken would have been to ask the dimensions of the pen - length, width, etc - and you wouldn't have had a surprise, and probably saved the money. That's not the pen's fault, you know.

    As for the rest, while there were plenty of smaller pens - much of this due to traditional (at the time) marketing to women vs. men - the concept that ALL the pens back then were small is... well, completely wrong. Almost all of my favorite writers from the 1920s are equal in size to your Opus. You just never made it a focus of your search to look for those kinds of pens, and you can't blame the entire vintage market for that.

    I'm really glad you ended up with something you liked. That is the main reason many of us stick around on the boards: to try to guide people to the right pen. And it is also a tremendous advantage of going to a pen show.

    Anyway, Det, I hope someday you get interested in finding nice vintage pens that you would like, taking your time to get just the right one. I always thought you were a candidate for one of those big Waterman ripple pens with a sexy flexy nib!
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; August 26th, 2021 at 05:36 PM. Reason: Fixed typo
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    big Waterman ripple pens with a sexy flexy nib!

    Oooh, la la. Now we know why all the American writers went to Paris in the 20's and 30's. It wasn't for the booze, it was to get their hands on some sexy (pen) curves.

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  22. #32
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    What Will has done is find an angle. He shows not only wonderful old pens with engaging enthusiasm, but also how much fun can be had with them from the perspective of both writer and artist. In other words, he has added a touch of sparkle to what may have been becoming a dry and dusty subject area. Just my opinion of course.
    David, you gave me too much credit.

    My thought process is simple. If you like something, you end up spending your time with it.
    If you already spent time with it, and you found a group of people who like it as much as you do, why not share the fun?

    Vintage fountain pens are such darling items from bygone era that are so neat.
    And based on my experience, there are still a lot cool things about them that can be appreciated by anyone -- who haven't closed their mind.


    Don't be too modest. I'm not saying you did all this deliberately, but rather that you found something enjoyable in old pens and their usage and your enthusiasm for those aspects lends extra shine to your posts on here.

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    Senior Member Detman101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    I spent a bit of cash on a 1905 Mabie Todd Swan only to acquire a pen that was made for a smurf of a human and unusable for me.
    It is VERY beautiful to look at, writes beautifully and is indeed the center of my collection of older items...but I can't use it for more than 2 sentences before my hand cramps.
    Vintage pens are just way too small...
    This is a teaching moment.

    You didn't do your homework, as all it would have taken would have been to ask the dimensions of the pen - length, width, etc - and you wouldn't have had a surprise, and probably saved the money. That's not the pen's fault, you know.

    As for the rest, while there were plenty of smaller pens - much of this due to traditional (at the time) marketing to women vs. men - the concept that ALL the pens back then were small is... well, completely wrong. Almost all of my favorite writers from the 1920s are equal in size to your Opus. You just never made it a focus of your search to look for those kinds of pens, and you can't blame the entire vintage market for that.

    I'm really glad you ended up with something you liked. That is the main reason many of us stick around on the boards: to try to guide people to the right pen. And it is also a tremendous advantage of going to a pen show.

    Anyway, Det, I hope someday you get interested in finding nice vintage pens that you would like, taking your time to get just the right one. I always thought you were a candidate for one of those big Waterman ripple pens with a sexy flexy nib!
    Hehe, you're on point...I didn't know what to look for when I was searching. Thankfully, Deb and Eachan at Goodwriters put up with me long enough to guide me closer to what I thought I needed. I sent them letters and samples of nib sizes I wanted to match and everything...but they had only what they had available. So from what they recommended, I made my decision and went with the beauty I selected. Though too small...it's definitely a collector piece.

    I thought I'd finally get to a pen show this summer, but family needed a vacation so...

    I'd also hooked up with one of the guys up in New Hampshire earlier this past spring...old time collector...friends with Nathan Tardiff from Noodlers...Pier Gustavson. Amazing guy and a hoot to chat with!
    Well, he and I started doing zoom calls with each other to look at his monumental collection of vintage pens and flex nibs. We traded addresses but there were sooooo many pens....It was overwhelming and I called it quits before we even traded pens so that I could sample enough to get a feel for which I'd buy from him.
    That's about when I settled in on my Opus-88 SODF Demo and everything in the world became right.

    Hmmm...Waterman Ripple you say?
    I'll just take a peek at what those run for, look like and perform like...heh.
    "I can only improve my self, not the world."

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    To finance my collection of antique and vinatge pens, I started buying drawer lots and estate jumbles on eBay and elsewhere. I enlarged the photos and took time to identify the pens in each lot, so there were some that deserved restoration, if only for the resale value.

    For instance, here's a sale photo from eBay.



    There are seven Sheaffer pens and pencils (including a 1920s Jade Lifetime Flat-top) with some parts, and a Moore 92 Art Deco. I restored and kept four. Others got fixed up and sold, mostly to people filling gaps in their collections. Occasionally, I'd restore and keep a dimestore pen that caught my fancy, like this Cavalier knock-off of a yellow Parker.



    I don't see as many drawer and estate lots as I did when I started, but fewer people are buying and using fountain pens.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    I like dimestore pens!
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!

    My eBooks. Because why not.

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    Senior Member christof's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    To finance my collection of antique and vinatge pens, I started buying drawer lots and estate jumbles on eBay and elsewhere. I enlarged the photos and took time to identify the pens in each lot, so there were some that deserved restoration, if only for the resale value.
    that's what I did for a while, too. but there is something that has changed in my corner of the world in the last couple of years, too.
    Where you used to be able to find Pelikan, Soennecken and Montblanc in lots like these, today there are only Pelikano and other school fountain pens.

    But I'm fishing in a small pond, you know...

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Let me make an extremely pedestrian, unimaginative suggestion about the rise in pen prices. Even if a seller paid nothing for the pens he sold, all kinds of other prices have gone up. Food, housing, travel, postage for mailing the pens, taxes. If selling pens is a livelihood or a substantial part of a livelihood, the prices need to go up so that the seller can keep up with a generally rising cost of living. Even if selling pens is an absolute hobby, it can seem difficult to maintain low selling prices for pens in a world in which so many other prices are going up.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    The reality is that those of thus that grew up using fountain pens, and being exposed to them, are dying off. Why would someone born in 2000 care about a PFM? It has no cultural significance for them (other than a potentially offensive name).

    The other factor is that much of the social media engagement around pens is really more about shopping that it is about pens per se. Scrolling through reddit and instagram is mostly like turning on the shopping channel on TV: it's just post after post of a variation on "Ooh, shiny!".

    As for the price of vintage. I completely agree. But scarcity drives price and there aren't all that many PFM IVs left. Sadly.
    As someone born in 1999 I care about a PFM. Although I am sure I'm the exception rather than the rule. Many younger pen enthusiasts seem to be all about collecting special editions of modern pens (at least in my experience) although I don't see the allure in a special color that I know would be difficult to replace in the case the pen disappears.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by linkoiram View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    The reality is that those of thus that grew up using fountain pens, and being exposed to them, are dying off. Why would someone born in 2000 care about a PFM? It has no cultural significance for them (other than a potentially offensive name).

    The other factor is that much of the social media engagement around pens is really more about shopping that it is about pens per se. Scrolling through reddit and instagram is mostly like turning on the shopping channel on TV: it's just post after post of a variation on "Ooh, shiny!".

    As for the price of vintage. I completely agree. But scarcity drives price and there aren't all that many PFM IVs left. Sadly.
    As someone born in 1999 I care about a PFM. Although I am sure I'm the exception rather than the rule. Many younger pen enthusiasts seem to be all about collecting special editions of modern pens (at least in my experience) although I don't see the allure in a special color that I know would be difficult to replace in the case the pen disappears.
    I care about the PFM too, as someone born in 1997, but I care about it as a piece of design history, which is probably a fringe reason to care about fountain pens generally. (I actually think its bold clip and cap rings are reminiscent of the modern style we see today with brands like TWSBI etc.)

    It is unfortunate that people my age largely neglect vintage pens, but I don't really blame them. They are easily pigeon-holed: many look thoroughly antiquey, with their trim worn, their celluloid patterns out of style, their usability highly dependent on their restoration, their bladders or diaphragms sensitive to some inks. Those that are full-size in the modern sense command a premium, especially when they are from a top-tier brand. The more affordable ones are often lesser-known, with their exact performance and feel a question mark. As someone who's been trying to pull my own espresso for the last 6 months, I can sympathize with being overwhelmed and letting that breed a single-minded want for a highly-reviewed, brand-new product that other people insist is just the thing you'll need.

    And yet, as people often neglect to mention, the performance of fountain pens hasn't improved since the heyday of the '50s. These are not cars, where whole new technologies render them vastly more reliable, efficient, and comfortable than was imaginable 60 years ago. A good number of vintage pens write in ways that no modern pen can replicate, with a more refined style than is offered today, and with specific ergonomics--in part from materials like celluloid and hard rubber--scarcely available from current production pens. A good number of these are no less reliable in normal use than the average modern one. All this is to say that neglecting vintage pens outright doesn't make logical or sentimental sense--unless, of course, the sentiment is, as Jon would cynically seem to put it, the aspiration of new things primarily for social display. In that context, the fuel is the release cycle, the surface-level dynamism it implies. Vintage pens, ipso facto, cannot replicate the excitement of new releases that might fuel youthful internet community consumerism. I just hope that maybe some of these social consumers grow to truly love using FPs for their own grace, outside of any social medium, wise up, and try out some vintage pens.
    Last edited by fountainpenkid; September 5th, 2021 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Autocorrect
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    QUESTION: Is there a waning interest in vintage pens?

    ANSWER: I'm not sure. I wonder if the amount of archived information available accounts for a reduction of discussion. The comment was made above (fountainpenkid) that is lamentable that those born in the last 30 or so years are not commonly interested in vintage pens. I, as one of 'advanced age' -- born as I was in the first half of the twentieth century -- have to ask, 'Why would we expect them to be?' Why would they be interested in anything 'vintage' when the world they have only ever known changes, becomes 'new' in so many ways almost daily? New, newer, and newest, is quite literally all they have witnessed since infancy. How many live in homes that no longer have landline telephones, or are not WIFI compliant? They need to be excited by history to discover the historical -- the vintage pens, cars, tools, etc.

    QUESTION: Are vintage pens prices rising inordinately?

    ANSWER: inflation's influence within the market has been mentioned. Another market influence is scarcity. No one is making more Mabie Todd Swan, Wyvern, or Mentmore pens. Those that are in collections only come on the market when someone needs to liquidate a collection -- often whilst settling an estate. Those of us who have vintage pens are less eager to sell than we are to buy. With that, we vintage pen users and collectors metaphorically tighten the noose around our own necks.

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