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Thread: Reference Collection or Museum?

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Reference Collection or Museum?

    Having collected and restored pens over the years, and not having children, I'm wondering about donating my collection to a public institution.

    Are there any accredited reference collections, pen archives, or the like?

    The alternative would be to sell the pens to a dealer as I'd rather not try to disperse the collection one-by-one.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Have you considered the Pen Collectors of America?
    "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."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    This subject looms on my horizon too .
    The idea of becoming a seller on say the bay is not appealing…the amount of pens I have would take forever to disperse, and the energy required would be debilitating.

    I have kids to leave them to, but they have no interest in pens and would likely try getting rid of them all at once……and get taken advantage of in the worst way.

    I do like your idea of donating the entire collection to an ‘institution' of some description , possibly one that isn’t commercial, and could display and appreciate the pens and their historical significance.

    As I say, it’s on the horizon, but just now I’m still really enjoying them.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    I think one of the big issues is... I am not certain there is any "reference collection or museum" (in the US) that would have that interest. I could be wrong, of course, but even the collection/museum at the original Sheaffer Factory closed down a number of years ago. I am unaware of any public museums (and would be happy to learn otherwise) that have pen collections.

    It may be that researching and sourcing a reputable dealer to purchase the entire collection may be the one way to have it go away in one move. I realize it is hard to contemplate but only other collectors seem to value these items.
    "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."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Good luck on the nice gesture! A few random thoughts: One issue that arises at University libraries, for example, is, "can we support a collection?" Hence some donations are only accepted when they are accompanied by a monetary donation to pay for space and upkeep. Another thing to take into account is that of stipulations: make sure you agree in writing about any restrictions you want placed with your donation, such as "not to be separated", "not to be sold" and for how long, etc. Also, if you want to write it off as a donation in kind for your taxes, the place you donate it to may say that you are responsible for the assessment.
    You might also try your local library branch or small town museum. Sometimes they love to have something rotating into a glass case. And since libraries have something to do with writing . . .
    Fortibus es in ero

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    It's unlikely that any museum would be interested, but if there's one local to you, you might want to knock on that door as someone there might give you other ideas on how to dispose of it.

    If I were in this situation, I'd contact some of the very active ebay sellers in this "industry" and see if you can come to an arrangement that you both like.

    Alex
    Last edited by alexwi; July 17th, 2022 at 11:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    It is the same for many things that we gather around us, at one time I thought about leaving a book with instructions, send the pens to Mr E, send the books to Mrs B and so on, but it never happened.

    So many other things, I collect and restore pre war hand tools, they will just go in the trash, people will prefer something shiny and modern, ignoring the War Department marks or the German steel of the chisels, screwdrivers and hammers.

    I collect early editions of Jane Austen, no idea as to who would want them. I have a pen chest, unless you know what it is then you would assume that it is either for cigars or pointless.

    It can be quite upsetting, especially when my favourite pens are the most humble and not worth a second glance, an early 30s Parker with a 50s nib, writes better than any pen regardless of price. I know that all pens just at some point fall into that great pen pool for others to fish from, it is just a comforting thought that they will not be landfill.
    Last edited by RobJohnson; July 17th, 2022 at 12:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    I'm sorting my professional papers, correspondence, manuscripts, photos, and published and unpublished work for a university archive. There were three places interested and I chose the one closest to home. They just sent me their catalog for the first batch of stuff, with at least two more to go. But they don't accept artifacts such as clothing, pens, sculpture, etc. (My old cowboy hat and boots are museum-worthy, at least to my mind.)

    I've given quite a few pens to people who sent me their junk-shop finds and old family pieces to restore. But rather few of my circle use fountain pens, these days, alas!

    Based on my findings and the comments here, I'll likely sell the core collection (except for a few darlings) and tools to a dealer, and donate the proceeds to a charity.

    Thanks for the responses.
    Last edited by Chip; July 17th, 2022 at 12:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Sounds right.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobJohnson View Post

    I collect early editions of Jane Austen, no idea as to who would want them.
    There are professors who specialize in Jane Austen who would no doubt know where the best place to offer those would be. Often libraries with Special Collections have different topics they like to enhance.
    Fortibus es in ero

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    (My old cowboy hat and boots are museum-worthy, at least to my mind.)
    There is always the Autry Museum . . . (I have seen a room where they decide which donations to accept, and they have special mounts for their extensive saddle collection . . .) but for your hat and boots, theoretically you could "take them with you" off into the sunset?
    Fortibus es in ero

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Back to the OP: There are two possibilities I'm aware of.

    1.) The Museum of Writing is owned by the Institute of English Studies, which is part of the School of Advanced Study in the University of London.

    2.) The Museum of Writing Instruments in Winneconne, WI, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

    Each has around 100,000 objects in their collections. A simple Internet search will yield hyperlinks for each. If I'm not mistaken, there's also a museum in Germany.

    HTH,
    Z

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Ta! I'll look up the two museums.

    Thanks for the tip!

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Quote Originally Posted by Z man View Post
    Back to the OP: There are two possibilities I'm aware of.
    ...

    Each has around 100,000 objects in their collections.
    Wow! That seems like a lot!

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    FountainPenHospital has been slowly selling off Gary Lehrer's (GoPens) collection for about 6 weeks now. The other option I can think of is a local historical society, who might be interested in the collection because it was held by a local resident.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    I have donated my colection to a design museum, the
    „Museum für Gestaltung Zürich“:

    https://museum-gestaltung.ch/de/

    the pens are part of the permanent design collection:

    https://www.emuseum.ch/en/search/füllfederhalter

    and there is a current exhibition which is called „Collectomania“ where the pens are showed to the public:

    https://museum-gestaltung.ch/de/auss...collectomania/
    Last edited by christof; July 19th, 2022 at 06:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    very cool

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    Default Re: Reference Collection or Museum?

    Quote Originally Posted by christof View Post
    I have donated my colection to a design museum, the
    „Museum für Gestaltung Zürich“:

    https://museum-gestaltung.ch/de/

    the pens are part of the permanent design collection:

    https://www.emuseum.ch/en/search/füllfederhalter

    and there is a current exhibition which is called „Collectomania“ where the pens are showed to the public:

    https://museum-gestaltung.ch/de/auss...collectomania/
    I remember reading of your donation, but can't remember where at the moment. Very admirable and commendable, to say the least.

    Also, here's a link to the English version of "Collectomania":

    https://museum-gestaltung.ch/en/auss...collectomania/

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