Pen Books: Jim Marshall: Pens And Writing Equipment

This slender little book of of 64 pages cost around £5.00 when I bought in back in 1999. So far as I can see, there is no newer edition, and like most other things, it has gone up in price over the years. Amazon offer it new for £45.97 (!) or used for £12.19. In parenthesis, let me say this: I give the Amazon prices because it’s the easiest place to find these uncommon books, but I’m not a shill for them! Amazon prices for pen books alternately amuse and appal me. £12.19 for this book isn’t too bad, but please, please, please don’t spend £45.97 on it. It’s an excellent little book but it’s little more than a pamphlet. That price is madness. You could have an excellent Conway Stewart Duro 55 or an English Parker Duofold NS for that money!

Most fountain pen books have an introductory chapter or two that covers the history of writing equipment and alludes to the various writing and desk accessories that may interest collectors. This book does that, only very much better, and it gives a thorough grounding in mechanical pencils and collectible pens too. It isn’t anything like comprehensive, of course – it couldn’t be in this small compass – but it’s a wonderfully scholarly outline of the whole field of writing equipment. It’s well and profusely illustrated.

The author is English (and very well known in the fountain pen world) but the book is aimed at the American market, at least to the extent that the guide prices are in dollars. They’re dated now, of course, and like all of these guide prices, they’re something of an irrelevance in the real world. They do give a hint at the comparative prices of things, though, and it’s interesting to note, for example, that you could buy 21.5 Pelikan 100s for the price of a Sevres inkwell.  Or maybe not.  Maybe that’s just me…

Anyway, if your interest goes beyond just fountain pens into all the other paraphernalia of writing, this book is an essential. Even if you stop at fountain pens, it’s advisory, at the very least. But not at £45.97…


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