I see the search terms that people use which lead them to this blog, and sometimes they become the subject of what I write that day. One thing that comes up time and again is a source of frustration to me because I can do nothing useful with it, and that’s the question of value for individual pens. Today there’s a search for the value of a Conway Stewart 55 and a Conway Stewart 27. Both of these are highly esteemed pens which sell quite well, whether in eBay or on retail sites. However, there are so many variables that affect value that it’s impossible to put a price on a pen without handling it. Even if I had the pen in my hand to examine, I could in all honesty only give a range of prices because it’s sadly true that so much depends on who is in the market on a given day.
Condition is of considerable importance. A pen that is in pristine condition is likely to be worth well more than twice the price that would be paid for a well-worn example. Black pens sell for less than patterned ones and some patterns will sell for many multiples of the price of others.
It might be, of course, that those entering the search terms merely want to know whether their CS27 and 55 are worth anything at all. The short answer to that is yes they are, they are both very good pens and in almost any condition short of broken, they will have a value. Of course we’re not talking in the large sums that are paid for the rare and opulent. More like £20-£30 unrestored and around three times that much in good working condition, bearing in mind all of the above provisos. Both of these were everyday working pens when they were made, but they were at the higher end of the quality that the company produced.
I realise how unsatisfactory a response this is to those daily queries, but unfortunately that’s about as good as I can do. There are, dare I say, restorers and repairers who will evaluate your pens for a fee. Try ten of them and you’ll get ten different answers, and I expect there will be a pretty wide spread between the lowest and highest estimates.
There are few things more slippery and harder to grasp than the price of an old pen.