I don’t repair pens for other people, and what I’m going to write about today is part of the reason for that.
Perhaps the biggest threat to our hobby is that pen repairers are giving it up. Nobody’s getting rich fixing pens. Many repairers do it on a part-time basis, with the day job paying the rent and putting food on the table. It takes years of experience before one can offer the full range of repair and restoration and, frankly, there’s not much in the way of financial return for making the effort. Most repairers do it for love, love of the craft and love of the pens.
Then there’s the problem of the public. Most people who send pens for repair are reasonable in their expectations and delighted with the outcome. I repair the bulk of my own pens but there are many more complicated repairs that I just can’t do. I know my limitations! I am repeatedly astonished by having pens that I thought were beyond repair coming back to me in working order, looking good. Not everyone’s the same, though. There are those who cannot recognise that the pile of junk in their hand is beyond the capability of anyone on earth to repair. There are those who haggle and nickel and dime the repairer over every last penny. There are those who return pens time and again for imaginary failings that they accuse the repairer of not having fixed. The pen world’s a small place. We all know each other. We hear the horror stories.
I can only offer the variety of pens I do because there’s a repairer who can get any filling system, no matter how recondite or abstruse, back in working order, who can repair a delaminating barrel, make a no-longer-available replacement part or any of the other pen-fixing tasks that are beyond me. Without such people I’d be limited to lever and button fillers, aerometrics and bulb fillers, because even if I had the skills (which I don’t) I assuredly don’t have the time, given the other demands of pen selling.
I’m not making a plea for tolerance of bad work or high prices. That’s not it at all. What I’m saying is: respect your repairer. Value your repairer like the last of the Giant Pandas, because they are becoming that rare. Treat them well. Don’t demand that they do the impossible and don’t try to screw their price down to the penury level. The workman is worthy of his hire, and in this case the repairer is already selling his skills and his time pretty cheap.
Make it “Be Nice To Your Pen Repairer Week” every week.
Edited to add: Lest be misunderstood, this post is a general point, neither a vilification nor a defence of individuals. The problem, as many will be aware, is a widespread one.