Respect Your Repairer

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.

14 thoughts on “Respect Your Repairer

    1. Hi Malcy,
      A wonder-worker indeed! Really, I’m making a general point about repairers rather than just that one individual, though I expect it applies to him as well. I just read a few things and heard a few things that alarmed me a little.

  1. I’m fully supporting you. 100% of truth.
    I don’t make the repairs myself, but have some pens in non-writing condition. I need time to be so brave to start this kind of work.

  2. Fountain pens — especially operating vintage ones– are vanishing
    life rafts in a universe of pervasive disposable homogenization.
    A profound expression of sincere thanks to all of you who keep
    them afloat. We owe you a no small debt of gratitude.

    Peter W

  3. Hear, Hear! I support this statement you’re making! It’ll be sad and disappointing without you people around, bringing our pens back to its original working state.

    **PS: Deb, is that Waterman 14 eyedropper listed yet? Thanks! Bob

    1. Hi Bob,
      I’m sorry to say that I think the No 14 has gone. I listed some pens last night but never got the chance to announce, so mad has the day been. Don’t worry. They’re like the buses – there’ll be another one along in a minute!

  4. I didnt appreciate what a pedantic, awkward and ungrateful lot some pen collectors could be, I one fitted sacs to two Burnhams for a penniless pensioner, even gave him the original boxes and a few bits and pieces, didnt even charge him. He moaned and complained that the pens didnt feel “quite right” and could I do them again, just for new sacs!

    If there wasnt a Saint Eric, there should be now.

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