At the end of December and into the beginning of January I took a break from buying in ebay. When I returned to it, I found that prices for unrestored pens were generally higher than they had been. I took it that it was a temporary blip and didn’t think much more about it.
Now it’s March and prices haven’t leveled out again. If anything, they seem to have taken another price hike. Mid-range Swans and Conway Stewarts that I would have bought for under thirty pounds last year now regularly get bid up to the high thirties and even into the forties. Considering that there has been no commensurate rise in the prices reached by restored pens, it’s kind of insane.
I don’t know why this has happened. I could speculate, but that’s all it would be – speculation. One guess is that with the troubled times we’re in and the rise in unemployment, more people are trying to make a living from ebay, and in this specific area, from pen restoration. I do see more and different sellers of restored pens in ebay.
Unfortunately for them, it’s not going to work. If you’re paying £40.00 for a Conway Stewart 27 and selling it for £45 (or less) you’re not making a fiver, you’re losing money. The cost of delivering the pen to you – usually around £3.00 – is part of the buying price. You don’t recover it. Then there may be a sac, use of cleaning materials and polishes and at least some notional figure for your time. It’s a kind of bubble that must burst sooner or later.
It’s inconveniencing me but it isn’t any kind of a disaster, at least in the short term. I always have a quite large stock of pens by me, and ebay’s not the only place to buy pens if it comes to it. I won’t pay those prices, though. Yes, if the general restored pens/vintage retail market is forced into an upward lurch in price I would have to accept that this is where prices are and will be. We’re not there yet, though. I prefer to believe that this inflation in unrestored pen prices will pass and we can go back to something like business as usual. I see no advantage to anyone in a rise in price for restored vintage pens. They’re dear enough already.