A Little Pricey, Perhaps?

A little bird told me that there was an exceptional sale at an auction the other day.  Here’s the story:

I was watching an auction on the-saleroom.com for a lot with a Ford Patent pen
and a Montblanc Safety, hoping other people wouldn’t notice (they did
unfortunately), but a different lot with two Swan pens sold for more than
£3500. The auctioneer was a bit shocked given their estimate. Here is the


When you add in buyer’s premium and VAT, the cost must add up to about
£4500. I wondered if I am missing something – I have seen sterling silver
Swans sell for £600, but this auction price seems unusual. I had no idea
Swan collectors are so keen.

I confess that pens of this quality are mostly out of my league, though I have dabbled a bit on behalf of a customer some time ago.  A good condition hundred-year-old sterling pen was around £400.00 then.  Admittedly, these examples are reputedly pristine, but even so…

It’s unusual for the habitues of auctions to get into the sort of bidding war that we see on eBay, so I think that’s one of the less likely explanations, though it isn’t impossible.  I’m completely flummoxed – I can think of no explanation for the price these pens have reached.  On a minor note, the estimate that the auctioneers arrived at suggests they wouldn’t be the best people to be selling your precious pens.

So that’s the story.  Any thoughts?


8 thoughts on “A Little Pricey, Perhaps?

  1. Being a small collector of Swan pens that price is definitely out of my league. Even £600 pounds would require me to think very seriously before bidding that amount for a Swan pen as I am really a very small collector.

    1. Believe me, it’s well beyond my means too. I’ve bought expensive pens for customers occasionally, but I don’t rise to that level either for myself or for the sales website.

  2. Here is a link to the results for all the pen lots: http://www.keysauctions.co.uk/results.php?sid=&lim=10&mode=searchall&show=0&keywords=fountain+pen&LotNumber=&st=&p=10

    Apart from lot 811, the one with the Ford, and the Montblanc hiding away at the back, I think all the lots went for more than typical prices, or were at least at the upper end of prices. The bidding was coming from both in the room and online. I requested additional photos of a number of the pens, but not the metal Swans, and a number of the BCHR pens had nib damage or some nasty cracks here and there.

  3. The funny thing is I was going to e-mail you hoping to see whether you had any inside information on these two pens, I had that lot in my wish list, the estimate was so ridiculously low that I knew it would go for a lot more than predicted, and because I was working sent a commission bid to the Auctioneers, feeling quite confident as post Christmas Auctions do tend to be a little slow. I was absolutely flaberghasted when i got back home and checked the hammer price. With the Commission + VAT it was almost 20 x more than my highest bid!
    Genuine ‘sleepers’ that must have been particularly special.

    1. It’s all very strange. I can o0nly assume that the person who paid that price is not insane and that there must be something that gives those pens that value, but I have no idea what it can be.

  4. There would have had to have been a few bidders, insane or not, to drive the hammer price that high. I’ve tried to get some background on these, but to no avail … always useful to know in case something similar pops up!

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