Years ago, I used to make a regular round of the local junk shops, charity shops and car boot sales, picking up quite a few pens as I went. Over time it became less and less rewarding. Perhaps most of the pens were going to eBay or maybe there weren’t many pens left around here. I gave it up in the end. It was no longer a productive way to use my time. If I happened to be passing a junk shop I’d stroll in and look around but without much hope. The pickings were very slim.
There was a car boot sale/street fair kind of thing near here last week and I broke the habit of years by going to it. These things depress me. There is the detritus of people’s lives all around, orphaned ornaments and rejected table lamps. There were some fountain pens, to my surprise, but most were not good ones and they were all incredibly overpriced. Perhaps the best thing there was a Parker Slimfold for which the seller wanted a mere £80. The rest were the dregs of pendom, Platignums, Queensways, the later and less useful Osmiroids. Nothing under £50!
I assume that these sellers have taken a cursory glance at retail sites and Buy-It-Now listings on eBay and decided that the top prices they found there applied to their junk. They are probably unaware that a large proportion of the overpriced rubbish on those sites doesn’t sell either.
I may be wrong – and I hope I am – but it’s my belief that the good stuff, the Onotos, Swans and Conway Stewarts are gone from here now. Whatever quality pens remain are in the hands of people who have become more savvy in the ways of today’s world and, quite correctly, choose not to consign good pens to car boot sales, but sell them in a more profitable way.
I’m not looking to rip people off or make sumgai bargains. I’m just looking for a good, interesting stock. I have my sources and I keep going but it’s not as easy as it once was to turn up the rare and quirky pens that I can write about.