Finding Stock

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.


2 thoughts on “Finding Stock

  1. sympathies Deb – can well understand that finding such things in your part of the world is more than difficult, and nowadays finding almost anything of interest at boot sales is a unlikely. Unless you happen to walk past the stall as something is put out, it’s unlikely you will ever see it – there’s too many dealers and collectors hovering.
    In the home counties we obviously have many charity shops, but even then I can go several weeks without scoring on something good, and that’s taking into account those ladies who put pens by for me – the hours spent driving and walking between shops is disproportionate in terms of results – in short the whole scene ain’t wot it used to be.
    Have to say don’t think I’ve ever seen a Newhaven Duofold for a figure as high as £80, fortunately!!
    Surprisingly, often my better sources are now antiques fairs, where perhaps half a dozen from one stall can be bartered over, and bought for a reasonable price, but then dealing isn’t part of my repertoire, and I don’t need to be mindful of a profit – although always need an eye on the degree to which the bank manage is funding me:-)
    Earlier this week I had a less than usual response at a fair when I singled out a Wat., C.S., couple of A/F Duofolds and Swan, all needing varying degrees of tlc,, and thinking the guy was going to say something less than £50, which he didn’t, and said he wanted a ton, and got very shirty with me when I tried to point out the various defects. So I tried remonstrating politely with the ruse than professional repairs cost an arm and a leg, and eventually got him down to £75 – but it was hard going.
    You must move down south – can’t guarantee better results, but on balance probably so.

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