Old Pens

I’ve never found an old pen that I didn’t like. I’ve found quite a few new ones that were hard starters and practised the art of skipping. They were often quite annoyingly difficult to fix too, so I can say that there are some modern pens that I don’t like. There are even some that I hate because they persist in their wicked ways.

Old pens are generally easy to repair. There’s a routine, and if you follow that they respond wonderfully. Though externally they may show the wear and damage of their years, once they are re-sacced or re-sealed and have had their sections and feeds cleared of deposits of old ink, they are effectively brand new.

That’s true of the great pens, the Onotos and the Swans, the Conway Stewarts, the Parkers, Sheaffers, Wahl Eversharps and Conklin Crescent fillers and it’s often also true of the lesser pens we come across.

When you deal with as many pens as I do, there’s a tendency to become blase’ about it. Most of those old pens are fixed, write-tested and put up on the sales website in a matter of days. I write with them enough to ensure that they perform as they should and that’s all. I know that if I used them for longer I would begin to appreciate their particular charm – every one is different – and I would be reluctant to part with them. Indeed, from time to time a pen I buy for resale has so much appeal that it goes into my box of personal pens. I try to be strict about it and not allow my accumulation to become excessive. I know, though, that every one of those pens that I sell has its own special charm that its new owner will discover if it was bought to write with. Those who buy pens just to complete a collection will doubtless derive a different pleasure from their acquisitions. Me, I’m a writer and that’s the pleasure I derive from them.

The most expensive pen I have is my Ford Patent Pen. It has a wonderful flexible nib and when I fill it without a bottle full of ink it’s going to be on my desk for at least a month. It starts heavy and gets gradually lighter. At the other end of the scale is my Platignum Varsity which is an equal pleasure to write with though it isn’t flexible and needs refilled fairly often.

I’m going to bring this fairly pointless ramble to an end quite soon. Really.

Perhaps the point that I’m trying to make is something like this: I want the pens that I pass on to my customers to be a pleasure for them to use, as much of a pleasure as I get from the pens that I keep for myself.


4 thoughts on “Old Pens

  1. generally, I would agree with Deb’s comments – being an older person I remember older pens – some good, some bad – and there’s something about ‘older’ that fills me with nostalgia and sentiment, so I love ‘older’ and all it’s associations ……………. Enid Blyton, cars that were always black, red telephone boxes and a life far techno. simpler than it is now. As far as f.ps. go I would be the first to lament the passing of the flexible nib – now they are mostly nails, which I dislike………….. perhaps that’s the reason I don’t write:-):-)
    But I think there’s an element of ‘rose tinted specs’ creeping in here, too, so we have to be a little careful that sentiment doesn’t influence us too much – it’s a failing of growing older, and we fall out of step with ‘modern’ design, and think everything has ‘gone to the dogs’.
    When we speak of ‘old pens’, I’m assuming we are referring to pre WW II examples, but in defence of many that have been made in the past 30 – 40 years there are quite a few that will doubtless stand the test of time in terms of writing ability and quality, although sadly most of these probably weren’t made in the U.K. (I hear the critics sharpening their quills ready to correct me on that comment – possibly).
    It pains me to say so, but it’s likely that most of the pens I have in mind are States made, many of which are truly works of art and an investment in view of their gold and silver materials.

    Just a final comment in defence of us collectors – who are increasingly taken to task for hoarding hundreds of pens (and safeguarding them for future enthusiasts – I hope).
    It must surely be the case that those who simply write and do not collect will only ever need perhaps half a dozen pens at the most – after all how can they, as writers, justify more. So perhaps Deb must be grateful to us collectors who go on buying more pens to sustain our obsession:-):-)
    Of course, Deb’s collection is immune from this very limited number of pens – as a guide to us all the lady will need a great quantity with which to create her very informative blog;-)

  2. :-)………… but I’m sure you’ve mentioned them at some time:-) 🙂 I’m a real fan of the past – possibly too much at times, so really do agree with you about older pens …… just that there have been some from recent decades that are probably their equal, and who knows maybe one day I’ll write a letter.
    Unfortunate, perhaps, that we can’t attach pix here – I could show some wonderful old pens, and a few not so old.

  3. You forget that my main business, right from the start, has been the restoration of old pens. That’s what I do. I occasionally play with new pens and there are many that I admire but they’re not really my business.

    Anyway, I’m not in love with the past. What I admire is quality.

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