If I had my way I would only deal in British pens made before World War II. Perhaps the odd American or German pen but predominantly British. It can’t be done now but ten years ago I could have worked that way. How many prewar Swans do you see these days, waiting to be snapped up at a good price? Not many. I can’t remember when I last saw one of those wonderful lapis lazuli copies of Duofolds that Macniven & Cameron made – or had made. Decorated overlay pens in the Art Nouveau or Art Deco styles no longer appear where I buy. Even imported pens like the great unfaded jade Parkers of yesteryear are pretty well gone too.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good things still to find for a buyer with a good eye but I wouldn’t be able to make a living trading only in the pens I would like to buy. Those days ended around 2010, in my estimation.
It isn’t all bad, of course. Those pens that I most wish to trade in are the ones I most want to keep. Parting with a good Waterman 52 ripple gives me pain. Even thinking back to some of the pens I sold years ago gives rise to a twinge. So when I look through my sources of unrestored pens and see ones that I know my customers will want but that do not especially appeal to me, I know I can look forward to a pain-free life.
Every now and then, when the lid will no longer fit on the box where I keep those pens that are “my own”, I know I have to make hard decisions. I must go through the box mercilessly. Those pens that I have already spent much time with, those pens that have less than a vice-grip on my heart – it’s time for them to go. That hurts too but behind every cloud there’s a silver lining. There’s room in my box for new residents!