Some restorers dislike personalisations and go to great lengths to remove them. What is the basis of this dislike? It may be that they believe that their customers won’t want a pen that bears someone else’s name. They may be right in that. Perhaps they believe that the engraving spoils the beauty of the pen. I would disagree with that but it’s a matter of taste.
I’m in the other camp. We are dealing with old historic pens and an engraved name adds to that history. We always know that a vintage pen had at least one previous owner. The personalisation gives us the name of that owner. Usually we cannot tell who that person was – where they lived, what they did for a living or who they really were but still, I like to think, “this was Bob’s pen.”
Surprisingly often we can go further. There is a lapis lazuli Parker Duofold Streamline Junior on its way to me at the moment. It bears the inscription A E Fewster. That’s an uncommon name which makes a search more likely to be productive. I found two. One was a US sportsman in the 1920s. I think it’s unlikely that this was his pen. It was made in Canada and Canadian pens were for export to Britain and the Commonwealth. America was well supplied with Parker pens from Janesville.
The other A E Fewster is more likely. He was president of the Australian Labor Party in the 1940s. Canadian Parkers were exported to Australia. We can’t tell what happened to the pen after he was finished with it but it’s perfectly possible that such a high quality pen may have travelled from Australia to Britain to join a collection there. Or it may have belonged to some A E Fewster who has no World Wide Web presence. Anyway I love the sense of its history that an engraved pen has.
Rambling on to another topic, I get quite annoyed by those sellers who say something like, “study the photographs carefully. They form part of the description.” No, they don’t. A description is words and a photograph is an image. Both can be used to lie but the important part of any pen sales document is the description.
I sell pens and I would never rely on photos to give anything more than a general idea of what a pen looks like. They can also be used to illustrate something I have said in the written descriptions such as, “there is a scratch near the lever – see photo.”
EBay recognises the importance of the description. One of the reasons they give for returning an item is “not as described.” As a buyer, I appreciate good photos but I don’t depend on them. The seller can show or conceal as much as he wishes but the description is the legal bit of the sale. Some sellers give hardly any description. That’s fine. The poor quality of his description does not protect him if the pen arrives with a crack he didn’t mention. The pen’s going back and eBay will support me.
I try to give as good a description as I can, mentioning faults and usually illustrating them. Why would I do anything else? Domestic buyers are protected by law and overseas buyers are protected by my precious reputation.