My husband tells me there is a discussion about restoration in Fountain Pen Network. He isn’t taking part in it as they are somewhat dogmatic and a trifle hot-headed. The consensus seems to be that the definition of restoration is to return the pen to new condition. As I’m sure you are aware, I take a different view. I have always made it clear that I do no more than is necessary to make the pen in working condition, clean, gently polished and with such faults as scratches and bite marks removed wherever possible. I don’t re-black or do gold-plating.
My view is that as old pens, often very old pens, there is a balance between restoring to use and honourably showing their age. Not many pens are in a condition to be restored to like new. I have seen the results of attempting to do this with worn pens and it isn’t pretty. Many of the pens I present for sale, of course, look very good. Chased celluloid pens restore especially well, and those black hard rubber or mottled pens that have not faded or worn too much can naturally look splendid. That’s quite a contrast with the poor things that have suffered the buffing machine for far too long!
There must, at least, be some people who agree with my conservative restoration as my pens are in demand and have been for eleven years now. I suppose my method falls between those conservators who see every scratch as bearing historical significance and the restorers who overdo it. I have some sympathy for the view that a pen should be left as it is, so far as possible, but I also accept that no one wants a really ugly pen.
I am aware of three or four eBay sellers with a strong following who make a beautiful job of restoring pens to new condition. Their pens sell for very high prices. Their way is not my way but I admire what they do. The discussion of restoration is one that will attract varying views. It may continue unresolved for ever.
14 thoughts on “Restoration?”
I do so agree with you about over restoring! You always present your pens with the dignity they deserve As you know I have collected some precious items from you and treasure them as part of history. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Penny.
The same discussion reoccurs amongst historical arms collectors as well. There are those who want weapons restored to a factory fresh, new and unused condition (only to use it themselves) while others, the true collectors will gladly buy weapons that bear the ‘evidence of their history.
That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. It also applies to old motorbikes. There are those who prefer unrestored runners.
In agreement or derision?
Succinctly: I could not agree more.
Thank you, Jon. Good to see you here.
An interesting topic, of course. Just a couple of lines to tell that I fully subscribe to your view: conservative restoration is my way, too.
Thank you, Alberto.
I completely agree with you. There is something slightly deceptive about making something appear new that isn’t new. Of course, if the pen is in bad condition and needs drastic repairs, that’s one thing. But something gets lost when the restoration is taken too far. I don’t know if there’s a similar debate for antiques, but I know that objects are also prized for their character, which only age can give them. There are some instances when I even like a personalization. With a little detective work you can find the person who owned and wrote with the pen before you, and I find it fascinating.
We are in complete agreement, Reese.