As you might imagine, getting the stock I want is never easy. The ideal pen for me is one that has been plucked from a drawer by a house clearer and never interfered with in any way before it arrives on my bench. Some people, though they don’t intend to repair the pen take it apart and remove the sac. Some do it well, others don’t…
If the price is low enough I will consider a restored pen. They’re sometimes “restored” pens. One that came in this week had a No 20 sac crammed into the barrel – far too big, should have been an 18 – and just placed on the peg without shellac. I understand the WES offers training courses. It might be an idea for some of those would-be restorers to subscribe.
We’re going through a spell at the moment where there are very few coloured Mabie Todd pens on offer. Plenty of good black pens but many customers prefer a bit of colour. I hope the supply will improve soon so that I can provide them with what they want.
When I began, I was a writer and a collector. Repairing and selling came quite a lot later. I collected Conway Stewart pens and I almost always bought black ones despite the huge range of patterns for which that company is famous. There were two reasons: black pens were cheaper and secondly the black pen was the best example of that model, showing the design clearly without the distraction of colour and pattern. I know it seems a little mad now but I was not alone; many other collectors subscribed to the same idea back then. Even twenty years ago there were still collections of gleaming ebony pens.
The drawers containing my own pens have many black examples. That’s mostly because the decision to keep a pen come from the writing quality, not the colour of the pen body. I’m writing this with a black pen, a 1950s Swan with the most gorgeous fine flex nib. I actually rather like black pens: they take a wonderful shine!
I’ve been selling pens for many years now and one thing that stands out for me is the fluidity of the market, both for buying and selling. It doesn’t encourage complacency, I assure you! My clients have become ever more knowledgeable and they demand good quality at all price levels – and rightly so! It is this sophisticated clientele that has enabled me to concentrate on Mabie Todd pens. Whether buying pens to write with, to add to a collection or both, the outstanding quality of Mabie Todd pens has a large niche of well-educated followers.