Tag Archives: Lamy pens

How Do I Start Collecting Pens? Vintage vs. Modern

You can’t go wrong with vintage or modern pens. In either case, it is best to do a little research to know what to look for to get the best deal. It also helps to know if you intend to use or display them.

MODERN PENS

Most people who are new to collecting pens start with more modern pens, and this is a great place to start. When you buy new, you aren’t buying into any problems not covered by a warranty. Plus, you can frequently find less expensive pens that help you get acclimated to the hobby while satisfying your jones for awesome writing instruments. If you’re enjoying your TWSBIs, Kawecos, Heros and Lamys, just revel in the joy they bring and don’t let any pen snobs get you down.

Lamy calligraphy nibs range in size from 1.1mm to 1.9mm. Each provides a distinctive nuance to you handwriting. The Lamy Joy fountain pen set is a great way to try all three sizes for fewer than $70.

The aforementioned brands are all great places to build up a daily-use collection on a budget, and you typically get great steel nibs with the Lamy pens and TWSBIs. Experiment with nib sizes and inks. The more you write with them, the better you will understand characteristics of fountain pens such as smoothness, feedback, flex, flow and the size grips (In more technical fountain pen parlance, the part you grip is usually called the section.)  that feel best.

Once the collecting bug has bitten, you might be tempted to branch out into vintage users, luxury users or vintage or luxury collectible pens. We will get to vintage in a minute, but for now we’re sticking to modern.

Like any car you buy brand new, the second you buy a brand new luxury pen, its price drops the when you bring it home. If you buy new, you get all of the joy of being the first to use the pen and are guaranteed it will be displayed without any damage. Yet, there is a great deal of money to be saved by purchasing luxury pens from Cross to Montblanc on the second-hand market.

To safely buy second-hand, it is best to have two checklists of things to investigate before spending your hard-earned money: the dealer and the pen.

As far as dealers go, check to see if they are established and reputable. Ask around on social media forums. Investigate the website. Check out their social media accounts and reviews. Is there a return policy? Do the descriptions honestly address damage and wear on the pens? Some pens might be perfect and listed as new old stock. But if a pen was clearly a daily user and is still described as absolutely flawless, get suspicious. Ask questions of the dealer. Most should get back to you within a day, unless they are traveling to a pen show. Feel free to ask for more photos. If you are buying from an auction site, never pay “buy it now” prices, as they are usually hyperinflated. Check the seller’s rating. If they have a few hundred or more sales with a 98% or higher approval rating, you’re probably pretty safe. Some bad vendors just keep creating countless new accounts to shed their old bad ratings. Don’t be afraid to buy from a brand new auction vendor, but don’t go crazy-high bidding. Also, especially on auction sites, set a budget for a pen. Even some fairly rare pens come up pretty often. Don’t be afraid to let them go until the right one comes along for your budget.

Montblanc pens are often authenticated by their serial number, “Pix” written under the clip and by coming complete with their box and papers.

If you are buying a pen as a user, make certain that the pen is in good working order. Get a good description for how the nib writes. If you are buying for display, make sure the pen is complete with minimal or acceptable wear. If you are at a store or pen show, ask to dip the nib and give the pen a scribble. Research ways to authenticate that the pen is not a fake. Most modern Montblanc pens since the mid-1990s have a serial number on the clip band, the word “Pix” in high relief under the clip and various models have other telltale signs of authenticity. For example: The black “precious resin” of the caps and barrels is really a translucent merlot red when held to sunlight or another strong light source. Most fakes of any brand also don’t have the original box and papers. Pens with boxes and papers typically carry a premium compared to ones that don’t.

VINTAGE PENS

Do not be daunted by the world of vintage pens. It is a ton of fun. Start slow. Get a feel for what you are doing. Do lots of research, and grow as you feel more and more comfortable. Unless you are independently wealthy, don’t start by spending $1,200 on a mandarin yellow Parker Duofold Senior that needs a complete overhaul. Start safely with a few fully restored $50 Parkers, Sheaffers or even Esterbrooks.

Sheaffer’s early nibs of the 1920s featured heart-shaped breather holes. Who says fountain pens aren’t romantic.

There are tons of great books and websites dedicated to vintage pens that can help point you in the right direction. Whether you want to restore, write or display, it won’t take long to get into the swing of vintage. Plus, most of these pens were designed specifically for daily use. Hardcore vintage pen lovers are convinced their nibs are better than most modern nibs. Plus the pens are more lightweight and designed not to let you cramp up during the writing of a long letter or journal entry.

Unless you are collecting for display, it is vital to know if the pen has been restored before you purchase it. Restored pens will cost more than unrestored, but there is no worse surprise than thinking you’re buying something that works only to discover it doesn’t. Even vintage new-old-stock pens might have some wear from rattling around a desk or drawer, so be sure to know what type of damage it has. Also find out about the pen’s nib? Is it original and/or in great working order? What size line does it write? When buying online this can be tough to gauge. The dealer might honestly find it is perfectly smooth because of the angle she or he writes, and you might write from a different angle that has feedback with the same nib.

If buying a vintage pen in person, always ask to see the pen before you pick it up. It is a very nice courtesy that saves dealers many broken or misplaced pens. When examining it, look it over closely for wear, discoloration and stains. Gently place the cap on your thumbnail and pretend to screw the pen on to your thumb. If there is a crack, your thumbnail will likely snag on it long before you can see it. Run your thumbnail over the threads of the barrel, too. Some cracks hide there, too. Ask to gently work the filler without ink to make sure it works. Again, ask to dip the nib to see how it writes. Try to get as close to your usual writing position as possible. Also check to see the strength of the barrel and/or cap imprints. Is there brass shining through the gold plate on the clip, cap band or lever?

PRICING

Comparison shopping is easier than ever in the age of the internet. Every site has its own pricing strategy, some offer better deals on certain pens than others. Follow pens on auctions sites to see what they are going for, too. You can even look up pens and check their “sold price.”

Mandarin Parker Duofolds are very fragile and rare. They are among the most expensive vintage Parker Duofolds.

If you see what look like two similar pens of drastically different prices, feel free to contact the vendor to ask why. Sometimes, subtle differences between pens can have huge effects on the price. One orange hard rubber senior Parker Duofold with two cap bands might look almost identical to the same pen in an early orange hard plastic, but their prices are going to be vastly different. (The old orange hard rubber is a lot rarer and more expensive.)

 

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Dealers are not usually hard, cruel keepers of pens. We like getting to know our customers. Don’t be afraid to e-mail or call with questions. If you build a good relationship with a dealer, they are likely to keep a lookout for pens you want at better bargains…giving you the first option to buy. Who doesn’t love dibs on great pens before the rest of the public can see them?!

Testing Lamy Nibs & Inks

If you caught us at the Chicago Pen Show, then you saw our really fun Lamy nib-and-ink-testing station. It was a great opportunity to try each of Lamy’s 7 nib sizes used on their super-popular Safari, AL-Star and Studio pen models. Each of our pens was loaded with one of the 7 different ink colors Lamy sells in cartridges.

Check out the 7 standard nib sizes and ink colors put out by Lamy. These range from extra-fine nib to a 1.9mm stub! Blue-black ink gives the best shadowing in a Lamy pen. These nibs can be ordered for any Lamy Safari, Lamy AL-Star and Lamy Studio fountain pen.

Check out the 7 standard nib sizes and ink colors put out by Lamy. These range from an extra-fine nib to a 1.9mm stub! Blue-black ink gives the best shadowing in a Lamy pen. These nibs can be ordered for any Lamy Safari, Lamy AL-Star and Lamy Studio fountain pen.

This sample shows the nibs ranging extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm. I think our most popular seller was the 1.5mm nib followed by the medium nib. Extra fine is popular these days, but so many write with a bit of feedback. Personally, I love the medium, 1.1mm and 1.5mm nibs. The stubs offer nice line variation at a very affordable price. In a Lamy Safari, they make great travel pens that can get beat-up or lost without inducing guilt. Plus, with a fancy stub nib, your postcards and journal will look great.

The broad nib is actually much juicier than the image makes it look.

Our most popular inks were purple and turquoise. Purple was no surprise, given the popularity of the new dark lilac Safari. Turquoise did surprise me. Men bought it in droves, and they typically stick to standard blues and blacks. Yet, I’ve been thinking of using it much more than in years past. It’s a nice color.

For folks who like the stub nibs, I highly recommend the blue-black ink by Lamy. As you can see, it offers the most shading. The black is more solidly black without as much shading as a Parker Quink or Pelikan. Green is a great color that seems underused.

We are thinking of making the Lamy nib and ink stations standard for any show we can drive to. Hopefully, we will see you soon. In the meantime, I hope this photo serves as a good indicator as to the qualities of these Lamy nibs and inks.

Visit Us at The Chicago Pen Show

Big changes this year in Chicago! New venue. New management. More entertainment.

This year ThePenMarket.com is hosting a Lamy table at the Chicago Pen Show...in addition to its usual vintage/modern pens table. These Lamys are part of the special new nib-testing station for Lamy.

This year ThePenMarket.com is hosting a Lamy table at the Chicago Pen Show…in addition to its usual vintage/modern pens table. These Lamys are part of the special new nib-testing station for Lamy.

Some of you might know that I’m this year’s marketing director for the Chicago Pen Show. The new management team of the show has been working overtime for the past year to reverse the declining appeal of the show.

This year we have a new hotel: the Marriott Chicago Northwest in Hoffman Estates, IL. It is much cleaner, nicer and more well organized for hosting a show than our past two venues. PLUS, there will be NO tearing down mid-show for weddings and such. Your table is your table Friday through Sunday!

We’ve been adding more fun things for people to do other than just buy and sell pens, too. This year we’ll have several courses on penmanship, history lessons on brands (such as Wahl-Eversharp by the CEO of the modern incarnation of Wahl), repair workshops for lever-fillers, button-fillers, Esterbrooks and the always tricky Sheaffer Snorkel. We’ll have podcasting sensation Brad Dowdy. Plus, we’ll have nearly 300 inks available to test in individual pens at an ink-testing station.

ThePenMarket.com is hosting a new Lamy nib testing station, where anybody and everybody can test Lamy nibs sized extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm! We also have a limited number of the new Dark Lilac colored Lamy Safari at steep discounts. Lamy 2000s will be on sale for up to 40% OFF!

Fans of our vintage pens and preowned luxury pens will be excited to find 50 pens that are not yet on our website! It is a special treat for those who can attend the show. (Not to worry, they’ll be online soon after the show.)

What do you think of our 2016 Chicago Pen Show mug?

What do you think of our 2016 Chicago Pen Show mug?

As marketing director of the show, I commissioned our 2016 Chicago Pen Show logo and had it put onto coffee mugs. These will be available at the registration desk for only $10 a piece. Supplies are limited. I also organized and wrote the bulk of our new Chicago Pen Show Facebook page. Please give us a like.

Unlike past years, the entire management team has been reaching out the media, social networks and community calendars to attract more pen lovers to the show. Chicago has thousands of writers, doctors, lawyers, journalists and myriad others who love the experience of writing with a good pen. More than anything, we hope we attract more pen lovers than we’ve attracted in years…and we hope to give them a damned-good time.

See you there!

We Have a Winner!

Fireworks glow softly just out of focus on the Fourth of July. Congratulations to our winner of the First Ever Lamy Lottery.

Fireworks glow softly just out of focus on the Fourth of July. Congratulations to our winner of the First Ever Lamy Lottery.

Congratulations to Dacia N! She won the brand new Lamy AL-Star fountain pen and ink!

We had more than 30 entries from between June 4 and July 4. Thank you to everybody who purchased a pen during this time.

A special thank you also goes out to the good folks at Lamy who donated the pen for our drawing. It was a very generous gift, and we are grateful for their support of ThePenMarket.com.

This contest certainly seemed like a popular one, and I hope we can have more contests such as these in the future.

Thank you again to all of our participants, and I hope everybody had a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Customer Appreciation Lottery! Win a Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen!

We like you. We really, really like you!

We will especially really, really like one of you on the 4th of July!

With every purchase of a pen or pencil from ThePenMarket.com between June 3 and July 4 (at 6 p.m.) you will be given a chance to win this great aluminum Lamy Al-Star and a box of ink cartridges.

With every purchase of a pen or pencil from ThePenMarket.com between June 4 and July 4 (at 6 p.m.) you will be given a chance to win this great aluminum Lamy Al-Star and a box of ink cartridges.

For the next month at ThePenMarket.com we are giving each purchaser of a pen or pencil a chance to win this brand-new, factory-direct aluminum Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen! It comes with a black medium nib and one box of blue or black ink cartridges of the winner’s choice.

Our native Chicago is a pay-to-play city, and our contest works the same way. For every pen or pencil you purchase between June 4, 2015, and July 4, 2015, at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time, we will enter your name on a slip of paper and put it in a hat. The winner’s name will be drawn at random from that hat some time after the fireworks have finished for the night.

If you buy 10 or 100 or however many writing instruments you want this month, your name will be entered that many times. Ink, refills and other writing ephemera do not qualify for entry. Items purchased from our Trading Post do not qualify for entry, either.

The winner wins this pictured Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen and a box of either blue or black ink cartridges. No substitutions will be allowed. The retail value of this prize is $52, but we will not grant a cash equivalent to the winner. You are stuck with a supremely awesome pen that writes smoothly, takes a lickin’ and travels extremely well on most any summer vacation adventure!

Seriously, we don’t vacation without one! I’ve taken my Lamy to Germany, Paris, Hong Kong and all over the United States. Their reliability and durability is why Lamy was the first new line of pens I decided to carry. Remember we have great bargains on Lamy Al-Stars, Safaris and 2000s on our new pens pages. Plus, we have a complete line of Lamy ink and refills.

Before I close, I want to give a special thanks to Mike D., our Lamy candyman, for this wonderful prize to give away!

Launching New Pens’ Site!

We’ve done it! ThePenMarket.com is now a fully licensed and authorized dealer of Lamy and Yard-O-Led writing instruments!

When we first launched this business, we figured we’d have a complete assortment of every brand-new modern pen available on the market within 6 months. We also didn’t know jack about anything. Yet, after 7 years of hard but fun work, we are proud to finally deliver on that promise of new pens.

This is the incredible 18k white gold nib from the Yard-O-Led Astoria. It is one of many great NEW pens you will find on our New Pens pages, now that we are an authorized dealer for Lamy and Yard-O-Led.

This is the incredible 18k white gold nib from the Yard-O-Led Astoria. It is one of many great NEW pens you will find on our New Pens pages, now that we are an authorized dealer for Lamy and Yard-O-Led.

If you wonder why we have been so quiet on the blog for the past several months, this is why. We were just way too busy working behind the scenes getting the new pens ready with help from our wonderful friends at Computer Friendly Associates.

Enough, with the small talk, come take a tour of the New Pens section with us. Click that New Pens link in the last sentence. It should open up a new tab showcasing the new section.

To go exploring just click whichever brand you prefer: Lamy or Yard-O-Led. This will show you all of the models presently available for sale. If you clicked Lamy, you will see the Safari and the Al-Star! We will be adding more soon, but we wanted to open this to you now so you can play around in it to see what you think and to get your feedback.

Let’s say you are interested in the Safari. Below the main image you will see tabs for the different styles the Safari comes in: Fountain Pen, Rollerball, Ballpoint and Pencil.

Click the Fountain Pen, and you will see all of the colors and nib options available. Unlike any other dealership, we gladly offer 11 different style Lamy nibs that fit the Safari–including the calligraphy 1.1mm through 1.9mm nibs normally reserved for the “Joy” pen by Lamy!

Why Lamy and Yard-O-Led?

Lamy is a fantastic brand that makes really good, really affordable fountain pens for any skill-level of fountain pen user. Their terrific German engineering makes them durable for any adventure you go on, and their nibs are so smooth and reliable.

Yard-O-Led is a writing instrument company in England that specializes in luxury pens not frequently found here in the United States. Their pens and pencils are made of sterling silver and are true works of art. They are damn good writers, too. I think if American pen users were more familiar with them, they would switch their allegiances from Mont Blanc to Yard-O-Led in a hurry.

Well, have fun exploring the new section of the site, and rest assured more pens are coming! In the meantime, please let us know what you think about the new section and how it works for you.