Tag Archives: Lamy

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?!

Win this Lamy Lx!

Helping us celebrate 100 blog posts, Mike D., our Lamy candyman, has given us a brand new Lamy Lx Au (Gold) to give away! This shiny, medium-nibbed wonder comes complete with its special case and papers. It also includes a free ink cartridge. It has a retail value of $70.

Win this brand new Lamy Lx Au (Gold) fountain pen. It is the brand new pen from Lamy. Each purchase of a writing instrument in the month of June enters you to win!

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 1, 2017, and July 1, 2017, 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 and announced on Independence Day.

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 Lx Au Fountain Pen. No substitutions will be allowed. The retail value of this prize is $70, 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 a Lamy! 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.

Controversy in Chicago Part III: Let’s Help the Rookies

Now that veteran vendors and rookie pen collectors are breaking the ice, let’s lend some veteran assistance to the rookies navigating their first pen shows.

1421 Waterman PhileasYour first pen show is bound to be an overwhelming affair. There will be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of vintage and modern pens. You will find rarities you never dreamed of seeing in the flesh, and you will probably want to spend 10 times the amount of money you intended to spend. Plus, there are all of the custom services, which might take months to get performed through the U.S. mail but you can have satisfactorily completed in a single morning or afternoon at a pen show. And then there are the spare parts, inkwells, papers and cases!

To help you safely navigate your first pen shows, here is some advice that ought to help you breakdown the experience and keep it positive.

PRE-GAME STRATEGY
Set a budget and a goal for the show. Need some repairs done? Want a nib ground to perfection? Looking for certain pens? Organize all that you hope to achieve.

1324 Waterman 100 Year PenYour best bet is to put together a list of all the things you’re looking for and hope to do. This way you can take some time to marvel at the splendor of the distractions before you check in on your list to focus on your goals.

Loyal reader Justin P. recommends contacting your favorite eBay and other online vendors to see if they will be at the show. If they are, let them know you can’t wait to see them there and give them a heads up to your list of pens or merchandise that you want. Many will gladly set it aside for you so that you can have first dibs. Plus, it always helps to put names to faces by meeting in person.

Many shows are offering more and more seminars about repairs and the histories of the brands. Check out the show schedule online or in your show pamphlet to see what special events you don’t want to miss. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to help you remember it is time to head over to the seminar. Time passes remarkably quickly, and it is easy to get sidetracked.

If the show offers a weekend pass, you might want to get it. To make the most of the show, it helps to attend all of the days it is open. Day one is your best opportunity to pick up a really rare pen before somebody else snatches it. If it is a 4-day show, days 2 and 4 are quieter days, which are better for meeting new people and asking more questions about the pens and the hobby. Day 3/Saturday will be the busiest day. During trading hours, few vendors will likely want to talk for long because this is their best opportunity to sell the most and pay for their expenses.

Glass Topped CaseYet, some of the best times are after the formal trading closes for the day. You’ll often find clusters of vendors and collectors hanging out, talking or getting a drink. Strike up a conversation with them and get to know who they are, what their pen passions are and let them get to know you. Pen People, regardless of their experience with the hobby, are usually very friendly and chatty. People can usually be found talking pens in the lobby of the venue well into the wee hours of the morning.

SERVICES:
As I don’t do any nib grinding or Mont Blanc piston repair work, I love coming to the shows to take advantage of these services. The trick to navigating these services is to be there the minute the doors to the show open in the morning. If you are one of the first on the repair-person’s list, you can guarantee your pens get done that day.

Be sure to clearly explain to the repair folks what you want done and ask for an estimate first, so you know their prices and aren’t hit with sticker shock. Most repairs are fairly affordable, but it is always best to know what to expect. Vendors won’t mind fixing 2 or 3 pens for you at the show, but don’t expect for them to fix an entire shoebox full of pens at the show. They might ask to take that many pens home with them to work on later.

L15S Lamy Calligraphy NibsAt most shows you can expect to find full-time repair specialists such as Mike and Linda Kennedy of Indy-Pen-Dance, Ron Zorn, Richard Binder and “Mike It Work.” All four of these vendors are nationally known for their excellence. You can’t go wrong with any of them. If you do have 15 to 20 pens you want restored at the show, it might be best to spread 3 or 4 amongst each of them to see who’s work you like best. Expect also a minimum repair bill to be $20 to $25 per pen. It could be up around $40 to $50 if you want your nib ground to a new size and shape.

If you are having nib work done, be patient and remember it is very precise and time-consuming work. Don’t rush your grinder. However, as you are asking for a very specific and personalized repair, don’t be afraid to say the nib still doesn’t feel right when they ask you to test it. They want you to be happy with their services, and they will work hard to get the precise feel you want in your nib. If they spend an inordinately long amount of time getting your pen just right, they might charge you an extra $5 or $10, which is okay. Time is money, and you will get to enjoy that pen and nib for the rest of your life.

DEALING WITH VENDORS
It came as a great shock to me that not all vendors are there to sell. Some table holders are just there to meet with old friends, show off an impressive collection or to do any number of other things. For most of us, it is a business.

To avoid getting overwhelmed or making rash purchases of the first things you see, spend some time walking around and keeping an eye out for the merchandise on the tables. I like to make a complete sweep of the show before making any purchases…unless I spot something rare that I must buy quickly or not see again.

Don’t be shy. Say hi to the vendors and don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re looking for. It is really easy to overlook the pens you’re looking for on tables that seem lightly populated with pens.

Keep a running tally of prices in your head or on a notepad. It is safe to assume you will find dozens of similar pens at the show. Prices and quality could range all over. Plus, it will help you keep from going over your budget…or show you there is room from an extra new treasure.

1262CWhen you are ready to get serious about buying a pen, there is a whole checklist of things to do:

  • ASK the vendor if you can pick up and examine his or her pen (You’d be surprised at how many people break pens or inadvertently mess up an organizational system.)
  • Look over the pen carefully for cracks, dents, imprint quality and brassing
  • ALWAYS try first to UNSCREW the cap. NEVER YANK on a cap.
  • Search for cracks on the lip of the cap with your thumbnail. If you spin the lip of a cap over your thumbnail, it will gently pick up any crack that might not be visible to the eye.
  • Use a loupe to examine the nib. Are there cracks? Is the tipping good? Are the tines aligned? Are one of the tine tips cracked just below the tipping and about to pop free?
  • If the nib looks okay, then test it for flex with your thumbnail. Put the underside of the nib’s tip on the top of your thumbnail and gently add pressure.
  • ASK if you can test the filling system. If you feel any pressure or resistance in the filling system, don’t force it. Ask the vendor if it needs restoration? (Lots of vendors complain about people breaking levers and other pen parts while checking out the filling system.)
  • Finally, ask if the vendor has ink and if you can dip the pen to try it out.

CLOSING THE DEAL
Cash is king. All pen dealers accept cash. However, many are now accepting credit cards due to the simplicity of smart phones and apps by Square and PayPal.

Before you start negotiating the final price, ask if they accept credit cards…if that is all you have with which to pay. This might save everybody some time and trouble. Don’t be upset if they say yes but also tack on an extra 2% or 3% to cover the fee charged by the credit card company. Some deals run the profit margin pretty thin, and it is fair to pay the processing fee.

1265 Pelikan 400NNTo negotiate a deal well, it helps to be well informed about the pen you are buying and its current prices. Be sure to highlight any flaws in the pen and make an offer that is fair and realistic. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal that is still too high for you. Yet, don’t be afraid to accept a counter offer that is reasonable, especially if you received good customer service.

Many vendors don’t put prices on their pens. Some of them like to game you a bit to see how much you are willing to pay. Let’s say you’re looking at an aerometric Parker 51 in black with a lustraloy cap. You ask how much, and the vendor replies $100. It’s okay to smile, say thanks and put it back down. Unless it has something rare like a stub nib or some other uncommon feature, he or she will likely counter, “Well how much were you hoping it would be?” You can honestly say–because you know there are 3 bajillion black 51s in the world–that you were hoping for around $50. The vendor will likely acquiesce with something like, “Well, I can do $55.”

Feel free to ask vendors lots of questions, BUT understand that they might expect you to buy something if you take up too much of their time. If you have tons of questions, but aren’t ready to buy, save them until you are with a vendor whose pens you will be buying or until the show slows down and the vendor has more free time to talk.

And, of course, if you do get a cranky vendor who doesn’t treat you as you feel you should be treated, just move on to the next. There are often well over 100 vendors at most shows, and somebody nice will likely have just what you’re looking for.

Have fun!

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.

Improve Your Handwriting Today

See the difference a 1.5mm Lamy nib can make for your handwriting. Not only do the letters take on more distinctive shapes, the ink, itself, provides shadows and highlights on every letter. It is far more interesting than a boring old fine-point nib.

See the difference a 1.5mm Lamy nib can make for your handwriting? Not only do the letters take on more distinctive shapes, the ink, itself, provides shadows and highlights on every letter. It is far more interesting than a boring old fine-point nib.

It should be noted that my handwriting is terrible. Some of my friends who almost never write anything by hand think it is amazing simply because I can still do it. No writing expert on earth would praise it. However, with a with a nice broad stub nib, it looks much more exotic and fascinating.

You, too, can impress some of the people some of the time with a few simple handwriting tricks I have picked up over the years.

Unless you already have beautiful penmanship, I recommend staying away from those extra-fine nibs that are so in vogue today. Relax and let your handwriting out a bit to breathe.

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.

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.

Trick #1 to Handwriting Coolness: A stub nib. We now carry brand-new Lamy Joy calligraphy sets that feature three nibs: a 1.1mm nib, 1.5mm nib and a 1.9mm nib. These super-smooth broad flat steel nibs can create some wicked curves, lines and angles in your natural handwriting.

Trick #2 to Handwriting Coolness: Slow down.

Trick #3 to Handwriting Coolness: Think about what you are doing. When using a stub nib, the angle at which you write becomes crucial to developing richer characters. Experiment with ways to use the flat edge sideways for skinny lines and the flat edge of the nib vertically for thick lines. Watch as you practice O’s for how the circle should grow from skinny to fat and skinny again. See what happens when you try to grip your pen in one set position and write with your arm instead of your fingers and wrist. By setting the wrist, you can make more dynamic letters.

Trick #4 to Handwriting Coolness: Ink. If you think all inks are the same, think again. Most bottled inks are inconsistent, especially when using a stub nib. Very few blacks are true blacks, and many blues and blue-blacks are also inconsistent.

For example: Yard-O-Led Jet Black is really a charcoal grey. With a 1.5mm nib, the inconsistency is obvious, as the ink goes from black to grey in places. This gives your writing a fascinating texture and appeal. Pelikan and Cross (Okay, these two inks are exactly the same because they are made and bottled by Pelikan.) Royal Blue ink also has many inconsistent colorings when written with any medium nib or larger. Just keep in mind that Pelikan Royal Blue also fades heavily with time. It might not be ideal for your archiving projects.

I hope this helps set you on the write…oops…right path to improving your handwriting and developing a fascinating new look to your correspondence.

Yes, yes. It is a shameless plug, but I really do hope you consider buying one of our Lamy Joy sets because they really will introduce you (or a loved one) to several great stub nib variations that write well for a very affordable price under $70. The sets not only come with three nibs, but ink cartridges and an instruction manual with advice about making the most of the nibs. It is even packaged in a handy collector’s tin.

If you really want to get all fancy-shmancy, try our rare Mont Blanc Generations fountain pen with a 14k stub nib for only $99.99.