Tag Archives: fountain pens

Controversy in Chicago Part IV: Let’s Help the Veteran Vendors!

One of the things that surprised me most at the Chicago Pen Show discussion, in which some veteran vendors and rookie collectors had some difficulties seeing eye to eye on matters of collecting and navigating a pen show, was that several veteran vendors who are extremely well versed in the history and details about fountain pens seemed to know very little about the art of 0442 Sheaffer Admiralselling.

Several of their complaints about rookie collectors were misdirected. “Rookie pen collectors will ask a million questions and never buy anything.” “Rookie collectors only like modern pens/wet noodle nibs/etc.” “Rookie collectors take up too much space in front of my table during peak sales times.”

It isn’t the Rookie Collector’s fault for not buying or for asking questions. Clearly, the Rookie is interested in buying. It is the vendor’s fault for not “selling.” With a little sales training, these vendors can easily avoid these sales pitfalls, deliver excellent customer service and have rookie collectors coming back for more and better pens year after year!

Certain presidential candidates love to brag about the art of the deal, but I found I stumbled into the best sales training early in life. After college, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be…and I was already grown up. When a new car dealership opened near me, I applied just so I would have work and time to figure out my next move. I always loved cars, and I’m perfectly comfortable talking up total strangers. It was a great fit for a year, and I probably learned more practical skills at that job than I have at most of my other careers since.

0385 Mont Blanc SolitaireThe neat part about this dealership was that it was one of the first in the country to offer a return policy, a 6-month warranty on its vehicles and a no-pressure, no-haggle sales experience. Deprived of the tactics associated with used-care salesmen, we were given extensive training about no-pressure salesmanship. As we were still commission-based, we had to learn to quickly weed out the tire kickers from the buyers. Everything I learned at the dealership translates directly to pen sales.

Rule 1: Nobody comes to a pen show without the intent to buy pens. As you might only see 100 customers in a day, you must make the most of every opportunity you can to maximize your sales.

Rule 2: Ask questions. You know your merchandise way better than any of your customers. Don’t rely on them to just walk past, spot that one magical pen they want and buy it. Slow them down. Say hello and pepper them with questions.

If you know what to ask, you can sell a $500 pen in as few as two or three minutes and move on to the next customer, without skipping a beat. As I carry a mix of pens on my table, I usually ask this question first of anybody I don’t remember from a previous encounter: “So. What are you into today? Vintage or modern?”

0144 Parker 21I follow that up with, “Do you have a favorite brand or feature you like about vintage/modern pens?”

Or if they said modern, I ask, “Ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen?”  If they say vintage, I’ll narrow it down to brands, nibs or filling systems.

Maybe that gets followed up with “What price point are you looking for?”

In less than a minute, I’m pointing out all of the pens that I have that they might be interested in. If I don’t have what they want, they’re moving on and I’m free to sell to the next person walking past. Otherwise, I’m maybe getting them interested in a pen they want or didn’t know that they wanted.

Rule 3: Explain why your pens are better. As I show them the pens in which they are interested, I quickly point out that I do and stand by all of my own restoration work. If I know I am particularly competitive on a certain price, I point it out.

Rule 4: Get the merchandise in their hands. I gently demonstrate the pen and how it works. I hand it over to the customer, while holding on to the cap. (People are way less likely to inadvertently wander off with a pen if they don’t have the cap or the barrel.) If I know of a flaw, I point it out. I let them dip the pen and write with it. I ask about the way it feels and maybe explain how to find the sweet spot on the nib. This builds trust, rapport and confidence in me as a seller.

0831NRule 5: Ask for the sale. If they’ve spent a few minutes touching the pen, loving it, writing with it and it seems like a potential winner, I ask for the sale. The price tags are on my pens, and I often just say something like, “So, what do you say? Do we have a deal?”

If I did my job correctly, the answer is yes. If not, I keep trying to fine-tune the search until they have a pen they do like.

Rule 6: If you don’t have the pen or type of pens they’re looking for, and you are in a peak sales period…politely say you don’t have it and move on to the next customer. However, always be closing, even when turning people away. “Listen, Mister, I’m only looking for Mont Blanc pens that are under $50. Do you have any?” “Sorry, Man. My Mont Blancs start at $150.” If the unrealistic buyer is dead set on $50, let them keep walking. But, if they’re really just looking for good prices on Mont Blanc, your answer might help direct them to your Mont Blanc pens. Either way, you are making room for the next person or lining up this person to buy something. It is a win-win situation.

If it is a slow day, you can maximize your sales opportunities by acting as an ambassador to whatever it is you have on your table.

I often get rookies who have never tried vintage pens or fountain pens in general. I take the opportunity to show them different filling systems, nibs or other features to familiarize them with vintage pens. I get them dipping and writing with several to see how they feel. I try to keep the pens I show off under $50. This way, they might be more inclined to try vintage if the price tag isn’t too steep and the experience was fun and enlightening. I also try to teach them what to look for regarding damage and other issues with vintage pens. Maybe only 30% to 40% of the people buy something after the lecture, but that is still great considering that these same people were about to walk by without saying a word to me.

0968 Good Service PenHopefully, this advice helps you while hosting your next table at a pen show. This is the final article in my “Controversy in Chicago” series, and I really hope that the whole series has helped rookie collectors and veteran vendors get to know each other and make the pen show experience a far more pleasurable and useful experience.

Best of luck at your next show! Have fun buying and selling!

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!

Atlanta Pen Show 2016: Final Analysis

Wow! What a show this year in Atlanta! Tons of pen lovers, just as many young as old, all sharing in the inky goodness!

We had a heck-of-a-time. It was so much fun seeing our old friends like the great Texas pen trader Joe Lowe and making many new friends. And there was so much to learn.

I loved finding these great pens at the Atlanta Pen Show in 2016: a Pelikan 800, a Dunn Pen and a Twsbi Eco. Each is an absolute treat with which to write.

I loved finding these great pens at the Atlanta Pen Show in 2016: a Pelikan 800, a Dunn Pen and a Twsbi Eco. Each is an absolute treat with which to write.

My table neighbors were The Southern Scribe, Rick Horne, and An Tran, who has more pens than any 7 people I know. Both were as personable and fun to talk to as ever. Rick shared tons of great stories and advice that will help immensely as we move forward as a business and repair hub.

The pens this year at the show were unbelievable. For our own pleasure we picked up an incredible bargain on this “burnt orange” Pelikan 800, which I’ve been coveting since its release. From Rick, I bought this incredible–fully restored–Dunn Pen with a pump filler. As many of you know, I got into pens partly because of my love of obscure filling systems. This Dunn needs to be pumped 20 or 30 times like a bicycle pump to get a full fill. Awesome 1920s tech at work.

And my last little find is a Twsbi Eco. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been a bit of a snob with regard to these new-fangled cheap pens out of Asia. Well, now that I’ve used one, I’m hooked. It has a 1.1mm nib that writes exceedingly well for a steel nib and is just plain fun to play with. That crystal clear barrel with Adventurine green ink…too cool. I’m sold.

All three days of the show were packed with trading and stories. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive that first day, as I was running on no sleep for 36 hours. Work, packing, early flight, pen show…. I almost fell asleep during the Friday night cookout. I barely made it back to my room before collapsing and sleeping the sleep of the dead until sunrise. Although I missed some good cigars and drinks, every ounce of sleep was wonderful.

And now it is time to unpack, repair at least 50 more pens and pack up for our home show next week in Chicago! Can’t wait to see you at the 2016 Chicago Pen Show.

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!

Quirky Pen Collections

One of the coolest parts about owning a pen business is learning about people’s “other” pen collections. Every pen collector has their collection of daily users and museum pieces often built around brands such as Sheaffer, Parker, Mont Blanc and all of the others. But many collectors have special side project collections, too.

I love collecting pens inscribed with some reference to Christmas 1926, such as this senior Parker Duofold. Please let us know if you have any. What quirky traits do you collect in pens.

I love collecting pens inscribed with some reference to Christmas 1926, such as this senior Parker Duofold. Please let us know if you have any. What quirky traits do you collect in pens.

Mine is built strictly around a single day. I love keeping an eye out for pens that were given as gifts on Christmas day 1926. Why that Christmas? I have no idea. I just found myself one day with a curious handful of pens that all happened to have some inscription on them from 12-25-26. The photo is of my favorite, a black senior Parker Duofold. The full inscription reads, “P. M. Curtis 12-25-26.” There was an Eversharp Doric that read “X-mas 1926.” Ever since acquiring those two pens, I’ve been on the hunt for more.

Friend of ThePenMarket.com, Elizabeth J., has two odd-ball collections. One is for any sterling filigree pen with an engraving. The other, my favorite, is a collection of pens with really weird names engraved on them. “Sam Jones” will not impress her. “Gladys Oleander Gardner” or “Aloysius P. Frankenheimer Jr.” will win her over every time, even on a junker Wearever.

Keith L. loves green pens. Vintage, modern doesn’t matter, as long as it is a clean, distinctive green.

Francis B. zeroes in on pens made in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area in the 19teens and ’20s. Tommy U. does the same with oversized pens made in Chicago during that time period.

What quirky collection do you have? Please tell us, so we can help you keep an eye out for those pens.

And please, let us know if you have any of the pens listed above. We’d be very interested in buying them!

Yard-O-Led Ink Review

It isn’t often we get to see Yard-O-Led inks on this side of the puddle. Luckily for all, ThePenMarket.com now carries these fine bottled inks.

Check out the new bottled ink we carry. Yard-O-Led inks come in four colors: Jet Black, Blue, Blue/Black and Claret. Look closely to see great shading in the Jet Black and Blue/Black. The Blue and Claret are radiant wonders that are treat with which to write.

Check out the new bottled ink we carry. Yard-O-Led inks come in four colors: Jet Black, Blue, Blue/Black and Claret. Look closely to see great shading in the Jet Black and Blue/Black. The Blue and Claret are radiant wonders that are treat with which to write.

What struck me first about these inks were the radiance of the Blue (Royal Blue) and Claret (Fuchsia) inks. The blue is a washable ink and very bright. As I have only had it for a short time, I’m not sure how much it will fade over time, as many washable blues do. Nevertheless, I am enjoying its fresh blueness.

The Claret ink seems to be lively combination of hot pink, purple and red. While I expected it to be more of a rich, red wine color, I think it be very popular among the teenage girls who want to explore fountain pens with a more feminine color ink.

Traditional ink lovers will get a charge out of the beautiful shading delivered by the Jet Black and Blue/Black inks by Yard-O-Led. The Jet Black is more of a charcoal grey, and the wider the nib you use, the more distinctive the shadows become. The same can be said for the Blue/Black ink. Fine-point nibs lose the shading and concentrate the colors more.

Is Cursive Writing Going Extinct?

As we ponder the start of a new school year, did you know most schools are no longer teaching children how to write in cursive? This fact first came to my attention by friends, who are parents, telling me their kids aren’t learning cursive. Recent documentaries that address the phenomenon have also been brought to my attention.

Without wanting to launch rants from across the political spectrum, it turns out many states had been opting to forego cursive instruction for third graders and up for several years. The Common Core standards picked up that trend. Now children are only expected to learn how to print in kindergarten and the first grade.

After first grade, it is expected that kids are going to be using keyboards for the remainder of their natural lives. I suppose this is not an unrealistic assumption given how most kids and teenagers (and adults) seem glued to their tablets, smart phones and computers.

Nevertheless, this is something I find highly disturbing…and not just because I am a purveyor of fine antique writing instruments.

How will children develop their fine motor skills? How will kids learn how to think, without constant distraction and temptation from their electronic devices? How will future generations do something as simple as signing their name on a contract? (Will they only be able to print their names with the motor skills of an overgrown 6-year-old on a mortgage or a multimillion dollar business deal?) What about future historians? Most of human history was recorded on paper, often in handwriting. Or what about simply generations of families trying to get in touch with their ancestors. How will they read the letters, Bibles and other records of past generations?

“Oh, wow. Look at all these letters Great Granddad sent Great Grandma during World War II! I wonder what they say? Who can read that crazy scribbling? Why didn’t Great Granddad just e-mail from the Ardennes?”

While I strongly believe in teaching kids how to master computers at a young age, I don’t know why a computer should be their only means of note taking. Let’s be honest, if you give a bored kid an internet-connected computer device and expect them to pay strict attention and take notes during a lecture, you’re living in a fool’s paradise.

If you are like me and think it is important that we teach our kids cursive writing, we are not alone. There is even a website dedicated to the pursuit of cursive called “The Campaign for Cursive.” You can check them out at www.cursiveiscool.com.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a more in-depth look at the history of cursive writing and what you can do to either teach it or improve your own handwriting in the next two blog posts.

Stay tuned!

Sanford Ink: A Brief History

If you troll the antique stores of America searching for great deals on vintage pens, you cannot help but come upon those seemingly ubiquitous small pressed glass ink bottles by Sanford. They have myriad colored caps. Maybe you run into the Sanford Pen It inkwells and towers.

The Sanford Ink Company is one of the oldest ink companies in the world that is still in operation. They made many colors of fountain pen inks since 1857, and they invented the Sharpie in 1964! This Sanford Ink display is a metal carousel that is most likely from the late 1940s or early 1950s.

The Sanford Ink Company is one of the oldest ink companies in the world that is still in operation. They made many colors of fountain pen inks since 1857, and they invented the Sharpie in 1964! This Sanford Ink display is a metal carousel that is most likely from the late 1940s or early 1950s.

The more I found, the more I asked: Who and what was the Sanford Ink Company? Why aren’t they still around? Did their ink perform so terribly that they went out of business…just not before making billions of bottles of ink to litter our antique malls?

My ignorance got the better of me a few months ago when I was asked to sell a display carousel of those little cubed 1oz ink bottles. It had close to a dozen different colors on an aluminum spinner that appeared to be straight out of the late 1940s or early 1950s. I finally had to breakdown and research the company if I had any prayer of selling this thing. It was perhaps my happiest discovery about the ink world this year.

Sanford inks didn’t suck. They are so good that they are still the bestselling in America today. They just don’t sell fountain pen ink any more. You will better know their universally famous product: the Sharpie Marker. With its nearly indestructible permanent black ink markers and other colors, Sharpie is in nearly every home and office.

The Sanford story is actually a very interesting one. Sanford dates all the way back to 1857, before the Civil War. They made ink and glue in Massachusetts before moving to Chicago in 1866, just 5 years before the great fire burned the city to the ground. Sanford actually survived the tragic fire only to be burned down by another blaze a very short while later. The company rebuilt and became one of America’s largest ink manufacturers and suppliers by the end of the Great Depression. The only ink company we know that has been in the game longer is Pelikan, which got its start in Hanover, Germany, in 1838.

The Sharpie marker can write on most any surface with a permanent ink. This older Sharpie still shows the Sanford coporate logo.

The Sharpie marker can write on most any surface with a permanent ink. This older Sharpie still shows the Sanford coporate logo.

The invention of the ballpoint pen during the 1940s spelled doom for the fountain pen (and ink) industry. By the 1960s, the Sanford Ink Company was looking to emerging markets to find a new product to keep the company afloat. The Sharpie marker was born in 1964—50 years ago this year! It could write on glass, paper, rocks, just about any surface. It was quickly endorsed by late night talk show comedians Johnny Carson and Jack Paar.

These days it is the “pen” of choice by many star athletes and performers for signing autographs on everything from footballs to glossy photos. Roughly 200 million markers are made every year, according to the Sharpie website.

In a bizarre twist of pen fate, Sanford was bought by Newell Rubbermaid in 1992. Newell Rubbermaid also owns the brands: Parker, Waterman and PaperMate. So, in a sense, Sanford has never fully left the fountain pen ink business. It is now owned by the same people who own what would have been some of Sanford’s greatest competitors 60 years ago.

Swag from the Atlanta Show

This is just a small selection of the incredible swag we picked up for you at The Atlanta Pen Show. We will post it as soon as we can repair and photograph it. So keep checking back with us.

This is just a small selection of the incredible swag we picked up for you at The Atlanta Pen Show. We will post it as soon as we can repair and photograph it. Keep checking back with us.

Just look at me table of booty from the Atlanta Pen Show!

First, it was great meeting so many great pen collectors and dealers at the show. I love finally meeting people and getting to talk. The fact that we’re all there to talk pens is even more fun.

Special thanks also to the organizers who did such a good job setting up a really nice venue and getting a lot of buyers to the show. We had incredible sales for one table. Just look how depleted the site is…for now.

However, as you can see in the photo, we have more than 40 new pens to restore and post. Esterbrook fans can rejoice in a new wide selection of colors, and a huge collection of desk pens, too. Modern fans will love the new Visconti Wall Street we picked up as well as some limited edition Mont Blanc, Parker and S.T. Dupont.

The collection of inkwells we purchased for you is my personal favorite! From brass art nouveau to green glass and silver, this collection will be to die for. Now if only I had to the time to photograph, describe and post it all at once!