About the Pens on this Website


I'll be listing several hundred pens over the next several weeks. I'm starting with vintage Parker pens, and that will be followed by Sheaffers, and after that Watermans, Eversharps, an others. I'll also be listing new pens by many manufacturers including Ancora, Bexley, Cartier, Conway Stewart, Cross, Delta, Lamy, Marlen, Montblanc, Montegrappa, Nettuno, Omas, Pelikan, and others. As I get a good sized grouping of pens priced, they will go up on the website. Parker is first and Sheaffer should be on line very soon. Please check in regularly. Pens are for sale as soon as they are listed.

I also plan to list other items, including all kinds of ballpoint pens, pencil sharpeners, and wood-cased pencils. I may add a few other items as well. We'll see how far I get. But since I am starting with vintage pens, I thought a few words about the pens on this website were in order. Also, subscribers to Paul's Fountain Pen Journal receive a 10% discount up to $25 (the cost of a subscription) on each item they purchase. All they have to do is mention the discount at the time of purchase. This offer will likely expire at an undetermined time in the future.

If you enjoy vintage pens and are not a subscriber, please click on the icon for the Fountain Pen Journal on our home page. The Journal is packed with information about vintage pens, and you receive three issues a year for a $25 annual subscription fee. What do you have to lose? You may even have something to gain.

Condition of Pens Listed

Rarely will one find vintage pens, especially older vintage pens, that have not been used or that have been used for just a brief time before being placed in a drawer to be forgotten. Most vintage pens have seen use, which means that there is some wear to most of them, but how much wear and what can be done about it?

Condition is perhaps the most important factor that affects how much a vintage fountain pen is worth. Knowing how to accurately determine a pen's condition, and therefore its value, takes a good amount of experience to get right. When someone is interested in a vintage fountain pen from this website, an accurate assessment of the pen's condition and a forthright explanation of other important factors about the pen are in order.

I have included a variety of pens on this website because not everyone is looking for a "collector-grade" fountain pen. Some pens have been subjected to moderate or light use and are suitable as everyday writers. Others may be in mint or near mint condition and are suitable for use or to go into a person's collection. Then there are those that fall somewhere in between. Regardless of their original conditions, all pens are cleaned, put in working order, and they operate as they should. They are given a final inspection and cleaning before being sent out, and almost all pens fall into one of the top four categories listed below: Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good. Here and there, a pen in Good condition may find its way onto the list, especially if the pen has merit and I think someone will enjoy it.

Words like "mint", "excellent", and "very good" sound useful in grading pens, but without the specifics, they become vague terms that leave a lot up to the imagination. What "excellent" means to one person may mean something different to another person. Better to provide details so the person interested in a pen has a good idea of what to expect. Like Dragnet's Sergeant Friday use to say, "Just the facts, Maam."

The following is what I mean by the terms Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor condition.

Mint: unused. Exactly as it appeared when it was brand new. It's very uncommon to find a seventy or eighty-year-old pen that is mint, and a pen's price will often be much greater than the price of the same pen that is in, say, "Very Good" condition. How much more depends on other factors as well: which pen it is, its scarcity, and its desirability.

Near Mint: Almost as it appeared when it was brand new. The pen may have been dipped and tested and it may have a little "shop wear" (slight surface scratches from rolling around in a drawer, etc.). It may have been used briefly and put away with no other evidence of use. It's uncommon to find vintage pens in near mint condition and they, too, command premium prices.

Excellent: Very slight signs of use: slight wear to trim and pocket clips, especially at the high points. Sharp imprints. Threads to cap and barrel are crisp and free of significant wear. One may encounter vintage pens that have been polished to rid the pen of most signs of use. If done competently, polishing will improve a pen's appearance but it will not elevate its status from "very good" to "excellent". Sometimes, it takes a trained eye to know the difference.

Very Good: Light heading towards moderate signs of use and discoloration. No significant scratches, dings in metal, and wear to pen casing and trim. Barrel and cap threads function properly. Pens in very good condition clean up nicely and are very desirable. They are a cut above what is commonly encountered and this also is reflected in their price.

Good: Similar flaws as in pens in very good condition except that they are more pronounced. Issues include moderate discoloration to celluloid, hairline cracks in cap lips (a flaw introduced in this category), moderate wear to metal trim and pocket clips, weaker imprints, deeper dings in metal caps and barrels, and chips and significant scratches. If too many flaws are present in one pen, if they are too prevalent, I'd be inclined to drop the pen's condition down another level. Price is significantly less than pens in very good condition.

Being a vintage pen person, it's my feeling that pens in good condition clean up well, even if they don't present themselves as well as pens in very good condition. There is some comfort in owning and writing with a well-loved, well-used, well-cared-for vintage fountain pen, and it's a fact: wear and other signs of aging and use don't bother some people as much as they bothers others.

What are signs of Moderate Use? To me, moderate use means that while it's evident that the pen was used, wear is not the dominate factor in the pen's appearance or performance. Moderate does not mean half worn away. For example, cap trim may have some "brassing" (wear of the original metal surface to the extent that the underlying base metal shows through), but it's likely to show on, ten to fifteen percent of the trim's surface. There may be a few dings and scratches, but not so many and they are not so significant that they're the first thing you notice when looking over the pen. Since the pen was used, there will likely be wear to barrel and cap threads, but unscrewing the cap should be smooth and the threads should securely hold the cap in place. Threads should have plenty of life left in them.

Fair: fountain pen is intact, but with significant issues—one being deteriorating celluloid, seen as small, soft cracked patches, fluorescence, or crumbling plastic found at the ends of caps and barrels and in other places as well. Problems are worse yet: significant discoloration, cracks in cap lips extend further into the cap, bigger chips, deeper scratches, more wear to metal trim, pocket clips, and imprints. Even though they may be usable, they are so flawed and unappealing that they are often used as "parts pens" to make pens in better condition useful again.

Poor: suitable for parts only.

How do you know when to put a pen in one category versus the one above or below it?

It does take experience to know when to place a pen in one category rather than another. Moreover, there will be some variation to pens in each condition categories; they will not have the same degree of wear in all the same places. Some pens are notorious for having specific condition issues: cap bands on early Sheaffer flat-top and Streamline pens are known to brass, and metal pens, including Parker 51 Signets and Flighters, and Sheaffer Crests and metal-capped Snorkels, may have dented cap ends. The dent at the end of a cap or barrel may be tiny or it may not be not so tiny. The question becomes how serious a fault is it? What impact does it have on the pen's over-all condition?

Some faults seriously impact a pen's condition: broken levers, badly worn threads, cracked barrel ends and threads, gouges in pen bodies, significant wear and "brassing", and damaged nibs are example. However, a fault in one pen may not be as serious as the same exact fault in another vintage pen. A Parker Duofold Senior in Mandarin Yellow, and a similarly sized Le Boeuf fountain pen may both have seriously damaged Fine nibs. Yet, the fault in the Parker Duofold Sr. is not as serious as it is with the Le Boeuf. The Duofold nib can easily be replaced, probably for around one-hundred dollars or less. For the Le Boeuf fountain pen, an original replacement nib is likely to cost much more, if you can find one.

Repair and Restoration

The vintage pens on this website have been restored by some of the best known repair people in the hobby. Others I have restored by myself, or I have given to people whom I trust to do competent restoration, especially for specific model pens. Some vintage pens came to me already in working order. Since the status of the restoration of those pens is unknown, I test them, disassemble them if necessary, and make sure that they are in proper working order.

I believe the best course of action is to not overdo or to make repairs that cannot be reversed. It is rare that a pen will need a repair that cannot be undone. I do like to disclose as much pertinent information about a pen as I can. If ever I sell a pen with metal trim that I know has been "re-plated", or a barrel or cap thread that has been repaired, a nib that has been re-tipped, or any other similar repair, I'll let people know about it.


Sheaffer Snorkels, Plunger-fillers, Touchdown fillers, Parker Vacumatics and Vacumatic-fill 51s are guaranteed for one-year from the date of purchase against failure of diaphragms, O rings, and gaskets. This guarantee is meant to be a safeguard against failure of perishable parts. It does not apply to damage or failure caused by misuse or neglect by the owner. To keep pens performing optimally, use good ink and flush them out occasionally. Don't try to force fill a pen that has been clogged by dry ink.

Trends in Pendom

There is a trend for people new to the hobby to refer to themselves as "pen users" rather than "pen collectors." While most pen collectors are also pen users, I suppose the difference between the two has more to do with each group's primary focus: pen users want to write with a limited number of pens and they pay a great deal of attention to various inks and paper. Most vintage pen collectors I know also write with their pens and enjoy a variety of inks and paper, but they also have a strong interest in the history, the evolution, and the preservation of vintage writing instruments. In short, the similarities in the two camps far outweigh the differences. Underneath it all, we are all of the same ilk.

Why Vintage Fountain Pens?

I sometimes give seminars at pen shows where I explain to people why they might want to give vintage pens a try. I start by asking them a question: "Why can't you get a bad cup of coffee in New York City?" The answer, of course, is that if they got a bad cup of coffee, the vender wouldn't be selling coffee for long. Competition is just too fierce!

Too many manufacturers made high quality fountain pens and competition forced them to make pens that were very good. Since they were essentially the only pens other dip pens in existence, they had to write well. People relied them. People needed a pen they could count on.

With that in mind, doesn't it make sense to give vintage pens a try? After all, the best of them are of very high quality. They were well made and they are durable and reliable. Then there's the variety of nibs, the different filling systems, the materials they're made from, and the prevailing designs from each era of production: Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, and others. True artifacts that can be enjoyed and used to write with every day.

By no means are my seminars meant to dissuade pen enthusiasts from using modern pens. All good fountain pens have value. They all deserve a place on the past to present continuum. In fact, the extent to which I enjoy newer pens should be obvious from the number of them I'll have for sale on this website. But since vintage pens are still with us, it makes sense to find out what they're all about, to enjoy them along with the new pens made by current manufacturers and artisans.

When considering the purchase of a vintage pen, there are just a couple of tips I'd like to pass along:

Deal with someone you trust.

Don't be misled by the false or overstated information. Vintage pens are not nearly as fragile as some say they are. Some do have quirks to know about. Learn how to identify problems that are common to vintage pens. Speak freely about your concerns.

Obtain information from a variety of reliable sources (not just the internet, not primarily one website, not primarily one person). Read as much as you can. Read the books. Subscribe to The Fountain Pen Journal. They all contain valuable insights, information, and varying points of view. One valuable bit of information or insight can easily be worth the cost of most pen books or Journal.

When the current pandemic passes, go to a pen show, a local pen club meeting, and get to know vintage pen enthusiasts. Many of the knowledgeable people at pen shows and pen club meetings will encourage you to try out a variety of vintage fountain pens. Try out as many as you can. Look for as many different features and nibs as you can. Be your own person. Don't be unduly swayed by the opinions of others, regardless of who they are.

Write with your vintage fountain pens. They are not going to crumble in your hand! Many of them are robust and bullet proof. More on that topic at another time.

Is This Pen Vintage or Modern?

When I began collecting fountain pens in the early 1980s, fountain pens seemed to most people to be outdated, a thing of the past. Yet, that wasn't quite the case. Fountain pens continued to be manufactured and people continued to write with them. Some people even collected them, though quietly and without much fanfare.

When the fountain pen boom occurred in the mid 1980s, vintage fountain pens became a hot collectible. The focus was on early vintage pens, especially early ornately decorated eye dropper-fill pens, colorful flat-top pens from the 1920s, and streamlined Deco-styled pens from the 1930s. The Parker 75, a latecomer by comparison, seemed to be the pen that separated vintage fountain pens from modern fountain pens.

Some of the first modern collectible fountain pens that came to market in the 1980s included Sheaffer's Connoisseur and Nostalgia, Waterman's Man series, and Parker's Duofold line, all of them echoing the flat-top pens of the 1920s. It took a little time for modern pens to get established, but once they did they took over a large share of the market, and a divide grew between collectors who preferred vintage pens and collectors who preferred modern pens. That divide continues to this day, even as many other pen enthusiasts enjoy collecting and writing with both vintage and modern writing instruments.

So, how much time must pass before a pen becomes vintage? Actually, there are no hard and fast rules. By the early 1980s, the Parker 75 was about twenty years old. Move forward to present day and Sheaffer's Connaisseur and Nostalgia now have more than thirty years behind them. I suppose it's safe to say that these pens, still considered to be modern pens by some old-guard collectors, can now be called vintage. The imaginary line that separates vintage pens from modern pens constantly moves forward. If we must classify pens as being either vintage or modern, there are a few rules of thumb that I use to make the classification process easier. One rule is to let a generation pass. A second rule is to wait for a pen to be out of production for a decade or more.

Whether a pen is vintage or modern really doesn't matter that much. Fountain pens, both past and present, all have their place along that continuum. The imaginary line that separates vintage from new continues to move forward, modern pens at some point become vintage, and pens yet to be imagined await us in the future