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July 2009: Six Things to Spice Up Your Pen Life

Extra Fine Points Index  ]

BY DON FLUCKINGER • Veteran fountain pen collectors, in my experience, are more focused and Zen about their collecting activities. Over the years, the distractability weakens, while the love for the objects slowly grows.

Pick out five pens that, if eliminated, would help you focus your collecting efforts, and sell them. Or swap them. Extra Fine Points

For them, it’s not about the potential of all pens; the thrill of chasing a few unique items is enough. That, and jawing with other collectors about the hunt.

For the rest of us who still seek nirvana, staring at the same old pens in our collections can get a little stale — and the endless browsing we do online on eBay or at the big e-tailing sites. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, I’ve got some tips:

  1. Washington DC SuperShow 2008Go to a pen show or a pen club meeting. Haven’t been in awhile? There’s nothing like stepping out of the web’s pen-o-sphere and making actual person-to-person contact instead of virtually connecting through bids on eBay, message board posts, emails and all the other ways we can communicate over the wires. Susan Wirth covers the national calendar.

  2. Subscribe to a magazine or newsletter. Pen World, Erano’s Quarterly Pen Report and the Pen Collectors of America’s Pennant are all worthy causes to support, driven at least in part by collectors sharing their knowledge at cut-rate or volunteer basis. In this brutal economy, they need your support more than ever.

  1. Check out watches. Fountain pen collectors, a lot of the time, like mechanical watches, too, even if they don’t know it. Some weekend collector shows even promote themselves as “pen and watch shows.” In fact, many pen dealers — like Paul Erano — sell watches at pen shows that don’t promote themselves as such. Good, solid antique pocket watches for both ladies and men, in fine running order, can be had for less than $100, and they’re stepping stones to finer timepieces.

    And once you start seeing what’s out there in the realm of antique and modern wristwatches (winders and automatics), chances are you’ll be blown away. For starters, investigate the tiny Bernhardt Watch Company. Its owner, Fred Amos, is known among wristwatch aficionados much like Bexley’s Howard Levy is in the pen world.

  2. Get a kid involved. Baseball-card collecting dads, grandfathers, and uncles don’t have a monopoly on passing their collecting passion down a generation or two: Get a son, daughter, grandkid, niece or nephew a fountain pen and get them writing with it. It doesn’t have to be a Montblanc or a Parker Big Red. Any old Esterbrook or off-brand lever filler with a good nib will do. The secret is to show your own enthusiasm, and tell them how cool they’ll seem to their pals at school when they whip out this writing instrument no one else even knew existed.

  3. FPNStart an FPN thread. So, looking for something to do? Start a thread asking for more information about your favorite pen make and model. If you put it right in the text that you’re building a comprehensive checklist, just want to know more history, or would like to see some pictures of your fellow collectors’ favorites, you’ll get some action — and inspiration, for sure.

  4. Addition by subtraction. Look over your collection. We’ve all wasted our money on at least a few pens that, later, it turns out we really didn’t want. Pick out five pens that, if eliminated, would help you focus your collecting efforts, and sell them. Or swap them. Use the cash to get one more solid pen that better fits your wants and needs.

cover Further Reading: Grand Complications: High Quality Watchmaking Volume IV, by Tourbillon International
You know the difference between an Ingersoll Dollar Pen and a Parker “51”. But do you know what the difference is between a similar Ingersoll Dollar Watch and a Tourbillon that costs more than your house? That stuff is all sorted out in this great explanation of the evolution of watchmaking up to the latest and greatest in mechanical watch designs. This is the closest most of us will come to owning one, but they’re sure cool to look at, and offers the answer to why many watch collectors disdain the more accurate quartz timepieces and focus on those with mechanical movements.

Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
© 2009 Don Fluckinger Contact Us | About Us | Privacy Policy
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