www.pentrace.com - The Site for Fountain Pens that Write
 
Home
search:   
Articles in Full
 
Home Page
wow
Go to Message Board
Join the SnailMail Group
Reader's Corner
Submit an article for publication
Bureau of Weights and Measures
Reference Section
The PenMarket Message Board

about the Pentrace site
Biographies of Pentrace Contributers
Links to other resources
Contact details for Pentrace.com
Previous articles and older stuff
Message Board Archive

 

Related Links

* Chapter I
* Chapter II
* Chapter III
* Chapter IV

Reflections of a Newbie: One year later
A review of a year of pen collecting!
from the fountain pen of David Kaplan

Well, it has been one year since I started this hobby. Actually, a little more than a year, but it is easier to count from Jan 1, 2000.

First a little background. I have used modern pens off and on for years, but decided around the end of 1999 to get serious and buy a new pen. I decided to surf the web to find a deal, when I typed "Fountain Pens" into YAHOO. To my great astonishment, I found lists and lists of sites - some modern and ... some vintage. Out of curiosity I clicked on a couple of vintage sites. I can't recall what I might have hit first, but I do recall that one of my first sites was the "Pens 101" site by Carla Frizzle . From there it was a short set of clicks to the world of vintage pens.

I soon forgot the original purpose for my surfing and started to look at vintage pens. It didn't take long before I realized that this was a hobby that I would be interested in pursuing. There was something beautiful about these instruments, and I have come to a stage in my life
where I would like to have a collection of something of beauty to pass on.

Given my impetuous nature, I immediately wanted to buy a pen. Well, it happened that I was due to take a trip into New York City. I decided on the basis of some of my web roamings, that I would pay a pilgrimage to Berliner Pens, and then do a stop over to Fountain Pen Hospital. I walked into Berliner's and talked to Bernie Isaacowitz and told him I wanted some advice and perhaps to buy a pen. To his great credit, he told me he wouldn't sell me a pen but instead recommended that I read as much as I could on the hobby. The same was told to me at Fountain Pen Hospital. Soon I purchased "Fountain Pens and Pencils" by George Fischler and Stuart Schneider and began learning more about the hobby. I learned that some pens could still be found in antique stores. Because there were a couple of antique stores in my town, I stopped in.

My first purchase was a near mint Parker 51 from 1955. The juices were starting to flow. Then, a few weeks later, I stopped back in to the same antique store and came across an Onyx Waterman Patrician!! I bought it for $100.00 and had Berliner restore it. It is now quite valuable. I was completely hooked!

After that, I took the lessons learned and read as much as I could, joined Pen Collectors of America, and went to the 2000 Philly Show. It was at that show that I finally became a full time addict. I purchased a couple of pens (not all were great purchases, but more on that later), and began to meet wonderful people - particularly Sam Fiorella of Pendemonium and Geoff Berliner. I then made a few more purchases over the internet and made contacts with superb restorers - particularly Hal Arnold, John Mottishaw, Joe Hamilton, Sherrell Tyre, and Jerry Trafford. I have been to the 2000 DC Show and most recently to the New Jersey Show.

It was at the most recent New Jersey Show that I learned a valuable and transformative lesson. In my enthusiasm over my "finds", I showed Berliner a couple of pens that I almost walked out with and he pointed out terrible flaws. For example, Geoff pointed out that I was about to leave with a Mabie Todd Swan that had a hard rubber barrel and a plastic
cap!! (He showed me how to tell if the pen is hard rubber v. plastic. Sometimes it's hard to tell). I also almost purchased a Waterman # 7 with the wrong lever attached. Geoff also pointed out, tactfully, who were the more reputable dealers. In a rather long and personal
conversation while walking through the ballroom of pens, Geoff basically told me that it was time to make a decision about whether or not I wanted to get serious with this hobby. He pointed out that I could spend my money on a lot of cheap, or flawed vintage pens, or spend the same money on many fewer but exceptional examples of vintage pens. To opt for the latter would require approaching those I trust to obtain good advice and to curb the overwhelming desire to buy without very careful inspection and knowledge. Of course, I have opted for the
latter. A recent article in Pen World on Fred Gorstein and his vintage Mont Blanc collection serves as an example of what I would like to achieve. My interest is to collect the best examples within my price range, of Vacumatics, Mabie Todd Swan ETNs, Wahl-Eversharp Dorics and Equipoised, and Waterman Ripples.

I'm still looking at some bad decisions in my pen case, but they serve as a reminder of where I started. I hope to look on my collection over time and see what I have learned by heeding the wise advice friends.

So, what have I learned one year later?

First, I have learned that it is essential to read, read, read!
Second, I found it essential to locate dealers and restorers whom I could trust.
Third, I will buy only those pens that I enjoy looking at and would want to use.
Fourth, I will only buy the very best examples of what I like, within my budget.

I will be heading to the Philly show next week. I hope to make some
very good purchase decisions. Wish me luck.

A peaceful and prosperous 2001.

David

Comment on this article...

 

 

www.pentrace.com

 
[ Home | Message Board | SnailMail Group | Reader's Corner | Submit Article | BoWaM | About | Biographies | Contact | Older Stuff ]
 
Copyright 2000-2001 pentrace.com, All Rights Reserved