How can I tell when a pen was made?
FAQ 29.0 by Burt Janz
  Article # 247 Article Type: FAQ

29.0 How can I tell when a pen was made?

(This section contributed to the FAQ by Frank Dubiel)

Usually its not possible to tell except to limit the date within several or more years. Most pens were sold as simple consumer goods, made in the largest quantity possible at the lowest cost. A pen model would continue in production until sales slumped or dies wore out.

When a die wore out, some variation or change might be made. If sales slumped, some design change of the basic model might be made, or the model simply discontinued. Occasionally, due to breakdowns in a machine, or a part not available from an outside supplier, any other part in the factory that fit would be used. No pen company would stop production or fail to ship pens if they ran out of a certain color jewel, clip, section or anything else. If something else was available that fit, it would be used to continue shipments.

In many cases its almost impossible to tell if a part is "original" or installed as a later replacement. However, value depends partly on a pen being what a collector expects and desires a pen to be, so a perfectly original pen with parts that donít match that which is normally expected may have reduced value.

It was very rare for any company to use a photograph of a pen in their ads or catalogues before the late 1940s or 1950s. They used paintings by artists that would then be used for 10 or more years, often being altered or touched up in later printings to look more like what was being sold. A pen is best dated (and valued) by its actual parts and a basic knowledge of what models were sold in certain time frames. This is usually more accurate than looking for numbers or date codes on a pen. In most cases an attempt to date any pen to closer than 3-5 years is an exercise in frustration.

Pens are not coins. Well meaning charts written for pen dating by others often lead to confusion and do not take into account some of the basic concepts in this section.


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