I am by NO means an expert on vintage fountain pens… I know what my Pen-tor has taught me and what I’ve read online, and what I’ve experienced myself. But I am an expert at one thing and that’s the confusion of being a newbie looking for a vintage pen!
So I have a little advice for you, new than new me’s, as you go ahuntin’ at FIRST… I’m sure things will change in time for me, but here’s what’s kept me happy feeling like my money was well spent.
- Know why you want a vintage pen… is it the history? the status? are you learning to flex and need one to do so properly? the look? What do you think you want in a pen, know this.
- Find a Pentor (pen mentor), not just a whole website of people, but among the group you generally seek advise from, state your reasons for searching for vintage pens and ask them to help you select the type to look for.
- Have a budget. Then add $50 because you WILL go over budget… really, it’s not a budget, it’s a range… how about, have a hard limit on your credit card so you can’t go over your limit??
- If you buy from a site not suggested here or by your Pentor, ASK SOMEONE WHO KNOWS before you commit to a pen, I nearly made a $100 mistake by not asking first on another site than I use now.
- If collectability is important to you, RESEARCH!! If usability is important, read the descriptions carefully and insist on a writing sample.
I wanted to move out of Ahab land and truly flex write, so my Pentor told me two things… firstly, to start not with the assumed Fine Full Flex pen I wanted but a vintage Medium nib pen, (I one upped him and opted for semi-flex!). The reason was that a Medium nib would be less apt to novice destruction through over-flexing. He also said, “for flex, get Waterman”. He said a lot more, but man, he’s knowledgeable and my brain only holds so much at a time.
I went to some sites he recommended but I wasn’t happy at all, they were basically blogs with pictures and brief descriptions of the pens. You were to email your interest and find out in a day or two if you “got to buy the pen” you wanted. All the while other great pens were going up and being sold, while you very well may not even get to buy the pen you were holding the money aside for.
Then, through happenstance, I wandered on https://www.peytonstreetpens.com/ (not even looking for vintage at the moment) and holy-moly-a-vintage-site-that-felt-like-a-real-online-store!!!!!
Honestly, thought, there was a well organized online store, with various search functions, including an option to list search finds in order of price (A BIG HELP!), and when I was ready to buy, I bought, no waiting to see if I had got the first email in! Pay, wait a little, get pen! The descriptions have matched the pens I’ve received and the personal service, when needed, has been SUPERB (Teri, you’re a dream!)
My first pen was a song of a deal, a Parker Parkette in the $80 range.. it seems Medium Semi-flex pens in the ladies’ models just don’t cost too much (actually, the ladies pens in general cost less than the “regular” pens so nanananaanaaa, we finally win one!). Before I had even received the Parkette, I had an order placed for another, this time listening to the advice of the Pentor, and going with a Watnerman.
In less than two months, my vintage collection has grown to 9 and only ONE didn’t come from PeytonStreet; it was an ebay pen I expected not to work with which I tested the pen chain I’ll be selling on this blog and elsewhere. If you thought fountain pens were addictive, wait til you start the chase for that illusive find and just the right price…. it’s maddening! My two new loves are ringtops (because you can wear your darn PEN!) and stub/italic flex pens, because WOW those lines!
BTW, I’m selling the below pen chains for $20 US shipping included in gold or silver plate, email fountainpensink@gmail if you’re interested. (my etsy site is down.. apparently they like their money and I didn’t make any yet lol)
And since I’m showing off, here’s my two Beauties…
So to sum up, for you new as me newbies entering vintage land.. Find a willing Pentor who can help with YOUR ideas about what a vintage pen should be. Find a shop you love and trust (again peytonstreetpens,con is IT for me). Be prepared to see your pen budget double, no matter what you promise you won’t do. TREAT THEM WELL, THEY AREN’T JUST YOURS but they’re everyone’s who has ever owned it your vintage pen.
Now, to try to get the Pentor to write a guest piece about CAREING for the vintage pens.. his knowledge really is encyclopedic!