On Friday we talked about our big score for the week, which was a Parker 51 pen that we sold for $81. Today I want to give you the ins and outs of penography, specifically focusing on Parker fountain pens. I won’t go into detail about the buying aspect as you just need some basic common sense (ie. buy in bulk, buy cheap, know what kind of prices they can fetch you, etc.). If you’ve got any specific questions about that, though, just leave a comment below!
There are four major questions you want to ask yourself if you have some fountain pens to sell: Who made it? What is it made out of? What is the condition? Does it still work?
Let’s take them one at a time.
Who made it? There are a lot of major names when it comes to fountain pens, but the biggest one is Parker. If you’ve got one of these, chances are you’ve got a good chunk of change just waiting to drop into your pocket. There are also many styles of Parker pens, so make sure you’re aware of what you’re buying. More on that later. Esterbrook is also another good name.
What is it made out of? Plastic? Stainless steel? Gold? Sterling? All of these questions are important to a collector and some people will only want pens made out of a certain material. If you’ve got a gold or sterling pen, it’s going to do much better than a plain old plastic one. Make sure you put this information in the listing.
What is the condition? Condition is very, very, very (can I say it again?) VERY important to collectors. This goes for any collectible item, but is especially true with fountain pens. They want to know if it has any scratches, tarnish, or wearing of the gold or silver. Make sure you list everything you see in the description. Someone will buy it regardless and that way you can avoid grumpy buyers who were expecting a pen in mint condition. This also leads us into our next question…
Does it still work? A working pen is worth a lot more than one that doesn’t work. Make sure you check the “innards” of the pen to see that everything is still there and in nice shape. You’re also going to want to see if the pen still draws water. There are different ways to do this depending on the type of pen you have, so just search around and find a guide to help you. This is the best way to test the pen without having to use up valuable ink.
It seems like Parker 45’s and 51’s are pretty popular, although Parker has made a lot of other styles. Check out this website to see a list of them that includes history and relevant information. This site can also help you identify your pen.
Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
- Blue diamonds are good to look for.
- Buyers want to know what size the tip (called a “nib”) is, what it is made out of, and if it is original to the pen or not.
- There are different sizes of nibs (ie. extra fine, fine, medium, wide/broad) – be sure to mention which one your pen has. Some have the size stamped on the nib, but otherwise you can compare dimensions with those you find online.
- They often are made of different materials, so be sure to mention that.
- The website we gave earlier may be able to tell you if the nib is an original or not – sometimes they were stamped with certain numbers. Try to look around and find this information, but if you can’t just state in your listing that you aren’t sure.
- Be sure to mention how the pen is loaded. For example, some of them have pre-filled cartridges and some of them just have a reservoir where the ink is held.
- Always mention the writing on the pen – it might be the manufacturer’s name, the place it was made, what it is made out of, or any other relevant information.
- “Double jeweled” means it has a plastic jewel on either end of the pen. A “blind cap” means it just has one of these jewels on the top of the pen.
- Here are some styles we’ve come across:
If you’ve got any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know in the section below.