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Fascinating Look Back At Pen Collecting 42 Years Ago

books cliff lawrence

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#1 fullfederhalter

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 22:31

I stopped by a local thrift shop today and got a book, Fountain Pens-History, Repair, and Current Values by Cliff Lawrence (Collector Books, 1977). The book contains lots of good information, but the last section is a pictured price guide of approximately 100 pens.  Naturally, prices from 42 years ago are low, but when adjusted for inflation (314.4%), they show how some pens have far outstripped inflation, while others are about the same (or less) value today.  This is not meant as a comment on the accuracy or a criticism of Mr.Lawrence's book.  It was one of the first books on the topic, and was written at a time when prices of fountain pens were not well established.  Here is a sampling of listed prices and the inflation adjusted amount.  

 

 

1923 Waterman 58 Red Ripple  $105  ($435.09)

1928 Waterman Patrician $65 ($269.34)

1898 Parker 37 Sterling silver snake overlay $250  ($1,035.92)

1923 Parker Big Red $110  ($455.80)

1923 Parker Duofold Jr. pencil in rhr  $30  ($124.31)

1928 Parker Sr. Duofold in Mandarin yellow  $125  (517.96)

1940 Oversized Vacumatic  $30  (124.31)

1946 Parker 51 gray w/gf cap $10  ($41.44)

1932 Sheaffer Balance full size, black  $32  ($132.60)

1949 Sheaffer Triumph  $10  ($41.44)

1941 Wahl Eversharp Skyline,  bandless brown moire pattern  $4  (($16.57)

1944 Wahl Eversharp Fifth Avenue fp  $12  ($49.72)

1948 Montblanc gold plated cap and barrel (model not listed) $48  ($198.90)


Edited by fullfederhalter, 11 February 2019 - 22:49.


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#2 doggle2

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 22:48

WHAT are those prices for the 51s, Triumphs, and the Skylines?  I wish I could get 51s at that price! And is the Skyline referenced one of the Modern moire pens? It seems to be referencing that, which surprises me, with the almost 15x increase to today's prices.



#3 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 00:40

Pens were cheap before the net...........less folks interested, less chance to find any good ones. Few collectors.

Ten years ago, when I was a noobie here, the old timers were complaining of how expensive pens had become since WWW....days.

I'm still stuck in yesterday with prices...........there has been and still is a lot of hidden inflation in the US.

 

We had gone through a 25 or so year period where the minimum wage was $4.00 raising up to $4.50.

Then came a huge jump to $8.50 and paying your own insurance with the 'windfall'.

With 'good' inflation of 3% a year = @ 90% for three decades....with low wages.

 

I'd say the prices were established well enough for a book on it. I have a now old book about a decade after that with knife prices.

There were other antique books, with prices before the net also.

 

Could well be he used auction house figures.....in from my understanding pen collecting was adds in a local newspaper.  Big City prices...in that would have been doable. Picking 4-5 scattered cities.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#4 Roger W.

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 01:57

If you look at other listings back then some were quite expensive - not everything was a bargain because people just didn't know better - some pens were thought to be extremely rare and were priced accordingly.  EBay defined what was rare and what was common because some hard to find pens became much more available though some pens remained rare.  A few pens I've never seen on EBay.  Pre EBay the pool of pens was smaller and some things seemed to be more uncommon than they would ultimately be.

 

Roger W.



#5 inkstainedruth

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 04:48

Over the weekend I went antiquing.  At one place, a couple of hours north of where I live, I found a number of pens -- mostly 3rd and 4th tier junkers -- the best of the bunch was an copper Estie J series pen with a 2xxx nib I didn't need, and most of the rest went downhill fast...  (The place was in a barn, was dark and a little musty, the floor was a bit weird in places, and the guy actually had a stack of cheap-fish looking searchlight style flashlights for people to use.)  The guy in the place had lists of the various pens in the trays/boxlids I found them in and said that he'd had trouble researching the pens to place a value on them.  I warned him that eBay prices were all over the map.  But honestly, didn't see anything I was remotely interested in: several Wearevers, a couple of Arnolds, a Majestic, and some brands I'd never heard of (one was, IIRC "Pyrolin" or something like that).  I'll admit that I was a bit curious as to what his "prices" were -- but not enough to actually ask.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth 


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#6 fullfederhalter

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 17:14

Over the weekend I went antiquing.  At one place, a couple of hours north of where I live, I found a number of pens -- mostly 3rd and 4th tier junkers -- the best of the bunch was an copper Estie J series pen with a 2xxx nib I didn't need, and most of the rest went downhill fast...  (The place was in a barn, was dark and a little musty, the floor was a bit weird in places, and the guy actually had a stack of cheap-fish looking searchlight style flashlights for people to use.)  The guy in the place had lists of the various pens in the trays/boxlids I found them in and said that he'd had trouble researching the pens to place a value on them.  I warned him that eBay prices were all over the map.  But honestly, didn't see anything I was remotely interested in: several Wearevers, a couple of Arnolds, a Majestic, and some brands I'd never heard of (one was, IIRC "Pyrolin" or something like that).  I'll admit that I was a bit curious as to what his "prices" were -- but not enough to actually ask.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth 

I know that place!  I visited last year.  When I asked about fountain pens, the dealer had the 2nd and 3rd tier pens you described, but also had a few decent ones, too.  But like a lot of antiques dealers, he did not take the time to do much research, and mostly priced them based on whether or not the pen had a 14kt nib or not.  I passed on the 2nd and 3rd tier pens (which were around 20 dollars each IIRC) and a couple of common Sheaffers, but found this terrific gold overlay Paul Wirt ED for the same price as the common Sheaffers. 

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#7 inkstainedruth

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 19:01

Are we talking about the same place?  This was a little bit north of Meadville, PA (as opposed to a similar looking -- and mustier smelling -- weird place in a warehouse somewhere west of New Castle, PA, and possibly in Ohio).

Minimum research by vendors has sometimes been to my benefit.  Pretty sure that the Snorkel with the semi-flex palladium silver Triumph nib was marked at a lower price than the green one with a boring F nib because the F was gold.  And the two sumgai Parker 51s from dealers at an antiques mall near me a couple of years ago?  They had the wrong caps on them: so the late Mk II Burgundy Aero was labeled as being a Parker Frontier; the Cedar Blue Vac (which didn't even HAVE a price tag) had a 3rd tier brand cap on it and the guy who opened the case for me -- not the booth holder, BTW -- gave me a price based on the prices of the Wearever and the Epenco on the shelf next to it.

OTOH, the place that wanted nearly 300 bucks for an old Waterman lever filler with its nib bent at about a 90° angle?  The woman in the place was NOT happy when I told her it was MASSIVELY overpriced....  (The nib just made me want to cry when I saw it, it was so mangled.)

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

edited for typos


Edited by inkstainedruth, 12 February 2019 - 19:02.

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#8 fullfederhalter

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 19:49

Yep, I'm pretty sure its the same place.  The box of flashlights to see all the stuff in the huge, dark 3 bay building was a dead giveaway. :D

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#9 Tseg

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Posted 12 February 2019 - 22:16

I’d have a lot more money in my pocket if the internet did not clue me in that people still use and collect fountain pens. That is what got me started. Now I just run up bids on eBay.





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