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  1. I thought I was done collecting pens--I had over 300 a few years ago and have pruned that down to about 100 of the best ones--but I just realized that I still can't resist a good buy when I see it. My wife and I are visiting San Diego to see our daughter (always a good excuse for Comic-Con ) and we took the trolley out to visit the antiques shops in La Mesa, as we usually do, and yesterday I felt very lucky to score three pens I couldn't resist at the prices they went for: The three pens were a Montblanc 22 from the 1960s, a parker 21, and an esterbrook SJ, and they went for $48, $20, and $20, respectively. Not exactly sumgais but they were in like-new condition, except for the SJ which had a bent nib which I should be able to replace easily. The MB had a tag saying that the seller wasn't sure if it was working, but a simple check of the piston showed that it was. I inked it up at home and it had a springy F nib. The 21 was a smooth M/B. I thought of reselling them but my wife immediately laid claim to the MB, which I was happy to oblige, and I'll probably just keep the the others for show and tell
  2. I just noticed this myself and thought it might be helpful to other people buying antique (>100 year old) pens from outside the EU. Although most imports over £15 are charged at 20% VAT when passing through UK customs, antiques are eligible for a lower rate of 5%. Details here (scroll down to paragraph 11). There are some hoops to jump through, though. Details here (paragraph 2). The package must be labelled ‘Antiques - Relief claimed’. You will be sent a Notice of Arrival (C160). Fill this in and return it to the postal depot with the required documents (a declaration of age of the item and evidence of its age). For items sent with customs prepaid (e.g. through the eBay Global Shipping Program), the only way to take advantage of this reduced VAT would be to claim repayment of overpaid import VAT. Details here (paragraph 2.6).
  3. Many years ago, my former brother-in-law found out I love fountain pens and every holiday presented me with all sorts of old pens that he'd bought at various and sundry estate and garage sales. I've had them for a long time, but never tried to use or repair them. Now, looking at all the folks who are actively using all these wonderful old pens, I'm wondering how to start checking out mine and possibly use them. My concern is damaging something inadvertently by perhaps prying off where I shouldn't. Or trying to fill something that has a dead bladder. Or something I don't know about simply because I haven't learned as much as I want to. Obviously, photos will be forthcoming - and perhaps getting solid IDs on these pens individually may be where I should start. That being said, is there some other methodology or tip that can help get me writing with these lovely old antiques?
  4. I'll be visiting Paris in a couple weeks and thought I'd take the opportunity to scope out some flea markets for pens. I've read with envy about people in Germany and Portugal coming up with great finds, but how are the Paris markets for pens? Which ones should I go to? Are there any particular times of the day that are good? I'm not going in with wild expectations but am curious to see what's there... Thanks!
  5. Ok, so today my missions were to pick up some shellac for a Parker 51 I'm sorting out, and off to the stationery store for some paper ... BUT NO, I HAD TO DRIVE BY THE ONLY YARD SALE IN TOWN ! So I offer her $20 bucks on this pile of kindling, lug it home and surrender 4 hours of some extremely rare leisure time. I'd been secretly fantasizing about something like this since I was infected with FPinitis this summer, and now I'M hopelessly infected. The first pick is the "before" at about 11 this morning, and the next 3 are from about 30 minutes ago. Not anywhere near perfect, but with just the right amount of rustica via a few brads, some brass polish, some mild soap and warer, some mineral oil, a few rags, a brillo pad - I now have a nice setting for those moments of my malady. Im sorry the picture quality is bad, please forgive, time to go do the stalls.





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