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TwelveDrawings

Time to win against the bad guys....or at least fight a faker.

 

Picture yourself in a department store, fine writing shop, collectibles show, or swap meet. Someone hands you a fountain pen and tells you it is brand new. Under the brilliant halogen lights, the pen shimmers like a glossy new car. But something starts to bother you. A little voice starts to nag you, "Is this pen REALLY new?"

 

Okay, put on your detective's hat. What are the telltale signs that a pen has been used?

 

• Ink residue anywhere -- OK, that's pretty basic

 

• Scratches visible on the body or cap -- I can spot those

 

• A nib with uneven tips -- I might need a magnifier for this

 

What else have your experiences taught you to look for? Step up and strike a blow against FP fakery.

 

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I would call a pen new when it is dipped in ink. I ask for sample writing myself, so I can hardly put the shopowner to blame to offer the same service to others. Ink inside a pen is a different matter....

 

Uneven nibs: they can and DO occur in new pens. I always check when buying, although not with a loupe in my favourite B&M shop. When going to a penshow I do take my loupe.

 

Heavy scratches: yes, that is a sign of use.

 

Brassing: no, that can happen even on NOS pens after a certain time exposure (light, handling, the occasional dusting off...) in a shop.

 

If a private person tells you the pen is unused he should have a pretty convincing story....

 

 

D.ick

~

KEEP SAFE, WEAR A MASK, KEEP A DISTANCE.

Freedom exists by virtue of self limitation.

~

 

 

 

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TwelveDrawings

I would call a pen new when it is dipped in ink. I ask for sample writing myself, so I can hardly put the shopowner to blame to offer the same service to others. Ink inside a pen is a different matter....

 

Uneven nibs: they can and DO occur in new pens. I always check when buying, although not with a loupe in my favourite B&M shop. When going to a penshow I do take my loupe.

 

Heavy scratches: yes, that is a sign of use.

 

Brassing: no, that can happen even on NOS pens after a certain time exposure (light, handling, the occasional dusting off...) in a shop.

 

If a private person tells you the pen is unused he should have a pretty convincing story....

 

 

D.ick

D.ick, if you don't mind, educate me on what "brassing" is. Discoloration of metal or plastic parts due to over exposure to sunlight? I appreciate any info you'd care to share. -- T.D.

 

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I have never purchased (face to face) a fountain pen from a shop or pen show so cannot fully answer this Q. All my pens have come via the internet either stated as new, NOS, used or abused. I have taken them at face value. In most cases they have been as described or close to it considering most sellers/owners know very little about pens even though they may have had it years. Any that have been way off target have either been returned to the seller or contested through the auction site (I think 3 in total).

 

I believe there is another side to the 'has it been used' question. Sometimes there is a difference between a pen having been dipped to it having had a loaded cartridge or converter installed. I personally would rather a pen had been fully tested before buying it, after all we have heard of cases where a converter will not fit into the pen or it leaks once installed. It's better the shop finds this out at first hand. Either way once ink is on the nib, fully removing it before placing it back into the display is, IMHO, not possible by the shop staff. They would have to soak it or even use ultrasonics to take it back to 'as new, unused' condition....in the eyes of the next viewer that is.

 

If I may answer your Q aimed at D.ick, Brassing is the showing through (the plating) of the base metal.

Edited by Force
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  • 2 weeks later...
TwelveDrawings

I can see the point that "new" pen may have been dipped for testing purposes while in the retail store. So, if ink residue around the nib doesn't betray a used pen, what does? From examining my own motley collection of new and used Waterman Phileas FPs, I have two observations to share.

 

1) On a truly used pen, the recess in the cartridge end of the grip will show irridescent or rainbow discoloration. What I am calling the grip has the nib/feed at one end and receives the cartridge at the other. The cartridge is pierced by a tiny tube called the nipple. Apparently, enough ink spills in this area to leave a permanent trace. While extensive soaking and ultra-sound baths must surely remove much of this residue, I saw visible signs of it in every used pen I own. I suspect it stubbornly stays there because the crevice is too tiny for any cleaning implement (i.e., a Q-tip cotton swab) to delve into.

 

2. On a truly used pen (at least on the Phileas), a scratchy haziness is quite visible beside the gold "cigar band" on the barrel (located near the "butt" or non-writing end of the pen with the cap removed http://nopenintended.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/waterman-phileas-fountain-pen/). This scratching is obviously caused when the cap is repeatedly "stored" on the butt of the pen. I'm no expert, but the plastic on a Phileas doesn't seem very scratch-resistant so the haziness is difficult to prevent. For me, that's a dead giveaway of a truly used pen.

 

Any other Sherlock Holmes clues out there?

 

---www.TwelveDrawings.com

Edited by TwelveDrawings

 

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Compelling evidence this pen has not been used since leaving the factory...IMHO if its not factory sealed then it could be used.

 

fpn_1378874822__dscn0189.jpg

Edited by Force
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The inside of the cap is probably the thing that shows more wear. To the user is unimportant, but it is a good telltale to check if a pen was really used -not just tested- or not.

“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.” - Sir Richard. F. Burton

 

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-snip-

 

What I am calling the grip has the nib/feed at one end and receives the cartridge at the other.

 

-snip-

 

Any other Sherlock Holmes clues out there?

 

---www.TwelveDrawings.com

It is better known by the name section. The back part is the barrel. And you have met cap, I presume?

 

Sorry, I'm no Sherlock. I have learned that no tests are 100% conclusive.

There's always an error margin.

 

D.ick

~

KEEP SAFE, WEAR A MASK, KEEP A DISTANCE.

Freedom exists by virtue of self limitation.

~

 

 

 

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TwelveDrawings

It is better known by the name section. The back part is the barrel. And you have met cap, I presume?

 

Sorry, I'm no Sherlock. I have learned that no tests are 100% conclusive.

There's always an error margin.

 

D.ick

Quite so! It is elementary when you put it that way. - TD

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
TwelveDrawings

The inside of the cap is probably the thing that shows more wear. To the user is unimportant, but it is a good telltale to check if a pen was really used -not just tested- or not.

Carlosviet, Would you say some more about this? Where do you look inside the cap? Near the open end or waaaaay down inside the closed end. Do you look for scratches, ink stains, or something else? Thanks for any insight you can share. -- TwelveDrawings.com

 

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Carlosviet, Would you say some more about this? Where do you look inside the cap? Near the open end or waaaaay down inside the closed end. Do you look for scratches, ink stains, or something else? Thanks for any insight you can share. -- TwelveDrawings.com

 

Wherever that particular pen's cap frictions with the section. That's usually near the open end, but it could be just a little deeper. Just look for friction marks.

“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.” - Sir Richard. F. Burton

 

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Wherever that particular pen's cap frictions with the section. That's usually near the open end, but it could be just a little deeper. Just look for friction marks.

that only means the cap has been on and off...the pen may never have been filled and used.

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PeterPenPencil

Sometimes a New Old Stock pen, having been many years without use, develop defects proper of long term storage. If the pen has o-rings or any plastic part, the plastic can be very fragile or cracked on some spots. All matter has movement of atoms, and an old nib can be misaligned even if it was never used. My experience with every NOS that I have purchased is that the nibs were not working as they should. But the problem is not so bad as if someone has tampered with the nib. I had to learn to fix the nibs by myself because the pens were old Sheaffer fountain pens. They are now in my collection and I use them regularly. I don't care about an old pen if the pen is working fine or if the pen has some minor defects. But my preference is for new pens. An old pen can look good, the only problem would be that the nib does not work. Many new pens also come with bad nibs. I also order my pens through eBay. I have many outstanding sellers whom I trust to buy regularly from them. Although purchasing a defective pen is something very common, almost all the time my purchases have been excellent.

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