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Do you prefer to buy your pens from pen shops/online professional sellers, thus paying a higher set price but getting a beautiful ready-to-write pen, or from other sources such as ebay or antique shops etc. where you might find an unrestored bargain? I realize that how one answers this would also depend on whether or not one regularly does one's own pen repairs.


Or combinations of all of the above?

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All of the above, but my best deals are from the 'Bay, with a few yard sale exceptions.

Edited by risingsun


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My appetite for risk, and the price are 2 important factors I think about when considering the balancing act you refer too.

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A bit of both... I like to do what I call 'scatter shot' on Ebay, where I put the same low-ish bid on tons of different newly listed pens. About 1 in 15 times I get ridiculously lucky ;)

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Do you prefer to buy your pens from pen shops/online professional sellers, thus paying a higher set price but getting a beautiful ready-to-write pen, or from other sources such as ebay or antique shops etc. where you might find an unrestored bargain? I realize that how one answers this would also depend on whether or not one regularly does one's own pen repairs.


If it is a used pen, this is a false dilemma. I studied the transactions of one specific pen model on eBay recently, when a member the forum made a false claim about what he is newnown for calling "Fleabay." I looked at eBay offerings and sales, and found most of the sellers are retailers. When you buy on eBay, you are protected in the event that a seller makes a false claim or a promise that they have no intention of fulfilling. If it's a new pen, i would buy from a brick and mortar store first, an online store second, and eBay third.

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In an ideal world I'd buy from B&M stores, or specialists. If I were buying a new special pen I'd do just that.


I'm currently just an opportunist hoping for a bargain on eBay.

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All of the above with the exception of pen shops [ I have not bought any pen from pen shops, only parts & supplies.

I live in Parker country so there are plenty of pens out in the wild to find. Today's picks at an estate auction picked up a P51 Vac coin stack cap, P61first edition cap ( needs new hood), 2 Sheaffer FP's P51 pencil & an Esterbrook J FP and some other none pen items.

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A combination of both.


Some pens aren't available from pen shops/online professional sellers and the only option of getting one might be ebay or auctions.

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To date they have been a combination of fellow FPN members, online retailers, and ebay. I have no brick and mortar shops near me.


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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I have purchased the majority of my pens from ebay or other online. The ones I did not purchase there, I purchased at either the Dallas Pen Show (usually the third weekend in September) or the Arkansas Pen Show in Little Rock (only able to go once, but it is a great show, even though it is small). Where I purchase depends very much on what I am purchasing. For vintage, mostly eBay or pen shows. For modern, mostly ebay, plus a couple of online retailers I trust (isellpens.com for one -- not affiliated). As far as B & M pen shops, aside from the Paradise Pen store in the Galleria in Dallas, the nearest would be a tossup between Dramgoole's in Houston, or Vanness in Little Rock. Either is a five hour drive. I have not purchased at Paradise Pens primarily because their selection does not appeal to me.


As a rule, I patronize local B & M stores when possible, even paying a slight premium in price.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

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For used pens I prefer to buy from well known sellers but I have gotten great pens on that online auction site for excellent prices. My favorite Montblanc, my favorite Parker 51 and my favorite Conway Stewart all came from that online auction site unrestored.


I have had bad purchase experiences from well known and well respected dealers, the FPN classifieds and of course that online auction site

Edited by Keyless Works
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I have purchased from all of the above as well. And like many have already pointed out, none is a certain deal. I've bought from eBay from lesser known sellers at great prices and found only a few things to clean up, flush, and write. Several Parker 51 aeros and Esterbrook Js have come into my hands this way. I've bought from several well-known restorers with incredible reputations, and some purchases have gone back for repairs. Luckily, my modern pens have worked right out of the box: Pelikan, Lamy, Platinum, Nakaya, Onoto, and Pilot.


My advice would be to spend time studying the pens you would like to have. Find the characteristics you are looking for, and then accept the risk for the purchase you'll make. Along the way, have some fun and realize it's a fun hobby.



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I have tried ebay a couple of times in the past, but my hunts are usually impaired by the fact I still know too little about many pens (and what prices one would consider reasonable for them), my general distrust of the way a lot of items are described and my sheer inability to ever land the highest bid ;)


So all my pens save some of my older Pelikanos/Lamy Al-Stars (which you can find in every shop selling school supplies over her) came from online retailers.

Edited by Zuzu
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about 80% of the 500+ pens i've bought and collected over the past 20+ years (half of them since resold) have come off ebay. i've been on ebay since 1997, and have had less than 5 unfortunate experiences, most of which (especially with today's guarantees) were satisfactorily sorted out. ebay works best for people like us (i'm in the philippines) who live far away from the world's major trading centers. in that way, ebay is a democratizer of sorts, evening up everyone's chances at getting what they want.


of course i also buy pens at yard sales, pen shows, and B&M shops when i spot good opportunities there. even the FPN classifieds have yielded me such wonders as an orange duofold centennial (yes, the big new square-topped duofold), practically flawless, for $175.


lately i've ventured into private auction sites (which allow for online bidding) outside of ebay, and have found gems like a montblanc oscar wilde for $450 and a 1970s MB 149 in great shape for $140 (plus buyer's premium and shipping).


if you're a serious collector, or someone like me in search of the best prices for the best pens, it would be silly to leave ebay out of the equation. the key to ebay is knowing your pens, knowing what the seller is selling, and yes, taking a certain amount of risk. i'd hate to see an ebay where everything was perfectly safe (it's actually pretty close to that, with the ebay guarantee), but where everything was priced at full value.

Edited by penmanila

Check out my blog and my pens

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Hard to find B&M stores that sell fountain pens. I've had good luck with ebay. However, my best auction buys were around 2011. Since then, I've noticed prices going through the roof. Could be what I am looking for, but I usually am not bidding on anything too exotic. The last two pens I purchased were 'buy now". I am getting too old to experience those last 10 seconds of a pen auction! :yikes:

empyrean Conklin,Stipula Pyrite, Bon Voyage & Tuscany Dreams Siena, Levengers, Sailor 1911,Pelikan M200, Bexley BX802, AoLiWen Music Notes pen, Jinhao's,1935 Parker Deluxe Challenger, 1930s Eversharp Gold Seal RingTop, 1940s Sheaffer Tuckaway, 1944 Sheaffer Triumph, Visconti Van Gogh midi, Esties!(SJ, T, and J),Cross Townsend Medalist & Aventura, 1930s Mentmore Autoflow, A bunch of Conway-Stewarts 84, Platinum 3776 Chartres Blue(med); Montegrappa Elmo (broad nib), Delta "The Journal" (med nib), Conklin Yellowstone (med nib)
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There have been some sellers of restored pens, who demonstrate "genuine love" for the pens. The product is excellent.

It has been a joy dealing with them. Two of the finest Esterbrook restorers are no longer available.


I prefer a vintage fp, put right by TLC.

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön !

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My first two pens I bought from FPH, both good pens (Aurora Ipsilion Deluxe, Lamy 2000).


After discovering FPN, I learned about the modern boutique/artisan pen makers in the US and been interested in them.


And then I discovered vintage pens and ebay.


I haven't bought from the vintage pen sites, but my expectation would be that such pens would be expertly restored.


I'd think that ebay seems more "risky" in the sense that you often don't know what you'll get with iffy photos and grandiose claims about "good condition, nice!" when they say they known nothing about fountain pens. But they know enough to search for past closing prices. And it seems to me that prices are going up at least for the pens I look for. But deals can be yet found for certain, even with the cost of restoration. Don't know why prices are going up as every week there seems to be a new batch of pens of equal quality.


There do seem to be good restorers on ebay, but I haven't been able to bid high enough for one of those pens.


Anyway just my inexperienced opinion...

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95% from Fleabay, 5% from known members on FPN.


I've never bought a pen on Fleabay that needed repairs. I did send my Wahl Signature set to Ron for a restore but that was More because I wanted a factory Stub nib installed in it and Ron does wonders with the Rosewood finish. I do work on the Esies and P-51 Aeros I get but that's usually just a good clean out and a polish. I did buy a cheap but pretty Parker Challenger to restore because I hadn't done a button filler yet. I 'spect I'll have to restore on of my TD Imperials one of these days but I am more often using the C/C Imperials anyway because of their CI nibs.


Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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