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I'd been looking for something to store my growing pen collection in for a while but the boxes that I saw were either too small or too expensive. Then I came across an oak, 7-drawer cutlery cabinet at a local auction which was a bit bigger than I was looking for but seemed ideal for vintage pens. The date engraved for the original owner on top of the box was 1874. They took a lot of care when engraving brass plates in those days.



I stripped out the cutlery fittings and tried to make inserts to carry pens. However the inserts I made looked a bit crude and unprofessional but looking around I couldn't find any suitable liners for sale in the UK. Eventually I purchased some vacuum-formed trays from Gary at gopens.com in the US which fitted perfectly as shown in the photos. The liners are 12" x 16" and I have a few left for future projects. The drawers are graduated in depth, with the top four ideal for pens and the lower ones great for storage of ink bottles etc. Room for my collection to grow.



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"In my early days there were few schools to help us in the pursuit of learning.

If we wanted to climb, we had first to make our own ladders".

Benjamin Brierley (1825-1896),

English weaver and self taught writer/publisher in Lancashire dialect.

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Perfection & if only I could find one before it was stripped of it's cutlery compartments! We just don't see many of these old chests in the States; I was a "fool for flatware," prior to the pen & ink foolishness.............sorta like trading the devil for the witch.

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Thanks for all the messages on my cabinet. I'm pleased with the way it worked out. The cutlery had all been removed, before I bought it so I don't think I was destroying any "heritage". Probably a lot had been broken or lost in the preceding 140 years. It now seems appropriate to house vintage pens in an antique chest of drawers which is given a new lease of life. I have space for 48 pens (double rows, front and rear) in each of the top 4 drawers which totals 192. If I convert the bottom 3 drawers for pens I can probably get 2 layers which would make a total of 480 for the whole chest. Still some way to go yet but there's lots of time.......

"In my early days there were few schools to help us in the pursuit of learning.

If we wanted to climb, we had first to make our own ladders".

Benjamin Brierley (1825-1896),

English weaver and self taught writer/publisher in Lancashire dialect.

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  • 1 year later...

I know this is like two years ago, but can I say that I love this so hard that I've actually gone onto Ebay and purchased two chests to DIY myself. They are nowhere near as nice as yours, but such a great idea given the cost of pen chests and the slightly dubious quality of some of them.

 

Thank you for the inspiration.

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inkstainedruth

I keep looking at things like this, but haven't found anything that was affordable and big enough. Someplace I was recently I saw what I think was either a furniture salesman's sample or a child's toy dresser, and was very tempted. It had some deeper drawers at the bottom, but I wasn't sure if they were quite deep enough for most ink bottles.

I also saw a very pretty desk that had similar lower drawers, but it wasn't in the budget at the moment.

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."

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I keep looking at things like this, but haven't found anything that was affordable and big enough. Someplace I was recently I saw what I think was either a furniture salesman's sample or a child's toy dresser, and was very tempted. It had some deeper drawers at the bottom, but I wasn't sure if they were quite deep enough for most ink bottles.

I also saw a very pretty desk that had similar lower drawers, but it wasn't in the budget at the moment.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

I really wanted a set of map / architect drafting drawers but way out of my price range and then it becomes its own piece of furniture and I’d have to fess up to my husband about my pen habit.

 

There are some great pieces of furniture out there at junk shops and some really fun things to repurpose. I seriously considered getting an old sewing box for easy transport to shows and clubs.

 

How much space do you need, Ruth?

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inkstainedruth

Well, today when I was out and about, I saw a secretary hutch/desk in the window at a thrift store, and said "Hmmmm...." Of course I don't know where I'd put it in my house, or if the drawers would be big enough to fit all the bottles. Normally I don't really care for "colonial" style furniture, but the thing caught my eye because it was painted red. Of course I also have no clue as to what it cost....

Right now, I have a small Arts and Crafts desk flanked by a couple of 3 shelf bookcases from Pier 1. The ink (mostly) is in these nice foldout rattan covered cloth boxes from IKEA, but I can only fit 2 of those per shelf (and one shelf has to do double duty as a nightstand). The other bookcase also has some 24-pen zipper cases from Rockler (and I've got a sixth one on order, because they didn't have any in the store the other day -- in theory it's arriving tomorrow).

The current desk isn't *quite* wide enough to put a desktop blotter I picked up for cheap somewhere along the line a couple of years ago. It's got a fold up top, and at the moment the top has become a display shelf for various silly knickknacks, including the two small Pelikan pen stands I've bought, a mini "Lucky Cat" (battery powered arm :D), a FunkoPop Doctor Who "14th Doctor" and stuff like a rocker blotter (not that I actually really use the desk for writing). The top also has some smallish boxes on it because I don't really have a better place to put them; thinking that the ceramic Kliban cat Christmas ornament should really go someplace where it doesn't get knocked over and broken....
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."

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Try looking for a vintage spool chest. They were used in cloth stores to store/display spools of thread. I have found two and both are now pen storage. A medium size chest can store more than 250 pens.

Dave Campbell
Science Teacher and Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.

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Try looking for a vintage spool chest. They were used in cloth stores to store/display spools of thread. I have found two and both are now pen storage. A medium size chest can store more than 250 pens.

 

That's a great idea. Thanks!

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Awesome!

PAKMAN

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                                                 My Favorite Pen Restorer                                 My Favorite Brick and Mortar Store

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inkstainedruth

@ kestrel and shawnee -- I keep looking at those, but every one I've seen for sale is priced at far more than I can afford. :(

@ SpecTP -- the problem with the unit you show is that it appears that the drawers are transparent. That might be okay if you have the ink bottles in boxes, but some of mine don't come that way, and I like to keep them out of the light.

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."

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@ kestrel and shawnee -- I keep looking at those, but every one I've seen for sale is priced at far more than I can afford. :(

@ SpecTP -- the problem with the unit you show is that it appears that the drawers are transparent. That might be okay if you have the ink bottles in boxes, but some of mine don't come that way, and I like to keep them out of the light.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

Most of the spool chests I see are overpriced (for me) too but every now and then. One that I bought was missing some of the hardware which I replaced with matching stuff from Lowe's. The other had all new brass hardware and some cretin had glued psychedelic mirrors to the sides. That dropped the asking price dramatically and I was able to remove the mirrors. Appearance doesn't affect pen storage.

Dave Campbell
Science Teacher and Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.

fpn_1425200643__fpn_1425160066__super_pi

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@ kestrel and shawnee -- I keep looking at those, but every one I've seen for sale is priced at far more than I can afford. :(

@ SpecTP -- the problem with the unit you show is that it appears that the drawers are transparent. That might be okay if you have the ink bottles in boxes, but some of mine don't come that way, and I like to keep them out of the light.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

I like it transparent so I can spot the pen I want without having to open them all. Indoor light doesn't harm pens.. it's UV that you have to worry about, and you don't have to worry about that while indoor.

 

There is also this case from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074PMBXCS/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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A Smug Dill

I use an assortment of storage cases for my 'good' pens:

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To give you a sense of scale:

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I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know this is like two years ago, but can I say that I love this so hard that I've actually gone onto Ebay and purchased two chests to DIY myself. They are nowhere near as nice as yours, but such a great idea given the cost of pen chests and the slightly dubious quality of some of them.

 

Thank you for the inspiration.

 

Thanks for your kind words shawnee. I often find inspiration from the posts on FPN - People from all around the world with one common obsession and a million different experiences. Sorry for my late response to your post but I was on holiday in February and missed it. You've certainly prompted a lot of discussion since. I've also looked for spool chests here in the UK, but they've all been too expensive. I suppose that's why we keep looking for hard to find vintage stuff in the hope one turns up eventually at the right price? I hope you'll post pictures of your cabinets when you're ready?

"In my early days there were few schools to help us in the pursuit of learning.

If we wanted to climb, we had first to make our own ladders".

Benjamin Brierley (1825-1896),

English weaver and self taught writer/publisher in Lancashire dialect.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello all. I'm back. What did I miss?

 

Also, as promised, here's my pen cabinet that the husbot feels is large enough that it should have its own zip code. I call it Gertrude or Suki depending on my mood. I like the fact that I can add pen trays as I need to and it locks with a key. It is it's own piece of furniture so maybe just maybe I'd admit to the husbot that it's a bit on the big side, but I LOVE IT. LOL.

 

 

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