I have been collecting, researching, and restoring vintage fountain pens since 1974, when my dad and I bought our first baggie of pens at an antique store on the way home from our summer vacation in New England. I have a collecting focus on the Sheaffer Balance line, which was in production from the late 1920s through the early 1940s, and I also seek early hard rubber fountain pens from many makers, along with anything else that catches my interest.
I do a good deal of research into the history of fountain pens, and I’m drawn to the puzzles and mysteries of the field, so many of my articles are about discovering the truth behind some long-obscured story, or making connections that satisfyingly explain how things came to be how they are. The question that lies at the core of many of my investigations is simply, “why?” Why did something happen in the way that it happened, at the time that it happened? What forces and circumstances interacted to produce a particular pen design, or a particular attribute of a pen (such as a color or novel filling system)? Why then, why that maker, why that price, or name, or size? These “whys” are what I chase, and I find they often point me in the right direction to arrive at a deep enough understanding that I can start to unravel the mystery I’m examining.
I’ve been performing pen repair and restoration since I was 12 years old, and I currently specialize in dent repair and refinishing for Parker “51” caps, though I also perform a variety of other restoration services. In addition, due to my distaste for having to make do by re-purposing tools used by other professions, I have designed and fabricated a fair number of my own pen repair tools, and I occasionally offer these for sale. I have a reasonably well-equipped machine shop for small-scale work, which allows me to handle certain types of pen repairs as well as to craft precision tools when required.
I do not consider myself a pen dealer, but from time to time I do offer items for sale. These are often simply pens that catch my eye as being solidly made, eye catching, and possessing quality nibs. I tend not to compete with other dealers when it comes to the best-known pen brands and models; rather, I just acquire what I like, and I pass it along, with an emphasis on hard rubber pens with flexible or responsive nibs and implements displaying interesting celluloids and body shapes, regardless of maker. Rather than sticking to any “Big Four,” I tend to gravitate to the “Small 1,000,” whose pens can elicit a very different kind of pleasure. I usually offer pens cleaned up but unrestored, as many collectors prefer them that way, and even those who intend to write with their acquisitions might want to have the pleasure (and economy) of repairing them.
If you’re looking for something in particular, send me a note; I might not have it in hand, but I have a good network of contacts in the hobby, and I might be able to locate that special pen for you.