by Paul Erano
The following valuing categories are suggested by Paul Erano in his book, Fountain Pens Past and Present.
When one considers the value of a specific pen, several things should be given consideration:
- Collectibility - Brand name recognition is important and should be given consideration, but perhaps equally as important is degree of appeal a particular pen has to you, the collector.
- Nib Size - Big pens, especially those with large, quality nibs, are among the most collectible fountain pens. This is why nib size figures so prominently when valuing fountain pens. I agree with Erano, but of equal importance to me is degree of flexibility and ink flow. I prefer a flexible, wet nib over a larger, stiff nib.
- Color - What appeals to you? Some of my favorite pens are black, but most collectors will not agree.
- Cap and Barrel Material - The quality of materials chosen for pen making and deco are very important considerations for the collector and user of fountain pens. Pens overlayed with precious metals or made of the metals are usually worth far more to the collector than pens made of more common materials.
- Condition - The better the condition, the more valuable the pen. The following explanations give some indications of what is meant by the common terms mint/near mint, excellent, very good, good condition, and worn, and their corresponding values.
- Mint / near mint: no visible signs of use. The pen looks and functions exactly as if it were a new pen. Pens that are mint, especially when in their original box, and near mint pens can commonly command prices that are 50% - 100% more than pens in excellent condition and sometimes even much more.
- Excellent: few visible signs of use. No nicks, cracks, or wear on trim. Slight discoloration and professional engraving should not be considered a fault. All parts should be original, including replacement parts, which should be from the original period of the pen's manufacture.
- Very good: slight signs of use present, including minor surface scratches and wear to trim. Minor discoloration not a problem, but no cracks or nicks permitted. All parts, including replacement parts are original. Pens that are in very good condition are typically worth 33% - 50% less than pens in excellent condition. Earlier pens should not necessarily be penalized as heavily as newer pens because of their condition.
- Good: signs of moderate wear including minor nicks and scratches and wear to trim. Moderate discoloration of cap and barrel permitted as well as slight hairline crack to cap. Replacement parts, such as nib, may not be original but are comparable to the original. A pen in good condition is generally worth less than half of what it would be worth in excellent condition.
- Worn: significant wear including nicks and scratches that penetrate beyond the surface. Moderate to severe discoloration to cap and barrel. Trim may be worn, loose, or even missing. Hair-line crack to cap very evident. Barrel may be cracked at threads. Pens in worn condition are generally relegated to the parts bin and are worth only a small fraction of what the same pen would be worth in excellent condition. The most valuable or worn pens are those with large, intact quality nibs. Consider these nibs separate and apart from the rest of a worn pen, as such nibs are always valuable and in demand by collectors.