Collecting Vintage Fountain Pens: 5 Things To Look For
By Kym Moore

What’s so special about collecting old fountain pens? The craftsmanship of vintage fountain pens creates the essence of impeccable beauty and exquisite artistic value. Owning and using this type of pen revealed that the writer had discriminating taste. Today, the fountain pen is still a status symbol for the ultimate writing experience. It’s timeless!


Would a house designed and built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright stand out if it was plucked up and placed in the middle of a mobile home park? That answer would be a resounding yes! Why? Because Mr. Wright’s fastidious attention to detail in creating structurally unique and classic designs are masterpieces in the architectural arena, then and now. The same theory goes for acknowledging or collecting things you are attracted to and passionate about.

Like with any collectible, you want to make sure that all parts are present (cap rings, end pieces, etc.) to your fountain pens. Damage to the cap and barrel will affect the value, but can be restored by a professional, albeit costly. Pay attention when looking for any non-original parts, particularly the nib. The inscription on the barrel should usually match the inscription on the nib.

The qualities that make fountain pens valuable and sought after are:

1. Rarity - Perhaps the rarest finds are the pens that you may hear about, but will probably never see. Sheaffer made rare pens decorated with beautiful, highly stylized art nouveau swirls.

2. Size – The most desirable pens, in collecting terminology are large intricately designed pens. There are some pens based on their beauty. although not as large, are also desirable.

3. Workmanship – Pens that were decorated with intricate hand carvings, cupids, tree trunk designs or Japanese hand painting known as Maki’e work are typically the centerpiece of any pen collection.

4. Complexity of artwork – Filigree pens made by most companies, where the original designs depicted whirling lines in no particular forms, were based on floral motifs. After circa 1903 designs became standardized with patterns resembling sheaves of bamboo, paisley or leaf designs.

5. Presence of precious stones in the design – Pens that were made in the late 1930’s of solid gold and studded with diamonds around the crown were made and presented to heads of state. You will not likely find these pens on the marketplace.

If you would like to read up on and research some of the collectibles that you might run across in antique shops, pen shows or the occasional finds from swap meets, here are a few books that will be helpful:

• Fountain Pens: Their History and Art, by Jonathan Steinberg

• Fountain Pens: History and Design, by Giorgio Dragoni and Gluseppe Fichera

• Fountain Pens: Past and Present, Identification and Value Guide, by Paul Erano

• Collectible Fountain Pens by Juan Manuel Manuel Clark

• Illustrated Guide to Antique Writing Instruments by Stuart Schneider and George Fischler

One of the largest and oldest collector organizations in the United States is PCA (Pen Collectors of America). This organization maintains the integrity of pen collecting, promotes the use of fountain pens, encourages and promotes effective education and defines pen collecting as an international hobby. Writing Equipment Society in the UK is devoted to the conservation, study and collection of all types of writing equipment. Fountain pens are only a part of this group’s interests. A number of other national, regional and local clubs exist having regularly scheduled meetings for the pen aficionado.

There is a wealth of information on different levels, teaching you about the principles of collecting a variety of writing apparatuses and inkwells. The information mentioned above is just a tidbit of resources available to begin your journey into the fascinating world of collecting fountain pens. Have fun and enjoy the historical significance as well as lucrative benefits such a collection can bring.

Kym Gordon Moore has over twenty six years of writing experience throughout her corporate career, in various industries from fashion and special event coordination to marketing, public relations and sales. Her fascination with fountain pens is based on her love of creative handwriting, as well as the craftsmanship of these fine writing instruments. The website for the PCA is - The website for WES in the UK is

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