Where have all the good pens gone?

Talk to collectors who have been at it for more than a few years, and you'll be left with the frustrating impression that you've just missed the Golden Age, when fine vintage pens grew on trees.  To some extent, however, this reflects the truth: not that many years back it was relatively easy to find good old pens cheap at flea markets and antique stores.  But in a natural development, people caught on that old pens were worth money; with ever more books and price guides published and ever more collectors and dealers advertising to buy, those who do run across old pens are less and less likely to sell them off cheap to whomever happens to pass by.  Fine old pens are still coming out of the woodwork, but they are now finding their way into pen circles much more quickly and at ever higher prices.

Nonetheless, the opportunities for the farsighted collector are excellent.  Although fewer major pieces are coming out of attics, we are now in the midst of a change of generations.  Many older collectors are now slowing down and some have started to sell; quite a few old-time collections are likely to come onto the market in the years ahead.  The timing for the astute collector could not be better, in that the vast majority of newer collectors are still busy chasing the more common pens, while many of the more experienced collectors, seduced by the ease of trading online, are now acting less like investors and more like dealers -- chasing bargains, but only thinking in terms of immediate resale value.  In fact, when one takes the long view, pen prices are still very reasonable, especially in comparison to similar fields of collecting.  The important thing is to look forward and not back, and to come to your own conclusions about how to value the pieces that appeal to you.