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Latest News

Pen Buying Tips for Newbies

Jul 09 2011 01:06 PM | PointyThings in News

I know many of you on FPC have been collecting for years, but I often have new collectors contact me about buying a pen.

So here are a few tips for those newer buyers to consider when shopping for a writing instrument. And although I reference fountain pen, this advice applies to any writing instrument.

Ask Questions

If a seller doesn't provide the information you need to make a decision, don't hesitate to ask questions before committing to buy. Be respectful, but don't be afraid to ask about condition, size, nib width, etc. After all, it's your money being spent.

And while some sellers will gladly provide writing samples, others (myself included) see little value in such samples (especially when we have lousy handwriting that doesn't begin to demonstrate what a pen can do in the right hands).

Do Your Homework

If you want to learn more about a pen's history, poke around the web. A number of websites contain great information, including Fountain Pen Network (FPN), Richard Binder's website, and many others. Consult more than one website to develop a consensus.

Handle lots of pens at shops, pen shows, and at club meetings. Nothing beats hands-on experience, especially if you have an expert right there to guide you.

You should also research prices before buying. Search past auctions and sales on eBay, here, FPN, Pentrace, and other pen sale boards for prices of pens that have sold. Always keep in mind that model, condition, color, and other variables will have an effect on prices.

Keep in mind that the lowest price isn't always your best price.

Restored pens from well-known and respected dealers will usually sell for more money than an unrestored pen on eBay. You often get what you pay for. If you want a restored pen from a name you can trust, with a solid return policy and even a guarantee, you will usually pay extra. There are exceptions to this rule, but always check the reputation of the seller before buying -- especially if you consider the pen to be an expensive purchase.

If you are interested in a new, modern pen, but are scared by the list price, consider buying a used one in good condition. It's a lot like buying a recent model used car. Let someone else pay the premium on the new car smell, so you don't have to :-) That way, if it turns out you're not thrilled with the pen, you can often sell it for what you paid.

Be A Little Brave

No pen will perform the same for every person. How you hold the pen, the ink and paper you use, all will affect how a pen performs. Sometimes (especially when you buy online), you have to take a chance. I'm not talking about undisclosed problems (like damage or flaws), but how the pen works for you.

Some dealers (often dealers of new pens) have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, no questions asked. I'll admit right now that many of us who sell the occasional vintage pen can't give such a guarantee. I'll back any promise I make about a pen, including its condition and that it will write well when used by someone who knows how to write with a fountain pen (if I sell it as restored). But I can't guarantee that you will like the pen's weight, balance, tactile feel or other more intangible qualities that are personal preferences.

That's where it's up to you to do your homework and visit a pen shop, show or club and handle pens in person to learn what aspects of a pen you might like. And, quite simply, take a chance and try the pen. If you don't like it, come here and sell it to someone who might like it better than you.

Make Sure The Pen Gets To You Safely

This is a pet peeve I have, especially for eBay. Many sellers who don't know pens (and a quite a few who do), will ship a pen loose in a bubble envelope. Don't let them do it!!!!

Always insist that a seller packs the pen carefully in a box to protect it from damage during shipping.

Some sellers wrap their pens in tissue or other cushioning material and slide the pen into a length of plastic PVC pipe. They then pack that into a box or padded envelope. It's almost impossible for a pen packed this way to be crushed or bent. However, I've had pens packed in PVC piping and padded envelopes arrive falling out of the envelope because the sharp edge of the piping tore the envelope. I still prefer boxes.

Also insist on shipping insurance, especially if the pen is being shipped within your country. International shipping poses different problems and solutions which I'll get into in a future post.

Be Flexible (you, not necessarily the nib)

In the end, be prepared to learn and make mistakes. Your tastes will change and evolve, so don't approach pen buying like an exacting science.

Buy some pens, try them out, get rid of those you don't like (or learn how to fix and adjust them), and buy some more.

Most of all, have fun.

Post your thoughts and comments in the forum here.

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Trust Is the Key to Selling

Jul 05 2011 08:59 AM | PointyThings in News

I'd like to kick off the Selling Help area with a very simple post.

One of the fundamental principles in selling can be summed up as follows:

"People buy from those they know, like, and trust."

How can that apply online, on boards and other online communities?

Let's knock these points down one at a time.

First, how do people know you online?

People know you by your activity:
  • Do you identify yourself by name?
  • Do you post helpful tips and answer questions?
  • Are you friendly or grumpy?
  • Do other people recommend you through praise, testimonials, and referrals?
Much of this also contributes to being liked. These practices also help:
  • Participate in a helpful manner on forums and in all communications.
  • Answer questions in a friendly manner.
  • Deliver good customer service.
Lastly, how do you develop trust?

Everything you've done to be known and liked also contributes to trust. But you can do more:
  • Always provide large, clear photos of the items you're selling.
  • Provide accurate and detailed descriptions of your items.
  • Point out flaws in your items if they're present; don't try to hide them.
  • Be clear with your pricing.
  • State your terms of sale and consider offering a return policy in cases where your customer feels you didn't deliver on your promise.
  • Tell your customer how you'll pack and ship their items, so they arrive undamaged. (always pack in boxes or other secure packaging and let you customers know this -- no padded envelopes!)
  • Provide testimonials from satisfied customers (make sure to provide real names for credibility).
  • Fix problems. Work out problems with customers to their satisfaction.
Your online reputation is a precious thing. Always keep that in mind before you act out of anger, annoyance, or greed.


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Why Fountain Pen Classifieds?

Jun 30 2011 02:50 AM | PointyThings in News

First off, this site is not an attempt to replace Fountain Pen Network (FPN), Pentrace, the Zoss List, or any of the other fountain pen forums and mailing lists you might frequent.

It's a different creature from them.

The other pen forums were created for pen aficionados to share their knowledge and love of pens and other writing instruments. While buying, selling, and trading were part of these forums, it usually played a secondary role.

That's why I encourage you to continue patronizing your favorite pen forums. There's plenty to be gained by participating in your favorite pen sites--for you and the other members of these sites.

This site has only one purpose: To aid the buying, selling, and trading of writing instruments and related items, like ink, paper, parts, etc..

My primary goal in creating this forum is to give buyers, sellers, and traders a community marketplace. I'm a marketing consultant (who happens to specialize in online marketing-- go figure), so I pay close attention to online commerce venues. And I think the time has come for a pen site that focuses on the commerce side of the hobby.

I also have another purpose with this site: To help educate buyers and sellers, so both sides of the deal can benefit. So many "bad deals" could have been avoided by a little knowledge and preparation. You'll find the forums for discussing buying and selling under Community Chat.

And, although this site is called "Fountain Pen Classifieds," I decided to use a forum-style format for the listings, instead of a formal classifieds ad system.

Forum-style sales have worked well for other collectible forums (including FPN and Pentrace), so I see no reason to change that format. Plus, it has the added bonus of making the whole process feel more like part of community, rather than a cold and sterile place like eBay or Craigs List.

I plan to keep this site free for everyone to use for as long as I can afford it.

Active forums tend to be hard on servers, so I will have advertising on this site to help offset my costs of running it. This advertising will include Adsense text ads, plus tasteful banner ads for legitimate products and services (no diet, make money, or LowerMyBills goofy ads that insult your intelligence). I will also accept banner ads from pen-related advertisers. More details on how to buy ads will come soon.

Now it's your turn.

If you like what I'm trying to do here on FPC, here's how you can help.

First, I want your opinions about what you'd like to see as both a buyer and seller. I created a Board Suggestions forum under the Community Chat section for your feedback. If you have criticism about what you see, please let me know--and feel free to offer suggestions about how you think I can fix it.

Second, please tell as many pen friends as possible about this site. A sales site is only successful if we have plenty of buyers and sellers.

Third, use the site to buy, sell, and trade.

That's it for now.

Let me know what you think under Board Suggestions or leave a comment below.


Read story →    1 comments    -----