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Deciding Which Pens to Sell

Posted in Fountain Pens

This seemed like an apropos time to share this post, with the DC Pen Show going on and other pen shows (hopefully) to come later this year. Lots of us sell pens to give us bigger pen show budgets. That’s probably why I’ve seen some posts recently wondering how to decide which pens to sell. If you’ve never sold a pen, the first one can certainly seem like a wrench. And the occasional posts about seller’s regret wouldn’t help that feeling.

I give my sales significant thought, specifically to avoid that horrible feeling. On the hope that it might help someone, I’m sharing how pens end up on my “for sale” list. I love being able to sell a pen to pay for a new one. I want to make sure that I’m very clear that this post is about how to choose what to sell once you’ve decided that you want to sell pens. It’s not about telling anyone that they should sell pens.

So how does a pen make it on my “for sale” list? Before 2020, the most likely reason was because I didn’t think through a purchase. I’d buy something because it was new and pretty or because pen peeps were hyping it up. Then I’d fall out of love with it fairly quickly. 2020’s financial constraints, however, made me seriously considder each purchase, and I’ve been doing my best to continue that.

Now, I find my “for sale” list comprised of pens:

  1. I’ve “outgrown”
  2. That turned out to be less awesome that I thought they would be
  3. That I choose to let go to get something even better.

My pen rotation is very useful for choosing pens in situations 1 & 2, mainly because I’ll find myself not wanting to ink a pen, or feeling disappointed when a pen comes up on the randomizer. If it happens more than once, I make a note. Three times, and it’s on the “for sale” list.

If there’s a pen I’m uncertain about selling, I “decommission” it for 2 or more rotations to see if I miss it. If I do, I keep it. If I don’t, and especially if I still don’t want to ink it after that time, I sell it.

I sometimes have to remind myself that, unless there’s some kind of emergency, I don’t have to sell a pen. Pens don’t take up a ton of space, and since they make me happy, they’re worth keeping. It’s also OK to keep pens for sentimental, historic, artistic, collectibility, or even just “cool factor” reasons.

There’s one other potential reason for not keeping a pen: disappointment. When I love the pen, but not the nib, I try to get nib work done. It’s well worth the money (as long as I’m not spending more than the pen is worth). But if everything about the pen disappoints me, that’s another thing entirely.

If at all possible, I return a pen that disappoints me. I’ve accepted that I’m not going to magically fall in love with it — and you won’t either, don’t lie to yourself. But, sometimes returning it isn’t a reasonable option. So I look to selling or trading it. Either way, I no longer hold onto anything disappointing. I turn it into something awesome.

So, there we go, how I decide which pens to sell. How do you decide? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Chris

    Oh this is very helpful — I love the idea of “decommissioning” for 2 or 3 rotations to see if we miss the pen. And it’s a good reminder that for the most part there’s no requirement/need to sell or give away a pen … I do have pens that I love for sentimental reasons even though they don’t get written with all that much. I’m at the point where I’m seeing the need to become a lot more intentional about pen acquiring!!! I have the thought that some of my starter pens I’ve outgrown can go to teacher friends who give out pens to students at times so I’m looking into that. Thanks for an awesome blog post! ~Chris Saenz~

    August 7, 2021
    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. Starter/beginner pens are perfect for gifting to spread the pen hobby. 😁 They can also be good for trading for friends who havent gotten to try them and are curious. Good luck with your intention-based buying. I have a post about my journey with that, too.

      August 7, 2021
  2. Brian

    This about the same way I decide. Sometimes I’m hesitant to let go of something because it has an issue and I don’t want to pass that on to someone else(even if I am completely candid about it), or Im not sure what to charge because of the issue. I’ve had a Visconti wall street celluloid for years. It’s super pretty, purchased used, But, the nib has always feathered really bad and had a lot of nib creep. I had the nib serviced and reground from a fine to an italic. It writes better but I just never reach for it because it still feathers. Maybe I’ll sell it at a steep discount with lots of candor. Thanks for the blog post I enjoyed it?

    August 6, 2021
    • Does the pen cause feathering when it writes (on the paper) or is it just ink creep onto the nib. Lots of people wouldn’t consider the latter a problem, so you would have to sell at too much of a discount. 😊

      August 7, 2021
      • Brian

        On any paper unfortunately. I don’t mind some nib creep but this can end up in the cap.

        August 8, 2021
      • Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve never heard of that issue. Perhaps something to post about on Fountain Pens Reddit to see if anyone has a solution? Either way, good luck!

        August 10, 2021

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