Last September, Janet and I made one of our once-in-a-while trips to the Springfield, Ohio Antique Show -- I think this one was one of the "extravaganza" weekends, with more indoor and outdoor dealers than you can possibly see in a day. Well, I suppose you could just jog past all the vendors, but what's the fun in that?
We contented ourselves to just enjoy what we could for the day and move at a relaxed pace. One of the people that I did get to see was my friend Judy, a dealer who is just a treat to talk to, with a great sense of humor and a keen memory for who likes what. She knows I like pens and pencils, so for years she has kept an eye out for me. Since she makes the effort, I always try to buy from her unless it's something I can't justify buying.
Well, this time Judy had a box of stuff for me to look at. Usually, the way this goes is she shows me things and asks me how much she should charge. I tell her, and then she asks if I want them for that. That puts me in a bit of a pickle, because I want to be fair to her, I want to buy from her, I know she's relying on me, but I know that I'm pretty much naming my price when she asks me.
This time was no different. The box that she had was mostly pens, a few broken Sheaffers, some newer pens, and a couple pencils -- nothing that would go in my collection. She asked me what I thought, and I was truthful with her and told her it didn't look like there was anything there for my collection, so all I'd be willing to pay was "X" (numbers omitted to protect the innocent). As usual, there was no haggling and the deal was done. I tucked the box under my arm and we moved on.
As I was sorting through them later, though, I found out this one was in there:
Holy cow - a Parker 51 demonstrator, that was worth several times what I had paid Judy for the whole box! I knew right then I wouldn't sell this pen, because I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror making that kind of a profit off of Judy. So I made the decision that I would restore this one and keep it.
At the Ohio Pen Show last November, Rich Lott had the correct cap (nice as the "squiggle line" gold filled cap is, it didn't belong on this pen), and I let Bruce "51 Guru" Mindrup put in a new vacumatic filling unit (I was afraid I'd crack the barrel if I tried). So the finished pen looks like this:
I've got thousands of pencils and just a handful of pens in my collection, and this is one of them. It's cool as heck, but it just doesn't fit in with my collection. All the other pens in my collection are there for a reason -- some tie-in with pencils that makes sense. This one I've held onto solely out of guilt.
Until last weekend, that is, when Bruce Mindrup showed me this while we were having dinner at Ram Steakhouse in Chicago:
I told him if he was ever going to sell it to let me know, and before dinner was over he told me what he would want for it and I paid it without question. This is one of the cap-actuated repeater pencils, and the lower barrel is in very good condition -- so good, in fact, that my camera is having a difficult time focusing on the innards:
Since Bruce worked on my 51 pen, he knew the story behind it, so when I thanked him after dinner for selling the pencil to me, he simply said "It's where it belongs."
I couldn't agree more. The Parker 51 pen at last has a great reason to be in my collection!