Tim's Thoughts


As everyone on the Timsvintagepens email list knows, this end of May update is my last inventory batch produced during evenings and weekends. What happened? I recently retired from my professional position, so Timsvintagepens will be moving to the daytime! No, I’m not expecting to close up the shop and move somewhere warm…New York City is already warm enough and I love my shop. In fact, my expectations about the work that will happen here are growing steadily. 

First, there are numerous repair and restoration projects, from customers and in my Projects box, that have been waiting patiently for me to have the time and mindspace to think through carefully and complete. That 1920s Wahl metal pen with the beautiful flex nib and the collapsed pressure bar that I haven’t decided how to get out of the pen and repair is a typical example — there is a very patient customer out there waiting to get that pen back.  

Second, there are new frontiers to conquer. I’ve replaced cork on many piston-filled European pens, but haven’t really mastered the skill to the extent I’d like; the same with the Triumph-nibbed Sheaffer Vac-fill pens, which are tricky and need a higher level of patience and concentration to disassemble correctly than those with open nibs. Again, I’ve done them, but I’ve referred more out to other restorers, so it’s time to master those as well. I have safeties to restore, complex pressure bars to repair, and the rougher barrel cracks that need slow attention. The list keeps growing!

Finally, parts fabrication. My wonderful old lathe has been begging for attention, and I have numerous pens in that Projects box waiting for new parts. Some of these, the sac nipples and sleeves for cracked barrel threads, are relatively routine jobs for which I didn’t want to run the lathe during the night, but there is an early Parker gripping section from a super-valuable pen that needs to be copied in ebonite. That’s a job I didn’t even attempt while working all day — it needs to be drawn, then planned in operational stages, then prototyped in delrin to make sure it all works, and finally produced in ebonite. It will be a fun, exciting job that I’m looking forward to tackling. 

I’ll try to answer a couple of questions that are already coming in from friends who knew I was retiring:

Will I make new pens from scratch and start selling them? That’s a hard “no”. Creating something altogether new isn’t my interest or craft, much as I admire the wonderful, creative workmanship of Shawn Newton, Renee Meeks, and others. My interest is restoring vintage pens. That said, I do have an ebonite Varuna Vishal from around 2010, a large Indian eyedropper that I’m going to duplicate, just to do it. 

Will I produce more inventory more often?  I know the store’s shelves got pretty thin this spring, and fresh consignments keep coming in that need to get restored and sold. However, the quantity and sophistication of repair orders is also growing steadily, and I don’t yet know how all of this will fit in with the additional and more complex projects, much more machining work, cycling around NYC, and all the other things I’ve been waiting to do. I do at least know that producing periodic batches will continue as my production process. In the end, be assured that I won’t run out of inventory as I figure out the rest. Please feel free to let me know if you have questions or suggestions. It’s a big change in my pen practice and in my life, and I’m excited to see how it all unfolds!