Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An inactive blog

These days too busy is good, right?

If so, I'm good, but no time to recount my adventures major and minor.

But I have been buying a ton of pens. Many are on the site, many are not.

Here's a listing of some of the new arrivals as noted on the webiste. If anything interests you, give me a shout at rickpropas@comcast.net:

The last few weeks have brought us a ton of pens, from new Pelikans (including a couple of black 100s) to a whole trove of Parkers, mostly not yet up on the site. Heading the list is a first year Parker 51set double jewel (of course) in black with the really uncommon wavy lined caps. Next is an extraordinary full size burgundy Parker Vacuum Filler, complete and correct with excellent colour. Not far behind is a sterling silver lined capped Nassau double jewel 51, along with a double jewel dove gray and alloy 51, and a gold filled black double jewel. The same lot of pens brought aerometric 51s in forest and plum as well as regular colours. It was a ton of pens. Heaven only knows when I’ll get these on the site.

In addition, there is a very fine selection of Pelikans, perhaps our best ever, up on the site. Check it out!

Next semester brings a reduced teaching load, some of that time will get taken up by Bonhams and some (I hope) by writing, but my great hope is to be able to grow the offerings on the site.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Washington DC 2009 SuperShow


The Washington Pen Show usually comes toward the end of my pen show year, after Portland and before Columbus. This year, because of our stay in England, it kicked off a short, modified year for me.

Along with Los Angeles, Washington is arguably the largest show in the world. If you are unfamiliar with it and/or interested in learning more, just follow this link to the show’s wildly eclectic website: http://www.pencentral.com/

This was my first show in nine months and it was great to see old friends and meet some new people, most notably Brian and Andrea Gray of Edison Pens, with whom I placed an order.

The show, itself was most excellent in every respect. I was able to put quite a few excellent pens into peoples’ hands and got to meet a couple of people whom I have been selling pens to, in person. I found more good pens, both for myself and for the website than I ever recall at any single show, and I had a great time.

My Washington show went on a day longer, as the Board of Directors of the pen Collectors met on Monday in retreat. It was a productive day in which we were able to assess the work of the last few years, define some mid-course corrections and chart our direction into the future.

It was a grand weekend.

Because of space considerations and baggage restrictions I did not bring along my camera, but in truth, images do not tell the story of a pen show, it really is more than a roomful of pens and people. I am presenting below a couple of images from previous shows taken from the show website and I am showing off my haul of pens, both for others and myself.


Some images of previous DC Shows taken from the show website.

These are the pens I brought home from the show. Over the next few weeks they will get loaded onto the site. Among the more notable of them are a yellow binde Pelikan 100, lizard Pelikan 101N, a tortoise 100N, a burgundy 140 set, nearly mint, in the pouch, a seagreen 400 set, an M605 in blue and so on. Among the more notable Parkers were Vacuum Fillers in silver stubby and in crystal and an ever-popular Premier.
These, however, are mine. The weekend yielded up two of the pens on my short list, an OMAS Paragon T2 Limited Edition and a bakelite Parker 28. I also scored a lovely Parker 25 1/2 and a delightful Italian nesun nome.
It was a rockin' weekend.

And next week, back to school. While I shall be happy to see colleagues again and meet new students, it will be the most difficult year in my career as a result of the severe budgetary cutbacks, pay cuts, furloughs, student dismissals, the lot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One More From Bonhams

Just another tease. We will also be offering a matching skeleton watch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Playing Around With the Camera

We're in the middle of another update on the site and to break the boredom, I'm playing around with some images that will shortly go up on the Gallery feature of the website. Thought I'd post them here first, with captions for those for whom they are not immediately recogniseable. (Does anyone but pen folk still read this?)
Pelikan 400NN, this took heavy photoshopping to come out even as well as it did. Maybe it was the black background, since I've had it easier shooting other transparent pens.
The 1964 Parker 75 Spanish Treasure Fleet started the mania for Limited Editions. The pen is made from salvaged Spanish silver, taken from the Anocha, an unfortunate Spanish Galleon caught and sunk by the Brits off Florida.
The OMAS Nishiji-Nuri, sprinkled with gold dust, another challenge to depict.
These Parker Senior Duofolds in the rare Mandarin colour are one of the highlights of the collection. Not only are they rare, but they are flawless, even the imprints are crisp and proud. I've used them a few times, not often though.
Parker 75 bicentennial, in pewter.
Pelikan 700/750, all 14 Karat gold pen and pencil. They are not a set, however, as the guilloche patterns do not match and the pencil is earlier than the pen, regular 750, 700NN.
Looking at it here, the rainbow capped 61s did not turn out so well. Capturing the stripes in the drawn metal is another challenge.
I think I did it better with these rainbow Parker 75s
The ne plus ultra of later Parker Vacumatics, made for less than a year in 1937, the so-called Vac Band. The Band featured the words Parker Vacumatic in high relief and turned out to be too expensive to manufacture. I need to do a close-up of the bands.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Tease

As many of you know, my daughter Anna (also known as research assistant and web designer) and I are writing the catalogue for the next big Bonhams Pen Auction in New York City tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 2009, just following this year's blockbuster New York Pen Show.

Just to tantalise, here is an advance peek at two of the pens that will be among approximately two hundred lots.

Part of OMAS's Exploration series, this 18 K white gold overlay pen celebrates the moon exploration. Only 69 of these were made, and the packaging is almost as spectacular as the pen.

In 1997 OMAS offered a series they called Legni Pregiati (precious woods), made of a series of rare and beautiful woods. I have one of them in my collection. Some lucky bidder will walk away with the entire series, number 8 of 500.

And here are a few more:
You can find out a bit more about the sale at The New York Pen Show website

Stay tuned for more information.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Not Just Pens

It seems like the roses this summer have been even more spectacular than usual.


Happened to look over at the corner of my desk while packing up some pens to go out to clients and noticed what I had been writing and playing with over the holiday weekend.

This is not to be boastful, but grateful.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Return to Bonhams

Those of you who read the blog regularly know that last fall Anna and I were involved in researching and writing the catalogue for a big sale of of about three hundred lots, comprising four hundred pens, mostly modern, ultra high-end, limited edition pens that took place in Los Angeles in February. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend as I was just starting the semester in England. But the sale was a big success, especially in these difficult economic times.

Well, to cut the long story short, what we offered was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. We still have another six hundred or more pens, including a number of the Chinese lacquer and very limited edition pens from large makers and small.

And, the sale was enough of a success that we are now planning and working on a sale to be held in New York in the fall.

So I thought that folks might like to see what we do to prepare for the sale and how we do it, basically following the process along from start to finish. I won’t be blogging the work every week, but will post entries as the process moves along. So here is the start:

The rear entrance to the building where we work
My colleague Ivan Briggs gave a far better name to what we formerly just called "the pen room." I'm not sure, though, who is in purgatory, us or the pens.
and more pens
Even after the first sale there are more than six hundred pens waiting
Tradition notwithstanding, we both work on laptops using print catalogues and books and online sources to create first the sales lists that will become databases that will form the core of our own catalogue for the second sale to be held in the fall in New York.
Here Anna examines a pen before including it in the first cut.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How I Do What I Do

In the course of my wanderings through pendom I have seen a number of workshops, from the exquisite workspaces created by Richard Binder and David Parisi to the creative caverns of Victor Chen, Jim Marshall and Osman Sümer. My own space cannot compare to any of them.

We like in a small house at the northeasternmost reaches of California’s Silicon Valley, where even in these hard times the smallest house can approach seven figures in cost. Moreover, my small office must also do its duty to my academic work, such as it is.

Therefore, pens, tools, parts, shipping supplies all vie for space with books, papers and the like. Thus all my pen stuff must be storable.

This includes my “photo studio,” which lives in a nether corner of the office tucked between bookshelf, inventory box, and file cabinet; and when it comes out it gets set up in the dining room, often to Sharon’s patient dismay.

Recently, I undertook the largest update ever to the site, one which is still going on. Despite the fact that my workplaces are so humble and disorderly I thought folks might like to see what goes on behind the scenes. So here goes a tour of the recent update, for what it’s worth.
It all starts on my desk, so to speak, with pens, tools and a database
Although with an update this big, stuff got stacked on my Parker pencase alongside the desk
At this point stuff is getting unpacked to get examined, go through the first testing, and to get catalogued. After being entered into the database, I begin describing the pens for the website
Further testing and cleaning

Here a couple of 51s get resacced, the one on th top is for a client and the double jewel buckskin will go to webmaster Gilly who has finally gotten the 51 bug.
A trio of 51 sets, the buckskin set is the only one still available at this writing. Both the Nassau and Cordovan are in new hands.

This is the "photo studio." Ninety five percent of the images you see on the website are done in this fashion. Until recently I used the 500 watt, blue 5600 K photolights, but those seem no longer to be available. Note that they are supplemented behind by little table top fill lights. Recently, for top highlights I have begun using a fifth light, the camera's own flash. It adds additional dimension and highlight. When shooting metal pens I leave it off.

I do use photoshop after the fact, mostly to adjust exposure, occasionally to sharpen. Sometimes to adjust colour when the camera misses, especially now that I have had to go to 300 watt clear incandescent lamps, at least for the interim, until I decide what new light source to use permanently. Like much of what I do, it's pretty primitive, but it works, I think

Here's where the "studio" lives.
And, when I have finished everything the pens will live in the portfolios, boxed pens in the tub. For pen shows, all this has to go into a suitcase that I can carry onto an airplane. Wish me luck. It's part of the reason I lift weights, so I can hoist the seventy pound suitcase into an overhead compartment on a Boeing 737!
After seeing all this, maybe no one will ever want to buy a pen from me again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The PENguin is Back!

As many of you know we have been closed for the past five months while I have been teaching and travelling abroad. I’m back, and I brought with me more than one hundred new pens. We now have our largest inventory of pens ever.

To celebrate, we are re-opening with our biggest sale ever.

For the rest of June and July there will be neither shipping nor handling charges on any pens shipped to the United States. Buyers outside the US will enjoy savings similar to those at home.

Purchases over $400.00 will enjoy a 10% discount.

Or if you buy two pens at any price, the pen of lesser value will be discounted 20%.

Also, watch for our new specials of the week, marked by a gold star. These pens, often, but not always, premium or limited editions, will be at significant discount. But only for a week. The pen of your dreams may become more affordable, but only if you visit often.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back to Pens

So, what did I get in England and Germany?

In truth some interesting stuff, most of it as you will see, for the website. It will be a few days before I can get all this stuff checked, restored as necessary, listed and photographed.

But for now, here are some teaser photos, not very good ones, yesterday was my worst day for jet lag, but here they are:

And, so what did I get for myself? Less than I did for you guys, but at least two were spectacular Pelikan finds, the short captop tortoise 101 and the three piece M/K/D tortoise 800 set. Before this one, which has a great backstory, there were no known tortoise pencils. So I am stoked. And there were a few English pens most notably an antique (read rmhr) Onoto 1850, a massive pen with a super nib. I also fed my interest in large German safeties with a RicLei number 6 and my fondness for Italian celluloid with a rosso verde large faceted “Duchessa,” which I think was one of many OMAS sub-brands.

The array of pens for the website
The Pelikans, most notably a yellow Pelikan 100 top left and a Magnum tortoise 100N. Bottom right, a wood OMAS and a LeBoeuf 6 set in jet and pearl.

Lots of interesting German pens top left and some other stuff
Parkers, including three DJ 51 sets, in cordovan, Buckskin and Nassau
This is a verrrry sweet three piece M30 in blue set in a designer case
An Aurora Jubilaeum
The M800 demo is the rarest of the rare, with the Spanish makings, but with an error. Only 19 of these are said to survive. At bottom an M750This is a tray of 140s restored by the Pelikan guru, Jürgen Dittmer
Mine, all mine, including a curious Ibis marked Pelikan Junior, the short captop 101, a lovely Carters oversize in blue, a couple of early swans, the Onoto,a rmhr Relief, the Duchessa, a lovely little Juska that needs some work, the Ric Lei and a Tibaldi Rosso Verde pencil, anyone got the pen? If so, you own me
I had a Nassau set, of course, but this last year 1948 set captured me
Sharon says the bird is ugly, but it's from the 1930s and rare, besides I kinda ike it. The desktop case will help me keep track of which early Pelikans I have inked. Better maintenance.
Well, that's it for now. I'm gonna ask that you penhounds refrain from inquiries for now until I can get everything going. Today, Wednesday, the jet lag seems to have lifted, but I'll need a few more workdays to sort stuff out.