Vintage Pen Condition Scale

A pen's condition largely determines its attractiveness to collectors and its price.  Condition is very important and tricky to describe.  We have developed this grading scale to provide a rational and objective guide to a pen's condition.
The description of each pen for sale contains a condition grade (for example B/1m or A2/1b). This describes both the pen and the nib grade.
Is it in working order?    All vintage pens go through our workshop and are fully serviced. Each one is tested and comes with our normal 12 month service warranty
Virtually all the pens we sell are in A2 or B condition

  • A1 - Mint (uninked)
    Shows no signs of use - possibly new old stock - mainly modern limited editions sealed in their factory boxes
  • A2 - Unused (Inked)
    Shows no sign of use other than having been dipped or filled with ink - this is usually the top condition grade possible for vintage pens as we test the filling system and the nib as part of the service. Many pens are ink tested for quality control before leaving the factory 
  • B - Excellent
    All parts original and showing only very slight signs of use: slight surface scratching; very minor discoloration or brassing; crisp imprints; no significant dings.  Most of our vintage pens fall into this category as being excellent, collectible examples which are also suitable for everyday use
  • C - Fine
    All parts original: some discoloration and brassing; light or worn imprints; small dings to metal or scratching on plastic.  Unless very rare, we would not normally advertise a pen in this grade.  A combination of discoloration and brassing, possibly a worn imprint or maybe other degradation of the material means that pens in this condition are seldom desirable
  • D - Fair
    Some parts possibly not original; significant brassing/discoloration; very worn imprints; dings and scratches. Maybe a good writing pen but probably better in the parts bin!

We guarantee that any pen we sell has no cracking or hairlines - whether repaired or not - unless we have described this in the pen's description.  Many pens (eg a Parker Duofold in mandarin yellow) might be excellent everyday writing pens even with a hairline crack - but we would describe this in the pen's description and price it accordingly.

Nib Condition 
1 - Nib is in excellent condition with no damage to tines or iridium
2 - Nib is useable with no damage to tines, some use evident on iridium
Nib grades
 are Extra Fine (xf) Fine (f) Medium (m) Broad (b) Extra Broad (XB)
Special nib styles are Oblique (cut at angle top right to bottom left); Reverse Oblique (cut at angle top left to bottom right);  Italic (cut straight like a wood chisel); Stub (ground flat on the end). These styles all give some variation of line width.