So, you have come to the point in your fountain pen journey where it is time to start selling or giving away some of your pens. Maybe the nib was not the right softness or it was too broad. Maybe the color was not what you expected. Maybe it just turned out the section is too thin for your hand. Maybe you are not selling or giving away a pen but sending it off to be worked on by a nib meister. You can try selling or giving away your unused pens on the internet. Whether it be on eBay, Etsy, a fountain pen forum or social media, there are a few things you need to do to become a trusted seller/giver and shipper.
Early on in my fountain pen online purchasing experience, I would buy used pens on the Fountain Pen Network forum. Many transactions were perfect. There were a few duds but the one that sticks in my mind the most was when I purchased an old blue Esterbrook pen. The pen was packaged well. I removed the bubble wrap, opened the cap and it regurgitated black ink on my new khaki pants. Back then, I even knew that you don’t ship pens with the ink still inside them for the same reason you take precautions when flying with fountain pens. I messaged the seller, his response was a flippant “Don’t put fountain pens in your pants pocket.” The issue has popped up more than a couple of times and I thought it was time to do a blog post about this. It was apparent to me that this issue is rather common. I posted my frustration on Twitter after receiving a vintage pen full of some unknown blue sheening ink. The tweet received some attention and I knew I hit a nerve when it was retweeted by a couple of well-known names in Pendom.
So, here are the five things to do when shipping a fountain pen. Please keep in mind that the actual shipping services I discuss are based on shipping from the USA and will be different for your country.
1. Clean out the fountain pen.
This is probably the easiest but most overlooked. Empty the pen of all ink. Flush the pen with fresh water until the water comes out clear. If it is a pen you are comfortable taking apart, do so and get all the ink out of the feed. I’ll go over the feed with a toothbrush and soapy water to remove any ink residue from the feed. Look into the cap. See that ink? Yuck. Use a “q-tip” to wipe the inner cap. Clean the barrel with a soft cloth. In other words, take some care in cleaning. Your buyer/gift receiver or nib meister will appreciate it.
2. Dry the fountain pen.
This does not mean that the pen has to be bone dry. Do your due diligence by setting the pen out to air dry overnight. If you took the pen apart to clean it, the air dry process should be fairly easy. At the very least, put some tissue in a cup and place the pen nib down in the tissue so that the water will be wicked out of the pen. If you took the pen apart, put it back together for the new user.
3. Pack the fountain pen securely.
I don’t remember how many times I have received pens that have been poorly packed. Dropping the pen in a bubble envelope is not properly packing a pen. All it takes is one careless post office person to drop and step on the envelope for the pen to be trash bin worthy. The best way to pack a pen is to put it in some bubble wrap then that goes inside an appropriate length of PVC pipe. That pipe is placed in USPS small box mailer, taped in place inside of the box. I know not everyone is going to have some PVC pipe handy but I just wanted to lay out a best practice. I have received some pens in expanding plastic rectangular containers. I keep them handy for shipping pens. If you have the original box and paperwork, you can use that box placed in a USPS box to ship securely. When you shake the final packaged box, you should not be able to feel anything shift or shake inside. Use the included shipping box seal but also tape the seams of the box shut and add your shipping address information. Done.
4. Pick your shipping method.
I have been shipping items via USPS and it has worked for me. UPS and FedEx are going to be much more expensive unless you have a bulk shipping account contract. The small USPS priority box costs $7.15 to ship within the USA (walk in cost) and comes with tracking and insurance up to a $50 value, more insurance can be purchased if needed.
The package usually arrives in 2 days within the US but can take 6-10 business days for international shipping. International shipping rates for the same box start at $24.95 and go up from there depending on the country you are sending to. I believe the price is lower if you have preprinted postage and have the USPS pickup from your address but I am not sure of this.
5. Send a thank you note.
Admittedly, I do not always include a note. It has happened that I forget to pack the note in the box and have to tape it to the outside of the box. It is a nice gesture and I am trying to do this more often but sometimes I forget. It is also a good excuse to use your fountain pens.
Why not include some ink cartridges or an ink sample? How about some stickers or samples of paper. They fit easily in a Priority box and the weight is not a factor unless you are shipping international, so go ahead, include that bonus. 🙂
I hope this post is useful and thank you for reading. I want to thank reka24_ for allowing me to use her drawing and joka29_ for allowing me to use his photo.
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