Where can I sell/trade my unwanted pens?

A big part of the pen hobby is experimenting to learn what pens you like and don’t like. And if you’re like many of us, you’ll end up with a bunch of pens in your collection that you like, but don’t love. In that case, you may want to sell off some of your lesser-used pens to free up some funds to buy new pens. But doing this can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Meetups & Pen Shows

The best way to sell pens is to sell them in person. If you have local meetup groups or a local pen show, that may be a good place to get started. This is especially true with higher-priced pens, where people want to examine the pen in person before plunking down the cash.

Online Venues

Selling your pens online is really the only option for a lot of pen folks. There are a lot of different places online to sell your pens, and each of them has plusses and minuses.

  • eBay – The world’s most common online auction site. You’ll probably get more traffic here than anywhere else. But eBay has high fees, and you have to be aware of / deal with fraud. A big part of eBay’s system is also their reputation/ranking system. If you’re a new eBay user, you’ll run up against people who are uncomfortable with bidding on your pens because of your low or non-existent rating.
  • FountainPenNetwork – FPN is one of the longest-running fountain pen forums on the internet. There is a ton of information on the site and many long-time users. There is also a place on the forum to list pens for sale. Unfortunately, to access the marketplace on FPN, you need to be a member in good standing and donate to the site.
  • FPGeeks – FPG is a more egalitarian answer to FPN. Access to the site is free, as is access to the buy/sell/trade sub-forum.
  • Pen Addict Slack – PenAddict.com has its own Slack room, including a #sell-trade channel. Access is by invite only. To get an invite, email hello (at) penaddict dot com or message Brad on Twitter @dowdyism.
  • Pen Swap Subreddit – Reddit has a few subreddits for fountain pen fans. The Pen Swap subreddit is specifically for selling, buying, and trading of pens.

If you do plan on selling your pens online, it is in your best interest to become known in the community before you list your pens. If you’re a brand new user, nobody knows who you are, and the very first post you make is for several $800 pens, people are going to be suspicious. Spend some time in the online pen communities and become a known quantity. Then when it comes time to sell, people will better know and trust you.

Giving Pens Away

Not all of your early fountain pens are likely going to be worth selling. If you have a $15 Pilot Metropolitan, chances are that it won’t be worth the work of photographing, listing, packing, and shipping the pen. In cases like that, consider giving the pen away. A few options:

  • Starting in 2017, the concept of a Pay-It-Forward table started at the DC Show. The idea took off, and it will likely continue on in some form in many future pen shows. If you’ve got an entry-level pen in good condition, consider donating it to the Pay-It-Forward table to help get a new user involved in the hobby.
  • If you work in an office environment, consider keeping your inexpensive pens around to give to people who seem interested in your collection. Stick with cartridges and keep the pen uninked, but when someone asks to borrow your pen, you can just give them one.
  • On many of the forums above, people often give away pens or ink they’re not using anymore.
  • Take your pens and ink to your local meetups, and give them to new attendees there.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have other ideas of how best to sell, trade, or give away your pens, drop me a line and I can add it to this FAQ!