Pen Grading

New and Pre-Owned Pen Grading

Every pen seller seems to have their own take on describing the condition of the pens they sell, but our main concern is to ensure that we are on the same page with our customers and have set the proper expectations. We try to give you enough photos so that you can make a good buying decision, but to a certain degree we do rely on words to rank pens relative to one another. We will try to be rigorous in applying these definitions, but we're only human and can't be expected to be 100% consistent. Besides which, sometimes there are mitigating factors such as a rare nib that will cause us to bump the rating up a notch.


NEW In original packaging from manufacturer or distributor. Complete gaurantee and paperwork. We have a traditional retail relationship with Sheaffer, Bexley, Cross, Ranga and a few other pen makers, and we choose currently available models to offer that we think our customers will like.

NEW OLD STOCK This is one of our specialties. These are pens which have never been used, never inked, and have been stored away for a good number of years. They are perfect, and write as-new. Since they were originally distributed in cheap cardboard trays, they sometimes don't come with original boxes.

MINT (Usually reserved for modern pens that do not require restoration.) No signs of usage, though possibly the pen has been dipped. If we know the history, we'll tell you. Just as new.

NEAR MINT One or two minor blemishes such as having been inked, or a small mark. The nib will be perfect and symmetrical with no sign of wear. You'll have to look hard to find the flaw. No cracks, chips, dents.

SUPERIOR This is a word we use for a vintage pen which is in rarely seen condition. Based on having seen a lot of vintage pens, we only use this word for a pen in stand-out condition.

EXCELLENT+ Almost perfect cosmetically. It will function as new, and show very very light wear only. Reasonably symmetrical nib, a smooth writing experience. Less than average wear. No notably dents, dings or scratches.

EXCELLENT No notable flaws other than some wear.

VERY NICE Average wear and light scratches, but no major flaws. Minor brassing, 1-2 very small dents, sometimes a tight cap lip crack but no barrel cracks. Some wear to the nib, but the tipping material is still evident.

USER GRADE While a good writing pen, its beautiful youth is behind it and the years are showing. Handwear or deskwear, some brassing, and possibly a cap lip crack. The tipping material may be gone, but the pen will still write well and be worth owning.

"SECONDS" These slightly-damaged pens are the by-product of dealing in new old stock that has been sitting in a warehouse for 40 years. Sold at a discount, they will have a bit of cosmetic damage but write perfectly. Sometimes the damage is in the form of a dent or a bit of pitting on a metal surface, or a scratch in the plastic. The perfect choice for the budget minded writer who just wants a great writing pen.

We spend A LOT of time on our descriptions and photos, so please let them help set the correct expectations.

Don't hesitate to contact Teri ( if you have questions.