July 31, 2015

Canadian Collectors

[Posted on L&P on Aug 31, 2008.]
        I asked Stephen Overbury why he wasn’t chiming in, and he said that when he realized that not much was being said about the early Canadian group, he started to get angry.  He thought better of it, though, and decided he would stay in lurking mode and say nothing himself, but he decided, by his own admission, to put his “attention deficit disorder personality on hold” long enough to relate these stories to me.
        Stephen was another of those who attended some of the earliest pen shows in the US.  He recollects that one the first was organized by Lavin and Fultz in a small shop in Ohio, well before the Chicago race track shows.  Stephen began co-organizing shows in Toronto around then as well.  He had the help of Ken Rowe, the senior official who ran Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital, and a seasoned collector of postal items and other writing equipment, and Bill Gardiner, then president of Sheaffer Canada.  They started the first pen club in Canada, a thankless job to be sure.  Stephen was the first president, and they produced a newsletter of about 100 pages in total.
        At those first meetings a lot of rare pens showed up and collectors, Stephen included, didn’t realise just what they were giving up when they sold or traded them.  He remembers trading away his full size Conklin crescent filler Endura after a lot of pressure from an American collector.  Even Glen Bowen got in on the act of trading by mail up north, making one collector promise not to tell a soul that he had traded a BHR Sheaffer for that collector’s red hard rubber Waterman’s with a fine silver overlay!  Talk about being taken to the cleaners, eh?  He ended by saying, “There are likely about twelve or thirteen of us on the entire planet that truly care about learning about the history of writing equipment in some depth, as opposed to merely chasing it, bragging about it, and making a killing as the only goals”.  But that’s just a bit of Stephen’s usual hyperbole, the part about the 12 or 13, not the last part.

George Kovalenko.