Transportation: How to Ship Pens

(This page revised November 12, 2012)

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There are as many ways to ship pens as there are pens. Some of them are safe, and some are not. Even if in the past you have sent or received pens that were shipped in a risky manner but not damaged, this is no assurance that the next pen you ship that way will reach its destination without damage. This page gives you guidelines based on our more than 10 years of shipping and receiving pens commercially.

Because we are in the United States, much of the information here is more or less specific to the U.S. You should adapt it to your own needs, always bearing in mind that a $50.00 pen is more valuable than the $2.00 you might save by shipping it too cheaply.

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YOU SHOULD NEVER SHIP PENS WITH INK IN THEM!
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When you ship a pen with ink in it, the pen frequently arrives at its destination with the ink all over the outside. This can damage the pen permanently! Always empty and flush your pens before shipping them.

Typical DHL package on arrival You should feel free to ship your pens by the method that gives you the greatest confidence — but we recommend that you avoid DHL because in our experience, packages shipped via DHL arrive almost invariably in the condition illustrated to the right. We recommend that you ship pens with insurance for full replacement value.

IMPORTANT: in case the outside address should become obscured, you should include inside the package a slip of paper with your name and mailing address, along with the recipient’s name and mailing address. In general, and especially given the proliferation of shipping services such as The UPS Store, the return address outside the package, even if it is present and legible, is not a reliable indicator of where things that are to be returned to you should be sent!

Inadequately packed pens can, and sometimes do, suffer irreparable damage in transit, as shown here:

Inadequate packaging Remains of inadequately packaged pen

Pack your pens in a box, not merely a padded envelope. Use plenty of bubble wrap, plastic “peanuts,” or other protective materials. Sections of PVC plumbing pipe protect pens well, but the pens should be padded within the pipes so that they cannot bounce around. Note, however, that because pipes can apparently be mistaken for bombs when scanned in an X-ray machine, we recommend specifically that you not use pipes in international shipments.

Do not create “mummies” by wrapping lots of tape around your pens! The additional tape does not increase the protection of the pens, and it is very difficult to remove such packaging without damaging the pens.

Presentation boxes are not usually a good way to pack pens because many of them do not hold the pens securely for shipment. Also, note that pipes and presentation boxes add significant weight. Particularly valuable pens should be sent via Registered Mail. Except for Registered Mail, which provides its own assurances of security and receipt at the delivery address, purchasing Delivery Confirmation (U.S. Postal Service) can help in tracking lost packages, and purchasing Signature Confirmation will ensure that your package cannot be left at the delivery address without the knowledge of someone there. If you are not in the U.S.A., please ask your local postal authorities for advice on the best way to ship your pens to the U.S.A.

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