A determined amateur sleuth returned a rare Edwardian era fountain pen to its grateful owner after she found it on a wooden bench.
Gillian Stimpson, 59, and her husband Ian discovered the vintage marbled effect pen on the seat next to The Forge car park in Tring High Street and decided to set about trying to find who it belonged to.
Gillian, of Loxley Road, Northchurch, said: “We were going to catch the bus back home when we saw a leather case sitting there on the seat.
“We looked inside and found the pen, so we took it home because we thought it might have some contact details on it, but all it had was a reference number.”
The pair studied the red mottled Standard & Vulcanite fountain pen with a magnifying glass in a bid to trace the owner, but struggled to read the faint inscriptions.
Determined Gillian called Tring Market Auctions in case it belonged to it, but hit a dead end so she was back to square one. She posted messages on social networking site Facebook but that also proved fruitless – until she used the power of Google search.
Gillian said: “I typed in the name of the pen and this website came up. I clicked on it and saw the appeal for the pen. I called the number straight away and the owner came to collect it.”
Paul Baker runs Penworkshop, which specialises in the sale of vintage fountain pens and pencils, and sells items in both Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, and Wendover in Buckinghamshire.
A relieved Paul said: “I took the pen to Tring to show someone and as soon as I got back home, I knew I’d lost it. I really was quite upset, and I even went back to look for it twice but couldn’t find it.
“I was absolutely over-the-moon when I got the call because I thought it was lost forever. As a pen dealer, I have a lot of pens but this was one that I wanted to keep in my collection rather than sell because it’s more than 100 years old and really rather stunning. I think Gillian could tell how pleased I was to get it back.”
Paul, who lives in Aylesbury, believes the pen – made in the US between 1910-20 and worth £285 because of a 14ct gold nib – slipped out of his hand while he was walking quickly down the High Street to avoid a rain shower, and someone put it on the bench to save it being trampled on.
Gillian said: “We’re so delighted that the pen has been reunited with its rightful owner. It was no use to us and we thought it might even be a family heirloom, so we’re just happy it’s back where it belongs.”