If the DBMS does not have an encoding specified then SQLObject fails in col.py complaining that the 2nd parameter must be a string not None. This situation could easily exist in databases migrated from MySQL 3.x.
The solution seems to be to add a test in the 'from_python' method of StringValidator'. I put it after the call to getattr.
if dbEncoding == None:
dbEncoding = 'ascii'
Code was added via SQLObject-0.12.0-py2.6.egg