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#1 Inflection

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 20:20

I think this is an under-explored topic, but strangely critical if we're talking about collecting. To put it concisely,
 
Where is the soul of your pen?
 
We all know (well, most of us know) that pens don't have actual souls. But the question is extremely important because it always shows up in our buying habits, and has an extreme influence over the price of a particular pen. So, with no further ado, let's explore this question...

 

When is a pen no longer the same pen?

 

People speak fondly of the pen that they've had their whole lives. There was that one time they dropped it on the nib in college, but they got the nib replaced by graduation. Then their fiancé cracked the finish, so the barrel got swapped for an identical one before the honeymoon. Then they replaced the ink sac after one of their kids broke it while playing with the pen, and they got a new collector along with it that works much better than the old one.

 

When did the pen stop being the same pen? When the first part was replaced, when the last part went, or somewhere around the body being swapped? Yes, people are inclined to wax philosophical and say that the pen was in their hearts, but that's not how act when you've got your wallet out and are looking to buy pens. Originality is an important thing to collectors, one of those vague abstracts like "nationality" (where the pen was made) that often has no bearing on the pen itself but rather on how you think of the pen. What if you found out your prized vintage 1921 Parker Duofold was actually made in China in 2013? Are you going to argue that it doesn't matter to you, the pen is in your heart? (Where that fat wad of cash you paid also resides?)

 

The same thing goes for "first year" pens, or a pen that was owned by a famous person, etc. Do you never harbor that secret doubt, that your pen is not what you think it is? Or, even if it is what it is, do you ponder why things like "this pen signed the WWI armistice" translates to a certain monetary value? When you get the pen in the mail, is it not just another pen? If you had no-one to impress with it (except Frank the mannequin, from I Am Legend), would it even have any value beyond its immediate practical use? Or do we, in a sense, pay extra for social gravity?

 

$(KGrHqFHJEIFIBW6N32QBSC4ZGwTC!~~60_57.J

100% Original 1910 Montblanc Simplo #0 Baby, on eBay

Price: $29,999.99 as of this Saturday

 

 

My thoughts...

 

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, I just merely want to stimulate discussion on a topic I find fascinating. Switch the cap on a vintage pen, is it the same pen or not? Or is it exactly 31% less the same pen? Are we concerned with preserving the "original" molecules, or is the design itself what is valued (as when vintage pens end up with parts from practically every year in the 20th century, or even modern replacements made in someone's garage). What if your pen never was presented in the Empire State Building, like you thought it was, and paid for accordingly? Why are perfect (indeed, even improved) replicas often sold for a fraction of the "older" pen's value? We obviously care about these things (shattering a pen from 1899 can devastate our soul), but we never investigate what's really at the root of our collecting. Let's really break it down... Since we treat our pens like children, and there is an obvious emotional component to collecting, what do we actually value? Function, Form, Fame, or History?



#2 orfew

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 20:42

Sometimes a pen is just a pen and sometimes...


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#3 Mr5x5

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 20:45

Interesting question?  Kind of like my grandfather's axe that I replaced the head on once and the handle twice.  Afraid I having nothing to add to the discussion though because I don't collect them, just use them to put ink on paper more comfortably than with a skinny ballpoint.



#4 The Journeyman

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 21:33

So often with a musical tune its a particular riff that sticks with us, a memory that is like a hook other things hang upon. I suspect its something similar with our pens. Apart from the pleasure of the writing experience which itself creates memories for us and which I have written about elsewhere, more often than not a favourite pen has memories associated with it: it belonged to a loved one or was a gift from someone special or commemorates a certain occurrence in our mind. They say our soul is composed of our mind, our will and our emotions so when you talk about the soul of a pen its surely something that is fixed in our emotions. Its soul and ours united in memories and in association. That being the case the replacement of some, even many, of its component parts will not alter its association for us. Its soul and ours are still united.

#5 jar

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:06

Huh?


How pierceful grows the hazy yon! How myrtle petaled thou! For spring hath sprung the cyclotron - How high browse thou, brown cow? -- Churchy LaFemme, 1950

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way suffers a severe handicap. -- jar

The last pen I bought will be the next to last pen I ever buy! --jar


#6 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:47

It's easy to say "it's just a pen", but because of an emotional (if irrational sometimes) attachment we have with it, it isn't "just a pen" anymore. 

 

Maybe it is that first fountain pen, or one that came to you as an heirloom from a family member now deceased. Or the first from that particular maker. One I lost back in January, I still miss. It wasn't expensive, (~$50) and it wasn't my first pen.(#2) But it was a favorite. Problem is, to replace with a used one would cost 3-4 times what I paid for it new in the late 1990's. And I am not willing to do that. If I am going to spend up to $200 for a pen, it will be something else.


Edited by Runnin_Ute, 07 June 2014 - 22:47.

Brad "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling

"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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#7 Inflection

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 23:24

It's easy to say "it's just a pen", but because of an emotional (if irrational sometimes) attachment we have with it, it isn't "just a pen" anymore. 

 

Maybe it is that first fountain pen, or one that came to you as an heirloom from a family member now deceased. Or the first from that particular maker. One I lost back in January, I still miss. It wasn't expensive, (~$50) and it wasn't my first pen.(#2) But it was a favorite. Problem is, to replace with a used one would cost 3-4 times what I paid for it new in the late 1990's. And I am not willing to do that. If I am going to spend up to $200 for a pen, it will be something else.

 

No, I'm not just saying "it's just a pen." I have the feeling people aren't reading my original post, serves me right for rambling on for that long.

 

I'm asking collectors what part of the pen is important to collect, for example, if the nib and inner body are there but the outer body, inc sac and feed have been replaced, is it the same pen? Or is a pen with a replacement nib, replacement inner body but the same outer "shell" considered the same pen?

I'm just curious as to what we are collecting when we get right down to it. When does that "family heirloom" pen you mention stop being that pen? Like, if you slowly replace one part at a time, until none of that pen was ever touched by your family member... I'm just exploring the nature of our hobby.



#8 jar

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 23:40

 

No, I'm not just saying "it's just a pen." I have the feeling people aren't reading my original post, serves me right for rambling on for that long.

 

I'm asking collectors what part of the pen is important to collect, for example, if the nib and inner body are there but the outer body, inc sac and feed have been replaced, is it the same pen? Or is a pen with a replacement nib, replacement inner body but the same outer "shell" considered the same pen?

I'm just curious as to what we are collecting when we get right down to it. When does that "family heirloom" pen you mention stop being that pen? Like, if you slowly replace one part at a time, until none of that pen was ever touched by your family member... I'm just exploring the nature of our hobby.

 

HUH?


How pierceful grows the hazy yon! How myrtle petaled thou! For spring hath sprung the cyclotron - How high browse thou, brown cow? -- Churchy LaFemme, 1950

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way suffers a severe handicap. -- jar

The last pen I bought will be the next to last pen I ever buy! --jar


#9 Mardi13

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 00:14

I find the fact that anyone brought this up just fascinating.

As a musician (violist) who has a very physically intimate relationship with instruments, I can relate to this concept. As musicians we bond very closely to our chosen instruments, because they feel right, sound the way we imagine they should, and enable us to translate our most intimate emotions through them into something understandable (we hope) to others. As players we literally embrace them every day. Often the ones we end up partnered with are not the ones we expect. This bow doesn't feel as wonderful in my hand as the other, but it makes my viola sing. This viola isn't as beautiful cosmetically as many others that made me lust after them, but it connects to my inner voice and speaks for me. Sometimes instruments are not all original, and that might detract from their monetary value, but not from their sound or, as the OP would have it, their souls.
I am not at all sure whether or not I believe that instruments have souls, but they enable us to find and express our own. Many have enabled hundreds of people through their (the instrument's) lives to communicate without words, and perhaps have thus absorbed some of that soulfulness themselves. My bow was made in the time of Mozart - it could have played at a Mozart premiere. That is in its DNA now, or its "soul." Could not pens be thought of in the same way, original parts or not?

#10 Freddy

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 00:56

Perplexafied.....Perhaps{?} fountain pens are 'just plain fun'....

Even when we 'write stuff that didn't end up making much sense'..

sorta like 'just signing your name over and over'....

 

For your consideration two short es-say from Doc Eye....

First up one on Collecting....

http://www.vacumania...ucationuser.htm

 

And on Grading....

http://www.vacumania...radingessay.htm

 

At the moment writin'..obstropolous..obstreperous....

 

 

Fred

It's keen..No...it's greater than keen...it's cougat....

~ D. Keaton ~



#11 Inflection

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:16

 

HUH?

 

If people find this concept hard to understand, by all means, let this thread fade away, but I can't believe it's that hard to understand. If you break your pen, and get the nib, body, and feed of the pen replaced, is it the same pen to you? Or is "your pen" still on an asphalt road in Kentucky, shattered and in pieces, and the thing you are calling "the pen that's been with me my whole life" has really not, because you mostly rebuilt it from scratch after your "actual" pen was run over by a semi truck.

 

To put it simply, what part of the pen makes the pen THAT pen? If you replace everything but the body, is it the same pen? If you replace the body but the nib and innards are the same, is it the same pen? This obviously has a lot of implications for collectors who buy things on the basis of these principles.

 

If you disregard this, then funky stuff happens. If you subscribe to the idea "as long as it's 50% original parts, it's still a vintage pen to me," that means you can remove half of a Vacumatic, put that half in a replacement body, and now you "technically" have two vintage Vacumatics where before there was one. So I would assume that most people agree that if a pen doesn't have its original body, it is not itself anymore, but this again raises the question, if you buy a Vacumatic body on eBay and fill that pen with modern replica parts, is it a "Vintage Vacumatic?"

 

 

Perplexafied.....Perhaps{?} fountain pens are 'just plain fun'....

Even when we 'write stuff that didn't end up making much sense'..

sorta like 'just signing your name over and over'....

 

For your consideration two short es-say from Doc Eye....

First up one on Collecting....

http://www.vacumania...ucationuser.htm

 

And on Grading....

http://www.vacumania...radingessay.htm

 

At the moment writin'..obstropolous..obstreperous....

 

 

Fred

It's keen..No...it's greater than keen...it's cougat....

~ D. Keaton ~

 

Did you read my original post at all?


Edited by Inflection, 08 June 2014 - 01:18.


#12 Bigeddie

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:27

I am not at all sure whether or not I believe that instruments have souls, but they enable us to find and express our own. Many have enabled hundreds of people through their (the instrument's) lives to communicate without words, and perhaps have thus absorbed some of that soulfulness themselves. My bow was made in the time of Mozart - it could have played at a Mozart premiere. That is in its DNA now, or its "soul." Could not pens be thought of in the same way, original parts or not?

 

I think this is close to my thinking (thanks Mardi13). For me it's about connections, the sentimental object is more than it's parts, it's an idea of connections that it has made over it's lifetime. this might not go for every object or for every person, but I think most of us have things that we are attached to. 

 

I have a lot of quite modern pens, those that are handmade already seem to have more of a connection to the world than those that have rolled off a production line. Those that have more history accumulate significance beyond their cap, nib, barrel and feed. They are beings in their own right. If someone had a hip replacement they wouldn't be any less the person. People carry photographs of the people that they love to remember them, or for whatever reason... when they have the person back with them they still keep the photograph because it has an identity of the connections that it has made in it's own right, the places that it has been, the people that have seen it, the writing that might be on the reverse. I think pens develop a similar connections - people who have used them, things they have written or signed, the moments that it was present in.


Edited by Bigeddie, 08 June 2014 - 01:34.

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#13 inkstainedruth

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:27

Interesting topic.  Most of my pens are vintage, and I have no idea if they've had work done on them before I got them.  And there are some that I've had work done on (replacing sacs and diaphragms).  But those are "just pens" to me.  Nice, I like them, but I don't have the emotional attachment that I think the OP is talking about.  

But there *are* a couple of pens I have that I do have a sort of emotional resonance with.  

One is the Parker Vector that was my first "good" pen.  Yeah.  A $9 pen fits that category.  And I didn't even like it that much at first, because it has an F nib, and the pens that came before had M nibs, and I wasn't sure I'd get used to that.  Until I realized just how much further a cartridge went.  And then when I thought I'd lost it I realized how much I'd come to depend on it, even when all I was using it for was writing in my journal.  I've since gotten other Vectors, and liked them, but I don't have the same connection with them as I did with my original one.  That pen has some sort of "soul" to it.  Even if it's just a c/c pen that I now have a converter for (it didn't originally).

Another is the Plum 51 Demi I got on Ebay last year.  It's kind of a beater pen, with lots of corrosion on the sac cover, and just a Lustraloy cap.  I've considered swapping out the gold filled cap from my other 51 Aero, because I think it would look really nice -- the plum with the gold.  But I don't because somehow it wouldn't be the same pen.  

So yeah, it's a weird concept, but I think I understand completely where the OP is coming from....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#14 Freddy

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:28

 

I said at 20:56................................

.........................................................

...............................................................................

 

 

Did you read my original post at all?

 

   Thanks for asking..I did read every word.....

 

   Good nite every one....

 

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   disproven..or false because it cannot be proven....

   Impeaching a witness: reasons/truth..reasons/belief....

 

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Edited by Freddy, 08 June 2014 - 01:38.


#15 jar

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:31

 

If people find this concept hard to understand, by all means, let this thread fade away, but I can't believe it's that hard to understand. If you break your pen, and get the nib, body, and feed of the pen replaced, is it the same pen to you? Or is "your pen" still on an asphalt road in Kentucky, shattered and in pieces, and the thing you are calling "the pen that's been with me my whole life" has really not, because you mostly rebuilt it from scratch after your "actual" pen was run over by a semi truck.

 

To put it simply, what part of the pen makes the pen THAT pen? If you replace everything but the body, is it the same pen? If you replace the body but the nib and innards are the same, is it the same pen? This obviously has a lot of implications for collectors who buy things on the basis of these principles.

 

If you disregard this, then funky stuff happens. If you subscribe to the idea "as long as it's 50% original parts, it's still a vintage pen to me," that means you can remove half of a Vacumatic, put that half in a replacement body, and now you "technically" have two vintage Vacumatics where before there was one. So I would assume that most people agree that if a pen doesn't have its original body, it is not itself anymore, but this again raises the question, if you buy a Vacumatic body on eBay and fill that pen with modern parts, is it a "Vintage Vacumatic?"

 

 

 

Did you read my original post at all?

 

You're probably a really nice kid and I remember sitting on the dorm steps debating stuff like that when I was in the 8th or 9th grade.  But then I realized that humans are constantly replacing pieces parts.  My skin today is not the same skin I had yesterday. Yet I am still me.

 

Your question may be a fun exercise but is pretty much pointless; as silly as asking if I am the same person I was yesterday.  I am what I am at this moment.  The pen is the pen it is at each moment.

 

So then turn to emotion. The emotional attachment to some object (call it a fountain pen) depends on the individual, not really on the object.  Two individuals will react differently at the emotional level and may vary from object to object, moment to moment, be reasonable or unreasonable, rational or irrational, consistent or not consistent.

 

The answer though is about as valid as what you get from a 'cootie catcher'.


Edited by jar, 08 June 2014 - 01:31.

How pierceful grows the hazy yon! How myrtle petaled thou! For spring hath sprung the cyclotron - How high browse thou, brown cow? -- Churchy LaFemme, 1950

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way suffers a severe handicap. -- jar

The last pen I bought will be the next to last pen I ever buy! --jar


#16 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:31

 

No, I'm not just saying "it's just a pen." I have the feeling people aren't reading my original post, serves me right for rambling on for that long.

 

I'm asking collectors what part of the pen is important to collect, for example, if the nib and inner body are there but the outer body, inc sac and feed have been replaced, is it the same pen? Or is a pen with a replacement nib, replacement inner body but the same outer "shell" considered the same pen?

I'm just curious as to what we are collecting when we get right down to it. When does that "family heirloom" pen you mention stop being that pen? Like, if you slowly replace one part at a time, until none of that pen was ever touched by your family member... I'm just exploring the nature of our hobby.

I realized that. And I started from the premise that some people say "it's just a pen".. You wanted your first post to be a jump starter for dialog. Which it was. I just started from what came out of my head.  Is it the same pen? Some people will say no if major pieces have been replaced, but others will say otherwise. Me?  Not sure how I feel about it.

 

That pen I mentioned in my first post? A Waterman Phileas. I think the way I feel about it has a lot to do with the way it disappeared.


Edited by Runnin_Ute, 08 June 2014 - 01:52.

Brad "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling

"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

LetterExchange_sm.pngfpn_1424623518__super_pinks-bottle%20res


#17 LOGAN

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:33

I like pens.

 

I can't say I have a 'Pen Philosophy" though.

 

I buy what I like. I use what I like. I sell the rest. 

 

:closedeyes:

 

 

 

 

You're probably a really nice kid and I remember sitting on the dorm steps debating stuff like that when I was in the 8th or 9th grade.  But then I realized that humans are constantly replacing pieces parts.  My skin today is not the same skin I had yesterday. Yet I am still me.

 

Your question may be a fun exercise but is pretty much pointless; as silly as asking if I am the same person I was yesterday.  I am what I am at this moment.  The pen is the pen it is at each moment.

 

So then turn to emotion. The emotional attachment to some object (call it a fountain pen) depends on the individual, not really on the object.  Two individuals will react differently at the emotional level and may vary from object to object, moment to moment, be reasonable or unreasonable, rational or irrational, consistent or not consistent.

 

The answer though is about as valid as what you get from a 'cootie catcher'.

+1

Edited by logantrky, 08 June 2014 - 01:35.


#18 LOGAN

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:34

Edit: Double post. Sorry. 


Edited by logantrky, 08 June 2014 - 01:34.


#19 AndrewThomas

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:37

I think it's a really interesting question, one that can be asked about all sorts of things that we collect and invest time and care in. I can answer the question a little more simply because I've never bought a pen for any reason but to write with it (no offense, of course, to investors or collectors who don't write with their pens). So if I have a pen, that I use over many years, and in those years at different times the nib, body, filling system, and cap are replaced, I'd say it's the same pen by virtue of the continuity of my use. What defines the pen--its "soul" as you put it--is not the object itself or its material, but my relationship with it as an object. 



#20 Inflection

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:48

 

You're probably a really nice kid and I remember sitting on the dorm steps debating stuff like that when I was in the 8th or 9th grade.  But then I realized that humans are constantly replacing pieces parts.  My skin today is not the same skin I had yesterday. Yet I am still me.

 

Your question may be a fun exercise but is pretty much pointless; as silly as asking if I am the same person I was yesterday.  I am what I am at this moment.  The pen is the pen it is at each moment.

 

So then turn to emotion. The emotional attachment to some object (call it a fountain pen) depends on the individual, not really on the object.  Two individuals will react differently at the emotional level and may vary from object to object, moment to moment, be reasonable or unreasonable, rational or irrational, consistent or not consistent.

 

The answer though is about as valid as what you get from a 'cootie catcher'.

 

I mostly agree, I meant no offense in my post, I'm sure you're a really nice kid too.






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