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#21 sotto2

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:55

I'm very Zen-ish about this whole issue. To me, the meaning of pens is the meaning of spinach. I'm gonna go get some ice cream.

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#22 wallylynn

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:58

You mean the pen version of https://en.wikipedia...Ship_of_Theseus



#23 mwpannell

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 03:01

To specifically answer the OP's question: I don’t know. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ramble on as well. As with Mardi13, my immediate thoughts went to musical instruments, for me, guitars. Guitars and pens don't have souls, but that doesn't stop them from having--or not having--something that gives them a particular value or character beyond the tangible specifics of materials of construction, design elements for parts, a particular nib, barrel or whatever. I think anything you might call the soul of a pen, an intangible essence that makes it "it", has to do with the connection  a person has with it. All the better if lots and lots of people tend to have that connection. I imagine we've all written with superior pens that left us cold and have a cheapie we liked using more. I know I have.

 

With musical instruments, it's more complicated and mysterious, I think, because we make vibrations with them to make sound waves which over time can have an effect on actual materials, the wood, and can change the very nature of the instrument at some level. With pens, I don’t think there's anything comparable with ink flowing out. What they do share is they’re physical, tangible objects we interact with to create some form of intangible, unique and variously appreciated art or beauty whether it's the line of a letter or a drawing or it's the ideas the lines and drawings project through words or pictures. And there's the beauty of simply creating, just using the instrument. That's incredibly valuable.

 

And all that's the stuff of soul and musing and philosophizing.

 

But when does the pen die? What original part broken or removed means end of "life"? In the case of pens, I think that question is more in the hands of coroners and scientists, curators and repairmen, and surely if there was an identifiable "soul" organ they would have agreed on it and we would have heard something from them by now. But I don’t think they will.

 

But I do think it’s fun sitting on the FPN dorm steps throwing ideas around when you have the time and enjoy the company and conversation of your classmates (fellow inmates?), no matter what grade they are. : )

 

Thanks for bringing it up, because after all is said and done, there is some sort of something there, isn’t there?

 

I mean really, against all reason, practicality and common sense, why do I want a Nakaya? I think it will give me the awesome, satisfying fine line I'm after, but there's more. Something having to do with them just being sleek and good looking. To me. Or is it ts hand-made magic? What part do you take away and, meh!, I don't really care for one, thank you, just costs too much?

 

Then again, maybe I'm just way more shallow than I like to think and it is just the hype. The FPN peer-think. And the fact ethernautrix is head over heels over them.

 

Hmmm … 



#24 ac12

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 03:49

For me the parts of the pen that are not considered consumable; nib, cap, section, barrel.

Change any of those and the pen has lost something.

Of these changing the nib is the most personal change, as that can change the entire experience of using the pen.

 

This is why a restoration can be a difficult thing to do.  Do you keep the original broken cap, or replace it with a nice unbroken cap?  There isn't a good answer.  If you are a real collector, I would think you want it as original as possible, or at least fitting with the era, so replace with the SAME type of cap.

 

For a sac pen, one expects to replace the sac.  If not after a bunch of years, you will have rubber powder or fragments in the pen.

Similarly for cartridge converter pens.  I don't care about the "original" cartridge that came with the pen.  As long as I have a cartridge or converter to make the pen functional.  For a collection pen, even that is not needed; desired yes, but not needed.

 

For a string instrument, you expect to have to replace the strings.  It is a consumable item.

 

This is why my college pens have gone into my collection.

I don't want to have to deal with this question.

I got a replacement Parker 180 off eBay to use as my writer, while my college pen is safe in my collection.


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#25 Totoro

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 04:08

I read your post before anyone replied and thought it was interesting, but also a bit longer than it might have been in order to get the point across well.  I've also thought a little about this topic in the past and believe that for some it is the shared experience with the pen and the transfer of human qualities or traits, which is something that some of us do toward the pen, which makes the pen special.


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#26 erpe

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 04:26

Interesting, let it not fade away. I will reply in length but time is limited at the moment so just first thoughts.

 

Where is the soul of the pen?

A pen as an industrial object might not have a soul in the same way we are using and (think we) understand the word. It might have a 'protosoul' though that we develop while using and sharing experiences with it. I like to think of it as a broken camera that we don't throw away because it has been with us so many places. The body might be dead but it's siting there quietly on a shelf triggers and crystallizes the memories we share.

 

When is a pen no longer the same pen?

Is a human no longer the same human when we replace parts? Or, the other way, which parts do we need to replace in order to stop a human from being one? Or cars, much easier to understand for many people. Is a car still the same car after all the parts are replaced. I think the answer should be yes because, as above, we project its soul into it. It's gone after we stop doing so.

 

On anthropomorphizing man-made objects. My thoughts regarding pens are maybe somewhere between John Denver's "This old guitar" and Stephen King's "Christine".

 

More thought after sunrise   ;) 



#27 da vinci

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:17

Not sure I think the same way (no offence to the OP).

If I want a pen that works I will replace what I need too, to achieve that.

If I want an original, mint, collectors item to
"Collect " rather than to use, I may or may not replace parts depending on the impact upon the pen's collectability.

I don't think I form emotional attachments to pens as such , although I might be annoyed/sad/disappointed if I lost, broke or had stolen a particular pen I liked. I would not be emotionally devastated though.

#28 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 19:42

There are certain pens that I really like. But, in the end, they're just physical objects. I may feel affection toward them, just like I really loved my first car. I felt bad driving away from it when I bought my current car. But, I really liked the new car, and the repair costs exited my budget. I've now owned my second car three times as long as I owned the first. It's the same age as the first one when I got rid of it, but without the mechanical issues. It's a better car!

 

In the end, I'm more interested in what I produce with the pen and my relationships with people. If one of my favorites dies, I'll be a little upset, but that will be the end. It's just a pen.

 

I just don't get attached to things.


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#29 balson

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 21:22

i have a buddy with a type of synesthesia where objects have their own personalities.  she absolutely hates doing it, but i always have her touch a vintage pen when i get it to have her tell me more about the pen.  sometimes her readings are spot on.  i remember one in particular, it was a wearever i picked up in the lot, she was right there when the package came in so i handed it to her.  she touched the pen and made a really sad face and exclaimed, "ahhh, his head hurts!"  i took the pen back, uncapped it, and the nib was covered in thick mold.  

 

i have had her touch pens that have the wrong caps on them before.  sometimes they say something like "we dont go together" other times they know they don't go together but they are just grateful to be used or they like being together anyway.  

 

most vintage pens i have her touch are happy to be used and get sad if they are lost or unused for awhile.  some vintage pens liked their previous owners so much that they seem to resent any future owners.  most pens are really upset if they are damaged but she has run across a couple that seem to wear their cosmetic damage like a war vet.  in general the older something is the more personality it has.  



#30 dgturner

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 21:53

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

You response to Jar's post was far to kind.

While it is quite true that the emotional attachment invested in whatever makes a pen special neccessarily varies from person to person, to dismiss the impact of those attachments as irrelavent if foolish and arrogant. Look to the prices fetched by various pens on the market. Just because I do not consider a particular object worth the price does not mean that my opinion is correct.

Back to the original question: I have a pen given to me by a friend that does not see much use because of the size of the nib (a stubbish medium), I have considered replacing the nib for a fine (or havining the nib proffessionaly stubbed), but I have held off due to the emotional attachment. I always feel guilty when I take that pen out of rotation.

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#31 Mardi13

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 00:18

As I demonstrated, for me this topic does have some relevance/resonance. So I replied. I was intrigued.

If it doesn't appeal or make sense to you, I don't see the need to diss the OP. Just keep silence, the way our mothers told us.

#32 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 03:28

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.

 

 

When is a pen no longer the same pen?

 

 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?

 

Well, I won't try to justify it in detail here, but I don't believe I have an actual soul either, except as some figurative expression of what makes me me.

 

But assuming that this figurative expression is helpful in understanding people, then the technology that people create and use is a window into that "soul".  You can look at a boring everyday disposable ballpoint and see nothing but a tool that's available everywhere, drab and "soulless".  Or you can see the struggles of Laszlo Biro in bringing a new and useful technology to the world, the personal dangers that he escaped, the vexing technical problems that had to be solved before this "simple" design would actually work.

 

But about fountain pens...you could look through the variety of vintage pens and see the changes over the years purely in technical terms, the advantages of particular nib designs, body materials, and filling systems.  Or you could see them in terms of the creativity that went into them, the design philosophies, and yes, the marketing strategies.  These were made by people for people.  Look closely enough at the pens, and you will know something about the people.  That's where you can begin to convince yourself that bits of plastic, rubber, and metal stuck together in a useful configuration might actually have a soul.

 

As for when a pen is no longer the same, it's not an issue which greatly concerns me, although it might if I had any with a connection to people close to me.  I have changed or replaced various parts without considering that I was making a new pen, as long as the same "body", usually meaning the barrel and section, were there.  That's a pragmatic attitude not important enough to bother proving.  I might add, some minutes after the rest of this post, that repairing or upgrading a pen myself gives me a little extra connection to it.  Who cares if it's the same?  It's still mine, with a little extra personal history behind it.


Edited by ISW_Kaputnik, 09 June 2014 - 03:37.

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#33 superfreeka

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 03:42

You response to Jar's post was far to kind.

 

Agreed.  


Edited by superfreeka, 09 June 2014 - 03:43.

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#34 sirach

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 06:30

My wife, then girlfriend, and I were a few states apart during my senior year of college.  It was during this time that I really started using a fountain pen.  The pen I used for most of the letters was a cheapish kit pen that my sister bought me at the Texas state fair.  It had a cheap "iridium point Germany" nib.  The pen has seen some hard times. There are so many parts of it that I SHOULD swap out... but I don't.  I have thought about sticking it in the shoe box of letters that my wife kept.

 

Classic philosophies would probably say that the pens inanimate, mortal soul, had something to do with it being closest to its original form, or how perfectly it existed as a theoretical perfect pen in an imperfect world... but I am really inclined to say that the soul of that cheap kit pen are the letters it wrote and feelings it conveyed.

 

As far as worth... for collectable items I think they need to have as many originally parts as possible (like the various grades of classic car restoration... restored, rebuilt, and replaced with oem are very different)  For user pens... I think it is the pen as a whole that matters.  The only original parts of my MB 149 are the cap ring and nib, but to me it hasn't changed.  



#35 jar

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 12:45

You response to Jar's post was far to kind.

While it is quite true that the emotional attachment invested in whatever makes a pen special neccessarily varies from person to person, to dismiss the impact of those attachments as irrelavent if foolish and arrogant. Look to the prices fetched by various pens on the market. Just because I do not consider a particular object worth the price does not mean that my opinion is correct.

Back to the original question: I have a pen given to me by a friend that does not see much use because of the size of the nib (a stubbish medium), I have considered replacing the nib for a fine (or havining the nib proffessionaly stubbed), but I have held off due to the emotional attachment. I always feel guilty when I take that pen out of rotation.

I did not dismiss emotional attachment at all. 

 

What I said was the original question has no reasonable, logical, consistent answer and so asking the question is pointless. Your second paragraph is a great example. You hold off on making changes to the pen yet the friend is constantly changing in just about every way and constantly modifying parts.  Your friend is not the same as (s)he was when (s)he gave you the pen. 


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#36 byggyns

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 16:02

I think this question covers more than one area.

 

First: the collectable monetary value is affected by what parts were replaced, when, with what, and by whom. The exception to that is the planned replacement parts- bladders, sacks, corks, & o-rings. So, was the section replaced by the factory in the 50's, or was it done last year because the previous owner used pliers on it? If I'm buying a pen, I want to know the details of those changes, so I can decide what value I place on the collection of parts as a whole. There is an emotional component to that, but not a huge one.

 

Second: historically significant collectables are nearly worthless if altered from original condition. Original in this case means at the time they were used to do whatever historical thing they did. If a pen signed a certain treaty or bill, wrote a novel or play, the only thing that should be replaced is the consumable replacement parts previously mentioned. If that original author /owner, however, modified the pen, then I would still consider that as "original". If it was changed after their ownership, then I would not consider it to retain its originality. I personally would never use such an object- or take the risk of disassembly to replace a sac, etc., but some people don't share that opinion.

 

Third: personally sentimental items are what you choose them to be. If you replace every piece of a pen over 20 years of owning the pen, and consider it to still be the same pen, that's your choice. I don't have any family members who have used or collected fountain pens, but my family does have firearms that have significance.

My grandfather has a rifle he bought for himself as a child- back in the 30's. It's had a few smaller parts replaced over the last 80 years, but it's still in the hands of the original owner. When he passes, it will go to my father, then will come to me. If my dad replaces something before I get it, it will still be granddad's rifle and will still have the same emotional attachment. Once it comes to me, it probably won't be used often, but if I were to have to replace any significant part, I'd keep the old part with it.

On the other hand, I got my uncle's shotgun from my aunt after he passed. It had a broken stock before he died, and I'll be replacing that at some point without worrying about keeping the old one. That weapon has less sentimental attachment to me. The resale value of the gun once I repair it is less than the price of the replacement part, but I want to be able to shoot my uncle's shotgun and bring home some rabbits with it. So, I'll repair it.

 

So, the soul of an item is really a very personal perspective. The only value you can put on an object is what you choose that value to be. I wouldn't pay $300 for a MB 149 that retails for three times that. I just don't assign the value to that particular pen at the level others do. There are other items out there that people spend tons of money on, but I'd only own them if they were given to me. Conversely, I spend more money on 1 pen than most of my friends spend in an entire year on all writing implements combined: pens pencils, markers, etc. The beauty of free will and a free market is that you get to make those value choices.


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#37 Offret

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 17:27

Where do we draw the line with any user maintainable object? Automobiles? Houses? Etc. “When is a pen no longer the same pen?” is kind of a debatable question, but it is an important question when it comes to history, curating and collecting. For example, if a pen was for sale and it was said that it was used by Ernest Hemingway, but then it came to light that in fact only the sac that holds the ink came from a pen used by Hemingway, but that the barrel, nib and cab did not, can we still say that it was Hemingway’s pen? I think the answer is quite obvious. Now the reasoning behind our criteria is open to philosophical discussion.

 

Regarding “where is the soul of your pen?”

 

My pens’ do not have souls—they are inanimate objects. If you asked me where do I place the prime importance of my pens I would say in the handling (the pen as a whole) and quality of writing (nib). Emotional attachment or what aspects of the object are more important is a subjective position. It has nothing to do with soul, which is a silly word to use for any inanimate object.

 

What I can say is that when it comes to historical objects or even items that I hold dearly, original form is always more desirable. Nonetheless, if my granddad’s pen needs a new O-ring, I won’t look at that pen any differently.  



#38 Mardi13

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 23:00

I don't know if this would appeal to anyone, but there is a novel about the life story of a violin, it's called "Antonietta" by John Hersey. It sort of connects to this topic. Anyone want to take on writing the life story of a fountain pen?

#39 mwpannell

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 01:03

Anyone want to take on writing the life story of a fountain pen?

That's interesting, particularly a fictional autobiography. Even an autograph, of sorts.



#40 mwpannell

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 01:16

I think the answer is quite obvious.

Good points, though the word "obvious" is pretty tricky in a thread like this. Personally, I couldn't afford Hemingway's pen, but "his pen" that was really just his ink sac might bring it to a price point I could consider. Maybe. But it's value, the "soul" of it, might mean just as much to me as the whole kit and caboodle would to someone who could buy up his pens, desk set and desk with perfect authenticity.

 

Actually, more realistically, it might be Hemingway's eraserless pencil stub that I might could find and afford. Where's the soul then?