I appreciate the discussion in this thread very much, but I have trouble framing it within the contexts of "need" and "want." For me, it is more a question of "like." I think we all recognize that owning fountain pens and participating in a fountain pen forum is something of a luxury. I make a living by writing, researching, teaching, and grading. A fountain pen is an excellent tool for that and it brings me great satisfaction whilst doing my job. It is by no means required, though.
Since Doug mentioned Lamy Safari collectors, I felt that I could contribute in that regard. I like the Lamy Safari/Vista/AL-Star/Joy pens very much. I like the way they write (and the ones that don't are easily tuned up), I like the way they fit in my hand, I like the way they hold up in my briefcase bag, and I like the price point. My first "real" fountain pen was a Lamy Al-Star, and while I didn't love everything about it, I liked it enough to buy a Safari, and I liked that enough to buy a few more. When I sold a few off because I thought I had too many, I felt regret. I've built my collection over a few years, and I really like it. I like the way it looks, I like taking pictures of it, and I like sharing my experiences with other enthusiasts.
I do not feel a Pokeman or Beanie Baby compulsion to catch 'em all. I do not feel overwhelmed without my Lamys, nor do I feel anxiety that I don't own them all. For example, I am missing a Terracotta (see below!) and a few other known production pens and one-offs. I would like to own them to complete my collection, but not at any cost. In the last few months, I've seen another early model Safari sell on eBay for $300+ and then $500+ dollars. Obviously someone needed, wanted, or liked it enough to pick it up at those prices. That's a lot of money for me for one pen, and as much as I liked it, I didn't like it that much. I don't lose sleep knowing I don't have a full set. I may never track some of them down, and that's fine too. Truth be told, I'd rather pick up a few here and a few there over the course of a number of years than buy them all at once. I like the hunt, too.
In addition to liking the pens, I also like contributing to a community. I thought I had something to say about the Lamy 2000 family that hadn't been said before, so I wrote a lot about it last summer. It was a great satisfaction for me to do the job of information gathering, writing, editing, taking pictures and videos, formatting, posting the article, and reading feedback. It was met with a good reception here and elsewhere in the pen-o-sphere. I am working on some follow-up sections, too. I go along with the jokes when people point and laugh at the Lamy guy. Replace that with MB Writers, "51"s, Esterbrooks, or what-have-you. So long as it is healthy, I don't see the harm. I can't afford to collect the MB Writers (as much as I'd like to own some), but I really felt a great satisfaction when goodguy posted his complete series review some years ago. I love seeing christof's photography, Bill's great Targa collection, Jar's trays of varied beauties, or Ether'x's latest Nakaya.
For me, this is a hobby of enjoyment. I also post on a wet shaving community, and it strikes me as odd that some guys own twenty different kinds of soaps and a shelf full of shaving brushes. I just like shaving and want a few good tools to do it. I wonder what they would say about my ink stash and pile of pens... I own a few modest but nice watches, and can't quite fathom guys with tens of thousands of dollars in watches. In the end, I think it comes down to people liking what they like.
I like Lamys and I like reading about what other people like, too.
Edited by bphollin, 03 January 2013 - 17:03.