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What Is The Fountain Pen Market Like?

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16 replies to this topic

#1 LDWoodworth

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 15:58

I'm new to fountain pen, and I was surprised that there wasn't more retractables in the low end price range. The posts in that thread helped me understand that the R&D for it is prohibitive. But it also made me realize that I'm on unfamiliar ground, so I'm going to ask about the lay of the land. There seems to be quite a few pen makers, but what's the market share between them look like?

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#2 WirsPlm

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 15:59

I know there are threads in the Pen History subforum about this kind of thing, you should check there as a starting point.



#3 jar

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 17:49

I doubt that there is any accounting of relative market share for fountain pens.  It is a really insignificant niche split up among hundreds of companies currently.


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#4 tryphon

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 18:30

The French StyPen-Up from the 1990s was an inexpensive, retractable pen.

 

Ooops: posted in the wrong thread. Sorry!


Edited by tryphon, 15 May 2014 - 11:06.


#5 LDWoodworth

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 02:17

I know there are threads in the Pen History subforum about this kind of thing, you should check there as a starting point.

 

Thanks! Looks like a fair bit of reading in my future. Any books published on the subject that I should check? I've heard of "Fountain Pens by Peter Twydle" and added it to my read list.

 

I doubt that there is any accounting of relative market share for fountain pens.  It is a really insignificant niche split up among hundreds of companies currently.

 

Hundreds? Yeah, that sounds pretty terrible, but any market that regularly produces Limited Editions for thousands of dollars can't be that insignificant, especially if it's been as fragmented as you say.



#6 rochester21

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 09:48

What market?  :unsure:


Edited by rochester21, 15 May 2014 - 09:48.


#7 jar

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 12:39

 

Thanks! Looks like a fair bit of reading in my future. Any books published on the subject that I should check? I've heard of "Fountain Pens by Peter Twydle" and added it to my read list.

 

 

Hundreds? Yeah, that sounds pretty terrible, but any market that regularly produces Limited Editions for thousands of dollars can't be that insignificant, especially if it's been as fragmented as you say.

 

Sure it can be insignificant.  There are only a few relatively small companies whose primary product are fountain pens.  Montblanc is a great example.  Wander into any Montblanc boutique and look at shelf space devoted to fountain pens relative to space devoted to stuff that is not a fountain pen.  If Montblanc totally dropped fountain pens it would likely make too small a bottom line difference to be noticeable.


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#8 LDWoodworth

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 18:37

 

Sure it can be insignificant.  There are only a few relatively small companies whose primary product are fountain pens.  Montblanc is a great example.  Wander into any Montblanc boutique and look at shelf space devoted to fountain pens relative to space devoted to stuff that is not a fountain pen.  If Montblanc totally dropped fountain pens it would likely make too small a bottom line difference to be noticeable.

 

Yeah, I see your point. They don't have a boutique on my island, but really my question was more to gauge the various popular pen makers.

 

 

I poked ebay for a second and threw this graph together give myself a rough idea of the various popular types available. Not a definiteive list clearly, but I find it some what informative.

 

Fountain_pen_ebay_category_distribution_



#9 Beckwith

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 20:39

Here's the list of manufacturers from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia....k_manufacturers

 

Of course this list leaves out not only some bigger manufactueres (Laban for instance), but also smaller but popular mom-and-pop type operatoins (Noodler's, Edison, etc.).


Edited by Beckwith, 15 May 2014 - 20:39.


#10 jar

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 21:16

 

Yeah, I see your point. They don't have a boutique on my island, but really my question was more to gauge the various popular pen makers.

 

 

I poked ebay for a second and threw this graph together give myself a rough idea of the various popular types available. Not a definiteive list clearly, but I find it some what informative.

 

Fountain_pen_ebay_category_distribution_

That's pretty but I'm not at all sure what that is trying to show.  For example, Esterbrook has a zero market share, they have not made a fountain pen in several decades. Wahl/Eversharp has so small a market share that I doubt it could be measured and any new Wahl/Eversharp pens have no connection with the historic Wahl/Eversharp.  That is also true for Conklin, Conway Stewart and Onoto.

 

Are you excluding used pens and new old stock pens and non-fountain pens?

 

What is the unit used in the graph?

 

When you say 'types' do you mean makers?


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#11 LDWoodworth

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 22:18

That's pretty but I'm not at all sure what that is trying to show.  For example, Esterbrook has a zero market share, they have not made a fountain pen in several decades. Wahl/Eversharp has so small a market share that I doubt it could be measured and any new Wahl/Eversharp pens have no connection with the historic Wahl/Eversharp.  That is also true for Conklin, Conway Stewart and Onoto.
 
Are you excluding used pens and new old stock pens and non-fountain pens?
 
What is the unit used in the graph?
 
When you say 'types' do you mean makers?


Sorry I didn't explain more. It's the listings on eBay's fountain pen category sorted by sub category. I was just doing it to rough gauge secondary market availability.

#12 kernando

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 07:54

The fountain pen market is small. A fraction of that is collectors, and some of them are on websites like FPN.

 

As for brands, remember that a lot of them are under parent companies with each other. For what's left the American big three, one is owned by the maker of ballpoints, lighters, and disposable razors. The other two are owned by the maker of food containers and garbage cans.


stolen 8/14/16 SF south of Market https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Gf24EwNiEy6nfKoep2Gnw8EVFthfPngtNSuSgIrAWRk/edit?usp=sharing

#13 recluse

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 01:54

Several spontaneous attempts to make an overview of the fountain pen market were made here on FPN. See, for example, this thread

 

http://www.fountainp...n-market-share/

 

These are, however, mostly guesses and with necessity biased.

 

There are a few publications with market analysis but those are commercial products with substantial price. I didn't search hard enough to get one of them.

 

It would be very interesting to read a detailed analysis. Simply in order to understand how the big machinery works. For individual companies the information can be found in open sources but some digging still required.



#14 Ecriveur

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 02:25

We are fortunate in that there are many competitors in the fountain pen market, which means plenty of competition and innovation at a wide range of prices. If there were only one or two major fountain pen manufacturers, we'd just get the same few models of pen year after year at higher prices every year.

 

Fountain pens are a small market but the high end ones are high end luxury goods, much like watches are these days to anyone under 50. Lots of companies want to be in the luxury goods business because it's a way to make money that's an alternative to just making the cheapest possible product in the largest quantity.



#15 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 03:47

your graph is false, the biggest fountain pen selelr is mont blanc and this at a worldwide level.Visconti is second in the US, second on the French market and in Asia, it has few market shares 


Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#16 alarickc

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 06:24

your graph is false, the biggest fountain pen selelr is mont blanc and this at a worldwide level.Visconti is second in the US, second on the French market and in Asia, it has few market shares 

Huh, I would have guessed Pelikan or Pilot for second. I guess the boys in Florence are doing well for themselves.

fpn_1424623518__super_pinks-bottle%20res

 


#17 jar

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 12:40

your graph is false, the biggest fountain pen selelr is mont blanc and this at a worldwide level.Visconti is second in the US, second on the French market and in Asia, it has few market shares 

Really Georges?

 

Montblanc sells more fountain pens than Parker or Waterman or Sheaffer or Hero or Pilot?


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