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Why Do You Collect Pens?


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#1 WDanderson

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 16:52

Hi everyone,

 

I am still only a few years into fountain pens and by no means do I consider myself a collector. Lately though I've been bitten by a bug I guess. I'm 46 and over the past 3 years lost my grandmother, mom and Aunt. While my health is good I have still begun looking at things like diet and annual preventative medical procedures. I recently made finance/perm life and retirement arrangements and have realized that I am mid-point in life and soon there will be more years behind me than in front. Maybe this has caused me to look a little differently at my pen collection and consider what they might be worth years down the road as my sons are delivering my eulogy (hopefully many decades down the road.) They will take ownership of this collection. Sorry to dip into a little morbidity there, let me bring this back to point.

 

A few questions for you all, hopefully this will spark a nice conversation. First, why do you collect pens? How do you focus your collection and what is the goal/purpose? For me, I didn't really "collect" as much as I found neat looking pens that wrote well. After time I amassed several thousand dollars worth of (mostly Cross) fountain pens.

 

I have been bitten by the Townsend bug, and have been consulting Steve Long from the forum here for his expert advice on how to tell them apart. So far I have a neophyte collection of....5. One of them is a Darth Vader fine nib, 1343 of 1977. I had it ground to an italic cursive though, and I wonder if I have decreased the future value? I inked and used it once and now it's back in the box. Should I replace the nib with a standard fine nib for the future? I have other Townsends I can use that nib on for sure. 2 of the 5 I have are "regular" Medalists.

 

My collection is now sort of focusing itself I guess, Townsends and all "Year of" collectibles. So far I have the 2012 Dragon, 2014 Horse both in red. And the 2013 year of the snake in blue. I obviously have a mental problem, but maybe some others here share that particular problem.

 

Welcome any thoughts. 



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#2 Bobje

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 19:00

What a terrific question! This piece on the psychology of collecting by Jose Dalisay Jr., or penmanila here on FPN, is a thoughtful read on the subject.


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#3 Dr. Saleem Ali

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 19:08

Dear WD., we can't really say when and where life is going to end .I think as long as one is mentally fit to think in right direction and write legible should enjoy the pen-hobby .Pen collections may be a source of inspiration or some financial gain to your sons depending on their inclination.I sincerely beleive you are not too old to collect pens. So enjoy this hobby and you may be able to give somebody a piece of good advice esp to the newbie.
That said ,now the question why I collect pens? This item has attracted me from my childhood and I also had some interest to acheive a good hand-writing.Also I had interest to know who invented pens first and how it improved or changed over time and how it was made ? To find the answer I entered into this hobby or addiction .Beautiful nice and good writing fps fascinate me amd I am always happy to spend money on them if I have .I have analysed myself through internet literature that I am somethimg in between a collector and a writer as for me the nib is the most most important part wihout which even a very expensive or costly pen deserves no worth.

#4 pajaro

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 20:24

People collect things they are fascinated with.  Some extremist collectors probably do it because of lack of anything else going on, and buying things makes them feel good.  Nothing wrong with that.  Whatever you like to do.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#5 langere

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 21:28

Specifically, I use/collect pens because of the different experience each gives me.  Each one writes differently and has a different look.  I appreciate that and enjoy the variations and subtleties that writing with each pen give me.

 

Erick


Currently in Rotation:

Platinum 3776 Ascending Dragon "M" nib running Iroshizuku Murasaki-Shibuku

Visconti Saturno "F" nib running Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgruen

Cross Townsend "F" nib running Noodler's Heart of Darkness


#6 inkandseeds

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 21:42

I guess because i like to write and writing with a fountain pen is far more pleasurable than writing with any other instrument.  As one varies the fountain pen, the ink and and paper, one gets a different sensual experience which i find meaningful.  Using other forms of pens do not give me the same experience.



#7 akustyk

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 23:47

Doug,

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. I enjoyed reading them a great deal. Though I know nothing of Cross pens, your passion for them made me as excited about your collection as though it was my own.

 

I think that the distinction between "users" and "collectors" is not a useful one. Most people who buy fountain pens are neither category, but live somewhere along the hoarding continuum. Strictly speaking none of us really need multiple fountain pens, but we enjoy buying them, each for a different reason. Collecting is a deeply personal experience, very few collectors think and feel alike. To me, that's the most enjoyable part of the hobby, sharing ideas, experiences, thoughts with people who are interested in pens, but pursue their hobby in their own unique way.

 

My collection is very modest, only a handful of pens that have special value to me. My focus is on what I would call "pens with a soul," or pens with a special provenance. Yes, a very vague concept, and one that might be a total fallacy, but that's what works for me. For example, a hand-made ebonite pen made by a skilled craftsman in India (lovingly put together, including packaging) has as much "value" to me as a Parker 51 that was given to a nun for her Final Vows in 1951.

 

Pens that write well (to me, anyway) also have a special place in my collection. A 1950s Montblanc 344 and a modern Sailor Realo Cross Emperor are great examples of such pens, as I believe they were built by people who knew how and cared about making pens that write very well.


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#8 Studio97

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 02:28

My grown kids are clueless about quality pens and I have a fist full of them. Not going to be concerned about. I hope to wear the tips off them in my remaining time. I'm more concerned about preserving my filled journals. They would rather have video games

#9 Old_Inkyhand

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 07:57

I don't think that I collect pens, but I definitely buy pens, which I don't really need but intend to use, and have no time to actually use them all. I do that, because I seek a reward. Emotionally, I am a very happy person, but my daily life varies from dull to hectic. I work a lot, I learn a lot, and sometimes I don't see any point in doing so. The goals that I should achieve are usually quite abstract and I sometimes have a feeling that my efforts are quite pointless. I like fountain pens, so reading about them gives me a bit of everyday pleasure. When I think how much boring work is ahead of me, I tell myself - maybe you will spend a lot of time on doing something you don't want to do, something what will give you neither money nor satisfaction, but at least you can buy yourself a little nice pen after all. I feel more motivated.



#10 pajaro

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 16:22

I don't think that I collect pens, but I definitely buy pens, which I don't really need but intend to use, and have no time to actually use them all. I do that, because I seek a reward. Emotionally, I am a very happy person, but my daily life varies from dull to hectic. I work a lot, I learn a lot, and sometimes I don't see any point in doing so. The goals that I should achieve are usually quite abstract and I sometimes have a feeling that my efforts are quite pointless. I like fountain pens, so reading about them gives me a bit of everyday pleasure. When I think how much boring work is ahead of me, I tell myself - maybe you will spend a lot of time on doing something you don't want to do, something what will give you neither money nor satisfaction, but at least you can buy yourself a little nice pen after all. I feel more motivated.

I used to think this way.  Even with a box full of Parker 51s.  Then many other kinds.  Don't kid yourself.  You are collecting.  Collecting is fun, and you can compare pens up close and determine the ones you like to write with most, even if it is three out of a couple of hundred.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#11 Studio97

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 17:11

I must have about 200 gel pens and ball points which are essentially disposable also in my collection. I use then in addition to my fountain pens and pencil collection. I don't collect brands so much as just good writing instruments which I use such as the 140 Sarasa gel pens I paid .10 each and that's what I do. I enjoy it. And then there is my paper and notebook hoard and I use them on a fairly regular basis.

#12 Studio97

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 17:19

What a terrific question! This piece on the psychology of collecting by Jose Dalisay Jr., or penmanila here on FPN, is a thoughtful read on the subject.


Great article. Thanks

#13 Sasha Royale

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 18:45

I love the ways people "solve" problems !   Inventions and innovations to make something work better.  I enjoy learning about the brilliance of  Samuel Colt, John Moses Browning, Louis Waterman, and George S. Parker.  I just read (and barely understand) the genetic modification of a patient's  T-cells to attack only the patient's cancer cells.  

 

What a great experience it is to write with an amassed set of innovations that solve a single problem :  the precise application of ink to paper.  Without written communication, we have no civilization.  

 

I would like to collect EVERYTHING !   I can afford fountain pens.  


Edited by Sasha Royale, 28 March 2016 - 18:46.

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#14 Old_Inkyhand

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 19:00

I would like to collect EVERYTHING !   I can afford fountain pens.  

A friend of mine collects those little plastic balls which close some cartridges  :lol:

 

I used to think this way.  Even with a box full of Parker 51s.  Then many other kinds.  Don't kid yourself.  You are collecting.  Collecting is fun, and you can compare pens up close and determine the ones you like to write with most, even if it is three out of a couple of hundred.

Well... now I have only a few... but I rarely use fountain pens, as I try to get things done as soon as possible and I use a computer for this purpose  :)  My boyfriend collects fountain pens as well, so my joy is doubled.



#15 snowbear

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 20:53

I collect pens because collecting wives and girlfriends is really expensive, and collecting real polar bears is risky, at best.

 

Actually, I am fairly new to collecting - I only have 14 and they are slightly outnumbered by ink bottles.  I just like them; they have stories and they can help tell stories (or in my case, draw stories).


Edited by snowbear, 28 March 2016 - 23:00.


#16 carlos.q

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 21:37

I do not collect fountain pens. It is a mere coincidence that I have a lot of them. ;)

#17 inkstainedruth

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 22:10

Interesting article.  Thanks for posting the link.

As to why *I* collect?  I dunno.  I've always kinda liked writing and drawing implements. When I got into fountain pens in a big way (just over 4 years ago at this point) I thought I'd end up with about 60 in total.  I've way surpassed that (although not to the extent of some people here for either amount or price point).

I started with inexpensive pens, until I got a better feel for what I liked for size/weight and for nib width.  Than I used to use the excuse of "I need more than one because I like using different colors of ink (and if you were to ask my husband, he'd tell you that I actually *used* to collect pens, but now I collect inks...).  Having more than one pen means I don't have to wait to use it if I'm flushing out between colors -- I have backups.  And then it became "I like x brand and model, so having more than one of said brand/model means I have more pens that are ones I like writing with (especially if I could get them in different colors so I could tell them apart).  Then I became enamored of vintage pens for the variety of fill systems and colors -- as well as because of the aesthetics of writing with something that was 60-80 years old but still worked well (I think that comes partly as a reaction to the notion of "planned obsolescence" -- especially with the rapid turnover of technology: my laptop cost $1500 new and has had the OS upgraded to new versions twice -- not counting patches and updates; but the 1949 Parker 51 Demi in Plum cost a fraction of that and just needed a good flushing out; ditto for the 1937 Vac Junior Red Shadow Wave, which has become pretty much an EDC, even over the Plummer).  

And yes, I *do* kinda hyperventilate when pens get lost.  Even inexpensive ones.  I've only lost three permanently -- but in each time I'm finding that I"m trying to justify the replacement cost to myself (wasn't so bad with the Noodler's Konrads, but the Pelikan M200 Café Crème I got a good deal on and I won't be able to replace it for what I initially paid; I sat up pretty much all night on Saturday looking for ANY place that still has them with (or even without) the nib I had on it it -- and that doesn't count the extra cost of having the nib tuned....   :( 

But I'm definitely NOT one of those people who buys pens to put in a case and have them on display.  I don't have any pens that cost over about $180 US; and the only ones I don't use is because I haven't gotten them repaired.  So, pens in rotation live in a metal canister on a small bookshelf next to my bed, and I don't think twice about posting the caps (except on the few pens where I can't for some reason), and I don't worry horribly about minor scratches.  Because they're tools.  Just really nice, often beautiful tools.

I could be collecting worse things than pens.  

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#18 pen2paper

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 22:51

I love the ways people "solve" problems !   Inventions and innovations to make something work better.

... I enjoy learning about the brilliance of  Samuel Colt... Louis Waterman... 

 

for the moment skipping Collector vs User, vs Facilitator < another facet since many of us realize with balance  :huh:  we cannot own them ALL!

...skipping to fun historical connect the dots aspect.  Have you read the recent fascinating final conclusion on the Waterman feed development story?  Search and See, in Waterman history.

In there we find a Waterman - Colt connection (former Colt machinist, and apparently why there is no Waterman statue in Hartford, CT - See Article).

There's another Colt connection to writing instruments. Colt Plastics + Carter (ink cubes, coltrock inkstands, etc).



emoticon-animal-007.gif~Hi! fountain pen enthusiast here~


#19 pajaro

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 23:07

People collect all kinds of things, even words.  Large collections on display.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#20 WDanderson

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 23:08

All great stories, and nice article too. One thing that is becoming even more fun is ebay. Ebay is like a scavenger hunt and you never know when that pen you're looking for will show up cheap due to someone who found it in their estate belongings and said "nobody uses fountain pens anymore, wonder if I can ebay this for $40". Now I have a couple journals, and stopped using a Franklin planner in order to go more "hands on manual with a journal." I picked up a 6 pen pouch from Franklin-Christoph and have 6 colors at my disposal at all times. One of my all-time favorites is Diamine Dragon Red, it's deep and red but without either a rusty brown tint OR an orangey-tint either. It's my perfect red. It's the only ink my 2012 year of the Dragon has ever seen.

 

I use a good number of my pens, including my Townsends, but I generally keep the Cross "Year of" pens boxed - only occasionally inking my Year of the Dragon. Those are the ones I am collecting with collecting in mind and not use.








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