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What Is The Definition Of A "cheap/inexpensive" Fountain Pen?

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#1 miwishi63

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 22:13

A quick search on the forums didn't reveal an easy answer to this question. I recently saw a post in which someone indicated that a "cheap" fountain pen was any pen less than $100. This seems relative to me given that any pen that is more than $25 would be an expensive pen for me currently.

 

Question: What criteria do you use to establish whether or not a fountain pen is cheap/inexpensive?



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#2 silverlifter

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 22:22

Expensive and inexpensive are relative terms for people. As a student, I would have baulked at paying $100 for a pen. Now, for a good quality pen, I would consider that a reasonable price. 

 

A cheap fountain pen is something else; one that is poorly constructed from inexpensive materials and will not last for more than a couple of years.


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#3 praxim

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 23:45

Question: What criteria do you use to establish whether or not a fountain pen is cheap/inexpensive?

Discretionary funds.


Anyone owning three or more working pens is in no position to disparage choices by others.

#4 lectraplayer

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 00:06

It is relative to the person, though a lot of times you can look at the pen and the materials and compare it to others of the same type, although you'll begin to notice things like missing gold and lesser materials on the cheaper pens.


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#5 Mongoosey

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 00:50

Here's how I use the two terms:

 

Cheap:  Won't last and/or function to a necessary reliability and/or prone to serious defects/problems:

  • Lacking airtight seal (several of my cheap indian pens I threw out,)
  • Easily breakable (arguably some TWSBI's, Jinhao 992, Jinhao (whichever lol)
  • Easily problematic (if I post my Jinhao it caps loosely afterwards, Noodler's)
  • Sometimes it just feels too light weight due to lack of material (Nemosine Singularity).
  • Aren't necessarily low cost.

Inexpensive:  Functions to a reliable and/or optimal level with significant longevity while being more affordable.

  • Lamy Safari:  Very durable, innercap, dependable functionality.
  • Pilot Metropolitan:  "          "               "                (Same)
  • Ranga pens:  Well crafted Ebonite (Possibly ASA, but I haven't tried them)

There are also relatively inexpensive Gold nib options, especially when purchased direct or imported.

  • Certain Platinums, especially the 3776, which uses the same nib as Nakaya and lasts a lifetime.
  • Pilot 74/91 which use Pilot Gold Nibs (enough said) and are just as well.

I find this type of differentiating conveys the point with sufficient clarity.  There is some gray area, which does enlarge due to bias and ego.



#6 Bibliophage

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 01:14

One of the differences is that 'cheap' means poorly made.  Inexpensive means it doesn't cost a lot.

 

So, I'd say that most of the 'Dollar' pens out of India are cheap.   They can be expensive to buy because they're so much of a waste.

 

Parker Vectors, on the other hand, can be obtained for less than $10, but are generally very durable.   So they're just inexpensive.  



#7 Mech-for-i

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 09:59

Cheap and inexpensive is 2 term and I tend to think of them as 2 different matter and both had their places ad their part ..Cheap fountain pen; OK that is easy its pen that's priced in such manner as to rival peers in other writing instrument and priced economically enough that most of us can just buy one without any consideration ( financially ) if and when we need / want one .. Platimum Preppy, Pilot Kaküno, Hero 616+, and then others ...

 

On the other hand Inexpensive pen just mean good value pens that sit with a price tab that's OK with most of us while they are not exactly priced like the previously mentioned ... They may cost more but still not to say expensive. Sort of like Parker Jotter for Ballpoint, you won't go buy one and just use it as its just another tone off and thrown away. But its not like it would get pampered either. Again many pens sit on this price bracket and usually they exhibit the best ( and sometime worst ) how a Mfr goes ... many a todays Mfr basically neglect, abandon and even avoid this price bracket, but those do generally do give us some good workhorses , prime among them must be the Lamy Safari / Kaweco Sport German duet, both a very successful business and marketing model .. tough in actual use I do not  find them actually better ( and in most case worse ) than like from Pelikan ( P series ) or others ( even many of my Hero ) ..

 

And then there's another form of INEXPENSIVE pens .. these are pens that are tailored to be keepsake ( not for craft but as a pen, a writing instrument ) ; one really cannot say they are economically priced any more as most of them are priced somewhat on the expensive side as far as a pen goes but the are not expensive as compared to like of like peers in keepsake writing instrument and in particular fountain pen .. say the Hero H708, Platinum Sheep Leather, Sailor Promenade series, Cross ( various models ) .... one really cannot fault their price when you see they generally provide top end feature like a decent gold nib in a package tha's priced less than many others who would only give you a steel nib



#8 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 10:08

Depends on when and where you are hunting.

Back when I was 'noobie'  a decade ago, I spent a lot of time chasing old used pens.....vintage for under E20, then E25-30....when I broke the E50 limit it was a big thing. When I broke the E 100 that was huge.....now if I spend E 150 in a live auction, in mostly I just have to beat dealers who have to sell for a winning, instead of pen collectors I can on the whole get very nice pens cheaper than on Ebay. ... Especially with the German Cartel putting over priced Pelikans up in the auction only section..............the noobie who would have once put Gramps pen up for a start of E1.00 will follow and put it up for E250...........even if it was only worth E100 max....before the Cartel drove up the prices.

Folks in the US pay too much for used German pens as is.

 

But that was in Europe, that was before Cheap Chinese pens swept the market............Cheap is what ever gets you two or more pens for $10. Inexpensive one pen for $10.

 

Unfortunately vintage pens are now thought to be expensive. The great balanced Sheaffer Snorkel is lower priced. Affordable, in it will need a new sac put in by a qualified repairman (the guts is complicated) .....get one. There is the nail, regular flex and the rare early '50's semi-flex which will set you back more.

 

A decade ago a noobie was told to get a Lamy Safari or a Esterbrook then for $15. And all did, so the price jumped to $30 and no noobie was told to go Estie hunting anymore.

 

We have a Esterbrook sub section.....and everyone needs at least one colorful Estie............warning they are addictive....There are 8 grays; I only had 5........5 greens, only had two....bunches of blues, two reds, a copper and a totsiroll. Different screw in nibs cost $10-15 or a bit more for the 9xxx.

 

I've bought a Limited Edition Pelikan (translucent Amethyst, live in the pen shop section of a department store; don't remember the price) 200 for more than a regular 200 that I bought online for @ E-85- $90. In I buy good vintage flagship pens for about that....I find new pens expensive, even the affordable 200.

Is a lifetime well made pen.....I really like the springy regular flex nib!!!! :notworthy1: :thumbup:

I use to be a semi-flex snob, but learned to widen my horizon. A nice springy regular flex nibs being a tad wetter than a nail; is lots less wet than a semi-flex. So is better for two toned shading inks.

And you can put a semi-vintage matching gold regular flex 400's nib in it....or a gold 14 K stub semi-flex nib from the '50-65 era that gives great line variation; with out you having to do anything.

The nibs screw out so you can change nib width.

DSPqv6F.jpg


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#9 inkstainedruth

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 10:15

To answer the OP's question, there really is no fixed scale of "expensive" vs. "inexpensive".  It's going to depend -- as lectraplayer said -- on your personal discretionary budget.  6 or 7 years ago, I would have said that anything over $50 US was "expensive".  Since then, I've bought a number of pens costing over twice that amount.  And a couple that are more like SIX times that amount.  And I've been, for the most part, very happy with my purchases.  But I'm *also* the "Queen of Cheap" -- I'm a sucker for vintage pens, and if I can pick up a good pen in an antiques store or at an estate sale for a bargain, and it's both what I want and is within my budget (even after factoring repair costs), I'm likely to buy it.  So I do still have a LOT of pens for which I've paid under a hundred bucks -- and in a few cases, even less than that (sometimes I get exceedingly lucky in that the seller doesn't know what they have; other times -- such as the $300 Waterman lever-filler with its nib bent at about a 90° angle? -- not so much; and at times like that, I walk away).

At some point, though, you're going to find that it's become a case of the law of diminishing returns: ie., what is so special about pen A when it costs three or four times as much as pen B to make it worth coughing up your hard-earned dough?  And a lot of the higher-end brands/models which are designed to be "collectors' pieces" instead of writing instruments, are -- for me -- not worth the money (especially when they are tasteless bling for the sake of being bling; or as a counter-example, a pen that is a beautiful work of art but which you can't use for some reason -- it's too big for your hand, say (or is something like a high-end maki-e pen when you have a severe allergy to urushiol oil, the way I do).

And I'd much prefer to wander into some places and get a bargain, rather than paying too much (and I've done *that*, too...  :blush:).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#10 ParkerDuofold

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 11:35

Hi miwishi63, et al,

"Cheap" defines itself and needs no additional elucidation... "inexpensive" depends upon your discretionary income... as Praxim alluded to... and to what degree of mania you suffer from... as Ruth alluded to.

When I began this journey, I thought the $35 I paid for an Al-Star and a converter was a princely sum... now I consider that a drop in the bucket... and while my socio-economic level has improved since I bought that first Lamy in late 2015,... what really changed is my position in this avocation of ours.

So, there is no definitive answer except to say the question is a lot like pornography... one cannot define it,... but one knows it when one sees it! :D

Be well and enjoy life. :)


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#11 RudraDev

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 12:59

An inexpensive pen is a pen that has a price you can afford without giving it much thought.
That's about it.
"The worth of a product is that which you are willing to pay for it"

The Platinum Preppy is a cheap pen for most people, but people tend to spend less than a dollar on pens. So to a layman, even that's expensive.
When I first started out with fountain pens, I thought Jinhao pens were cheap and I scoffed at the price of the Lamy Safari.
Then, when I got a Lamy Vista, the price seemed reasonable, but I scoffed at the prices of the Pilot Custom 74 and Lamy 2000.
Then, when I got a Pilot Custom 74, I finally saw the flaw in my perspective. I could now validate the price of a Namiki Emperor.
I'm sure this has happened to a lot of us in the hobby- when we take the leap of faith, we can justify a $800 pen
So, there's no objective way to define an inexpensive pen, if you really think about it.

Edited by RudraDev, 12 May 2019 - 13:02.


#12 TSherbs

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 13:52

For me,

Inexpensive is less than 20 USD.

Moderate is 21-99 USD

Expensive is 100+ USD

YRMV

#13 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 14:51

A quick search on the forums didn't reveal an easy answer to this question. I recently saw a post in which someone indicated that a "cheap" fountain pen was any pen less than $100. This seems relative to me given that any pen that is more than $25 would be an expensive pen for me currently.
 
Question: What criteria do you use to establish whether or not a fountain pen is cheap/inexpensive?

'Cheap' to me: under five bucks, and I've had PLENTY of nice little writers in this price range, like the Platinum Preppy, vintage Sheaffer school pens, and currently the Jinhao sharks.

Mid-price: from five up to fifty. Also at this price some wonderful writers like the Plumix, Plaisir, and vintage Osmiroids and Esterbrooks.

Anything above that is 'expensive' to me.

#14 almoore

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 14:53

For me,

Inexpensive is less than 20 USD.

Moderate is 21-99 USD

Expensive is 100+ USD

YRMV

+1

E.g.

Inexpensive = Wing Sung 3008

Moderate = TWSBI Eco / Vac 700R

Expensive = Sailor/Platinum/Pilot or any Mont Blanc

Ultimately any pen you don't use, regardless of the price, is expensive. Which means my collection is definitely on the pricey side ☺

Edited by almoore, 12 May 2019 - 14:54.


#15 Freddy

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 15:38

A quick search on the forums didn't reveal an easy answer to this question. I recently saw a post in which someone indicated that a "cheap" fountain pen was any pen less than $100. This seems relative to me given that any pen that is more than $25 would be an expensive pen for me currently.

 

Question: What criteria do you use to establish whether or not a fountain pen is cheap/inexpensive?

Inexpensive: Two Grand.............

 

Everything is relative to your disposable income.

 

Hope this was of some help for you.

 

Fred

"That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest."

Henry David Thoreau



#16 inkstainedruth

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 16:49

Inexpensive: Two Grand.............

 

:yikes:

Must be nice.... 

Even if I win the lottery, though, I wouldn't be spending that much on a pen. Ever.  I'd be too afraid of losing it.  (Remember, I'm the one who hyperventilated when I lost my first "good" pen -- a $9 Parker Vector -- in my house for the better part of a year...).

Personally, I think it's a LOT more fun to find good quality/rare pens in the wild for cheap....  Which reminds me -- I really need to post the pix I took of the Osmiroid India ink pen I paid a buck for at an estate sale three blocks from my house about a month ago, and the pix of the cute little Sheaffer flat top lever filler I picked up at an antiques store in NW PA a week ago Saturday.  $1 and $6 respectively. :thumbup: Although of course I'll have to get the sac replaced on the Sheaffer.  And see about flushing out the Osmiroid then (which came with its own little tool to pull the feed for thorough cleaning).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#17 miwishi63

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 21:36

I deeply appreciate all the responses, especially those that sought to differentiate between "cheap" and "inexpensive." I've purchased some relatively expensive ($150-200) pens that turned out to be "cheaply" made, although they were perhaps the result of inconsistent quality control.

 

The comments here have helped me understand that "inexpensive" and "cheap" are two different descriptors, one referring to price and the other to quality. Also, what one considers inexpensive is directly related to the level of one's disposable income.

 

The nice thing about the current fountain pen market is that one can purchase, with a degree of research, a pen that is both inexpensive and "rich" in quality.



#18 corgicoupe

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 00:52

One other consideration is how the price compares to the market. I stumbled on a PFM III for $30 at a flea market because the seller didn't know what he/she had. This was way below market price but is not a cheap pen although it was inexpensive to purchase, even including the cost of restoration.


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#19 inkstainedruth

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 02:27

One other consideration is how the price compares to the market. I stumbled on a PFM III for $30 at a flea market because the seller didn't know what he/she had. This was way below market price but is not a cheap pen although it was inexpensive to purchase, even including the cost of restoration.

 

Exactly the point I was trying to make.  I've gotten great deals because I knew what the seller had (and the seller didn't) -- including a couple of Parker 51s in an antiques mall near me a few years ago.  They had the wrong caps on them, but I had learned from a good friend, FPN member Uncle Red, that even 3rd tier pens can have good nibs -- so I pulled the caps, and boy, was in for a big surprise!  Getting replacement caps cost more than the pens did....  But I walked out of the place with a Cedar Blue 51 Vac and an early 1960s Burgundy Aerometric -- for $25 +tax total for the pair.  :thumbup: 

Mind you, I've been burned a few times; and I've walked away when the price was more than I wanted to pay, or if the condition was more than the price warranted, or if I just didn't know enough.  But I've been lucky enough times to claim sumgai bragging rights.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#20 Inky-Republic

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 09:55

Depends on how much you have in your pocket. I recently spent $700 on a pen and a friend of mine referred to it as being mid range (not so much a friend anymore lol)!

 

On the other hand you might also consider quality as the focus when considering price. There are a few advocates of (cheap) Chinese pens on here who say the nibs are good quality and excellent writers. Can't say I find them exactly works of art myself, but with Jinhao's starting off at a buck each on e-bay (with free postage), hell I might just spend  five bucks and get something really impressive!

 

Serious advice for the miser is:

 

  • Read the Jinhao (or similar cheap brand) reviews and pick one that seems to get a good rap. 
  • Try it out for the experience and work up from there.
  • Experiment with nibs at low cost before moving up and spending more (I believe many cheap brand nibs are standard # sizes). 
  • If you find a great nib you really like (but would like a more attractive pen) look to see who offers one with that particular nib - and at a price you think acceptable.

 

You should have a degree of fun on the trip!







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