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Nibs Sold For Their Gold


84 replies to this topic

#41 inkstainedruth

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:49

While the philosophical turn has, indeed gotten interesting, I'll pull it back more to on topic.

I was catching up on my eBay watch list and then looking for things to add to it last night.  And saw a listing for a pen where the seller said "I don't know if it's working or not...."

I just contacted the seller to say "Um, it's *completely* missing the nib -- so, well, seriously NOT working...." 

Not sure whether I'm allowed to post links for eBay listings that aren't finished, but the pen is a red or orange Morrison oversize.  Sad, really, because the pen looked to be in good shape otherwise (although of course I don't know whether the sac is okay or needs to be replaced).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#42 salmasry

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:04

While the philosophical turn has, indeed gotten interesting, I'll pull it back more to on topic.

I was catching up on my eBay watch list and then looking for things to add to it last night.  And saw a listing for a pen where the seller said "I don't know if it's working or not...."

I just contacted the seller to say "Um, it's *completely* missing the nib -- so, well, seriously NOT working...." 

Not sure whether I'm allowed to post links for eBay listings that aren't finished, but the pen is a red or orange Morrison oversize.  Sad, really, because the pen looked to be in good shape otherwise (although of course I don't know whether the sac is okay or needs to be replaced).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

 

 

You are right, I think I saw the pen u r talking about.  It is  obvious that the pen has  been subjected to a  gold nib removal  process such as the one described here.  Ineresting, now we see the victim Pens  being sold  as well.  Sad!


Edited by salmasry, 15 August 2019 - 02:28.


#43 Parker51

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 03:04

In the context of the Great Game, it doesn't mean a iota (or an epsilon). The Universe, Life, and Everything (pun intended) will continue irrespective of anything we do. So, yes, all this discussion is moot and pointless.
 
Subjectively, we are "living things". We are here because we survived our competitors. We survived the dinosaurs. We survived other populations. We strive to survive.
 
We didn't care much about fossils when we were rat- or lemming-like. But at some point, at least a million years ago, we started to care about memory and passing around what we had learnt to our community and offspring. Some 100.000 years ago, at least, we started carving marks on bones, and since that was hard work, it probably means we had been doing marks and sketches on the floor or non-preserving surfaces before that, and for some reason we decided we needed a surface that lasted longer. At least 50.000 years ago, we were painting in cave walls. About 10.000 years ago we invented writing. And here we are on FPN.
 
So the question is, how much knowledge do we now need to survive? and how much of it do we need to preserve?
 
Learning from our mistakes may give us a competitive edge. Learning from others' mistakes should be even better (they pay for the cost of learning and we get it for free).
 
Iff we accept that premise, then we may certainly learn what worked or not for us. It would be even better if we knew what worked or didn't for others, not just our parents, but our parent's parents, and so on... That would teach us which strategies did or did not work. Of course, if we don't get full details we may misinterpret the teachings. And, if you want to gain an edge, you may want to avoid others learning as much as you. Still, you would want to keep something for your kids (or maybe not).
 
Iff we accept that premise, then we should expect that preserving ancient knowledge, ancient artefacts, would be good for our egotistic, interested, selfish survival. And that destroying them will make us misinterpret the signals and take the wrong track, which would be against our interest.
 
Iff we accept that premise, then, losing the Library of Alexandria, threw us in the Dark Ages. Losing old nibs, art pieces, neolithic pottery, fossils, etc... is a catastrophe leading to future tragedy.
 
Iff we accept that premise, then, it is fully justified to feel alarmed by someone needlessly destroying our heritage.
 
This said, the Library of Alexandria was burnt down, we lost ancient wisdom, entered the Dark Ages, and, yet, here we are. Ancient Egypt tombs have been sacked and sold for their weight worth, and yet, here we are. Etc. Still, they were. Someone thought they were worthless. Or hated being tied to self-perpetuating past mistakes and wanted to destroy any trace of them (whether that was a wise move, is open to argument).
 
We may argue that had they known their real value, they could have got orders of magnitude more benefit than the bread crumbs they probably got instead. We can feel sorry that they were ignorant of what they were doing, the damage and the benefit (money, social growth) they unwittingly (or not) lost. We may also argue that in modern, Internet times, anyone with a minimum interest has it very easy to discover the actual value of things. Or can put them up for auction on eBay and try to get the most. Even so, the Library of Alexandria was burnt down. There will always be someone who will consider it worthless.
 
The rest of the post would have been politics and/or religion, so I'll leave it out. Suffice it to say, that even if feeling alarmed may be fully justified, Life and the Universe (better or worse) will still go on, so, may be it is not. Only Time (in a few million years) can tell.
 
NOTE: the 'iff' is fully intended as such.

Actually, most of your argument reflects a religious viewpoint and argues from that viewpoint. A viewpoint that neither I, nor many Fountain Pen Network users share. Your departure from many religious traditions does not make you, or your argument right. I can use both traditional religions arguments, as well as nominally non religious arguments against your viewpoint and for the value and importance of the preservation of knowledge, of art and of craft.
I for one will stand for Fountain Pens. For their beauty, for the knowledge they embody, for their ties with the history of their production and their use. My life is too valuable for the simply utilitarian and for most of utilitarianism, a cold and often misused system of beliefs, often simply voiced to give intelectual and emotional cover for greed.

Edited by Parker51, 15 August 2019 - 03:06.


#44 salmasry

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 03:18

Actually, most of your argument reflects a religious viewpoint and argues from that viewpoint. A viewpoint that neither I, nor many Fountain Pen Network users share. Your departure from many religious traditions does not make you, or your argument right. I can use both traditional religions arguments, as well as nominally non religious arguments against your viewpoint and for the value and importance of the preservation of knowledge, of art and of craft.
I for one will stand for Fountain Pens. For their beauty, for the knowledge they embody, for their ties with the history of their production and their use. My life is too valuable for the simply utilitarian and for most of utilitarianism, a cold and often misused system of beliefs, often simply voiced to give intelectual and emotional cover for greed.

 

 

It seems this discussion is way over my head   :D

 

Can you elaborate a little bit more, and share more about  your point of view ?

 

I did not  really get  the "greed" vibe from the point of view shared by Dr Txomsy ?  Can you explain that as well?

 

Just please:    U  guys need to make it clear enough,   such  that engineers and computer scientists, and people of that sort can understand what the heck is going on.  We are not  all  philosophy, arts,  or religious major around here.  I can barely read drudgereport's headline  :)


Edited by salmasry, 15 August 2019 - 03:19.


#45 Parker51

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 03:53

Utilitarianism argues a self centered viewpoint. It typically limits its concerns in an argument to the ones that concern the one that uses it to argue and support whatever action they want to take.
As example, if someone wants to destroy something, they will argue from the perspective that destroying something will have its highest utilility, that is its maximum value is obtained by destroying it. They will then sight supporting facts that agree with this viewpoint and demonstrate the benefit of said envisioned destruction. If they acknowledge those facts which argue against destruction they minimalize them and give a kind of cost benefit analysis without all the supporting data. This happens or has happened often with regard to mountains, streams, valleys, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, fisheries, houses, neighborhoods, farmland, and businesses in regard to real property, as well as physical objects such as were being discussed and extends to public goods which are destroyed as an unintended but still real side effect such as the generation of air and water pollution, that is the release of harmful,materials into the world.
In engineering terms, they want to do something they think is "cool". They then come up with a bogus argument justifying it and assign dollar figures for the benefit of the project while ignoring the costs, including well understood typical overrun costs, painting a picture of success. They especially avoid any discussion of the cost to anyone or anything else and pretend they no nothing about oppertunity costs. Sorry to sound like an accountant, wanting to actually have hard numbers and wanting a real analysis, but heh, I was an engineering Student at Carnegie-Mellon a long time ago. I know what kind of games engineers can play, especially if they want to do something "cool".
Utilitarianism is like that. Pick a goal and then argue for it while conveniently ignoring real costs, especially to others who don't count.
Not to get too political, but the Nazi's used it quite a lot. Too bad for those who they didn't see having a high utility in, rather deadly.
And so, if in the grand game a few libraries get burned, some art is destroyed, it's all rather small peanuts. And since we all die in the grand scheme of things, does it even matter if some of us live and some of us die?
It reminds me of a statement ascribed to some Nazi after they lost; we did eat well for 14 years.
It is that kind of greed, patently self centered and unapologetically so.

Edited by Parker51, 15 August 2019 - 04:10.


#46 salmasry

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 05:52

Perhaps I am still missing something,  however the previous post of Dr Txomsy,  seems  to share the importance and  value of preservation in a manner that is close to your view, again unless I am mis-understanding the whole point he was trying to make in that post.

 

OK, guys. Let us look at this from a different perspective.

 

What if, instead of nibs, it was the mask of Tut-Ankh-Amon, or the Library of Alexandria?

 

I don't see much of a difference.

 

And yet another:

 

What if instead of selling antique items, we sold our memory, i.e. we got a bunch of money in exchange for a complete amnesia?

 

Both points, actually are the same if you think of them.

 

 

I can not and do not speak on his behalf.   I will however, just read the discussion and try to understand more of the points being made.

 

On a lighter note, I am glad to know that there are fellow engineers in this forum :) 



#47 A Smug Dill

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 07:17

But at some point, at least a million years ago, we started to care about memory and passing around what we had learnt to our community and offspring. _...‹snip›...
Iff we accept that premise, then we should expect that preserving ancient knowledge, ancient artefacts, would be good for our egotistic, interested, selfish survival. And that destroying them will make us misinterpret the signals and take the wrong track, which would be against our interest.


There is a logical difference, and a vast and unbridgeable gap, between intangible knowledge (or skills, expertise and/or capability) and tangible artefacts. As a martial artist, I despair at the loss and extinction of ancient fighting techniques, blacksmithing skills and methods for making traditional samurai swords, etc. but some example of an antique weapon — however few remain in existence — is not itself knowledge, unless someone today wants to reverse-engineer the product, but even then it's trying to reproduce the outcome and not its actual creation process. Whether the last three remaining Hanzo swords (so to speak) are displayed in a public museum, or hidden away in some billionaire's private collection after paying several million dollars for them, or regarded and discarded by laymen as something of no historical and cultural value makes no difference whether the expertise to forge and/or wield one survives another generation.

 

I still don't see philanthropic and/or altruistic fountain pen buffs and self-styled defenders of heritage throwing their money and/or other resources at keeping the production of vintage-style flex nibs alive even if full-scale production facilities of such will ultimately operate at a financial loss in today's burgeoning fountain pen hobbyist market.

 

I have no issue personally with people liking, enjoying and valuing vintage nibs in the market. I have no problem with them becoming rarer and rarer. I have no problem with people either being prepared to pay thousands for any example of those that remain in existence, or treat intelligence of where they can be acquired at 'reasonable' prices as intangible 'gold' in itself. If you have a better use for those nibs than scrap metal, then by all means, please do your utmost with your resources (and that of your like-minded fans) to acquire and preserve all that you can, if you're not getting in the way of the incumbent owners getting their asking prices in return for relinquishing those nibs to whomever wants to buy them — and redistribute them among a subset of vintage pen buffs, or stick them in museums, or melt them for dress jewellery manufacture — once the commercial transactions are completed.

 

<EDIT>

Just to be absolutely clear, I never advocated incumbent owners going out of their way to destroy vintage nibs, or get less than they could press fans and collectors to pay in exchange for such, just to be bloody-minded or spite someone. I'm perfectly comfortable with their being completely neutral (and uncaring) about how much someone would love to write with such a nib or how much they would hate to see it 'wasted' and/or taken out of circulation permanently (even if they don't buy and hoard it themselves). They don't care, but 'you' do, so you buy it from them at the asking price, then make a profit or do whatever 'you' want with it because apparently 'you' know better than the incumbent owners do as to the true value of those items. If 'you' fail to take advantage of such opportunities to acquire them at below (what 'you' think is) their true value, because 'you' lack the information or the cash flow buy them when the nibs are offered, that's 'your' shortcoming and nothing for which to blame anyone else.


Edited by A Smug Dill, 15 August 2019 - 07:29.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.

#48 Honeybadgers

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:56

I don't mean to really rain on any parades, but some things do have inherent value that genuinely matters. We don't melt down the gold in the pommel of the sutton hoo sword.

 

I just do not buy the flat, emotionless pragmatism of the "it's just gold" argument. These are things of genuine value to the world in more than just their elemental components. As a chemistry major, I'm kind of disgusted by the flat value we place on individual elements. Once the elements have been made into something, that thing has intrinsic value generally far beyond what it is been ascribed.

 

Elements are just things. Who the hell cares. What they're made into is what matters. I got the chance once to meekly play with Evan Drachman's Stradivarius Cello. A chunk of (bleep) wood. It was a life-changing experience for me.

 

The nibs shown are for the most part a rare alloy that is not reproduced in modern times and have real value to the people influenced by their creation.

 

I would have paid TEN TIMES what that little 14k triumph music nib was "worth" as scrap gold. Hell, If I had the cash, I'd have probably bought the entire lot to have restored and just re-sold what I could or flat out donated the stuff I couldn't fix myself to a nibmeister that could.

 

Gold is just an element. There's billions of tons of it left in the ground. Destroying parts of our history that still have lots of genuine value to a not insignificant number of people is just stupid. 

 

The "nothing is of inherent value because whoever could afford to buy it bought it" argument is just the stupidest, most asinine and ridiculous argument I can think of. It's shallow and so shortsighted it could be declared legally blind. Think of all the WWII planes that were destroyed that museums today would pay THOUSANDS of times their worth in "scrap" for. It'd be like tearing down the Pantheon or Coliseum for their weight in materials. Yes, 20, 30, 40, 100, 200, 500, 1000 years after their construction they weren't being used for much, but they mattered. And we, as a society, are better today for having saved them.

 

Pragmatism has its limits. As do emotional kneejerk responses. A balance of everything is crucial. Sure, scrap old Chevy cavaliers. They're (bleep). But safe enough that the world itself can still remember it.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 15 August 2019 - 10:05.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#49 ardene

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 11:30

I' try to be as brief and to-the-point as possible.

 
So the question is, how much knowledge do we now need to survive? and how much of it do we need to preserve?
 
Learning from our mistakes may give us a competitive edge. Learning from others' mistakes should be even better (they pay for the cost of learning and we get it for free).


Txomsy is making an evolutionary argument here. The problem with this argument is that knowledge might be detrimental from a narrow point of view focusing on survival. E.g. knowing the physics of the atom has led to the human ability to destroy most of life and all of civilization. Such a thing was not possible before nuclear weapons, but it is now.


 

Utilitarianism argues a self centered viewpoint. It typically limits its concerns in an argument to the ones that concern the one that uses it to argue and support whatever action they want to take.

 

You have to say that you argue against utility-centred points of view. Utilitarianism is the ethical theory based on the arguments of Bentham and Stuart-Mill and which has the utility principle as its foundation. The utility principle states "act in such a way so that you maximise the pleasure (= benefits of every conceivable kind) for the maximum number of people". So no, the people in your examples were not utilitarian by a long shot.

There is a logical difference, and a vast and unbridgeable gap, between intangible knowledge (or skills, expertise and/or capability) and tangible artefacts.


That is precisely correct. Writing with a particular nib however is not even skill or expertise or a capability of an agent, it is personal experience. Personal experience is conducive to skills and abstract knowledge, but it is different from them because it cannot be communicated or otherwise transmitted to others exactly as it is (i.e. as the writer perceived it); this is not because there are limitations in language and communication technology (e.g. youtube videos) or because we cannot experience the content of each other's minds but because the experience of writing with a particular nib depends on factors like the ink flow, the chosen paper, ambient temperature and even the writer's mood.

Now to the question of the nibs: The fate of these items is morally irrelevant. (This statement is a piece of knowledge btw). There are three predominant ethical theories. Utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics. The two first are theories originating in the enlightenment and the third has its origins in Aristotle.

Very briefly, a utilitarian might say that preserving the nibs will make some people, those that will use them, happier and that by destroying the nibs a little bit more of happiness in the world is never becoming actual. How certain is that? Not at all. Maybe most of those people will be bored after five minutes of writing with them. Besides, the happiness which might be actualised by those nibs remaining intact is hardly of any significance to speak of: it is not something conducive to the potential user's well-being in any deep sense; it is not like the happiness actualised from the availability of clean water and pharmaceuticals.

A deontologist thinks that one should act in such a way so that their action would be undertaken by anyone under similar circumstances. Is the possible guidance "do not destroy those old nibs" universalisable? No, it is not; there are plenty of circumstances under which the nibs can be scrapped: for instance the gold might be put to better use in computer construction which will then provide people with better abilities to make a living, entertain themselves and be in contact with their loved ones. Or it might be used to set up and successfully conduct a scientific experiment which will ultimately and in due course be more beneficial to humanity.

A virtue ethicist thinks not "what should I do", but "what sort of person do I want to be". Someone might say that selling the nibs for scrap shows that the seller lacks in the virtue of generosity. They would be generous if they sold the nibs to people who can appreciate them. But the seller might in fact be a generous person; they just might not be able for practical reasons to sell one or few nibs at a time. A virtue ethicist might also bring up the question of happiness as the utilitarian would do. The virtue ethicist does not mean happiness as pleasure though. She/he means it as serenity. Would selling the nibs to be used make their new owners more serene? No not really. This is because serenity can be perfectly achieved with material possessions enough to cover one's main needs and the main needs of their loved ones; in addition we all know that more nibs and more pens generally generate more concerns of the type that can be distracting.

In sum, the fact that these nibs have been sold for scrap is a pity because nibs with the properties we expect many of these nibs to have are not made any longer but it is definitely not a sacrilege.

#50 northlodge

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 15:24

 

 

The issue for me was that melting down of these nibs was a great waste, the nibs could have been put to better use than turned into gold ingots.

 

I take your point on forums veering towards philosophy, perhaps this is human nature, if you have been following this thread you may be aware that some argumentative /goading posts have been removed, quite correctly.

 

I would suggest that the original purpose of this thread, showing a large sale of nibs being sold for their scrap value, has served its purpose and thanks to all who have submitted their opinions on that subject.

 

I understand the point you make in the OP, but it misses out a couple of important facts:

 

1. This listing was from a seller who lists lots of restored pens every week, all at quite high prices. We must therefore conclude that these nibs are not in a useable condition, even after some attention from a competent pen restorer.

 

2. There is no affordable solution in the UK for those having nibs for repair. I have previously used 'Goldnibs' in Spain, but that cost me £25 - £30 per nib, and the £ has crashed since then. It is cheaper to purchase a complete pen than get a UK nib repaired. 

 

I also have a large pile of scrap nibs (30g last time I weighed them) and had considered the same path as this seller. I haven't yet done so, but cannot see anything wrong given the alternative of having a piece of 14ct gold  abstract art sitting in a plastic bag on my desk



#51 Beechwood

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 16:22

 

I understand the point you make in the OP, but it misses out a couple of important facts:

 

1. This listing was from a seller who lists lots of restored pens every week, all at quite high prices. We must therefore conclude that these nibs are not in a useable condition, even after some attention from a competent pen restorer.

 

2. There is no affordable solution in the UK for those having nibs for repair. I have previously used 'Goldnibs' in Spain, but that cost me £25 - £30 per nib, and the £ has crashed since then. It is cheaper to purchase a complete pen than get a UK nib repaired. 

 

I also have a large pile of scrap nibs (30g last time I weighed them) and had considered the same path as this seller. I haven't yet done so, but cannot see anything wrong given the alternative of having a piece of 14ct gold  abstract art sitting in a plastic bag on my desk

 

???

 

In the opening post all I said was

 

Sad sight to see a large pile of (mostly) fountain pen nibs sold for their scrap gold price.

 

This pile of nibs was sold for over GBP1200 for 58 gms weight.

 

It was never intended to be all inclusive in terms of the facts so not sure why you are being criticial.

 

Your point 1 is an assumption rather than a conclusion.

 

Its up to you what you do with your scrap nibs, not my concern or interest to anyone other than yourself.

 

The point I was making and its true of any crafted item including jewellery, nibs, gold edging on books, gold embroidery, crockery  or any other gold item apart from the fillings in teeth, is that it is sad to have lost that crafted piece of work for the sake of the smelter.

 

As I have said already, that is a personal view of mine and probably not shared by many, if any. I would rather own and keep an unusual but irreperable nib rather than have the tiny amount of money that I might earn from the sale of that special nib.

 

I am not going to argue with you about it, we have a different perspective.


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#52 txomsy

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 17:16

I think my main point may have been missed. I wasn't arguing utilitarianism. Nor was I arguing preservation. It was written neither from any religious ground.

 

The actual point was that any of the approaches is justifiable. That's why the 'iff's. Even the entropic argument depends on whether the Universe really is entropic and a Universe.

 

Now, on nibs... only time will tell, but already we are at a point where it seems that we have lost the ability to reproduce many of them.

 

Look at the pyramids of Egypt. Zillions of persons have believed (and still do) that they were made by aliens because we no longer know how to do them and, obviously, if we don't, t is impossible some "less evolved" civilizations build them. Will this happen to nibs? Will we get secret magical societies measuring them and swearing by their proportions?

 

Now, I can buy the utilitarian principle if you like. Why do we need to make pyramids any more, or any of the 7 Marvels? But we don't know either how Romans made their ports. And yet, 2000 years after, engineers are still trying to discover how did they make a cement that survived under water so long, because we cannot match it yet. Will we be trying to reproduce ancient nibs from scratch in the future?

 

You bet. My bet is that many an archaeologist would have appreciated knowing how stone utensils were actually made instead of using electron microscopy to find out, and many a historian would love to have and read more quipus.

 

That we are so limited as to be unable to predict what will be needed in the future is only Natural: but nobody can claim that something is no longer useful.

 

We have a nice parable in many Flood-like Myths all over the World and Cultures: we may not need to preserve everything, but saving at least enough of each to reproduce it (animal, item, knowledge, etc..) has been in our collective conscience for many millenia.

 

Does it mean nibs should not be sold by the weight? If we could remake them easily, I do not think anybody would care. We do care because we no longer can, and so they have become a scarce (and valuable) resource.

 

For the utilitarian, not exploiting a valuable resource is a pity. For the lover of knowledge, not preserving it is a pity. In contrast. for the stoic/mystic, caring for material goods is a pity. And so on. And there is no way now to tell who is right or wrong.

 

If you ask me, I'd say we shouldn't have lost the know-how in the first place. Was it possible? I don't know. As Enterprises and technologies rise and fall, merge or disappear, the cost might have been too high, or maybe nobody cared. So, why do I care to write all this? Because now in e-times, preserving knowledge is no longer so expensive. So, at least, we can learn from the OP: if we do not want a similar message in the future, we better preserve our know-how now that we can.

 

Disclaimer: I did set up one of the first 100 web servers, so I am interested in e-preservation and e-sharing of knowledge. I may not be objective. Don't trust my opinion on this. Think it out for yourself.



#53 txomsy

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 17:33

While the philosophical turn has, indeed gotten interesting, I'll pull it back more to on topic.

I was catching up on my eBay watch list and then looking for things to add to it last night.  And saw a listing for a pen where the seller said "I don't know if it's working or not...."

I just contacted the seller to say "Um, it's *completely* missing the nib -- so, well, seriously NOT working...." 

Not sure whether I'm allowed to post links for eBay listings that aren't finished, but the pen is a red or orange Morrison oversize.  Sad, really, because the pen looked to be in good shape otherwise (although of course I don't know whether the sac is okay or needs to be replaced).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

Actually, you are right, and it's something I have always wondered. Whenever I see those, I think to my self, I could be making a fortune by simply buying pens and then selling them separately by pieces as parts.  Even better, get the auctions where they sell pens cheaply as spare for repairs, take them apart, and sell each piece separately. The "tomb raider" mentality. I can't help feeling stupid for not doing it, and yet I can't.

 

That I haven't done it (nor 99.9% of us) does tell us something about our Nature. And helps explain this thread.



#54 inkstainedruth

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 22:04

 

 

 

You are right, I think I saw the pen u r talking about.  It is  obvious that the pen has  been subjected to a  gold nib removal  process such as the one described here.  Ineresting, now we see the victim Pens  being sold  as well.  Sad!

 

Well I got a response today from the seller, who basically just reiterated (more or less word for word) what the listing originally said.  I then told the seller "Yeah, good luck with selling that pen....  You'll need it...."  

I'm not buying a second tier pen that I might have trouble getting a replacement nib for (it's not like it's an Esterbrook, where it's easy to get most sizes and grades of nib units except for the really exotic ones).  The price of the pen was pretty low ($10 US) but then add another nearly $8 for shipping?  For a pen that CLEARLY doesn't work?  I'll pass.  

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."

#55 inkstainedruth

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 22:24

There is a logical difference, and a vast and unbridgeable gap, between intangible knowledge (or skills, expertise and/or capability) and tangible artefacts. As a martial artist, I despair at the loss and extinction of ancient fighting techniques, blacksmithing skills and methods for making traditional samurai swords, etc. but some example of an antique weapon — however few remain in existence — is not itself knowledge, unless someone today wants to reverse-engineer the product, but even then it's trying to reproduce the outcome and not its actual creation process. Whether the last three remaining Hanzo swords (so to speak) are displayed in a public museum, or hidden away in some billionaire's private collection after paying several million dollars for them, or regarded and discarded by laymen as something of no historical and cultural value makes no difference whether the expertise to forge and/or wield one survives another generation.

Maybe I should introduce you to people in the SCA....  B) 

Amongst other things, a lot of members are amateur "experimental archaeologists" (by which I mean, people who say "Hey, how did they do X back then?" and play around until they figure out a plausible method to recreate the X in question using medieval techiques as best they can).  A guy who lives near Ithaca, NY just got the highest level Arts award a couple of weeks ago, for his work in trying to recreate how warp-weighted looms were used (he had seen other people used them and, as an engineer, said "There's got to be a better way to make those work...").  Another guy I know has the same level award for metalwork, including playing around with making Damascus steel blade knives.  And back in the days of Netnews groups, someone would go on the SCA's group when the topic turned to metallurgy and knife-making, and would quietly say "I know a little bit about that..."; turns he wrote the three standard manuals on the topic (the ones that all the metalsmiths want in their library...).

I'm betting there is an SCA chapter in your neck of the woods (the Kingdom of Lochac being Australia and New Zealand).  Heck, I heard awhile back that there are chapters forming in mainland China (our current Crown Prince here in the Kingdom of Æthelmearc had to travel to someplace in China for his job last year and I think he said something on FB about actually attending a fight practice while he was there....  :rolleyes: 

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."

#56 salmasry

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 22:48

 

Well I got a response today from the seller, who basically just reiterated (more or less word for word) what the listing originally said.  I then told the seller "Yeah, good luck with selling that pen....  You'll need it...."  

I'm not buying a second tier pen that I might have trouble getting a replacement nib for (it's not like it's an Esterbrook, where it's easy to get most sizes and grades of nib units except for the really exotic ones).  The price of the pen was pretty low ($10 US) but then add another nearly $8 for shipping?  For a pen that CLEARLY doesn't work?  I'll pass.  

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

Actually the way I read their disclaimer, is that  even if you get a replacement nib, they do not know if  the rest of the pen is functional, or even if it is there.  Unless someone has very specific need for that pen's body, for some part replacement,   I think it is safe to assume that it will need a lot more than a nib, to become a functioning pen. 

 

Their disclaimer:

WE DO NOT CHECK FOR ANY MECHANICAL, INTERIOR / INTERNAL, NIB OR INSIDE PEN ISSUES- WE ARE ONLY SHOWING THE CONDITION OF THE BODY/ CASE COSMETICS OF PENS. WE DO NOT KNOW IF THIS PIECE WORKS PROPERLY, OR IF ALL COMPONENTS ARE INTACT OR DAMAGED, OR IF THERE ARE ANY PROBLEM, OR ANY ISSUES IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM,  OR IF IT WILL NEED ANY TYPE OF REPAIR. WE ARE SELLING THIS AS IS 


Edited by salmasry, 15 August 2019 - 22:59.


#57 Parker51

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 00:49

I maintain that there is much criticism of Utilitarianism because it is self centered.
The basic proposition of it that it argues that value is based on pleasure has been criticized for its being based on the perspective of the individual making the pronouncements regarding their belief on what is the greatest good for the maximum amount of people. This resulted in a recognition and a change of Unitarianism to focus on each individual making their own decisions as far as what they individually value as providing the greatest utility. It is still self-centered, but more open and honestly.
I simply blatantly said what is said by others, it is not a universal, but a schema derived from what the individual observers perspective provides the greatest utility, or pleasure and it is used by individuals as an operating system by many individuals.
Utilitarianism also is often criticized for failing to consider the consequences of it, especially the negative consequences typically. This has been attempted to be addressed through a crude kind of cost benefit analysis for the greater good, which in turn has been criticized as being too subjective to be universal.
Utilitarianism specifically in arguing for the greater good does allow for and has been criticized for its ignoring of environmental destruction and the value of humans over animals in the extreme.
And, I maintain that once certain groups, such as the Nazi Party define one group as human (their group) and others as non-human, which they did, quite explicitly, they then operated on Utilitarian principles towards maximizing their pleasure as they defined its without thought to cost.
You can criticize them and their ilk, such as racist for making a fallacy of logic in classifying people who are clearly humans as non-humans, but that doesn't change their behavior as being Utilitarian. And actually some of the accommodations suggested to reduce the problem of the cold universalism of early Utilitarianism by allowing for the respect of traditional human relationships such as family, when taken to the extreme the Nazi's did, in declaring their ethnicity as one family, fell well within accommodations made by Utilitarianism.
The ethnic cleansing of today and yesterday is a type of Utilitarianism, with those outside the ethnic group defined as non-human and those within the ethnic group acting in a very Utilitarianist manner.
And, those that routinely destroy for profit are typically not anguished and tortured souls justifying their actions based on a desperation to make a profit to literally feed themselves and their family. No, they are typically true believers in that the destruction they engage in is beneficial for the society as a whole. You hear it frequently referred to as Creative Destruction. They believe it is a good thing to divide up businesses into parts and sell off the parts and in the process destroying the enterprise. They take down mountains not only for personal profit. They are,of the same cloth that happily point out how much better it is to have the resulting flat land then the mountain they destroyed, it's all for the greater good, for more pleasure for more people.
For a modern and populous take on Utilitarianism, think of the Hunger Games.
Yes, a few die, but the pleasure of those that watch, the benefits of social stability. Why they were established and continued, to help prop up a ruling clas, maybe, or maybe in a future with a decimated population a schema of Utilitarianism to make thing better for more people.
Now, back to nibs.
It is wrong to destroy them for the gold in them.
Full stop.

Edited by Parker51, 16 August 2019 - 01:07.


#58 A Smug Dill

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 02:40

Now, on nibs... only time will tell, but already we are at a point where it seems that we have lost the ability to reproduce many of them.


Be that as it may, whether those supposedly rare artefacts remain in existence and/or regarded and protected as heritage "treasures" is unlikely to alter the level or availability of modern capability to reproduce them.
 

But we don't know either how Romans made their ports. And yet, 2000 years after, engineers are still trying to discover how did they make a cement that survived under water so long, because we cannot match it yet. Will we be trying to reproduce ancient nibs from scratch in the future?

 
Frankly I don't see the point. When people have a practical or survival need (or want) — as opposed to an emotional or sentimental one — functional and qualitative requirements can be, or at least (in my opinion) ought to be, articulated for it; and, yes, they could "borrow" those requirements from prior art. They can then endeavour to apply currently available capability — including knowledge, technology and material resources — or develop "new" capability that is not currently available to satisfy those requirements.
 

Does it mean nibs should not be sold by the weight? If we could remake them easily, I do not think anybody would care. We do care because we no longer can, and so they have become a scarce (and valuable) resource.


A resource for what exactly?

I personally have no time for the "vintage nib experience" if that body of user requirements and expectations cannot be described functionally and qualitatively without reference to someone else's experience. As far as I'm concerned, writing with a fountain pen is not about relating to either our "forefathers" or contemporary fellow users who have used "vintage nibs". If I need an instrument that will allow me to produce Copperplate English Roundhand or bâtarde hand-lettering on the page, using my choice of ink and paper, I should be able to articulate my requirement without relating it to what others use or have used to achieve comparable results. The content of the text produced with such an instrument may in fact be about communicating with other people, but the process of making legible shapes and marks on the page isn't.
 
And, yes, I can share the lament having lost the knowledge or skills that would have allowed new artefacts that meet current requirements to be produced more readily. But that is not criticism of what the seller of those nibs mentioned in the initial post of this thread seems to be about.
 
Hoarding, misplacing, discarding or destruction of "rare" nibs could all make it harder for the individual consumer (one which happens to be a fountain pen hobbyist who happens to like or want "vintage nibs" or the "vintage nib writing experience") to have his/her want satisfied; or, if he/she wasn't going to buy those nibs anyhow, for him/her to nevertheless imagine contemporary like-minded others getting satisfaction. It is my strongest belief that it's perfectly OK for the individual to be "denied" what he/she wants as a user and consumer in the present market and environment. OK, you can't produce new (and nobody else is producing new), and the number of units of in-existence "vintage", "antique" or "ancient" is dwindling, so as a consumer you have a supply shortage. I can relate that it's frustrating to not get satisfied, and seeing trends that make getting oneself satisfied becoming ever more difficult in the future, but that has nothing to do with preserving knowledge for society or civilisation as a whole.
 
Criticising a contemporary for contributing to that supply shortage is an entirely different matter to burning books and actively trying to prevent knowledge, information and/or philosophies (which I'm using as a loose term to denote systems of values and beliefs) from being visible or known to future generations. We don't "need" others after us to pick up the mantle just so that what we personally hold dear today would not be deprecated, repudiated or forgotten in the future; we have no place in knowing what is useful and appropriate for our descendants or what they want in their time.
 

If you ask me, I'd say we shouldn't have lost the know-how in the first place. Was it possible? I don't know. As Enterprises and technologies rise and fall, merge or disappear, the cost might have been too high, or maybe nobody cared.


In other words, the balance of cost and benefit, to those who would expressly or tacitly burdened with the capital, operational and/or opportunity costs of either action or inaction to prevent something from becoming extinct, judged the benefit to not be worth it.

The answer to that is simple: take over as the replacement "incumbent" party burdened with the costs, and in doing so put oneself in the position with the "right" and responsibility of making such decisions.
 

So, why do I care to write all this? Because now in e-times, preserving knowledge is no longer so expensive. So, at least, we can learn from the OP: if we do not want a similar message in the future, we better preserve our know-how now that we can.


That doesn't mean it's free of costs and risks beyond the digital capture and hosting of the knowledge.

My sifu taught martial arts as his primary income-generating activity. He wasn't just going to capture in writing and drawings what he taught, and/or film himself performing the techniques and the forms, much less explain their intricacies and his personal insights, for "free"; nor would he just agree to allow it to happen without his cut in terms of financial interest, even though the technology for such capture (and digitisation) was easily accessible to him and his students even back in the day. Sure, one of his students talked him into a commercial arrangement, and wrote two books that captured a small part of that knowledge, but that does not mean he or anyone else had licence to reproduce that information electronically for archival purposes, especially for access by those who want the knowledge preserved in the "public interest" of future generations but don't want my sifu (or his estate) to get paid for every copy or every use of the book until copyright expired.

Just making the information accessible in his day carried an opportunity cost; some prospective student may decide it's more economical to read the book instead of paying him month after month to train, however misguided that view is. I read one of those books way back, and the information contained therein was... shallow, to say the least. I was one of his inner circle of students (selected for the privilege for the wrong reason!), and let's just say there were lots of weaknesses built into the "knowledge" that was captured — though not as an act of sabotage, but he merely did not point out for the author, nor mitigate with his insights and "improvements" to basic techniques born of combat experience — that we were taught to spot, exploit and defeat.

Of course, there would be a cost too to any of his inner circle of students who elected to disclose the "secrets" of certain techniques, or just go against his wishes in the matter. I was sent to teach one of the more senior students (than myself) "a lesson", just for a branding disagreement in how that student set up his suburban school. I'm not telling you this to impress upon you how "awesome" I was, when I'm not proud of what I did in the name of sifu's school or brand with my uninspiring fighting ability, but merely trying to illustrate that there are costs you've conveniently overlooked from your position.
 
By the way, when I moved interstate (to get away from a lot of things), sifu tried to talk me into setting up a branch of his school. I declined, and basically discontinued active practice altogether. I'd be happy to see his knowledge passed down — but through others and not me. There are some things I think are better forgotten (by me).
 

Maybe I should introduce you to people in the SCA....  B)
_...‹snip›...
I'm betting there is an SCA chapter in your neck of the woods (the Kingdom of Lochac being Australia and New Zealand).

 
The SCA folk at my university some quarter of a century ago didn't like me (and for good reason, haha). I don't think their idea of combat with polearms gelled with mine, but neither they nor I were keen to "prove" whether well-timed and aimed thrusts with a bo staff can do internal organ damage or dislocate shoulders through their "heavy-duty" armour.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.

#59 ardene

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 03:17

I maintain that there is much criticism of Utilitarianism because it is self centered.

I simply blatantly said what is said by others, it is not a universal, but a schema derived from what the individual observers perspective provides the greatest utility, or pleasure and it is used by individuals as an operating system by many individuals.


You oversimplify here, but I have more to say (briefly) just below. If you have some time look at the Wikipedia entry for utilitarianism: https://en.wikipedia.../Utilitarianism
 

For a modern and populous take on Utilitarianism, think of the Hunger Games.
Yes, a few die, but the pleasure of those that watch, the benefits of social stability.


This is pertinent. Notice however (and this is described in the article) that one might use utilitarianism to argue that the Hunger Games practices are immoral since they promote the illusion of pleasure or petty pleasures and ultimately lead to instability. Somebody could also say that your example is about social policy whereas the problem in this thread is about particular acts of particular persons. I will not say so because, as I have said already, I think that your critique is pertinent: there are relations between what norms prevail in any given time and what people think and do. I will however say that I have discussed three different approaches, not utilitarianism alone.


I will now ask all readers to forgive some further musings since I find the whole exchange fascinating.

 

If you ask me, I'd say we shouldn't have lost the know-how in the first place. Was it possible? I don't know. So, why do I care to write all this? Because now in e-times, preserving knowledge is no longer so expensive. So, at least, we can learn from the OP: if we do not want a similar message in the future, we better preserve our know-how now that we can.


That's actually a very interesting thought. However I tend to think that preserving the know-how of vintage nib-making is not the same as having preserved the nibs. The preserved nibs might indeed give us information about their making and their properties so that we might then replicate the nibs using either original techniques or entirely new ones; but if the know-how is, as you say, lost, then what do we hold on to by preserving the nibs? I read your argument as a call for the preservation of the nibs as sources of information (rather than as sources of knowledge). The difference between knowledge, both as knowledge-that (facts and propositions in the head generally like "I know today is Friday") and as knowledge-how (skills), and information is that the former resides in people; information on the other hand does not reside anywhere in particular. Not even in the preserved nibs. It acquires significance from the interaction of nib and person. The question -to which I do not have an answer now- is: do we need as many vintage nibs as possible to preserve the information of what they are and how they were made?



#60 txomsy

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 10:47

Right. For me, once the know-how is lost, the next best thing is to save items for study. We didn't know how Stone Age artefacts were done, but having some left allowed experts to find out. Otherwise we wouldn't even know about them. That learning to carve stones the Stone Age way required first the development of Electron Microscopy is rather telling of how difficult it may be to recover lost knowledge.

 

Same for Roman cement. We can forget how it was done, after all, we have those ports that will last "forever", and then, if we ever want to build new ports, restart from zero. That's OK. But forgets statistics. Every so, you'll get a genius. By probability, the more genial s/he is, the more unlikely a similar genius will arise. If engineers are trying to find out how Romans did that cement is because in 1500 years, nobody has been able to come up with a similar or better solution, and nobody knows how it was made and everybody would like to make ports that last as long. That millions have been invested in finding out it, is also telling of how important that lost knowledge can get for modern industry.

 

The Romans had sewers. Sewers were abandoned in the Middle Ages. People died during Centuries for lack of proper sanitization. Until the Enlightenment. That those people died is also telling about the potential cost of oblivion.

 

All over, the running point is the same: we forget things because we think that they are no longer useful, we cannot regret it because we forgot them, only when we re-discover them, do we realize how wrong we were in the first place. Generally speaking. Not everybody.

 

Utilitarianism, as any other philosophy, is out of the equation. Short-sighted, it tends to err, like any other. With a global view its conclusions just don't differ from any other philosophy or from common sense (the least common of all senses).

 

So, yes, if we can, I think that we should strive to preserve knowledge. If it is lost, then artefacts (like books), so we can at least have a reference and know it is possible. If they are lost, word-of-mouth (as in Farenheit 451, or legends). If not, as witty sayings and grandma's advice. If not, as the ability to think soundly. If not, the ability to bow and obey our masters to survive as slaves, or the acrimony to subdue others.

 

Of course, everybody deserves a reward for his/her contributions. How much? I'm not the one to say, but suffice it to note that Copyright and Patents have an expiration for a reason. When someone hides something from the Public Domain forever, some cultures would say that s/he might be robbing all the rest.

 

That's why many companies favour Trade Secrets: because that enables them to exploit knowledge well beyond expiration dates without sharing it with anyone else. Which in many cultures is OK as well. The sad thing is, when they no longer have an interest in the secret, some don't open and share it (even under a Patent or Copyright), but let it die precluding anyone else from obtaining a profit out of something they are no longer interested in.

 

Note that I do not say it is Right or Wrong. Only sad. That's what me feeels about those nibs and many other wonderful artefacts now irreproducible. I know that in due time another genius will come and find a better solution. In the long term, it doesn't matter. In my short term, interested view, I don't like the thought of waiting a thousand years for that guy/gal.

 

Many people feels sorry (nostalgic?) too. And that's why there still are persons trying to keep alive old jobs and crafts. Ancient ink recipes. Calamus writing. Feather cutting. Nib grinding. Calligraphy. Iron smithing. Beer brewing. Etc... On that last one, I don't know there, but around here there is a frenzy about artisan beers, long after industrial beer had practically wiped them out decades ago. Never say nevermore.





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