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....
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.