I can just see this topic drawing more replies from fans and devotees, to avow their love for vintage pens or try to argue others into sharing their sentiment, than contributions from the disinterested to share their reasons and reinforce that we are a non-homogenous community with vastly disparate values and preferences, joined only by a broad shared interest in the acquisition and/or use of fountain pens (for whichever individual purposes and reasons).
Not wanting to go off-topic, but I’m curious why you’re not interested in vintage pens. I have a few that I think you’d appreciate very much. As much as I admire modern pens, the pens I cherish most are vintage pens (purely because of how amazing they write, not because of materials or design or age).
I don't doubt some vintage pens write beautifully and write well, and may possibly suit my preferences in pens and nibs to a T, or even show me new things about the hobby.
- Some consumers like shiny new things and 'virgin' material possessions; I do.
Would I be interested in a 'new', never-inked fountain pen made long before I was born, and have managed not to be dulled or tarnished by age and use? Very possibly, but I'd expect they would be difficult to find, and terribly expensive in the face of demand from other interested prospective buyers, which could well include those who know and love the particular pen model, as well as those who don't even enjoy using fountain pens, but simply have more money than they can spend and just want to have one or a dozen for display in a cabinet as part of their personal collection.
By the way, I respect both of those groups equally; neither love I don't share nor wealth I don't have elevates one above the other. But I expect both would be ready to outbid me, should the opportunity to buy such a vintage pen arise. So, the prospective amount of work and low likelihood of success in hunting for it both contribute to my disinterest altogether; there are easier things to pursue and they could be just as rewarding.
- I personally see no inherent beauty in senescence, no inherent virtue in having endured the ravages of time, no inherent value in the legacies of names and brands; and I have no interest in developing any positive sentiment for such things.
- And, no, of course I'm not interested in preservation or conservation more generally. I see myself as living a disposable life in an impermanent world. As I told my wife many times, my greatest wish is to be completely forgotten after I die; not erased from history and have all the impacts I caused undone, but simply for everyone else to be living in the present and/or forward-looking.
- I have no appreciation of and no use for history, other than when I want to research the modes (or types, patterns, etc.) of failure, and their respective likelihood and consequences, for a particular something, with a view to either avoiding such for myself, or inducing it elsewhere to exploit and/or benefit from those failures. (Some would say that's just another way of saying learning from history.)
- Then, a generally easier way of managing the risk of failure in consumer goods is simply to buy brand new modern products, which comes with warranties and guarantees (in accordance with consumer law, manufacturers' policies, etc.), and for which spare parts of the same age are readily available, so that swapping a replacement component in does not in any way change the appearance or traits of an item.
- Especially when it is not "because of materials or design", I have to conclude that the characteristics of a product can be replicated today, if the will to do so is there. Does the alloy used make a vintage nib special? Well, unless the technology (including the known material composition, and the procedure for producing it) to make it has been lost of human civilisation since, or we have simply run out of the raw materials, it can be replicated in a brand new and modern product, whether it's produced for the mass consumer market (assuming there is sufficient interest and demand) and sold for reasonable prices, or made bespoke at a high cost of production to be borne by the client who commissioned it. Then, if the characteristics that are sought, which makes a pen special but not "because of materials or design or age", can be adequately described and specified, surely alternative solutions can be found or developed, again if the demand for something so great and "amazing" is there?
Just to be clear, we're not talking about reinventing the wheel, but simply producing new units to traditional wheel specifications.
If John Mottishaw can't modify any in-market nib to exhibit (as opposed to just mimic) those nib characteristics, and Santini Giovanni (or any of the master nib craftsman working for Sailor, Aurora, etc.) can't make a new nib in-house that writes the same way, then why would that be, if not because the materials cannot be reproduced today, or the design cannot be replicated (in spite of physical samples of the vintage nibs in question being accessible today), or the long ageing process has to do with how the characteristic develops?
I don't go out of my way to align my tastes and preferences with whatever are mainstream with my contemporaries, but if no manufacturer is making something that was once made in the past because current market demand simply isn't there, in spite of thousands upon thousands of similar items are still being produced, I think there is most likely good reason why certain traits particular to those vintage products have fallen out of favour with buyers today.
So, if we are not talking about a specific interest in acquiring a Stradivarius violin equivalent in fountain pens as a collector or treasure hunter, but more generally in exploring and appreciating what fountain pens produced umpteen dozen years ago have to offer, then I'm just not interested.
Could I be interested in or even keen on how a particular vintage pen writes, in terms of a set of functional and qualitative requirements separate from the exemplar's vintage attribute — and thus could be replicated in one or more new pens today, as least as well even if not improved upon, such that there is then no loss to fountain pen users if that vintage pen was lost, destroyed or simply deprecated? Sure.
Again, just to be clear, I'm not advocating getting rid of vintage pens — in the way some groups in history wanted to burn (certain) books — but simply to allow users who may fancy those writing characteristics to get what they want from new pens, and let the interest in (preserving and using) vintage pens just die out naturally in the user community except for history buffs, museum curators, moneyed private collectors and so on. It makes no sense to me for us to encourage Joe Consumer or Jane User to take a special interest in a category of items that are increasingly limited in numbers because production has long ceased (but natural attrition continues), when the utility and primary value ("not because of materials or design or age") can be achieved through something else we can produce, even if the substitution can be thought of as eroding the interest in (and consequently, "funding" for) keeping the out-of-production category of items in the market and somewhat accessible.
Does anyone else want to share their views and reasons for their disinterest, even though doing so will most likely invite backlash?
Edit: fixed a couple of typos
Edited by A Smug Dill, 11 March 2020 - 06:15.