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Why Some Of Us Hold Little Or No Interest In Vintage Pens

we being hobbyists no us-and-them here unless you insist

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156 replies to this topic

#21 tim77

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 12:54

I'm a committed modernist, for better or worse.  I understand perfectly well the attraction of vintage; it's just not for me.

 

There are distinct drawbacks to seeking the latest thing:

 

I have pens from newer manufacturers which have fundamental design or manufacturing flaws, making them essentially useless.  That's not a risk you run when buying vintage, because useless pens are quickly lost and forgotten.  Some flaws are fixable, but if I'm prepared to make repairs then what do I have against vintage pens?  I don't have a good answer to that.

 

But sometimes a modern pen is different to anything that came before:

 

I have a heap of WingSung 601s: nice pens which are cheap enough to use in less ideal environments where I would never risk a more expensive pen.  Only modern manufacturing makes that possible, and it fundamentally changes how I use fountain pens.  Ironically the 601 design is based on the decidedly vintage Parker 51!

 

Another example is the stainless steel Kaweco Liliput, beautifully machined from solid steel.  Only modern CNC machining makes it economically possible to sell such a thing.

 

So I don't think collecting modern pens is less risky than collecting antiques.  But it can be just as interesting.


Edited by tim77, 11 March 2020 - 12:55.


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#22 Estycollector

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 13:01

Like vehicles, the new lasts until its driven off the lot.

#23 GoldenNibs

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 13:38

I can understand people not liking vintage just like how some people can not stand modern pens. It comes down to what you like but modern and vintage are not better nor worse then each other. Both have their strong points and both have their downfalls. 



#24 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 14:31

I like repairing vintage pens, especially beaters.

Most of my pens, though, are 'modern'.... Waterman Carene, any number of inexpensive Chinese pens, Sailors, etc.

#25 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 14:38

Why not turn the whole idea around? Why should one buy a product that hasn't been innovated for like 60-80 years brand new made in 2020? Sure, shiny new materials for barrels and special editions, but does the new pen have a better filling mechanism? Does it have a better nib? Does it have better QC, more nib options?

I read everywhere about flow issues, inconsistent nib quality, cracks in plastics after short periods of usage.

 

 

That thought has actually crossed my mind quite a few times, i.e. the thought to stick with vintage and to stop buying new pens.

 

Even some of my cheaper vintage pens (such as the ‘40s and ‘50s pens made by obscure Dutch brands, which typically cost me about 50 euros including professional repair) write _so_ much better than any modern pen I own... it boggles the mind. I’ve tried to analyze what it is, exactly, that makes these old pens so much more enjoyable. The 14k nibs have a lot to do with it... I’ve been blessed with some wonderfully crafted soft EF-to-F nibs (Boston, Torca, Ero), or perfect mini-stubs (Onoto 5601 & MB 342), or an amazing architect nib (MB 146 EF), or needlepoint semi-flex nibs that provide a wonderfully subtle line variation during normal writing (Boston, Parker), or an XF nibs that writes a nice, narrow line but adds a ton of character to it somehow (Sheaffer). And the ink flow easily keeps up with all that, these pens are never dry.

 

As much as the nibs have to do with it, they’re not all of it. I cannot really explain it, other than saying that with new pens I go through mood swings, i.e. I love them, then I get tired of them and take them out of rotation for a while and then I re-discover them, etc*. With vintage pens, I don’t have these mood swings. Every time I use a vintage pen, it’s like sitting down with a dear old friend and the experience is consistently rewarding. I guess there is some truth in the saying that ‘they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.’ Still, I can’t resist a good, new pen and I am blessed (or cursed, depending on perspective) of having a well-stocked B&M store around the corner. So a couple of times a year I walk over to Appelboom for some ink and come home with something nice. The flesh is weak.

 

*there are some exceptions, but not many.



#26 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 14:41

  

...TheDutchGuy asked me why I am not interested in vintage pens. I started a new thread in which to offer him my reply...

 

 

For which I thank you!



#27 LuckyKate

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 17:42

Smug Dill 

 

You have a unique perspective, and I respect your clarity, not to mention the amusement reading your post provides me. Moreover I too love bright shiny objects. 

 

I only have a couple of vintage pens myself, including a lovely little Waterman 52 1/2,  that I keep for the feeling it gives me, that palpable sense that it has been washed ashore into the present and found a home in my pen tray. I don't use the Waterman much because I'm afraid I'd crush or hurt it. But my experience of pen shows is immeasurably enriched by the presence of all the heaps of pen parts and nibs from a hundred years ago. I may rush to the Franklin-Christof table, but the shows would lose most of their magic and soul without the presence of the vintage pens.

 

 

I would like to point out that Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, is the mother of the nine muses and with good reason. Without memory the imagination would have no material: there would be no poetry, no literature, no music, no art, no elegies, no 5th symphony by Beethoven, no novel, no movies.

 

It may be true that the world is impermanent, which is what gives my single little vintage pen its poignancy, its meaning. The existence of a vintage pen  is an emblem of impermanence. That said I don't collect them but I sincerely appreciate those who do.



#28 KBeezie

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 18:28

 

 

That thought has actually crossed my mind quite a few times, i.e. the thought to stick with vintage and to stop buying new pens.

 

 

Kind of a double edge sword unfortunately. I'm just glad there are people who do both, since if there's no market for new pens, then there's probably even less of a market for vintage ones if the general interest dwindles away. As most people who do get into vintage, typically started out with moderns and if all of the moderns were unavailable, or generally utter complete (bleep), that may give the impression that the vintages would be no different. 

 

So part of me, sees no real reason to spend extra money into a brand new product when there are so many used ones on the market (be it vintage or modern), but at the same time you don't want those resources to go away because the new market isn't getting people. 



#29 Ron Z

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 18:54

I like vintage pens.  They have character, they have personality, and every one is different because they have had a "life" and all were used differently.  They can be repaired, while many moderns can not.  The materials, like hard rubber and celluloid are warmer in the hand, VS acrylic which to me feels hard and cold.  The nibs are more interesting VS the cold, sterile feel of a modern Schmidt or Jowo nib.  They can be quirky, irritating, incontinent at times, but I like them.  I have moderns of course, but the ones that see the most use are vintage.


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#30 sansenri

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 19:44

I do like my pens to be new. That does not necessarily mean modern though.

I have many modern pens but I also have a number of vintage pens, often as mint as can be possible.

Where is the difference? in the difference.

I don't dislike modern, actually I love quite a few modern pens, but many vintage pens are just different.

You may judge better, but that is subjective, different is objective.

If you rule them out, you are missing part of the experience. Which might be a pity.



#31 Rafiki76

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 20:11

For reference I am a rookie in regards to fountain pens. I have only owned fountain pens for around 6 months. That being said I do own one vintage pen, a Mont Blanc Carrera in extra fine. I see the appeal of vintage pens just as I do with vintage cars. That being said, no one would really question an individual who would rather buy a 2020 Mustang GT over a 1971 Mustang Mach 1. Some people I know would prefer the beautiful sound of a carbureted V8 Mach 1, others would prefer the 6 piston brakes of the 2020, the fuel injected reliability, the safety, the handling, and the warranty as well. 

 

I think there is rightfully a market for each, as I am looking at my next pen right now, I am comparing a new Pilot Custom Heritage 91 to many other pens including a vintage Mont Blanc (again.) Arguments can be made over new and vintage all day long, but I think it is really a personal choice, I do enjoy being the first owner of a pen, being able to open the box for the first time or fill out the Mont Blanc warranty card with your name, it's cool. 


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#32 Thymen

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 20:35

For me, it's simple: I do not know enough about vintage pens to sort the pebbles from the diamonds, so most likely I'll pay diamond price for pebbles. And I am not a collector. So all my pens but one are purchased new. I have say I tend to wait until the 20% discount offers some Dutch pen retailers are in effect, the difference between vintage/used is less that way. 

 

But occasionally I am lucky buying used: I managed to get a Parker Centennial Duofold MK I (not vintage, I know) for a very fair price; at the one and only pen show I ever visited I saw same pens of much worse condition being offered for much more. That made me happy. 

 

At the same pens show I saw hundred of pens of (to me) very mediocre worth go for insane prices just because they were 'rare' and 'vintage'. That really put me off. Only thing I bought there was a cup of coffee and a doughnut.



#33 Estycollector

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 22:11

As a member of a razor/shaving forum, you see the same dicotomy where some prefer new to old and primarily because of either a disinterest or lack of interest/knowledge of which vintage to obtain. 



#34 AL01

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 23:16

I like vintage pens.  They have character, they have personality, and every one is different because they have had a "life" and all were used differently.  They can be repaired, while many moderns can not.  The materials, like hard rubber and celluloid are warmer in the hand, VS acrylic which to me feels hard and cold.  The nibs are more interesting VS the cold, sterile feel of a modern Schmidt or Jowo nib.  They can be quirky, irritating, incontinent at times, but I like them.  I have moderns of course, but the ones that see the most use are vintage.

 

 Those are some HARSH words.

 

 And I agree with them a 10000%.

 

 "Vintage" pens were made in a world that expected fountain pens to be USED, not as a niche item.

 

 And vintage pens deliver.

 

 I have used many modern pens, but their nibs don't really hold a candle to vintage nibs, in terms of writing characteristics and price.

 

 I don't daily vintage pens because I try to be "hip" or whatever, but I use them because I enjoy their unique nibs, and are surprisingly reliable, (unlike many classic cars.)


Edited by AL01, 11 March 2020 - 23:17.


#35 A Smug Dill

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 23:33

Why not turn the whole idea around?


Because this discussion is about why some of us in the hobby are not interested in vintage pens. I gave my answer, and I thought it would be enlightening for me — and perhaps others, including the fellow member who asked me the question in the first place — to hear others' reasons.
 

If anything I can't understand why people aren't more into vintage pens or at least salvage the nibs.


I hope this thread will help shed light on that very topic. However, there is no implied suggestion that the status quo is something that causes concern for the hobbyist community at large and which ought to be remedied. I'm not advocating for change here. Of course, as I've already pointed out, if the industry starts reproducing the purported desirable characteristics of vintage pens that are "not because of materials and design and age", then that would be change, and a foreseeable consequence of that would be further erosion of consumer/user/hobbyist interest in vintage pens particularly.

The fountain pen "hobby" is not a club exclusively of people who value vintage pens, or at least open to growing appreciation of such, and "we" don't have a common goal of promoting interest in such. That is "why" it is not incumbent on "us" to "turn the whole idea around". Hell, I don't think "we" are even all united in wanting to promote interest and uptake in fountain pens (as a superclass of writing instruments) by today's consumers.

If someone that does not represent "us" all wants, for whatever reason, to mitigate vintage pens' failure to appeal to a larger proportion of hobbyists, or even to make new ground and attract those who don't already love or use fountain pens, that's perfectly fine. I hope the reasons given here by those who are not interested can give them insight, and help them formulate a marketing strategy. Given that the vintage pens are, by definition, no longer being produced, the parties with the most interest in investing effort and resources in promoting vintage pens would be traders of such, in competition against the marketing by manufacturers and retailers of modern fountain pens that are still in production today.
 

Why should one buy a product that hasn't been innovated for like 60-80 years brand new made in 2020?


There is no "should". However, I'd certainly prefer to buy brand new (made in 2020):

  • fountain pen ink (including "traditional" colours and types of ink, such as blue-black iron-gall)
  • paper
  • stainless steel knives and forks
  • lead crystal stemware
  • leather furniture
  • woollen garments
  • hand basins, toilet bowls, etc.

even though none of those consumer goods have been "innovated for like 60-80 years"; and I'm not even facetiously suggesting things that are relatively perishable, there in answer to your rhetorical question.
 

Sure, shiny new materials for barrels and special editions, but does the new pen have a better filling mechanism? Does it have a better nib? Does it have better QC, more nib options?


They don't have to have better designs, better specifications or be better made. We're talking consumer goods here, and the attribute of being brand new (made in 2020) already has inherent virtue, including what is due manufacturers' warranties and consumer law protections that apply today.

It's a shame that Sailor has chosen to significantly cut down the number of speciality Naginata nibs in current production. However, I don't think anyone here is about to claim that any of the 19 Naginata nib types are "vintage"; so, yes, modern fountain pens have more nib options. Pilot offers 14 nib options for the modern Custom 743 model alone, and SEF and SB (which are not in those 14) on the Elabo, and the adjustable nib on the Justus 95; that's seventeen different types and widths, and I'm not even multiplying them out by size (#3, #5, #10, #15, #30) or distinguishing the SF nib on the Elabo from the SF nib on the Custom line (which have different shapes), the F nib on the Custom from the F nib on the Elite 95S, etc. Different stub/italic nib widths? Look to Nemosine and LAMY. Flex nibs, ultra-flex nibs, "architect" or "Hebrew" nibs, etc. are still available in brand new pens. So, no, I don't think brand new pens are confining user choice in that regard.


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.


#36 Estycollector

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 23:33

If I need a modern pen, I use a Pilot Precise V5...:)



#37 BDarchitect

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Posted 11 March 2020 - 23:55

I have 25 pens, two of which are early '80s Montblanc solitaires that I received as a thank you gift.  They aren't great.  The rest were all purchased new in the past several years and I love most of them. 

I just like new pens.  I don't do a lot of navel gazing wondering why, I just do.  I get how vintage pens have all sorts of appeal to other people, and that is great for them.

But to each his own, said the old farmer as he kissed the cow.



#38 sombrueil

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 00:12

I would buy new pens if they were as good as vintage pens, but they aren't. By "good" I mean "suitable to my tastes and needs". The way I prefer my pens to put a line on a page, feel in the hand, their size, their balance, their materials, their filling systems, are all much easier to find in vintage. So it's fortunate that I don't care whether an object is new or old as long as it is well-made and suits my purposes. I have no interest in newness as a virtue in itself, lucky me, because I would be terribly frustrated. 



#39 Paul-in-SF

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 03:39

One thing this thread is highlighting for me is polite and mindful discourse, to wit: the difference between saying "I prefer A instead of B" and saying "I prefer A because B is inferior." 

 

I have not detected any attack by A Smug Dill against people who like vintage pens, just for liking vintage pens. But there is a backlash (as he predicted) from some who feel obliged to defend what they like by downgrading the other.

 

I'm glad that there are also lots of people who just say "whatever you like is fine, enjoy." Count me in that camp. 



#40 MGLX

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 08:16

I’m not sure I came across the right way, or the intended way at least.

 

Obviously vintage pens can’t keep up with the demand today and without people buying new pens, there can’t be vintage pens in the future which would be very sad indeed. I’m also not exclusively a hunter for vintage pens.

 

If someone who has a lot of experience choses to implicitly exclude a branch or section or what you call it, it got me curious. Especially because I’m currently at the point of my adventure where I’m exploring the world of vintage pens since there can be made some good deals and my experience so far has been rather positive.

 

My idea why to turn the perspective around (turn “no necessity to bother with old things” into “no necessity to bother with something new”) was to get new insights, not to convert someone or establish a new order with vintage pens on top.

In German I would call it a “Gedankenspiel”. I found “intellectual game” as direct translation, but am not sure if that is appropriate, since I feel the term invokes some sort of competition or conflict.

 

I could have made it more clearer I guess and I'm sorry for that.







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