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Best System To Safely Store/categorize Pens?



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Hello,

 

I'm not the most sophisticated pen collector (I often turn to this forum to ask some basic questions), but I've amassed quite a number of pens.

 

I'd like to find a system that:

 

( A ) Keeps my pens safe, particularly from scratching against each other and ideally okay for travel

( B ) Allows me to keep bits of information with my pens so that I can remember basic details like maker, year, nib size, etc.

( C ) Doesn't cost more than the pens themselves :D

 

Also, I have the original boxes for a few of my pens, and it would be great if I could either keep them in their original boxes or match the pens with the boxes so I know where they go.

 

Does anyone have a good system to store and organize their pens? How do you keep them when they're not being used?

 

Thanks!

Edited by theodore94
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I like to store my pens in a Sensebag Copic marker wallet - they come in different sizes, though I think it caps off at 72 pens as the largest or something like that. They're large enough to fit most fountain pens, protect them well, and depending on the model of wallet, can be made into a stand, or carried around portable-style like a lunchbox. As for keeping your pens sorted - keep a journal for that sort of thing! All the more reason to use your pens, right? ;-)

 

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or

 

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Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men always have a choice - if not whether, then how they endure.


- Lois McMaster Bujold

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inkstainedruth

I have some inexpensive 24 pen zipper cases from Rockler (bought in their turning department). But the stack of those is getting a bit unwieldy, so I had planned to get a small cabinet to store the cases in to get them off a shelf, and store the cabinet under an antique writing desk. But then I picked up an antiques spool cabinet (for displaying thread spools) and will put flocked pen trays in the drawers, and then use the cabinet for something else (probably sample vial trays).

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."

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A Smug Dill

"Ideally okay for travel" just does not work with keeping the pens in (or near) their original retail boxes.

 

Keeping information on each pen on a physical artefact won't work too well, unless (i) you write it on a narrow strip of paper and attach it to the clip on the pen (perhaps by the use of a string), or (ii) have a fixed slot in a case or on a tray for each pen, that allows a strip of paper to rest at the bottom (as opposed to 'slots' that strap a pen down by one or two elastic bands). A more mature 'system' would store the information separately from the pens (in a database or spreadsheet, or in a physical log book) in a manner that is indexed by what identifies the pen. Assuming you aren't going to stick a barcode/label on each pen, if you can visually distinguish and identify each pen in your collection, then the description of the pen would be the key to the indexing. I use the quadruple ‹brand,model,colour,nib width grade› as the compound key in a spreadsheet, and just the brand (or the first letter of the brand name only, for anything other than Pilot, Platinum, Lamy and Delike in my inking log book.

 

You need to clarify, at least for yourself, what the use case of 'travel' implies. Sticking a small cabinet in the trunk of your car may be okay for travelling interstate. Or taking it aboard an ocean-liner, if you're feeling particularly masochistic. Keeping something that will fit in your carry-on luggage for flights may be OK, especially if you can ensure it isn't tossed around or placed in different orientations; sticking it in your checked baggage is something else altogether.

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; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Great advice! Yes, my plan (as of now) was to put ID numbers on tags and then attach them to each of my pens (I only have ~100 or so) then use Fountain Pen Inventory to catalog any information I have about them. I'm not a sophisticated enough collector (yet) to trust that I could accurately describe/link them without the tags. Every time I post a pen on this forum, I hear 10 new terms I've never heard before!

 

I probably won't do too much just regular travel. I'm a grad student/early academic, and so it seems I move to a new city every 1-2 years at least by now. I recently broke my first pen in a move from Boston to Philly (it was in its pen box, but not really secured in there), and I'm hoping that I can come up with a system to reasonably move my pens when I'm moving without breaking any of them. Other than that, when I say "travel", I'm talking about hand-carrying them from my desk at home to my desk at work (=

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inkstainedruth

Ah, I missed the "for travel" part of the requirements. In which case, I'm back to the Rockler pen cases. They aren't leather, so they're relatively inexpensive. I started out with two -- one for modern pens and one for vintage pens, but quickly outgrew them as the stash increased. So I reorganized them and now they're more or less store them by brand (two of the cases are *just* for the Parker pens :blush:).

When I only need a few pens with me, I have smaller cases and sleeves. The Girologo 12 pen case is very nice, and not horribly expensive (I got mine from Mario Campa of Toys from the Attic at the Baltimore-Washington Pen Show last year). Like the Rockler cases, it zips to close, has two sets of elastic bands to keep pens in place without flopping around, and has a panel between the two halves of the case. I think it might be leather, unlike the Rockler ones, but I think I only paid around twenty bucks for it (the larger Rockler ones are around $17-$18 US).

In both instances, no affiliation other than as a happy customer.

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."

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Honeybadgers

I use cheap 36 pen storage boxes in a drawer. A simple label on the box with what brands are in it works for me. Nice part is that I can just put the boxes in another box. My ink collection is going to be a pain in the arse to move, I've got well over 200 bottles now.

 

One day I'll probably make a custom cabinet. But I need a joiner/planer. And a metal lathe is on the list before that.

Edited by Honeybadgers

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

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A Smug Dill

One day I'll probably make a custom cabinet. But I need a joiner/planer. And a metal lathe is on the list before that.

 

Or just a good carpenter or cabinetmaker who can do anything you specify as a client for the price he/she asks in return.

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; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Currently have about 25 pens on 2 cigar boxes lined with pen teays from Gopens.com. I have two cheap Chinese 12 pen zippered cases and a 12 pen Girologio case. Oh, and I have a pen roll too for either pens that won't fit in one of the zippered cases or just for a change.

 

Any and all are reasonably portable. Even the cigar boxes. Been thinking about picking up one or two more.

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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Zip-up pen cases. That's what you find most pros bring to pen shows. Works just fine and is relatively compact. I love Jonro's Fountain Pen Inventory, free here on this site, to keep order and remind me of the names of the pens that I have, with their characteristics. If you are ambitious, it even lets you store photos of the pens to catalogue them.

 

Erick

 

Using right now:

Beena Lincoln "F" nib running Jacques Herbin Rouge Hematite

Parker Duofold "F" nib running Pelikan Königsblau

Leonardo Officina Italiana Pura "F" nib running Diamine Autumn Oak

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A Smug Dill

I'm not a sophisticated enough collector (yet) to trust that I could accurately describe/link them without the tags. Every time I post a pen on this forum, I hear 10 new terms I've never heard before!

 

Personally, I try not to buy two (or more) pens that look 'identical' when their nibs are not exposed. So, for example:

  • Platinum #3776 Century rhodium-trimmed Chartres Blue (with rhodinated 14K gold SF nib)
  • Platinum #3776 Century (gold-trimmed) Bourgogne (with 14K gold SF nib)
  • Platinum #3776 Century 'Oshino' (rhodium-trimmed clear demonstrator) (with rhodinated 14K gold SM nib)
  • Platinum #3776 Century kanazawa-haku 'Fu-jin and Rai-jin' ('Wind God and Thunder God') (with 14K gold F nib)
  • Platinum #3776 Century kanazawa-haku 'Shoryu' ('Ascending Dragon') (with 14K gold F nib)
  • Platinum #3776 Celluloid brown tortoiseshell (with 14K gold F nib)
  • Platinum #3776 dark briar (with 14K gold F nib)
  • Platinum #3776 briar shell (with 14K gold F nib)
  • Platinum #3776 yakusugi (old cedar) (with 14K gold F nib)

would all be distinguishable from each other at a glance, without looking at the nibs.

 

The only pens I had 'multiples' of were two Parker Sonnet 'Cascade' gold fountain pens with F nibs (and I gave both of them to my fiancée to use as 'throwaway' pens not to be 'babied'), and two black Pilot Custom 74 pens with a SF nib and a Music nib respectively, but then I sold one of them for a number of reasons, not the least because I don't like two pens looking the same and undistinguishable without some sort of additional labelling (which the one with the Music nib has).

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; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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inkstainedruth

I try to do the same thing -- not have multiples of the same color/model of pen. I haven't been completely successful, in that I ended up with three identical looking Preppies (all set up as rollerballs, and all with black trim and set up with black ink). They ended up getting named "Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3.... The only reason I have them is because they came free with bottles of Noodler's Kung Te Cheng. I got three Kuresame brush pens in the same way, but they're inked up with different colors of highlighter ink so those I can tell apart (they're translucent pens).

I did end up with 2 black Sheaffer Snorkels and I have to uncap them -- and the identical looking when capped Touchdown -- to see which pen they are. I should probably get rid of the one Snorkel, which an F nib, so I have less trouble telling pens apart (the other black Snorkel is the one with the seriously awesome semi-flex Palladium silver Triumph stub nib -- which is still NFS, thanks for asking B)). I also have some duplicate colors of Estie J pens (at least 2 copper Js and several green ones). But they mostly all have different nibs on them.

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."

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I also missed the "for travel" comment. Can't say I'm much help there. My "travel" pens are either in my shirt pocket or a pouch in my backpack because I generally only travel with pens that can handle it or can easily be replaced.

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Bibliophage

I have a roll case (you can buy them for makeup brushes, pens, razors, etc), and a 48 pen zipper case from China. I have _lots_ of identical pens, because the largest group of them are there for me to give away as semi-advertising. I don't bother getting them printed, because people remember me when they see them. :)

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One of FPN's members is currently making me some storage to fit in the small drawers atop my little Dickens desk! Will post pics when complete! :happyberet:

"Every job is good if you do your best and work hard.

A man who works hard stinks only to the ones that have

nothing to do but smell."

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

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Great question!

 

For storage I use a wooden fishing tackle box made by Gertsner. The drawers are felted and the lid is big and deep, which is good for small pen boxes. It has a front cover that I keep down and this is where I stand a few bottles of regular use ink. I like that the drawers are different sizes/depths.

 

For carriage I use a 30 pen display case that I bought from Ebay. Let me know if you want the link. They are inexpensive and of acceptable quality. I like that they stack well and they can also fit in a tall shelf like a textbook.

 

For carrying just one or two pens I put them in my shirt pocket :)

 

For information on the pens, I store most of that in my head! But thats because I mainly collect Lamy Safaris so theres not much to remember :) Otherwise I have a small notebook in one of the drawers of my fishing box.

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Thanks everyone for all the great tips! I've been using Fountain Pen Inventory -- it'll take a while before I get everything in there, but it's a labor of love. I've been putting little jewelry tags on the pens with an ID number and then linking that to the pen in the database so I can pull them up.

 

I actually had a Fountain Pen case I bought off Amazon a while ago. Very inexpensive and portable with a divider to keep pens from scratching, so I've been thinking about getting 1-2 more of those.

 

Any tips for storing or even displaying larger pen boxes? I usually keep my pens outside of the boxes so that I can use/care for them and remember what I have, but that means I just have a paper box filled with pen boxes. Some are pretty neat, but I worry that something will happen to them or one will fall out/be lost.

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A Smug Dill

Any tips for storing or even displaying larger pen boxes? I usually keep my pens outside of the boxes so that I can use/care for them and remember what I have, but that means I just have a paper box filled with pen boxes. Some are pretty neat, but I worry that something will happen to them or one will fall out/be lost.

 

 

I just pack the empty retail boxes tightly into cardboard cartons and (after labelling the cartons) stuff them under the bed in the spare room (until I run out of room). Personally, I'm not sure that even the paulownia boxes are worth displaying, and once the collection grows beyond several dozens, frankly — in my experience and habits anyway — the 'only' residual value of those boxes themselves are in the price differential if I eventually want to sell some of my pricier pens, and the probability of that is low.

 

As for storing/packing objects so that they won't get lost (by the entire shipping carton) or broken in transit, it really isn't something particular to pens. Obviously, with the replacement value of (say) $30,000 concentrated in three dozen or so pens, they could be kept in two of the twenty-slot leather pen folios and travel as hand luggage; I wouldn't put $30,000 in cash or jewellery either inside checked baggage for domestic flights or in cartons for interstate movers to transport for me. However, there are far more valuable objects I cannot take as hand luggage, than empty retail boxes for pens that may affect the asking price by $50 when selling a pen secondhand, for me to worry about if I fly or move interstate, when a leather jacket could be $500 and a set of 1920 edition books I bought my fiancée twelve years ago as a birthday present could be 'worth' a couple of thousand dollars on the market but sentimentally irreplaceable.

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; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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