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Thread: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

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    Default What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    I've been fortunate enough to be able to try a pen that costs a little under $700, which is about 4 times as much as I've ever spent on a pen myself. It's a lovely pen but I'm finding it hard to get my head around the cost. Obviously value for money doesn't come into it, but if you are going to be buying a pen in that kind of price range, what are you looking for in the pen to justify the high cost? What does it need to give you that a $200 pen won't?
    Ian

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Heh, make my round of fora, and it pops up again!

    Ian, I'll say the same thing I said on reddit: if you have to justify the cost of a pen, it's too expensive for you.

    In a line that I consider spot-on and attributed to Rick Propas at the LA Pen Show one year, he said "There isn't a single person in this room that needs another pen." That is kind of it in a nutshell. Unless you have some kind of occupation that relies completely on the way your pen writes, all of your pens are being purchased for your pleasure. If it is just putting lines and dots on paper, any pen will do; if you are spending ever increasing money on pens because of look, design, feel, weight, materials, etc, you are doing that for no other reason than that it pleases you. With that said, you simply have to fork over the money, and if you can't do that with comfort, you have just acknowledged that the pen is costing more than you should spend. It's up to you whether you save up to build some financial cushion to have remaining once you pay it, or you come to terms with spending money on things that please you with no compulsion to justify the cost.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by bananamoon View Post
    but if you are going to be buying a pen in that kind of price range, what are you looking for in the pen to justify the high cost? What does it need to give you that a $200 pen won't?
    So far I've never paid as much as $500 for a pen, but I think the principle is the same at $500 as it is at $700+. What am I looking for in the pen? I'm looking for the pen not to screw it up by being broken or brittle or something. What I'm really looking at is me, me looking at the pen, asking myself how much do I want it. The question is not why do I want it. The answer to that question is always silly, so I stopped asking that a long time ago.
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    I am not sure it is a matter of justification, at least that is how I interpret Ian's post. I think it is more about what you are expecting to get for your money. That may seem like splitting hairs but they really are different perceptions: the former being a question of whether you should pay - in the abstract sense of it being a lot of money for what is essentially just a pen, the latter is more about levels of craftsmanship, design and/or materials and so on. That's the way I understand it, but the only expensive pens I have seen were a couple of MBs in a jeweler's shop here.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Thanks for taking the time to reply in both places Jon! Hope I've not committed some terrible faux pas by asking the question in more than one place at the same time. I agree that if you have to ask 'how much', so to speak, you can't afford it. I certainly can't afford a pen that costs this much. That's why I was posing the question.
    Ian

    Website at http://penpaperpencil.net
    Twitter: @ian_hedley

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptos View Post
    I am not sure it is a matter of justification, at least that is how I interpret Ian's post. I think it is more about what you are expecting to get for your money. That may seem like splitting hairs but they really are different perceptions: the former being a question of whether you should pay - in the abstract sense of it being a lot of money for what is essentially just a pen, the latter is more about levels of craftsmanship, design and/or materials and so on.
    Yes, thank you, that's what I meant, and you've put it much better than I did!
    Ian

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Ian, no worries whatsoever. TBH, the audiences are a little different, so I was a little more verbose here (more people know me and put up with my babbling... I think!) than on reddit. It's a very valid question you ask, and a very personal one as well.

    Another aspect of this that I think *many* pen people will acknowledge (inwardly, if not out loud...) is that our 'upper limit' has probably altered over time. I will state the following: the most expensive pen I have purchased, to this day, is at the $500 value. When I started, five years ago, I would have figured someone was smoking crack to drop that kind of change on a writing instrument. The question becomes: what changed?

    Well, first off, I got to know my own taste better, and pen architecture better, and most importantly, how a pen would feel in my hand - precisely, what physical qualities made holding and writing with that pen a comfortable and enjoyable experience for any length of time I chose. I'll use that one pen as an example as to what aspects made me no longer blink at a price I once considered beyond sensible:

    • I had become familiar with the same style pen by using a slightly different (in appearance) model
    • The overall design aesthetic of the pen pleased me in all aspects
    • I knew the pen to be a flawless performer when all was in order
    • The nib would be adjusted to my specifications
    • The pen was a Limited Edition, giving it a provenance and appeal that it wasn't "run of the mill"
    • With all of the above in mind, I was as certain as can be that it would not be a "temporary purchase" but a pen I could, and would, use and enjoy for the rest of my life.

    I knew of the pen ahead of time, and when I went to a pen show and tried it, that sealed the deal. No hesitation, and in over 6 months, still an absolute delight, to simply see on my desk, and more so to use on a regular basis.

    And, no shit, this daily routine of getting up in the dark, early hours of the morning with the shopping cart and pointed stick and going through the recycle bins for aluminum cans is becoming fairly pleasant. Fresh air, exercise...

    Last edited by Jon Szanto; September 24th, 2015 at 01:28 AM.
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptos View Post
    I am not sure it is a matter of justification, at least that is how I interpret Ian's post.
    *I* may have introduced a little confusion, as when Ian posted elsewhere, he did use the term "justify" and in my reply, I allowed it to be carried here. But I think we're getting a good look at numerous aspects of a question many may ponder at some point in their pen interests.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    FP Enthusiast Emeritus mhosea's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptos View Post
    That may seem like splitting hairs but they really are different perceptions: the former being a question of whether you should pay - in the abstract sense of it being a lot of money for what is essentially just a pen, the latter is more about levels of craftsmanship, design and/or materials and so on.
    Yes, that's true, but I'm coming at that from the other angle. I think wanting an expensive pen is a fundamentally emotive rather than rational thing. Rather than ask what sorts of things I am looking to get in an expensive pen, which seems to presuppose the falsehood that wanting it is a rational thing, I suggest that a more useful angle is to ask what sort of things one should be looking for that would be discouraging factors or even deal breakers that would make one pass on buying.
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    If I'm buying something that costs more than $200 (give or take), I want a handmade pen. Obviously, I also want it to be a good writer and aesthetically pleasing, but I want that from all my pens (otherwise, why buy it?). But if a pen costs $500 or so, I'll only consider it if it's handmade.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Good points.

    If it was me I would be looking, and hopefully trying, lots of pens until I find one that has special appeal. If that pen turned out to be expensive, well, so be it. Part of the issue is that if we are looking for specific aesthetics and quality craftsmanship and materials, they can only or mostly be found at higher price levels. Though that comes down to what one perceives as quality. For some the epitome of quality could be, say, a Pilot 845. That can be had for around $350. For another person their perception of quality may extend to a Hakase or a Manupropria. In which case they will be looking at well over $1000.

    It's an intricate question, yes? We have many factors, not least the simple one that what is expensive to one person isn't to another. To muddy the waters further, expensive has nothing directly to do with affordability either, as it is tied more to our personal value systems. For instance, I could conceivably afford to buy a Hakase (I probably couldn't, but let's pretend) but baulk at paying such a price because it seems like a frivolous waste of money. That's what I think of as the "I can, but I won't" scenario.

    In a simplistic sense I take the view that one buys what appeals, and the cost is somewhat secondary even though it can mean not having what you want.



    Edit: I am feeling a little fuzzy today. I sat through lectures on policy dealing with illegal drug use. I can now summarize the Western world's drug policy thus: "Nothing has worked so far, we must do something different - anyone got any ideas?"
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; September 24th, 2015 at 02:25 AM.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    For some the epitome of quality could be, say, a Pilot 845. That can be had for around $350. For another person their perception of quality may extend to a Hakase or a Manupropria. In which case they will be looking at well over $1000.
    Intricate, indeed. I noticed that the dividing line between your examples falls between factory product and handmade 'manu-factured' pieces. There is a delicate border between these handmade pens with a great deal of artistic expression which often still use mass produced parts (such as nibs, feeds and converters) that has nothing to do with "quality" but with aesthetics alone. Modern mass production can and, if used in this way will, yield products of impeccable quality from where the only improvement is in aesthetics, and that leads then to mhosea's argument
    I think wanting an expensive pen is a fundamentally emotive rather than rational thing
    - all justification falls short of the mark, because it's made up of all our complex ties to certain aesthetics and personal experiences.
    Last edited by inklord; September 25th, 2015 at 06:14 PM. Reason: spelling correction

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    For me, it really comes down to how much a pen appeals to me (by tripping emotional triggers) and what my budget constraints are at the time. As Jon mentioned, when I first started in this hobby I couldn't imagine spending more than $100 on a single pen. Pens were just pens and for the longest time I looked at them from a rational perspective in terms of what I'm getting for my money. Now, over the past year, I almost can't believe what I've spent on pens and realize there's a very strong emotional connection involved.

    I would say I first noticed this when I purchased the Classic Pens LB5 from Andy Lambrou at the 2014 Colorado Pen show. I was very aware of the pen before the show and while I thought it was nice, I also thought it was vastly overpriced. When I met Andy, my perspective changed. I go into more detail in my review of the pen, but I've noticed a strong connection between me purchasing a pen and the relationship I have with the seller. It's one reason I purchased the LB6 from Andy at LA this year, and the Decoband from Syd at DC (in addition to many other reasons), and my first Nakaya from Lisa at SF.

    I've also noticed that I find exclusivity more valuable than I once did. I get satisfaction from knowing that there's only 10 other people in the world (or whatever the number may be) that own the same pen as me.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    There are a variety of things I look for that go beyond mere functionality and many of those points are common across the board regardless of the actual product.

    There are the immediate aesthetics; purtty; I want.

    Then the practical; can I afford it without too much pain?

    Next are the details; did the craftsmen pay as much attention to the parts that do not show as to the visible surface? Do the parts feel like they were meant for each other; are the threads silky in use; do the snap on caps close as though controlled by a tractor beam? Are edges smooth and rounded? How much hand crafting went into the product and was that crafting done by a master or apprentice? What are the materials used?

    Ergonomics also play a part; how does the object feel? Will it be comfortable over extended use? Are the materials ones that will last? Is the construction well executed? Are there places that poke me or irritate? How is it balanced?

    There is also the reputation of the maker and the seller. Does the maker have a reputation of producing high quality products? Does the seller have a reputation for after sales support?

    If a product ticks all those points then there is a high probability I will buy it.
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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Spending $700 or more for a pen should give you a pen you will like, and one that will impress others that you can afford to spend that money on something of known quality and that you are discerning enough to choose an impressive item that will give you the satisfaction that you have arrived and have better stuff.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    gentle is the trap
    created by our senses:
    beauty is the bait

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    It is all a pretty simple process for me. If I can afford it and I like it, I buy it.

    I am with Jon in this...if you have to justify the cost then it's out of your price range.

    David

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by bananamoon View Post
    I've been fortunate enough to be able to try a pen that costs a little under $700, which is about 4 times as much as I've ever spent on a pen myself. It's a lovely pen but I'm finding it hard to get my head around the cost. Obviously value for money doesn't come into it, but if you are going to be buying a pen in that kind of price range, what are you looking for in the pen to justify the high cost? What does it need to give you that a $200 pen won't?
    Art. The only pens I've ever bought that were more than $300 were (are) works of art. That's why I buy them.
    ---
    Current pen rotation: way too many!

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bananamoon View Post
    I've been fortunate enough to be able to try a pen that costs a little under $700, which is about 4 times as much as I've ever spent on a pen myself. It's a lovely pen but I'm finding it hard to get my head around the cost. Obviously value for money doesn't come into it, but if you are going to be buying a pen in that kind of price range, what are you looking for in the pen to justify the high cost? What does it need to give you that a $200 pen won't?
    Art. The only pens I've ever bought that were more than $300 were (are) works of art. That's why I buy them.
    This has nailed it.

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    Default Re: What do you look for in a very expensive pen?

    I go with uniqueness or something that makes me smile.
    My Mont Blanc. Makes me smile
    My visconti Wall Street Le is a rare pen. No one is has it and I enjoy being one of small few to use the pen

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