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Thread: Why buy a new pen?

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Why buy a new pen?

    Been thinking a bit lately - dangerous, I know - about why we buy new pens. And by new I mean new to us.

    For the purpose of this foray into this subject I suggest excluding collecting, as that particular activity is already 'governed or guided' by specific personal rules that are generally easy to understand.


    So, first question.

    When buying a new pen which of these is generally true?

    1. I saw this fabulous pen and just had to buy it.

    2. I wanted to buy a new pen (in general), so I went looking for one.

    3. I wanted a nib that performed in a specific way, so looked for that.

    4. Any combo of the above.



    Second question.

    Have you easily been able to find what you want within your personal budget?



    In looking at the typically cheapish pens that I have, of note is that most of the nibs are different from each other in their performance - especially the line variation, rather than the smoothness (which is not a biggie to me). I also note that, with the exception of two slightly different vintage Duofolds (English jobs), my pens are all quite different in the looks department.

    Clearly I have, where possible, tried to get the nibs I want in the bodies that I desire. For example, I wanted a Pilot FA nib and had a choice between models 912, 742, 743, and 823. I chose the 912 for the looks. Conversely, with the two custom made pens I have, I chose the materials and conceived the design, and only later fitted them with nibs I bought separately.

    However, sometimes a compromise must be made. Take the case of my Waterman's 52. The nib is superb, but the body is just the boring old black. It is functional, and I enjoy using it very much. However, a ripple version or a cardinal was always out of my reach.*

    And of course there have been various pens that were bought - and subsequently discarded - just on a whim.


    It's very easy to get sucked into buying something that everyone else is raving about - the dreaded FOMO - but I think I am past that for now.





    *contrary to the impression I may have inadvertently given elsewhere on the boards, I won't pay if I don't think something is worth the cost, not because I cannot afford it. In other words, I'm cheap!

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    Senior Member Paddler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    I used to buy pens just to see what kind of writers are out there. I have 11 Sheaffer cartridge pens in all 4 different models and, if I really pay attention to their writing characteristics, I notice that each has its little ways; they are all different. Each time I change the pen rotation I have to get used to writing with a "new" pen. So, I have given up on the original project and just keep 40 or 50 of my favorite pens and enjoy the limited variety they present me with.

    I too refuse to buy something that I think is not worth the money, regardless of its glitter or popularity. Paying 20 cents a sheet for FP friendly paper is out of the question. I can afford it, but it is just not on. The price offends me. The same goes for pens.
    Written on a real computer and real keyboard with capital letters, punctuation, and everything.

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    Senior Member Kaputnik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    It has been over a year and a half since I bought a new fountain pen. At this point, I think my only reasons for buying another would be collector-ish. I don't have the focus of people who collect for the sake of collecting, but an interesting looking vintage pen with a good nib and a restorable filling system could still interest me. If it were inexpensive enough. For modern pens, I can't think of any reason why I would buy another, although I'm willing to listen to a sales pitch that tries to convince me that "this one is different".

    My buying in the past concentrated mostly on the writing experience, but also on technical features that I found interesting. For example, off the top of my head, I can think of eleven different filling mechanisms that are represented among my pens, and I have a nagging feeling that I'm forgetting something. I have some "pen/pencils", fountain pen on one end, mechanical pencil on the other. And although I claim to focus on function rather than appearance, some vintage celluloids really appeal to me.

    But now I'm completely set for any writing task that might come up. I've tried italic nibs and stubs and decided that most of the time I'd rather use a "regular". Some of my vintage nibs have a noticeable degree of flex, which can add a little spice to my normal writing, but I don't have the skill to get the most out of the proverbial wet noodle, and am not really interested in developing it.

    And yes, any grouping of say, my twelve most satisfying pens would be well within a rational budget for me. The problem is that it didn't stop with twelve. My current personal pen budget is not to buy any.
    "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."
    Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Good question to ponder on...

    For me, buying a new pen, 99% of the time, means buying a vintage pen.

    A vintage pen, being no longer a commodity item, always carry that sense of "case-by-case" uniqueness and cannot be decoupled from the collection-aspect of the hobby.

    Example, if I see a Conklin Endura in the color/pattern that I don't have yet, I'd be tempted to buy it.
    But not only to complete my collection of Endura, I'm also curious about how the nib on this particular pen writes. Is it smooth? Is it XF, XXF, boring, flex, stubbish?

    Add to that the challenge to rescue and restore a completely broken, or broken incomplete, non-popular, neglected, trash-bound pens. As the result, I also buy pens that no typical fountain pen users would even touch.

    I guess I'm not a typical FP user.
    - Will
    A new place to shop for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    The genuine truth is I'm most likely to buy a pen if I start watching videos about pens or reading reviews. There's no point over rationalizing it and acting like I'm really making a decision. 99% of the reason to buy something is because something somewhere planted a desire in me to have it, it's not economically hard on me, and I wanted the feeling of desire to go away even if I know that probably my happiness won't increase for very long after acquiring it.

    The answer has basically never been that there's anything wrong with the pens I already have or that I'm not satisfied with them. It's honestly the opposite, I like the pens I have, and so I end up engaging in these weird meta activities around the pens.

    But yes, of course when I buy a pen I'm either looking for a spare of something I really like or something I haven't tried before that I'm curious about.

    What is strange to me is that although traditional advertising has not had a huge impact on my purchasing decisions, these very long user reviews done by people who buy every pen there is and have no right to actually give advice on selecting a pen, because they have never made a selection regarding pens in their life, are somehow extremely effective at making me want a pen. Probably because of the sheer amount of time spent thinking about it.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    At this point I'm mainly in category 3, a nib for specific use and effect, but generally I can go for more random purchases too; falling for a red mottled pen that looks good, something intersting like a piston filler mechanism with visible cork seal. If it looks like it might be better than what I already have I may try it. I have yet to get familiar with the different brands and special qualities out there. Is there anything like a relatively smooth, flexy fine nib? My flexiest is nice, with only a bit of flex, but can be a bit scratchy if not held at the right angle.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Why did I buy a pen? If you mean the first one, it was because I needed a pen that would write using waterproof ink. There are rollerballs and gel pens that can do all that now, but 15 years ago, it was only fountain pens and Noodler's, and maybe a few other inks. I dislike ballpoints, so they were not an option. I got a second, inexpensive fountain pen, a Hero 100, because I needed waterproof ink for notebooks at work. I didn't want coffee spills or other mishaps to wipe out important information.

    I purchased a couple more pens because they looked interesting and did not cost much.

    Notes for work have long since been taken almost entirely on a laptop, but handwritten notes are still occasionally needed. Not wanting to my nice Hero 100 to go missing, and since it is no longer sold, I bought $20 Wing Sung 601A. It was my first fountain pen purchase in 12 years. I think I would like a gel pen more than the Wing Sung, though. They are cheaper to replace if they disappear, and fountain pens are seen as strange or pretentious in some workplaces.
    Last edited by Pendragon; August 9th, 2019 at 01:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Combo will do for me for the first question but above all it's curiosity and the accompanying willingness to try this or that pen or nib. There's so much available and it takes time to get to know it; a quick try at a stationer's or at a fair won't do.
    As for the second question, we're blessed with an amazing second-hand market, even for recent products. I cannot remember the last time I bought a new pen (it must have been a heavily discounted Lamy 2000 about 15 years ago). Some pens are ridiculously overpriced but if one's willing to wait, something decent crops up in the end.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Ink selection is much larger for fountain pens, even more for dip nibs. It's mostly color though and for drawing I know some like bottled inks a lot. 30 years ago, there were waterproof felt tips, and I really don't know when the first water proof pens were made. Firm nib or flex, some nibs are still worth going for in 2019, ball points are just not the same. I guess it's about discovering the difference too.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    I'd say no 2. I'm passed the point of needing new pens. I've always been someone who idealizes the idea of owning less but doesn't like the impractically of it. So I end up buying half a dozen pens a year and selling roughly the same and having a collection of around twelve pens. This cycle repeats most years.

    As I tend to buy used pens as others I have stated vintage pens do seem a bit more interesting.


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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    This quote from Penwash caught my eye:

    A vintage pen, being no longer a commodity item, always carry that sense of "case-by-case" uniqueness and cannot be decoupled from the collection-aspect of the hobby.
    It makes me wonder if there is a kind of critical mass number at which point further acquisitions lean further and further toward the collecting side of things.


    I'm not old enough to recall the golden age of fountain pens, but from what I have read a person wanting to buy a pen would find a shop that sells them, try them for fit, and maybe be influenced by advertising, certainly by price. At the end of which they may end up owning one, or maybe two, pens. The desire to own multiple, non-collection, pens appears to be a much more modern trend, and I wonder if anyone would care to hazard a guess as to which era this may have begun. Perhaps it is much more recent than supposed?

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    Senior Member Lady Onogaro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    The last two pens I bought were a Lamy Safari and a Lamy Joy, mostly because I just liked the look of them and didn't have them in my collection of pens. I don't buy Safaris in every color--I held out on the pastels until they had them at Endless Pens for $13.99, and then I said "why not?" Same with the Joy for $19.99 or around about. Other than that, I haven't bought any pens in a while, though I did think seriously about the Pelikan White Tortoise over on CultPens because it's been kind of a grail pen, but then I said no, even if the price is wonderful right now ($177 or so when I last checked for US). I just didn't want to spend that much money when I had plans to go to the Dallas Pen Show to see my pen people. So I don't know what category that puts me in. Maybe 1?
    Lady Onogaro

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    I wonder if anyone would care to hazard a guess as to which era this may have begun. Perhaps it is much more recent than supposed?
    I've asked a few of my favorite collectors and vendors at pen shows pretty much that very question. While there may have been collections previously, the preponderance of answers seemed to focus on the 60s or so and later. The consensus seems to be that prior to the invention of the ball point pen, having a fountain pen really was as a functional object for most people. When they started to recede from common usage and were being replaced with other writing instruments, the concept of these older pens having a value that was different from it's function but more from it's value as a historical object started coming to the fore.

    None of this is scientific but it does make sense. One could also ask as to when pen shows and similar gatherings started, as that would also be a good indicator as to the first era where these items were bought, sold and traded outside of normal retail channels.
    "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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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Onogaro View Post
    The last two pens I bought were a Lamy Safari and a Lamy Joy, mostly because I just liked the look of them and didn't have them in my collection of pens. I don't buy Safaris in every color--I held out on the pastels until they had them at Endless Pens for $13.99, and then I said "why not?" Same with the Joy for $19.99 or around about. Other than that, I haven't bought any pens in a while, though I did think seriously about the Pelikan White Tortoise over on CultPens because it's been kind of a grail pen, but then I said no, even if the price is wonderful right now ($177 or so when I last checked for US). I just didn't want to spend that much money when I had plans to go to the Dallas Pen Show to see my pen people. So I don't know what category that puts me in. Maybe 1?
    That part pretty much nails it for me. Thanks, Lady O.
    "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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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    This quote from Penwash caught my eye:

    A vintage pen, being no longer a commodity item, always carry that sense of "case-by-case" uniqueness and cannot be decoupled from the collection-aspect of the hobby.
    It makes me wonder if there is a kind of critical mass number at which point further acquisitions lean further and further toward the collecting side of things.


    I'm not old enough to recall the golden age of fountain pens, but from what I have read a person wanting to buy a pen would find a shop that sells them, try them for fit, and maybe be influenced by advertising, certainly by price. At the end of which they may end up owning one, or maybe two, pens. The desire to own multiple, non-collection, pens appears to be a much more modern trend, and I wonder if anyone would care to hazard a guess as to which era this may have begun. Perhaps it is much more recent than supposed?
    The era of FP collecting began about 40 years ago. That is according to my friend who has been collecting for decades.
    So yes, it was a lot more recent than the "golden age" when FP was about the only practical writing instrument available anywhere.
    - Will
    A new place to shop for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Onogaro View Post
    The last two pens I bought were a Lamy Safari and a Lamy Joy, mostly because I just liked the look of them and didn't have them in my collection of pens. I don't buy Safaris in every color--I held out on the pastels until they had them at Endless Pens for $13.99, and then I said "why not?" Same with the Joy for $19.99 or around about. Other than that, I haven't bought any pens in a while, though I did think seriously about the Pelikan White Tortoise over on CultPens because it's been kind of a grail pen, but then I said no, even if the price is wonderful right now ($177 or so when I last checked for US). I just didn't want to spend that much money when I had plans to go to the Dallas Pen Show to see my pen people. So I don't know what category that puts me in. Maybe 1?
    Don't forget to say hi to me as well, Lady O. !!
    - Will
    A new place to shop for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    I hadn't considered the potential correlation between collecting and the advent of pen shows. Likely because I had never heard of the shows until just a few years ago.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    I don't know how hard it would be for people to find a copy on their own, but the conversation caused a light bulb to go off in my head: a couple years ago, at the LA Pen Show, I picked up a copy of "Collecting Old Writing Equipment", a limited edition book by Jim Marshall (of "Pen Repair" fame). I've not read it cover to cover but just picked it up from time to time and read portions. I went and pulled it off the shelf and what do you know? There is a 34 page chapter entitled "A Short History of Collecting Writing Equipment in UK, USA, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, Others".

    I mean, it's all there!

    Jim produced this book as a labor of love, and all profit from sales of the book were being donated to Cumbrian Cerebral Palsy. Jim is a charming and affable fellow, beyond his very deep expertise in pens, and I was honored to have him sign my copy. I'll try to go through the chapter and write up a synopsis, though we've already gotten the general era down.

    "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: Why buy a new pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post

    When buying a new pen which of these is generally true?

    1. I saw this fabulous pen and just had to buy it.

    2. I wanted to buy a new pen (in general), so I went looking for one.

    3. I wanted a nib that performed in a specific way, so looked for that.

    4. Any combo of the above.
    5. I wanted to rescue it from a life of neglect/abuse and restore it to a beautiful and loved writing instrument
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Why buy a new pen?

    Combo. Several reasons for me, all mentioned by others.

    Sometimes there's a well known model and/or color I want to try, or I love the look when I see it, or I've tried someone's pen and was impressed, or I am looking for a similar pen with a different nib, or I find an interesting vintage pen, I just felt like trying to rescue one, or I was curious to try it.

    Mostly it is about exploring different pens to see what they're like and adding some well known pens to the collection.

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