Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 43

Thread: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MEMBER NO LONGER ACTIVE
    Posts
    1,955
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 1,404 Times in 639 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Thinking on the history of fountain pens - although this could also apply to any tool that is seeing a modern resurgence in popularity - has got me thinking about what owners of fountain pens thought of their pens and why they had purchased them (ignoring the inheritances for the moment).

    Today there are a large number of very expensive pens, often made with materials that are also pricey or difficult to work with. How does the relative cost of these pens today, as measured against income/local economy, compare with (say) the 1920's? Further to this, did a person in the 1920's (again just as an example decade) who spent a modern day equivalent sum of money (if they are equivalent) on a luxury pen consider such a pen as a daily carry tool or a safe queen/at home desk pen only? (Hence the title of the thread).

    There are a number of threads here and on other pen sites that talk about whether one keeps pens at home or risks them 'in the wild' of a working or other extramural environment. And I wonder if this represents a change in the habits of pen user/owners over time.

    So, there are a number of things to unpick there, and I do hope the more erudite among you are able to bring some light or clarity to this subject.
    THIS MEMBER IS NOT ACTIVE ON THIS FORUM

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Empty_of_Clouds For This Useful Post:

    Bob (December 6th, 2019), JulieParadise (December 7th, 2019)

  3. #2
    Member Bob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    74
    Thanks
    72
    Thanked 24 Times in 17 Posts
    Rep Power
    4

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    The only thing that I would like to add is I’m impressed with the topics that you’re able to come up with.
    Allan


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to Bob For This Useful Post:

    Empty_of_Clouds (December 6th, 2019)

  5. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MEMBER NO LONGER ACTIVE
    Posts
    1,955
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 1,404 Times in 639 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    I'm sure everyone has lots of questions, Bob. Alas, for me there is nobody local to talk about this stuff with, so I put it out on the forum. While I appreciate that most people here don't want to engage with me, I do hope to stimulate a conversation between others from which I may be able to learn something just by observing.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; December 6th, 2019 at 03:52 AM.
    THIS MEMBER IS NOT ACTIVE ON THIS FORUM

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to Empty_of_Clouds For This Useful Post:

    Bob (December 6th, 2019)

  7. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Tennessee USA
    Posts
    146
    Thanks
    85
    Thanked 70 Times in 44 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    This is a common internet forum topic whether it is musical instruments, straight razors, knives, and now pens. There is the concept of the "beater" used to describe something one can use and not be concerned about damaging.

    For me, the enjoyment is use. I would not own something I couldn't use, but I am an outlier perhaps. I've carried my two old Esterbrooks this week and used them for the reason one carries a pen. I prefer a fine point and FP's fit that need.

    I also think there is an appreciation of a old, well worn tool over a wall hanger. Willy Nelson's or Steve Ray Vaughn's guitars come to mind as does Dizzy Gillepsie's trumpet.

  8. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MEMBER NO LONGER ACTIVE
    Posts
    1,955
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 1,404 Times in 639 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Perhaps the first question is: In the time when fountain pens were the preferred writing tool, did people carry their expensive pen to work, or leave them at home?
    The second question then is: Do people today carry their expensive pen to work, or leave them at home?

    If there is a difference it may be interesting to explore.

    I'm not smart enough to pick out a lot of details, so I don't know what pens in the early to mid 20th century would be classed as luxury items in the same way that an MB 149 or Pelikan 1000 would be today.

    Also, there are quite a few artisanal pens around now (both real and pseudo), and I have no idea if this situation existed to the same extent in the past.


    Further, not sure how to make the demarcation - even if only a soft line - between common and luxury, as it relates to eras.
    THIS MEMBER IS NOT ACTIVE ON THIS FORUM

  9. #6
    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,504
    Thanks
    2,530
    Thanked 1,169 Times in 561 Posts
    Rep Power
    3

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    These are excellent questions. I have wondered the same. Fountain pens never came up while my parents were still alive, unfortunately.

    Prices... 1922 a Duofold Jr. was $5, the equivalent of about $70 now.

    Parker 51 prices in the early 40s were around $15 for a gold filled Custom, about $270 now.

    As expensive as they may have been I would think professionals and business people would want (or even need) to carry their pen with them and would thus buy comfortably within their means so they wouldn't fret daily use.

    1924 Parker Duofold advertisement.
    From https://www.penhero.com/PenGallery/P...oldFlattop.htm
    Last edited by azkid; December 6th, 2019 at 09:49 AM.

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to azkid For This Useful Post:

    countrydirt (December 7th, 2019), Sailor Kenshin (December 6th, 2019)

  11. #7
    Senior Member Paddler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    454
    Thanks
    54
    Thanked 545 Times in 283 Posts
    Rep Power
    5

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    In the early '50s, my father was promoted to foreman in a machine shop and began earning $21 per day. My mother was a 6th grade teacher and earned a lot less. They decided to buy a couple of good writing tools. They both bought Sheaffer "Saratoga" Snorkels.

    Dad didn't carry his pen to work; anything he wrote was in pencil on oily paper. He used his "good" pen to write letters and for show when signing guest books at funerals and weddings (a marryin' and buryin' pen). This was the first pen I ever restored a sac in. It still works well.

    Mom filled her pen with Skrip Permanent Royal Blue ink and carried it in her purse every day to school. She used it when grading papers. It took a hell of a beating. I inherited it. The barrel is so cracked I have to hold it like a flute to fill it. I re-saced it and it still works well.

    Mom also had a Waterman "Lady's Model" Hundred Year Pen. It was a gift from her parents. This she filled with Skrip Red ink and used it for grading papers also. It probably beat up on the Sheaffer in her purse. The nib cracked in the center, away from any edge. Go figure. There is no other damage on this one, even though it probably saw harder and longer use than the Sheaffer. I fitted it with a new sac and it still works a treat.

    Our "house pen" was a Wahl-Eversharp "Pacemaker" pen from the early '40s. This pen was the community property pen that my brother and sister did their homework with. It cost probably $3 or a little more. No damage. A new sac put it in working order.

    My pen was a Sheaffer "school pen" and was left at school to be used for penmanship classes only (pax vobiscum). I still have it and use it, just to remind myself how damned old I am. My grade school journaling pen was a Wearever "Pennant".

    So, we were a middle class family whose pens were tools, although Dad was probably a little vain about his Snorkel with the two-tone nib.
    "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little." -Epicurus-

  12. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Paddler For This Useful Post:

    Ahriman4891 (December 11th, 2019), AzJon (December 9th, 2019), azkid (December 6th, 2019), catbert (December 7th, 2019), fereous (January 2nd, 2020), penwash (December 6th, 2019), Robert (December 6th, 2019), Scrawler (December 10th, 2019), VertOlive (December 6th, 2019)

  13. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    78
    Thanks
    24
    Thanked 59 Times in 34 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    The evidence from my grandparents is that they had one fountain pen at home. A Valentine's/Parker hybrid that my grandfather probably picked up whilst he was serving in Newhaven, where he served part of his time in the Navy.

    The pen stayed at home - and seems to have been used for official documents only. all the informal stuff - letters, notes and so on was written in pencil. Writing in pen, at least until these new fangled biros came out was reserved for signatures on documents - life policies, apprenticeship documents and so on. Even the letters we have from the army (1st & 2nd world wars) were all done in pencil.

    He was a plasterer by trade and worked at the power station, so I guess he didn't need a pen for where he was, and it would be jostled about as he was in the blue collar part of the plant.

  14. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Sandy For This Useful Post:

    Ahriman4891 (December 11th, 2019), azkid (December 6th, 2019), catbert (December 7th, 2019), Deb (December 6th, 2019), welch (December 6th, 2019)

  15. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Posts
    41
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 19 Times in 12 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    I am into the point in my life where I only buy things I will use from fountain pens to firearms, tools and razors. I have been purging unused/unneeded items, with most going to my son-in-law. This is such an interesting topic.......

  16. #10
    Senior Member welch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    284
    Thanks
    335
    Thanked 140 Times in 88 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Thinking on the history of fountain pens - although this could also apply to any tool that is seeing a modern resurgence in popularity - has got me thinking about what owners of fountain pens thought of their pens and why they had purchased them (ignoring the inheritances for the moment).

    Today there are a large number of very expensive pens, often made with materials that are also pricey or difficult to work with. How does the relative cost of these pens today, as measured against income/local economy, compare with (say) the 1920's? Further to this, did a person in the 1920's (again just as an example decade) who spent a modern day equivalent sum of money (if they are equivalent) on a luxury pen consider such a pen as a daily carry tool or a safe queen/at home desk pen only? (Hence the title of the thread).

    There are a number of threads here and on other pen sites that talk about whether one keeps pens at home or risks them 'in the wild' of a working or other extramural environment. And I wonder if this represents a change in the habits of pen user/owners over time.

    So, there are a number of things to unpick there, and I do hope the more erudite among you are able to bring some light or clarity to this subject.

    Up through the mid-60's, a fountain pen was how you wrote, if you wanted something more permanent than pencil. My parents, who graduated high school in 1940 and 1941, used inexpensive pens. Probably pens we consider "third-tier" pens today. When my dad was sent to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, it was such a time that Mom saved up and bought a Parker Vacumatic. That was a big deal.

    As best I remember from the '50s, nobody had more than one fountain pen.

    It is hard to map current pen use back against the way life was lived in, say, 1957, a year that I will take as the peak of the Golden Years of fountain pens. That's why Sheaffer made their school pens, figuring to make us Sheaffer users when we were young, say, about 4th grade. That's when we switched to ink from pencil.

    Another device that cut into fountain pen use: the typewriter. Before about 1960, the typewriter was an office machine. Then families began to get typewriters so the kids could type school reports. When I went to college in 1966, nearly everyone brought a typewriter. Most of them were Smith-Corona, or Royal, portable electric machines. Cost, then, was about $120. My Parker 45 had cost about $4.98 in 1960, so it might have been $6 by '66. Ink was 25 or 50 cents -- can't remember exactly. McDonalds had just bumped their prices, which had been "only forty-seven cents for a three-course meal...at McDonalds (beep! beep!) the drive in with the golden arches". That was the advertising jingle about 1963. A VW Beetle was about $1,700 in the early '60s, and, in 1969, there was no place along I-80 that sold or repaired VW's between Salt Lake and Cheyenne.

    All that makes it misleading to take a list price Parker 51 from 1950 and extrapolate by inflation. It's also tough to calculate how many days or hours of work by an "average" worker could buy any particular pen. A lot of people didn't need a pen, or could use a stick pen at the post office when they needed to ink a letter.

    So, a great question, but hard to answer in a way that gets at what you want.

  17. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to welch For This Useful Post:

    azkid (December 7th, 2019), Sailor Kenshin (December 7th, 2019)

  18. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MEMBER NO LONGER ACTIVE
    Posts
    1,955
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 1,404 Times in 639 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    So, a great question, but hard to answer in a way that gets at what you want.
    Thanks, and that's why I asked!
    THIS MEMBER IS NOT ACTIVE ON THIS FORUM

  19. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    74
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 42 Times in 23 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Yes they did, and we do. Though the expensive/beater line is movable.

  20. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    74
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 42 Times in 23 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by kazoolaw View Post
    Yes they did, and we do. Though the expensive/beater line is movable.
    Sorry-ended too soon. "They did" is based on the number of sterling/gold pens showing signs one wear: dented domes and barrels, scratches, worn and damaged nibs etc. "We do" is based, to choose one example, on the MB 149 being a daily carry for many.

    Don't claim that the majority of us carry expensive pens for daily use, but it's not uncommon either.

  21. #14
    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,504
    Thanks
    2,530
    Thanked 1,169 Times in 561 Posts
    Rep Power
    3

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    If it is misleading to take a 50s Parker price and adjust for inflation, it's even more so to do that for 1920 so I probably should have acknowledged that in my post

    I was thinking as I wrote it how very different the economy was then vs now—the range of income from minimum wage to high earning professionals, the set of expenses (no cable, internet, cellphone, less throwaway stuff, free radio), housing costs, transportation, ...

    It's really deeply fascinating to hear from those who grew up in prior decades. It gives a bit of a glimpse of how things were.

    I think about my kid growing up now trying to imagine my life before cellphones, internet, cable tv, and computers.

    Oh by the way, on that comment about typewriters, I didn't know about the increase in popularity of personal typewriters and it reminds me of the personal computer trend.

    Interestingly enough, my mom's parents bought her a Smith-Corona portable (which I still have) sometime in the 1940s. I wished I knew more about that decision.

    I think she would've been middle school age when they got it. Apparently, they were ahead of the trend getting that for her?

    I'm going to believe that's the case because her mom, my grandma, got me a Commodore 64 when they first came out when I was in middle school. That computer led to a 20+ year IT career.

    Mom went on to teach art, then English. Oh... and also she taught typing for a few years. I have a vague memory from early childhood ('73 - '75?) of visiting the room full of mismatched surplus 1950s typewriters and furniture they used.

  22. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Dallas, as in the 80's TV Series
    Posts
    2,485
    Thanks
    1,703
    Thanked 3,083 Times in 1,114 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    What amazes me is that today, we don't have to use fountain pens at all. Yet the interest in fountain pens are strong and healthy even among young people for whom computers are the fact of life since they were born.

    People in the 1920s to 1950's have little else to choose from if they decided to not want to use fountain pens. But today, we don't even have to write with our hand if we choose not to.

    So the question is why? Why do we find people today who chose to bother themselves with fountain pens?

    I think the answer is that today's pen people are discovering that writing (sketching) "feels" good, and it brings them joy as a hobby. More importantly, the fountain pen as an instrument has an appeal outside of its utilitarian purpose, namely, pretty and looks even better in a well curated collection.

    So no matter what you call them, a tool, or a shelf-queen (that term seems to have a mocking ring to it), the fountain pen has found a place in many people's heart. And if what I saw in reddit.com is any kind of indication, the number of these people are increasing... daily.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

  23. #16
    Senior Member KBeezie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Posts
    1,585
    Thanks
    110
    Thanked 1,076 Times in 461 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    You can use this if you find the old ads to do a comparison to the value of today's dollars : https://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/

    For example the Parker 75 Cisele when it came out in 1964 was $25, in 2019 that would be about $204. I got my 75 Cisele for about $120 and you can commonly find them for around $125 to $175 depending. But course it's not that far down from what used pricing reduction would be from new pricing.

    I feel like many of the pens are going to be cheaper than what their original brand new prices were when inflation are considered. The exceptions of course are the rare ones to survive.

    One such exception I recall would be the early Eversharp Skylines in the Moire finish, which was at the time much more economical to make those compared to the newer solid color plastics and gold filled caps. But now days the moire models will be a fair bit more expensive than the newer plastics and gold filled caps.

  24. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Tennessee USA
    Posts
    146
    Thanks
    85
    Thanked 70 Times in 44 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    What amazes me is that today, we don't have to use fountain pens at all. Yet the interest in fountain pens are strong and healthy even among young people for whom computers are the fact of life since they were born.

    People in the 1920s to 1950's have little else to choose from if they decided to not want to use fountain pens. But today, we don't even have to write with our hand if we choose not to.

    So the question is why? Why do we find people today who chose to bother themselves with fountain pens?

    I think the answer is that today's pen people are discovering that writing (sketching) "feels" good, and it brings them joy as a hobby. More importantly, the fountain pen as an instrument has an appeal outside of its utilitarian purpose, namely, pretty and looks even better in a well curated collection.

    So no matter what you call them, a tool, or a shelf-queen (that term seems to have a mocking ring to it), the fountain pen has found a place in many people's heart. And if what I saw in reddit.com is any kind of indication, the number of these people are increasing... daily.
    No need to be amazed. Often we stop looking for what we truly want or need assuming it's not available or no longer obtainable. Often we discover we didn't know what we needed.

  25. #18
    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    4,678
    Thanks
    4,889
    Thanked 7,068 Times in 2,618 Posts
    Rep Power
    13

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Since this basic question/topic has come up with regularity over the years, I'll reiterate my reason for not buying into it: versus.

    I don't believe it is an either/or decision made on a pen-by-pen basis. I think the pens I own lie on a continuum, from ridiculously inexpensive pens that I wouldn't give a second's thought if I lost it or if it was broken in battle as an EDC, all the way up to prized possesions that most certainly stay at home, in the studio, used seldom but admired always and cared for with acknowledgement of the singular nature of the pen: meaningful, personal and probably irreplaceable. With those as the end points, all of the other pens span the gamut in between and will go out or not based on the kind of assessments used in the examples above.

    I have pens I use and pens I adore, and you can't put me in any one camp.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; December 7th, 2019 at 12:53 PM. Reason: grammar
    "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

  26. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Jon Szanto For This Useful Post:

    Ahriman4891 (December 11th, 2019), AzJon (December 9th, 2019), catbert (December 8th, 2019), Chrissy (December 8th, 2019), Deb (December 7th, 2019), KBeezie (December 7th, 2019)

  27. #19
    Senior Member Kaputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    By the long tidal river.
    Posts
    641
    Thanks
    938
    Thanked 689 Times in 332 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Although I got the point of the thread anyway, I have to ask. Am I the only one who had to google "safe queen"?

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/defi...m=Safe%20queen

    Odd term.
    "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
    G.K. Chesterton

  28. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    MEMBER NO LONGER ACTIVE
    Posts
    1,955
    Thanks
    411
    Thanked 1,404 Times in 639 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: Perceptions - tools versus safe queens.

    Using the "what the dollar was worth" tool, $40 in 1920 is equivalent in buying power to $550 today.

    Comparing the average one-person wage shows that in both cases that person would have to work around 25 hours to buy a pen at this price. I chose $550 as an arbitrary expression of luxury within the pen hobby as it seems at present. Not definitive of course, and always it will be relative to the individual, but as generality it may serve.

    There are some major differences. In 1920 only 21% of women were part of the labour force participation statistic, in 2019 this rises to around 57%. This means that the average household income today is very different, and it is likely (though I haven't dug into it yet) that we have (on average) more disposable income now than before, due to wider shared costs.

    The question still remains though. In the 1920s (as my example decade) how likely would a person be to buy a pen costing $40 or more? And does this differ much from the likelihood of someone today paying over $500? Once those questions are resolved then the point of the thread is to determine how likely those in the 20s took those pens into the work environment and how many left them at home. Compared to now, based on testimony from internet forum threads.


    Further to this, how likely would a person in the 20s be to buy multiple pens at that price or above? Were pens ever viewed as a collectible in that era?




    Note about terminology. I used the term 'safe queen' as I believed it was a commonly understood phrase across a number of hobbies. It's not intended to be judgemental or mocking.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; December 7th, 2019 at 06:23 PM.
    THIS MEMBER IS NOT ACTIVE ON THIS FORUM

  29. The Following User Says Thank You to Empty_of_Clouds For This Useful Post:

    AzJon (December 9th, 2019)

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •