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Thread: The Allure of Expensive Pens

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    Senior Member ethernautrix's Avatar
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    Default The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Vis-a-vis SBRE Brown's recent video asking, "Why are we attracted to expensive pens?" (https://youtu.be/UtrBPRAO4nQ)

    My short answer is that I am not attracted to expensive pens. It's that the pens that I especially want cost what they cost (Nakaya, for instance). My first Nakaya, a Piccolo Cigar, cost $250, which I thought was a lot at the time (2008, days before a price increase), but if I knew then what I know now, I would have bought five of them (eventually, I bought more than five but never again at $250).

    It costs what it costs.

    Recently, when contemplating replacing a lost favorite Piccolo, I looked through the offerings on Nakaya's website (nakaya.org, btw). There's a Venetian Moon at $4,400 that just rings my bells -- but Neo Standard (i.e., not Piccolo). (Also, $4,400, hahaha. Yeah, not today.)

    I wanted the kuro tamenuri. That's it. No matter how enticing the various other pens I looked at were -- the Chinkin, black with colorful flowers, for instance. I just... no, the kuro tamenuri. That's the one that I really wanted. That was the one I bought three years ago (finally) -- and lost a year-and-a-half ago.

    Maybe I lost it, cos I didn't order it with the kanji for my name. Because maybe I really wanted that kanji. Huh.

    Meanwhile... I'm using these: IMG_20200902_160108068_HDR~2_resize_72.jpg

    That <$20 Moonman C2 sports a Pilot #10 PO nib. Had to pay for the 912 (which I did maybe five years ago), which was more than $20, but it's my favorite nib. So... I didn't buy the 912 because it was more expensive than the Moonman; I bought it to try the PO nib, and it cost what it cost. And the PO is my favorite nib.

    Can cheaper pens give a similar-enough writing experience? Maybe if I were starting out. I know too much now, hahaha. I can discern the difference, and if I want the Pilot PO nib experience, then I have to buy the Pilot model with the PO nib. So far, no way around that.

    And no way around the cost of using a beautiful urushi pen. I doubt those will ever come cheap.

    If I didn't care for fountain pens, I'd use needle-tip Pentel Jetstreams and Uni-ball Signos and Pilot V5s -- and some people might say, "Why would you pay so much for that when you could get a dozen Bic ballpoints for the same price?" Hahaha. I'd be all, "But... but... needle tip!"

    Pens in the photo are, L-R:
    Nakaya Piccolo Cigar unpolished shu (Platinum steel EF), filled with Iroshizuku Take-sumi
    Kaweco Special (F - but a delightfully EF F), with Platinum Carbon Black
    Pilot 823 (PO), Noodler's Black
    Moonman C2 (Pilot #10 PO), Platinum Blue-Black (as of yesterday)
    Last edited by ethernautrix; September 10th, 2020 at 04:03 AM. Reason: Forgot the order of the pens in the photo
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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    I consider anything over $150 kind of expensive, but that's because of my self-imposed limits on multiple pen purchases. Anything over $300 really gives me pause. That's not to say I wouldn't buy a pen costing more than $300. I'd just go about it more carefully. There are some gorgeous pens out there that cost over $1000, but those are ones I'd save up for, and if my enthusiasm cools in the interim, at least I'd have the funds when the next pen that expensive comes along. Anything over about $2000 is in the pictures-only category for me. I might sigh and swoon, but I wouldn't buy it. I'd love to see the very expensive pens in person, though, just as I enjoy going to a good art gallery. I can still appreciate what I can't afford.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    There may be people who are attracted to something because it is expensive and looking at almost every market seems to support that premise but like ethernautrix I've never seen price itself to add any value.
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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Function over fashion.
    I haven't seen an expensive pen yet that made me starry-eyed.
    Though many mid-priced innovative pens have made me drool.
    What good is a pretty car that can't get you to where you need to be?
    *shrug*

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    That video, which I did not have the patience or interest to watch all the way through (if there's a transcript, I'd read it), generated a similar discussion over at FPN. This always makes me think of the same point, that the total we pay for all of our pens is surely more significant than the most we have paid for a single one. I could say that I'd "never" pay Nakaya prices and mean it. But the total that I've paid for my collection of Esterbrooks, Pilots, Watermans, Sheaffers, Parkers and whatnot would have been enough for a small Nakaya collection, or a small collection of similarly priced pens, which would surely be enough for any writing I could possibly do. But somehow, paying a "too high" price for a single pen feels different, even if the total is the same.

    I did seriously consider a Nakaya at one point a number of years ago. At the time, the model I was looking at was $450 from nibs.com, plus a bit extra for the nib modification I wanted. There was no problem with finding the money, but in the end, I decided that the appearance of urushi, although not unimportant, was not important enough to me to justify the extra cost. Someone pointed out to me (or at least plausibly claimed) that if I didn't care about appearance that much I could get the same nib in a much less costly Platinum pen. I thought about it, and in the end decided not to get that either.

    When it comes to the rationality of spending the amount we do on pens, I know that I'm in a glass house, and suspect that many if not most of us have similar dwelling places.
    "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
    G.K. Chesterton

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Don't look at me; my favorite pens are yes, I'll say it, cheap.

    What's filled now? A Parker 21 that writes like a dream. A Delike New Moon with that fancy acrylic-looking stuff. A Pilot Pluminix. A couple of Wing Sung 601.

    Neat surprise is (at the moment, and new-to-me, a gift) a Serwex piston-filled, which I can't imagine costing over $20. I keep refilling it. And I don't even care for pistons.

    Maybe expensive pens intimidate me.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!


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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    I'm attracted to certain beautiful pens, including the enchanting Pilot VP Raden pens (and just about any other pen with Raden, honestly) and the mesmerising Pelikan Ocean Swirl, but I'm not willing to spend what's asked for them in one go. Not just yet.

    Anything over $150 gives me *significant* pause, probably because I have too many hobbies nibbling at my wallet.

    But yeah, I too have easily spent the equivalent of an Ocean Swirl's or VP Raden's worth on a pile of pens.

    I look on that pile and am a bit sad to see that half or more perfectly decent writing instruments nevertheless remain ignored in favor of a small number of favorites. It didn't used to be that way but I guess I've found what I like best.

    Wouldn't I rather make a sacrifice and go on the hunt to obtain a true grail pen?
    Last edited by azkid; September 10th, 2020 at 11:33 AM.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by ethernautrix View Post
    ...

    Can cheaper pens give a similar-enough writing experience? Maybe if I were starting out. I know too much now, hahaha. I can discern the difference, and if I want the Pilot PO nib experience, then I have to buy the Pilot model with the PO nib. So far, no way around that.

    ...
    There it is, in a nutshell. Expensive pens are worthwhile for how well they work. Using a Namiki Emperor Vermillion (for example) isn't just about the beauty of the urushi process. It's the nib, and the feel of the pen, the quality of the eyedropper mechanism... Writing with those pens is different than picking up a Metropolitan or Eco and taking business notes.

    I have a monthly budget for things fountain pen of $50. That means I have to save up for quite a while to ever see anything in this quality range. I have certain life goals, where, when reached, the reward is a pen far outside this budget. (That Namiki Emperor Vermillion will be for a second published novel... got to get cracking on the first one. ) The most expensive pen I own is a Pilot Custom 74 (f). It is the only gold-nib pen I have, and it is the highest quality pen I have. The difference is clear when using it, and comparing it with my Eco, or Metropolitan. The "allure of expensive pens" is the draw of their quality and craftsmanship, not the price tag attached, just as Ethernautrix mentioned.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    ‘Expensive’ is a subjective variable and not necessarily correlated to writing experience. Likewise ‘cheap’ in another thread. Things cost what they cost and are worth it if they are worth it to you.

    The constant is ‘the allure of pens’. Otherwise, why are we all here?

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Reputation made me look at a few expensive pens. After buying a couple, I wasn't so impressed, even though they were good, I didn't think they met expectations. I haven't found anything that attracts me more than my fifty year old Parker 51 or writes any better in any way I want to write.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    So given the perspectives that Catbert and Pajaro have presented...can we say that there are no definitive "Expensive" or "Cheap" pens...as it's from the perspective of ones wallet, comfort level or pleasure?

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    So given the perspectives that Catbert and Pajaro have presented...can we say that there are no definitive "Expensive" or "Cheap" pens...as it's from the perspective of ones wallet, comfort level or pleasure?
    Wouldn't that make sense no matter who said it? An individual's relationship to finances is directly linked to how much they have, and what is expensive to a young student is likely not to a practicing lawyer. Etc.
    "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: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    So given the perspectives that Catbert and Pajaro have presented...can we say that there are no definitive "Expensive" or "Cheap" pens...as it's from the perspective of ones wallet, comfort level or pleasure?
    Wouldn't that make sense no matter who said it? An individual's relationship to finances is directly linked to how much they have, and what is expensive to a young student is likely not to a practicing lawyer. Etc.
    No...it's not actually.
    The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    It's the same line as the dude on the range during qualifications week with the kitted out AR that doesn't even know what all the expensive toys he's attached to his rig even do...
    But he had have em cause they're "The best on the market".
    Dudes like that gets mined, naded or popped before they even get to use their "expensive toys"...it's ridiculous.
    Last edited by Detman101; September 10th, 2020 at 03:28 PM.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    ...The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    Uh oh. Hidden feelings coming out!

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    ...The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    Uh oh. Hidden feelings coming out!
    Whatev, I don't hide anything. Never have, never will.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    No...it's not actually.
    The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    It's the same line as the dude on the range during qualifications week with the kitted out AR that doesn't even know what all the expensive toys he's attached to his rig even do...
    But he had have em cause they're "The best on the market".
    Dudes like that gets mined, naded or popped before they even get to use their "expensive toys"...it's ridiculous.
    First, that is an inaccurate portrayal of the forum from someone who has been here for about a month. It is not some overwhelming and brow-beating sentiment, though many people feel that some pens are worth paying more for.

    What is really baffling is that you are now contradicting yourself from only a couple days ago. I won't make an embarrassing repost, but you can read your response here.

    We all try to be friendly and give advice based on our experience. No one is trying to tell you what you should do or buy, but merely explaining what works for them and what they have observed over time. The fact of the matter is that compared to most pen forums, there is far less chatter about high-end pens on FPG than most other sites (except reddit, with a high percentage of young/new/student users).
    "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: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    An expensive pen, for me, is one that I cannot in good conscience justify at the price. Everything else, irrepsective of the amount I paid for it, is just the detritus that we accrue through living...

    Whether it is pens, or watches, or cars, or model trains, or dresses, or art, or books, or albums, or drugs, or ink, or whatever, none of it really matters. If you want the 4k MB LE, and you don't have to embezzle funds from the kids cancer charity you volunteer for to afford it, knock yourself out. If a Moonman rocks your world, more power to you.

    The very fact that we are typing on the internet about fountain pens suggests to me we are all privileged, and that we should be thankful for that.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    No...it's not actually.
    The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    It's the same line as the dude on the range during qualifications week with the kitted out AR that doesn't even know what all the expensive toys he's attached to his rig even do...
    But he had have em cause they're "The best on the market".
    Dudes like that gets mined, naded or popped before they even get to use their "expensive toys"...it's ridiculous.
    First, that is an inaccurate portrayal of the forum from someone who has been here for about a month. It is not some overwhelming and brow-beating sentiment, though many people feel that some pens are worth paying more for.

    What is really baffling is that you are now contradicting yourself from only a couple days ago. I won't make an embarrassing repost, but you can read your response here.

    We all try to be friendly and give advice based on our experience. No one is trying to tell you what you should do or buy, but merely explaining what works for them and what they have observed over time. The fact of the matter is that compared to most pen forums, there is far less chatter about high-end pens on FPG than most other sites (except reddit, with a high percentage of young/new/student users).
    Almost impossible to embarrass me dude, what I say I mean and I'm a door-kicker by nature. I'm not dormant/peaceful enough to ignore the things I see and I may not understand the reasoning behind why people do what they do, but I'm gonna ask.
    Yeah...I'm considering it. I may or may not have a vintage pen in my near future...
    For me...It's not proven, and I need to prove it true or false in order to shut down any speculation.
    If you mean "The Other Place" they can keep their attitudes...their registration isn't even open/responding so I'm sure that's a closed-circle. Not that the prevailing attitudes there are attractive anyway...
    Geeks Vs Pricks...i'll take Geeks any day! (And hippies EVERY day!)

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    '... We all try to be friendly and give advice based on our experience. No one is trying to tell you what you should do or buy, but merely explaining what works for them ...'
    I agree. Every interest group forum to which I belong or visit, I have found that this is true. There may be the rare individual 'know it all' who pontificates, but that is the exception. I know, I have shared my opinions and thoughts with the caveat that they are my opinion or my experience -- and not dogma. After all, the sole purpose of a internet interest group forum is the exchange of thoughts, experiences, ideas, and news. It is not a 'school of indoctrination'.

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    Default Re: The Allure of Expensive Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Detman101 View Post
    So given the perspectives that Catbert and Pajaro have presented...can we say that there are no definitive "Expensive" or "Cheap" pens...as it's from the perspective of ones wallet, comfort level or pleasure?
    Wouldn't that make sense no matter who said it? An individual's relationship to finances is directly linked to how much they have, and what is expensive to a young student is likely not to a practicing lawyer. Etc.
    No...it's not actually.
    The common sentiment I've seen expressed around here is "More expensive is better than yours" or "cheap=garbage".
    The little-peen "I'm better than you" crowd champions things like these...expensive baubles.
    It's the same line as the dude on the range during qualifications week with the kitted out AR that doesn't even know what all the expensive toys he's attached to his rig even do...
    But he had have em cause they're "The best on the market".
    Dudes like that gets mined, naded or popped before they even get to use their "expensive toys"...it's ridiculous.
    Just a suggestion, don't attempt to generalize the forum this way. If you are banned or ignored, you will have lost a valuable resource. Just because someone like a $500 MB is not a threat to you. Peace all!!!

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