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Thread: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

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    Default First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    I see "third tier" mentioned all the time for cheap and no-name vintage pens.

    Presumably, "First Tier" would be brands like Sheaffer and Montblanc.

    Is anything considered a "Second Tier"? What would it be?

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by NumberSix View Post
    I see "third tier" mentioned all the time for cheap and no-name vintage pens.

    Presumably, "First Tier" would be brands like Sheaffer and Montblanc.

    Is anything considered a "Second Tier"? What would it be?
    To be honest, I think the terms are somewhat malleable. We clearly define first tier as the name brand companies that produced product for a number of years, as well as using quality materials. Third tier are pretty solid in terms of small company, low prices, low quality (in every aspect - nibs, body materials, playing, workmanship).

    One can consider "2nd brands" and products made for other retailers by 1st tier companies. Places like Sears, Rexall Drugs, and many other retailers had pens made for them by other, sometimes multiple, companies. I confess that I can not, off the top of my head, mention which brand made which commissioned pen. However, I can send you to a good source: take a look at this article on Richard Binder's site, which delves into the history of 2nd tier pens.
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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    I can send you to a good source: take a look at this article on Richard Binder's site, which delves into the history of 2nd tier pens.
    Ha! That looks like just the thing to get me started on this question.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    I think Wasp and Esterbrook were 2nd tier. They were good pens, just not the fanciest.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    I avoid using the "tier" term to describe pens. Some companies made pens that would fulfil the usual description of a third-tier pen: plated nib, thin plating, even a cheap filling system such as the simple syringe. The same company might make pens of very high quality. Wyvern and Mentmore would fit these description quite well. Are they first, second or third tier companies? I suggest that assigning such companies to one tier or another would be inaccurate and misleading to someone unfamiliar with them. They are terms from the early days of pen collection that might be best discarded now.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by NumberSix View Post
    I see "third tier" mentioned all the time for cheap and no-name vintage pens.

    Presumably, "First Tier" would be brands like Sheaffer and Montblanc.

    Is anything considered a "Second Tier"? What would it be?

    Montblanc had 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier pens way back in the 50's. They had ranges syuch as the Monte Rosa which had steel nibs and were aimed at students. I think the first number told you the tier - 254 - was a second tier pen with a no 5 size nib ad 342 was a third tier with a no 4 sized bnib. I think the last number referred to the trim but I'm probably wrong.

    Parker had the same - in the 50's the Slimfold was for school children, and in the 60's the Parker 45. The Parker 21 was a cheaper version of the 51.

    I think brands such as Platignum might be considered 2nd tier.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NumberSix View Post
    I see "third tier" mentioned all the time for cheap and no-name vintage pens.

    Presumably, "First Tier" would be brands like Sheaffer and Montblanc.

    Is anything considered a "Second Tier"? What would it be?

    Montblanc had 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier pens way back in the 50's. They had ranges syuch as the Monte Rosa which had steel nibs and were aimed at students. I think the first number told you the tier - 254 - was a second tier pen with a no 5 size nib ad 342 was a third tier with a no 4 sized bnib. I think the last number referred to the trim but I'm probably wrong.

    Parker had the same - in the 50's the Slimfold was for school children, and in the 60's the Parker 45. The Parker 21 was a cheaper version of the 51.

    I think brands such as Platignum might be considered 2nd tier.
    Imho the Montblanc 1st number has nothing to do with what some call tiers at all.
    It is only an internal categorization to distinguish their product lines.
    1 Top highest price line, 2 Medium line, 3 entry line.

    All their pen lines are top notch and for sure 1st tier pens.
    I love their 3xx pens, they are excellent high quality pens.
    Also their Monte Rosa school pen is a very good pen.


    You also would not say a Mercedes C Class is 3rd tier, a E Class is 2nd tier and a S Class is 1st tier.
    Same is true for the Montblanc 50‘s pens.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.
    You would know more than me. My point is that companies assign labels or levels/AKA tier to products. For example, "limited edition" or "top of the line" discriptions are frequently assigned or used. Even with Esterbrook, deluxe was used for their plastic and metal offerings. Autopoint listed the Rocket pencil in terms of price and materials used.

    If we visit the Mont Blanc site, we can search on prices levels high to low or low to high. You can get a pen with "precious resin" and platinum or gold. So, my point is that levels are insinuated if not out right made for products by the company.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    I avoid using the "tier" term to describe pens. Some companies made pens that would fulfil the usual description of a third-tier pen: plated nib, thin plating, even a cheap filling system such as the simple syringe. The same company might make pens of very high quality. Wyvern and Mentmore would fit these description quite well. Are they first, second or third tier companies? I suggest that assigning such companies to one tier or another would be inaccurate and misleading to someone unfamiliar with them. They are terms from the early days of pen collection that might be best discarded now.
    Absolutely spot on.

    Not only in this thread, but I have seen a lot of pen discussions regarding "tiers" confuse and conflate two very different usage of the word.

    Back then, pen companies assign "tiers" for their pens to help them budget, produce, and market pens. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of companies back then, and only for a fraction of those, pen historians were able to find useful records today.

    Today, pen collectors assign "tiers" to categorize which pens is worth a lot and which ones are not. Unfortunately, the simplest form of this categorization uses only brands, which is not accurate at all. As Eachan illustrated, a "low-tiered", thus cheaply made Sheaffer ("first-tier" brand) is worse than well-made era from Wearever ("third-tier" brand).

    Therefore, although most likely I will not be able to curb the usage of the "tier" concept, at least I try to not propagate this confusion.

    If I found a pen, with a 14K nib, gorgeous material, nicely preserved trims (not corroded to oblivion), and a strong lever (not floppy), also nicely sized and balanced in the hand.

    I couldn't care less if the pen is an Arnold ("third-tier" brand according to collectors) or a Wahl ("first-tier").

    To me, I see a beautiful pen that once restored, will be able to be used again for decades to come.

    A functional pen with beauty and history, coming alive again after decades of neglect and obscurity.

    Isn't that what matters in the end? To me, it is.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    I tend to view the tiers from a US-centric stance, colored by my far lesser knowledge of European (and Asian) pen brands of many decades ago. I do think that while there is overlap in categories, etc, it is not unkind to use these terms on pens from the early part of last century. There is no doubt whatsoever that there were premium pens from companies with quality materials, cataloging, repair services, etc and conversely there were the many, many small companies that set up shop to make inexpensive pens for the masses.

    In addition to many of the names we know (Will mentioned Arnold), there were dozens and dozens of no-name or lesser name pens. Yes, they are fun to restore and some are handsome and good writers (I'm thinking of a Ratner & Sons pen I have that is in this category), and a well-kept and restored Wearever Pacemaker bats above it's price point, but there isn't any reason to cover up the fact that - like all marketable products - there were high-end, well-made, expensive pens, and there were the other end of the spectrum, and then everything in between. Categorizing them is loose, it doesn't really mean a lot, but there *are* pens that can easily be put in a tier. With people new to the hobby I try to present it as non-judgemental as possible, but when someone has just come back from a thrift store, having paid way too much for a junker bottom-end pen, it can be an opening for a teaching moment on the history and economics of pen production from that golden era.
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    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Reminds me of HMO Medicare polices. There is Humana and Humana Gold. I like to make fun of them and add Humana Gold Special Delux. Either way, you still can't stay over 7 days for rehab (not that anyone would want to during the pandemic).

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.
    You would know more than me. My point is that companies assign labels or levels/AKA tier to products. For example, "limited edition" or "top of the line" discriptions are frequently assigned or used. Even with Esterbrook, deluxe was used for their plastic and metal offerings. Autopoint listed the Rocket pencil in terms of price and materials used.

    If we visit the Mont Blanc site, we can search on prices levels high to low or low to high. You can get a pen with "precious resin" and platinum or gold. So, my point is that levels are insinuated if not out right made for products by the company.
    I don't see what that has to do with tiers.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.
    You would know more than me. My point is that companies assign labels or levels/AKA tier to products. For example, "limited edition" or "top of the line" discriptions are frequently assigned or used. Even with Esterbrook, deluxe was used for their plastic and metal offerings. Autopoint listed the Rocket pencil in terms of price and materials used.

    If we visit the Mont Blanc site, we can search on prices levels high to low or low to high. You can get a pen with "precious resin" and platinum or gold. So, my point is that levels are insinuated if not out right made for products by the company.
    I don't see what that has to do with tiers.
    In this case, it's a misspelling. It refers to tears that are shed once a manufacturer slaps "deluxe" on a pen and ratchets up the price.
    Online arguments are a lot like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
    As soon as the audience begins to participate, any actual content is lost in the resulting chaos and cacophony.
    At that point, all you can do is laugh and enjoy the descent into debasement.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    . . .
    Therefore, although most likely I will not be able to curb the usage of the "tier" concept, at least I try to not propagate this confusion.
    It's time to shed some tiers.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    . . .
    Therefore, although most likely I will not be able to curb the usage of the "tier" concept, at least I try to not propagate this confusion.
    It's time to shed some tiers.
    Juul wins the Internet today, with an assist by Dreck!
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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.
    You would know more than me. My point is that companies assign labels or levels/AKA tier to products. For example, "limited edition" or "top of the line" discriptions are frequently assigned or used. Even with Esterbrook, deluxe was used for their plastic and metal offerings. Autopoint listed the Rocket pencil in terms of price and materials used.

    If we visit the Mont Blanc site, we can search on prices levels high to low or low to high. You can get a pen with "precious resin" and platinum or gold. So, my point is that levels are insinuated if not out right made for products by the company.
    I don't see what that has to do with tiers.
    I don't want to sound condesending, but a tier is related to levels, structure, etc. Companies decide which offerings are at the top and the bottom usually by price or bling, regardless of the product.

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    Default Re: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by eachan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I am thinking about the concept of tier and how I have noticed it being used over the years. Since a tier can also mean various levels or hierarch within an organization or manufactured goods, perhaps thinking of it this way is more discriptive. A company might have several layers of management we wouldn't refer to the CEO as a top tier employee, but more like upper management or high level executive which simple means they have overal more power and responsibility.

    With pens, a company might say that a certain pen is their top tiered product because of its aesthetics. I am thinking about an automobile with varing models with more chrome or gadgets, but essentially the same drivetrain.

    Since everyone is familar to some degree with Lamy, I suppose they consider the 2000 or Dialogue as their top level or tier model. Does that mean their lower level pens perform with lesser quality? I doubt this is true. Some pens, like limited editions, are going to command more esteem and money to purchase just because there are fewer being made. I am thinking of the Lamy Safari where more of them are being made, bringing then cost to manufacture less.

    THat said the concept of tiers can be used to market and increase demand. If the consumer is convinced that a Lamy 2000 is at a higher level of form and function, they are more inclined to pay more for what is otherwise is a writing tool as is the Safari.

    If someone said to me that a product it a top tier, I would have to ask why.
    So far as I am aware, it isn't companies that assign pens or brands to first, second or third tiers. It's authors of pen books and members of pen discussion boards.
    You would know more than me. My point is that companies assign labels or levels/AKA tier to products. For example, "limited edition" or "top of the line" discriptions are frequently assigned or used. Even with Esterbrook, deluxe was used for their plastic and metal offerings. Autopoint listed the Rocket pencil in terms of price and materials used.

    If we visit the Mont Blanc site, we can search on prices levels high to low or low to high. You can get a pen with "precious resin" and platinum or gold. So, my point is that levels are insinuated if not out right made for products by the company.
    I don't see what that has to do with tiers.
    I don't want to sound condesending, but a tier is related to levels, structure, etc. Companies decide which offerings are at the top and the bottom usually by price or bling, regardless of the product.
    The issue is that the discussion is about tiers of manufacturers, not the internal product lines within an individual company. While a company such as Sheaffer had a very wide product range, from the highest-level "Lifetime" pens down to inexpensive school pens, the company was considered a first tier company (when people are categorizing brands. A pen like a Wil-rite or Yankee or Traveller were made by small 'jobber' companies that made pens on the cheap and that is the *onlly* kind of pen they made. In the middle, between these, were a large number of pens, many "sub-brands" made for larger retailers but kept separate from the main company's regular line of pens.

    So, not categorization within a company, but a ranking of the general output of a company itself, and how it fit into the pen market at the time.
    "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: First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier?

    Just chiming in to say I appreciate everyone's contributions to this discussion. I am learning a lot.

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