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Thread: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    QUESTION: Is there a waning interest in vintage pens?

    ANSWER: I'm not sure. I wonder if the amount of archived information available accounts for a reduction of discussion. The comment was made above (fountainpenkid) that is lamentable that those born in the last 30 or so years are not commonly interested in vintage pens. I, as one of 'advanced age' -- born as I was in the first half of the twentieth century -- have to ask, 'Why would we expect them to be?' Why would they be interested in anything 'vintage' when the world they have only ever known changes, becomes 'new' in so many ways almost daily? New, newer, and newest, is quite literally all they have witnessed since infancy. How many live in homes that no longer have landline telephones, or are not WIFI compliant? They need to be excited by history to discover the historical -- the vintage pens, cars, tools, etc.
    I guess the difference I see between fountain pens and other types of technology is their relationship with their past: you don't often go to the hardware store--physically or otherwise--and encounter a "vintage drills" section; car dealers hardly sell things more than 10 years old. Fountain pens are a distinctly a "outmoded" technology, commonly viewed as a form of throwback in themselves. They are also static--no one is going to make a fountain pen markedly different in concept from those already made. Thus I think they are like furniture: sought out in more or less equal measure whether new or old, both being equivalent in function. The people I know who buy antique/older furniture don't see themselves as amateur historians or "vintage furniture nerds;" they simply liked the style and quality--and perhaps price--of a piece they found readily available to them, and it happened to be older. To my mind, that would be an ideal place for a good portion of vintage pens to be, albeit among a smaller set of people. That or great swaths of wonderful, useable pens sit around unused and unenjoyed*.


    *is this to begrudge collecting? not a bit...most vintage pens aren't of particular interest as collection-only pens.
    Last edited by fountainpenkid; September 5th, 2021 at 07:23 PM.
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  3. #42
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    QUESTION: Is there a waning interest in vintage pens?

    ANSWER: I'm not sure. I wonder if the amount of archived information available accounts for a reduction of discussion. The comment was made above (fountainpenkid) that is lamentable that those born in the last 30 or so years are not commonly interested in vintage pens. I, as one of 'advanced age' -- born as I was in the first half of the twentieth century -- have to ask, 'Why would we expect them to be?' Why would they be interested in anything 'vintage' when the world they have only ever known changes, becomes 'new' in so many ways almost daily? New, newer, and newest, is quite literally all they have witnessed since infancy. How many live in homes that no longer have landline telephones, or are not WIFI compliant? They need to be excited by history to discover the historical -- the vintage pens, cars, tools, etc.
    I guess the difference I see between fountain pens and other types of technology is their relationship with their past: you don't often go to the hardware store--physically or otherwise--and encounter a "vintage drills" section; car dealers hardly sell things more than 10 years old. Fountain pens are a distinctly a "outmoded" technology, commonly viewed as a form of throwback in themselves. They are also static--no one is going to make a fountain pen markedly different in concept from those already made. Thus I think they are like furniture: sought out in more or less equal measure whether new or old, both being equivalent in function. The people I know who buy antique/older furniture don't see themselves as amateur historians or "vintage furniture nerds;" they simply liked the style and quality--and perhaps price--of a piece they found readily available to them, and it happened to be older. To my mind, that would be an ideal place for a good portion of vintage pens to be, albeit among a smaller set of people. That or great swaths of wonderful, useable pens sit around unused and unenjoyed*.


    *is this to begrudge collecting? not a bit...most vintage pens aren't of particular interest as collection-only pens.
    All true, and yet there are people who collect and use antiques, including period furniture, out of a sense of history -- just as there are those who collect and wear period or vintage clothing, collect and use 19th Century tools for their crafts (carpentry, metal-working, etc.), and even -- as one of my associates, and economics professor -- collect and use vintage and antique typewriters. As I said above, one need 'to be excited by history to discover the historical.

    I will add that as there is no one reason (probably each of us has a list of reasons) one is attracted to fountain pens, it is equally true that collectors and users are not mutually exclusive.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by top pen View Post
    With regards to forums they aren't the latest form of media. So the newest users might not gravitate towards them. A lot of forums have well established members who know what they need to know so don't post regularly. So they aren’t the people asking the questions. Also the more popular forms of media e.g. video sites are less conducive to discussion requiring the poster to put a lot of effort into the content unaware if they will get any response.
    There used to be three stores near me that sold pens, two of which still exist. When I mentioned pen forums, none of them had any idea that fountain pen forums existed, and none of them cared. Members of hobby forums often see them as the nexus of things related to that hobby. My own observation, for what it is worth, is that is simply not the case. Just because interest in vintage pens seems to be waning on pen forums doesn't mean it is waning elsewhere.

    Modern pens have the advantage of immediacy. One can purchase the pen right now online and have it on their doorstep in a few days. If they are lucky enough to live near a pen store, that time decreases to minutes or hours. Vintage pens have the advantage of being old school, which has its own awesomeness factor.

    Ebay, well that's just eBay. There are some great bargains to be has, and also some colossal ripoffs for those who don't do their homework. Some eBay sellers are tres cool, others have the balls of a brass monkey. That is how we wind up with $1000 Parker P51 pens once owned by Benjamin Franklin.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    That or great swaths of wonderful, useable pens sit around unused and unenjoyed*.

    *is this to begrudge collecting? not a bit...most vintage pens aren't of particular interest as collection-only pens.
    This brings up a question in my mind. Why is a vintage pen, as a part of a collection, considered "unenjoyed" if it's not being used to write?

    I have a lot of pens in my collection that I don't use regularly, yet I enjoy them thoroughly even when I simply remembered that I still have them. And those to a degree also guide what I am watching for to get next. It's the joy of curating a collection.

    I would think that counts as enjoyment, can it not?
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    That or great swaths of wonderful, useable pens sit around unused and unenjoyed*.

    *is this to begrudge collecting? not a bit...most vintage pens aren't of particular interest as collection-only pens.
    This brings up a question in my mind. Why is a vintage pen, as a part of a collection, considered "unenjoyed" if it's not being used to write?

    I have a lot of pens in my collection that I don't use regularly, yet I enjoy them thoroughly even when I simply remembered that I still have them. And those to a degree also guide what I am watching for to get next. It's the joy of curating a collection.

    I would think that counts as enjoyment, can it not?
    I did inadvertently imply this, but I actually agree--pens in a collection don't have to be used to be enjoyed. My point was that there are many vintage pens which aren't of particular interest to most collectors--whether on account of their condition or commonality--which are perfectly useable.
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    ...
    It's the joy of curating a collection.
    ...

    I couldn‘t agree more!

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    [QUOTE=penwash;335780]
    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    It's the joy of curating a collection. I would think that counts as enjoyment, can it not?
    This is one of the ongoing, 'age-old' issues: the disagreement over whether pens were meant to be used. I'm completely with you, Will, as there are many pens I own that have their place of pride without ever being inked or written with. There are distinct reasons they belong here and I delight in their presence. I also never look at a painting or photo hanging on my wall and ask them "what have you done for me today?" They have given me pleasure, just in their presence.
    "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: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    [QUOTE=Jon Szanto;335792]
    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    It's the joy of curating a collection. I would think that counts as enjoyment, can it not?
    This is one of the ongoing, 'age-old' issues: the disagreement over whether pens were meant to be used. I'm completely with you, Will, as there are many pens I own that have their place of pride without ever being inked or written with. There are distinct reasons they belong here and I delight in their presence. I also never look at a painting or photo hanging on my wall and ask them "what have you done for me today?" They have given me pleasure, just in their presence.
    You don't talk to your paintings??

    Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    You don't talk to your paintings??
    Certainly. I just never question them!
    "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: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by linkoiram View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    The reality is that those of thus that grew up using fountain pens, and being exposed to them, are dying off. Why would someone born in 2000 care about a PFM? It has no cultural significance for them (other than a potentially offensive name).

    The other factor is that much of the social media engagement around pens is really more about shopping that it is about pens per se. Scrolling through reddit and instagram is mostly like turning on the shopping channel on TV: it's just post after post of a variation on "Ooh, shiny!".

    As for the price of vintage. I completely agree. But scarcity drives price and there aren't all that many PFM IVs left. Sadly.
    As someone born in 1999 I care about a PFM. Although I am sure I'm the exception rather than the rule. Many younger pen enthusiasts seem to be all about collecting special editions of modern pens (at least in my experience) although I don't see the allure in a special color that I know would be difficult to replace in the case the pen disappears.
    I care about the PFM too, as someone born in 1997, but I care about it as a piece of design history, which is probably a fringe reason to care about fountain pens generally. (I actually think its bold clip and cap rings are reminiscent of the modern style we see today with brands like TWSBI etc.)

    It is unfortunate that people my age largely neglect vintage pens, but I don't really blame them. They are easily pigeon-holed: many look thoroughly antiquey, with their trim worn, their celluloid patterns out of style, their usability highly dependent on their restoration, their bladders or diaphragms sensitive to some inks. Those that are full-size in the modern sense command a premium, especially when they are from a top-tier brand. The more affordable ones are often lesser-known, with their exact performance and feel a question mark. As someone who's been trying to pull my own espresso for the last 6 months, I can sympathize with being overwhelmed and letting that breed a single-minded want for a highly-reviewed, brand-new product that other people insist is just the thing you'll need.

    And yet, as people often neglect to mention, the performance of fountain pens hasn't improved since the heyday of the '50s. These are not cars, where whole new technologies render them vastly more reliable, efficient, and comfortable than was imaginable 60 years ago. A good number of vintage pens write in ways that no modern pen can replicate, with a more refined style than is offered today, and with specific ergonomics--in part from materials like celluloid and hard rubber--scarcely available from current production pens. A good number of these are no less reliable in normal use than the average modern one. All this is to say that neglecting vintage pens outright doesn't make logical or sentimental sense--unless, of course, the sentiment is, as Jon would cynically seem to put it, the aspiration of new things primarily for social display. In that context, the fuel is the release cycle, the surface-level dynamism it implies. Vintage pens, ipso facto, cannot replicate the excitement of new releases that might fuel youthful internet community consumerism. I just hope that maybe some of these social consumers grow to truly love using FPs for their own grace, outside of any social medium, wise up, and try out some vintage pens.
    Excellent observations, fpkid. Very enlightening.

    A couple comments: I'm interested enough in design to ride two hours on the subway to see some old neon sign or an old book or something. However, these days, i find the visual design of fountain pens no longer interests me as much as it used to. I now care more about the visual effect pens produce. The tactile sensations they give are also very important to me. I want a nib with some softness or give and i want that to come with some interesting lines. I find that combination more often in vintage pens.

    As for espresso, having someone show you how helps tremendously. After that, like everyone says, it's getting a consistent grind & a consistent amount of coffee in the basket. After a while, it becomes muscle memory. You'll always have to make small adjustments for different beans and weather and as your beans age. You learn to read the signs and adjust before you need to. That part usually comes with experience.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Since I still keep an eye on vintage sales (on eBay for this discussion) I thought I would mention a current interesting example. This follows from me looking for Sheaffer OS Balance pens.

    I had a handful of the above on watch, including two nearly identical marbled green OS pens - one with a buy-it-now (BIN) price, the other starting at a low auction price. First pen was at least excellent+ condition, and the 2nd pen had some issues, including a big chip out of the cap lip that wasn't verbally disclosed but easily seen in one or two of the photos. Pen #1 was the better pen. Here are the listings after sale:

    Pen #1
    Pen #2

    I can't tell if the region played a part in it, but it seems a case where peying attention helps, or something. In any event, the 2nd pen went for quite a bit more than the better pen that was on sale while the auction was going on. When Pen #1 sold, the auction pen was sitting around $80 IIRC, and the bidding went up later. This is all just observational, but the buyer of Pen #2 missed an opportunity. That's all part of the chase, I suppose.
    "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: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post

    I can't tell if the region played a part in it...
    This could be one of the reasons. When I checked pen #1, ebay told me: "Does not ship to Switzerland".
    Last edited by christof; September 20th, 2021 at 06:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    I have more pens than I can reasonably use. But I enjoy all of them, new and vintage. I like to look at them, to hold them, and to think about them. I imagine them talking among each other in the 24-pen cases I use. I imagine them as social, sentient beings with pen lives of their own.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    I imagine them as social, sentient beings with pen lives of their own.

    That is imagination is not without foundation if one considers that vintage pens in particular had 'careers' and served one or more individuals.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Hi all,

    I think there may be two (at least) streams of vintage buyers. One looks for a fully restored pen of their dreams, and is happy to pay David or another reputable seller a fair price for a mint or near mint perfectly working Enthwurp 62B (the one with the double slitted cap). The other looks for a shabby and neglected old pen needing some TLC.

    It seems to me the confusion comes when these two streams get mixed up. Fully restored or mint pens are, most likely, holding steady or increasing in price. It makes sense. It's a diminishing supply of raw material and current restoration techniques are resulting in well-behaved and fun older pens. The beat up oldsters, in my experience and observation, are absolutely still out there. I buy pens in the wild all the time and often get a decent price (and the fun of getting them up and running again).

    The mix up is when somebody has a beat up old "51" and wants the price of a NOS single jewel Buckskin. Or when a buyer sees an 1990s MB146 for $295 and thinks a 1950s celluloid should-logically-be cheaper.

    My experience of the pandemic suggest that COVID made a difference to all these dynamics. The most commonly recognized pens do seem to have gone up in price, but my old German pens are still very affordable for what you get. And there are still plenty of mis-labelled pens out there too. As ever, pen-hunting is a knowledge game. The person who knows more will always come out ahead.

    Just my 2c.

    Cheers,

    Ralf

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    For the sake of comparison, I took part in a forum for wooden boat owners and builders, where similar questions were posed.

    Building boats from wood is a diminishing craft. Using fiberglass and epoxy resin— from industrial rather than natural sources— is quicker, easier, and yields a greater variety of hull forms. The maintenance is less frequent and costly. Sailing wood boats is likewise, a dwindling pursuit. All international events (Olympics, Americas Cup, Volvo, Vendee Globe, Fastnet) are sailed in advanced fiberglass hulls with carbon fiber spars and synthetic sails. There are classic regattas but they aren't in the forefront of competition.

    The builders and owners of wooden boats are dedicated to their craft (in both senses). But younger people aren't taking it up. For every college student who handwrites letters, keeps a journal, or takes notes with a fountain pen, there are thousands poking their laptops and texting on their mobile phones.

    None of which lessen my love for my light wood skiff, Scandal, fast and tipsy, that sails like a witch. But I don't expect many people to be interested.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    For the sake of comparison, I took part in a forum for wooden boat owners and builders, where similar questions were posed.

    Building boats from wood is a diminishing craft. Using fiberglass and epoxy resin— from industrial rather than natural sources— is quicker, easier, and yields a greater variety of hull forms. The maintenance is less frequent and costly. Sailing wood boats is likewise, a dwindling pursuit. All international events (Olympics, Americas Cup, Volvo, Vendee Globe, Fastnet) are sailed in advanced fiberglass hulls with carbon fiber spars and synthetic sails. There are classic regattas but they aren't in the forefront of competition.

    The builders and owners of wooden boats are dedicated to their craft (in both senses). But younger people aren't taking it up. For every college student who handwrites letters, keeps a journal, or takes notes with a fountain pen, there are thousands poking their laptops and texting on their mobile phones.

    None of which lessen my love for my light wood skiff, Scandal, fast and tipsy, that sails like a witch. But I don't expect many people to be interested.
    It's funny you write this: my own father is a naval architect and marine engineer trained in wooden boat design. I never thought of the connection between me following him around as a kid, being taught about all sorts of small craft and their construction, observing his often long conversations with clients (people who built from his plans) or builders, or going out in whitehalls at Mystic Seaport, and this hobby. But maybe seeing his appreciation for that past inspired me to appreciate the past of another sort.
    Also to the point: I've been working on restoring an Appledore pod ('70s cold-molded plywood, beautiful thing!) for the past several months and have made slow progress. Wooden boats are a more extreme example by far, but your point about maintenance--and the source of motivation to perform it--rings true to me generally. My parents have a neighbor who owns a wood Herreshoff 12 1/2...with all the annual varnishing and repainting he does, he's lucky if he gets her back on the water by Fall!
    Last edited by fountainpenkid; September 23rd, 2021 at 09:21 PM.
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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Quote Originally Posted by fountainpenkid View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    For the sake of comparison, I took part in a forum for wooden boat owners and builders, where similar questions were posed.

    Building boats from wood is a diminishing craft. Using fiberglass and epoxy resin— from industrial rather than natural sources— is quicker, easier, and yields a greater variety of hull forms. The maintenance is less frequent and costly. Sailing wood boats is likewise, a dwindling pursuit. All international events (Olympics, Americas Cup, Volvo, Vendee Globe, Fastnet) are sailed in advanced fiberglass hulls with carbon fiber spars and synthetic sails. There are classic regattas but they aren't in the forefront of competition.

    The builders and owners of wooden boats are dedicated to their craft (in both senses). But younger people aren't taking it up. For every college student who handwrites letters, keeps a journal, or takes notes with a fountain pen, there are thousands poking their laptops and texting on their mobile phones.

    None of which lessen my love for my light wood skiff, Scandal, fast and tipsy, that sails like a witch. But I don't expect many people to be interested.
    It's funny you write this: my own father is a naval architect and marine engineer trained in wooden boat design. I never thought of the connection between me following him around as a kid, being taught about all sorts of small craft and their construction, observing his often long conversations with clients (people who built from his plans) or builders, or going out in whitehalls at Mystic Seaport, and this hobby. But maybe seeing his appreciation for that past inspired me to appreciate the past of another sort.
    Also to the point: I've been working on restoring an Appledore pod ('70s cold-molded plywood, beautiful thing!) for the past several months and have made slow progress. Wooden boats are a more extreme example by far, but your point about maintenance--and the source of motivation to perform it--rings true to me generally. My parents have a neighbor who owns a wood Herreshoff 12 1/2...with all the annual varnishing and repainting he does, he's lucky if he gets her back on the water by Fall!
    Interestingly, my youngest son who lives in coastal Southern California frequently gets internet adverts for wooden boats from two different companies that build boats. One firm makes sailing dinghies, and the other rowing skiffs.

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Not familiar with the Appledore pod. I've seen photos of Appledore schooners.

    My skiff is a modest Bolger Gypsy, which was parked in a driveway for years, with plywood delaminating and paint flaking. I got her cheap and did a rebuild, adding side decks and coamings, rope loop steering, and reworking the leg-of-mutton rig to a balance lug.



    Quite a swerve. Back to pens. . .

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    Default Re: Vintage Pens today - An Observation

    Back to pens. I'm happy with my present collection, which includes iconic pens by Conklin, Sheaffer, Parker, Pelikan, Waterman, Conway Stewart, Moore, and other makers.

    I usually have two or three pens inked at any given time. For Christmas, I fill a green Sheaffer (Jade Flat-top, Jade Balance, or dark green Touchdown) with green ink and a Duofold Big Red or Pelikan M101N with red ink to do the cards.

    Not having kids, I'm thinking about the fate of my pens. Should I sell them and donate the proceeds to a charity? Leave the collection to an institutution or some as yet unidentified pen aficionado?

    What would you do?

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