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Thread: Write or hoard?

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Write or hoard?

    I'm a "senior" member of the fountain pen community, and lately I've been giving more attention to the very concept of collecting and what my pen collection should mean to me. I also have a "collection" of two typewriters, a pristine West German Olympia SM-4 and the last typewriter my office purchased, a Swedish Facit T320. That brought me to one typewriter collector's musings on collecting to write versus collecting to hoard. Sound familiar? He poses the following:

    If you are new to typewriters and mainly interested in writing, should you hoard a large collection of typewriters? Sometimes a small collection can help us decide which machines are best suited for longterm writing.

    Note his observation about young people coming into the hobby via social media seem to be motivated more by writing than by gathering collectables. Storage issues aside, do you recognize parallels among fountain pen collectors?


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    Senior Member manoeuver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    yes. after 20+ years in the hobby I've shifted from hoard to write.
    6 months or so ago I narrowed my stable to a 24-pen case (others are sitting around waiting to be sold but I don't consider them really.)
    That case is very rarely touched, I do the vast majority of my fp writing with one pen at home and one or two pens at work.

    I nearly never bust out my typewriters. I think I have just 2. (I still collect Selectric II font balls to hang on the Christmas tree.)

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    I've accumulated probably a half dozen or so old typewriters unintentionally. They date anywhere from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. They're all the old style mechanical types. All but one of them were given to me for free because people just don't seem to want them anymore. I will admit I bought my near-mint Model O portable because it was a good deal. But the rest were stuff people didn't want anymore so I took them in as strays. I don't look for them so much as they seem to just find me.

    My brand of preference is Royal. When I need a typewriter for envelopes, forms, or similar that don't go through a computer, I use my workhorse Royal Model 10 desk machine or my Royal Model O portable. A great deal of time and attention were put into making these old machines. The manufacturing quality on the Model 10 in particular is really impressive.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Excellent find (the vid) Fred. I agree with the thought that there are a lot of parallels between the history of collecting typewriters and that of fountain pens. The changes in the fp world in the last few years are so similar, with the one exception being the adoption of the many *new* pens that are available, where I don't believe there is a parallel in the typing world. Still, the focus on the move to social media for the sharing of the interest, the immediacy of people's experiences, makes the use of the objects more obvious than simply acquiring (or hoarding).

    The topic is certainly fresh in my mind for another reason: the revival of our local pen meeting. What had been for years an enjoyable gathering of older people, collecting and enjoying old, vintage pens, has now broadened out into a larger, younger, more vibrant collective. Personally, it hasn't taken away any of my joy at restoring old pens or collecting something obscure, but instead added a spark of the old excitement from when I first got interested in all of this. I like the fellow in the video's concept of returning objects back to use via new owners, something I'm aiming for with my excess pens.

    Thank you for a thought-provoking morning.
    "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: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    I've accumulated probably a half dozen or so old typewriters unintentionally. They date anywhere from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. They're all the old style mechanical types. ...
    Just be aware there's been a surge in interest in manual typewriters by the generations who've been raised with computers, leading to increased demand (and prices) for examples in very good condition. Like pens, some models have become very much sought after. Mid-size portables and compact portables are what's hot.

    Have a look at the full-length film California Typewriters for a teaser. It's free on YouTube if you tolerate the ads. For one example of restored or refurbished typewriter prices, see: https://typespec.com/category/for-sale/ Of course, just like a restored Raleigh Sport bicycle with fresh rubber versus a mud-caked barn find, a typewriter isn't worth much until someone invests time and parts to create a useable machine, maybe even a jewel.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    ...I agree with the thought that there are a lot of parallels between the history of collecting typewriters and that of fountain pens. The changes in the fp world in the last few years are so similar, with the one exception being the adoption of the many *new* pens that are available, where I don't believe there is a parallel in the typing world....
    True. No one will make a usable typewriter anymore because of the complexity, i.e., the cost. (There's always an exception. Apparently junk toy-like machines can be sourced from China.)

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    I found the whole premise of this puzzling at first and couldn't quite figure out why. So I gave it a day, then watched the video. At first I was put off by the concept of "hoarding." That seemed an entirely wrong characterization. And the video showed me one sentence that explained it all.

    "We all have a craving to collect." That is his premise, and perhaps the premise of many who have fountain pen "collections." I have never been a "collector" of anything; it simply doesn't appeal to me. The closest I ever came was a conscious decision to "collect" black fountain pen inks. After accumulating about 30 bottles, it seemed pretty pointless. The whole nature of "collecting" is beyond my comprehension. So I guess we do not "all" crave to collect.

    I like fountain pens, and I have many. I have many because each has a different function. I can't imagine having 100 different Pelikans in a case just to look at them or show them to other people. Much like listening to radio stations, it's a one at a time thing.

    I also have an issue with the word "hoard." Maybe it's just me, but the word seems to carry a degree of selfishness. I'm keeping as many/much as possible so you don't have it! The more pens (or typewriters) I have the fewer you are able to have! Again, maybe just my negative sense of the word.

    Thinking aloud, all this may have to do with experience and learning. I enjoy the whole experience of the fountain pen --- the ink selecting, filling a pen, placing a wet line on clean, white paper, cleaning the pen, etc. I grew up using fountain pens. Yet I have come to appreciate that fountain pens are not functionally equivalent to the gel pens I'm now favoring. Function over form, for me, thank you. Same with typewriters; I grew up using typewriters and made a living using them. I can enjoy the satisfying feel of pressing a key and feeling it slam against a platen, the ringing bell and satisfying carriage return. Yet, I prefer the simplicity (and lack of maintenance) of digital keyboards. I've found this perspective goes across all areas of technology for me --- automobiles, cameras, etc. While I have great nostalgia for my 1960 Ford Falcon, I don't miss all the ways it was functionally inferior to my Honda Accord. I still enjoy the loading of a 35mm film cartridge, yet I much prefer to use a digital camera.

    Perhaps I can paraphrase an old adage (and no doubt piss off nearly everyone here!) --- Those who can, do, those who can't, collect.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Nicely opined 👍🏻
    My opinion weaves in and out through yours , sometimes agreeing….sometimes raising an eyebrow 😅.
    There are to my way of thinking many salient points which are refreshing.
    ……not sure about your ‘paraphrasing' as…my understanding of that word is; saying the same as the original, but in a slightly different way!? ….the original in this case being, as I remember it, “ ….those who can’t, teach “

    Nevertheless…good spiel thanks 👍🏻😊

    Ok….takes foot out of mouth, admits to learning a new fact …..see point 3 . Well done 👍🏻

    IMG_7129.jpeg
    Last edited by Robalone; August 9th, 2023 at 11:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post

    ...

    Perhaps I can paraphrase an old adage (and no doubt piss off nearly everyone here!) --- Those who can, do, those who can't, collect.
    That's amazing!

    Since the first day I started to exchange with other collectors (or let's say enthusiasts in this case), I always encounter this discussion; that of collecting versus using.

    But I see nothing desirable in the division into these categories. Collecting and using are very different activities, but they are not mutually exclusive.

    I also enjoy the pleasures of using my fountain pen every day. At the same time, I do not forget the pleasure I get from creating a collection. Building a personal collection is a creative process that can bring great satisfaction. (Please don't force me to choose one or the other. I want to do both!)

    However, I would never equate collecting with hoarding. The meaning of these two terms is completely different and an insult to any passionate collector who lovingly cares for his collection.


    btw: Writing by hand and typing with a typewriter are also not mutually exclusive

    Last edited by christof; August 10th, 2023 at 01:23 AM.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    I'm not sure writing and hoarding is, either…
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!


    And my latest ebook, for spooky wintery reading:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0CM2NGSSD

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Cool video summarizing another hobby that is very much like ours.

    Regarding using vs collecting fountain pens, what I observe, especially where beginners to this hobby congregates (the r/fountainpens subreddit for example), is that it's not so much as a choice rather than a predefined "path" due to the lack of access to the broader variety of pens that actually exists.

    Example, for a beginner whose visibility is limited to Lamy Safari, Kaweco Sport, JinHao, TWSBI and Pilot Metro, being the most talked about pens within that sphere, how are they supposed to learn to appreciate a Chilton, a Camel, or a LeBoeuf, or a rarer Wahl-Eversharp machine turned motifs, or a Waterman Silver Bay Leaf? I'm not talking about vintage vs modern here necessarily, it's just the fact that there is such a wide gap of knowledge that most newcomers cannot cross because the "bridge" is not there.

    Only when the gap can be closed in general, then we can conclude that yes, even with extensive knowledge of the pen varieties, a large portion (or 50/50 or whatever) chose to use vs collect fountain pens.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Like Bill, I have never collected anything in my life. Well, I take that back: I have kept nearly every card, letter, note that a student has given me over my career. Some day in the not-too-distant future I will bin them, but I haven't had the nerve yet (I am a full year into retirement now).

    But other "things," never. I don't keep my old journals, nor pen pal letters (I do for a few months, but then they go to the bin).

    I have two manual typewriters, both gifted to me: one is French, that a colleague gave me. The other belonged to my grandfather. I love the look, feel, and sound of old typewriters, but I have never bought one (nor will I). I tried repairing one that was given to me. Total fail, after some 20 hours put into the job. Forget it!

    I think, however, that I own around 50 fountain pens, most of them <$10. I began giving them away a few months back. I need to do some more of that, because I really only want to write with about ten of them.

    Rather than "hoarding," I would call attention even to the desire to "acquire": acquisitiveness is the root force that we need to keep watch over, whether we own 5 pens or 500.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    I read "Walden" when I was in high school. Thoreau's idea that the things we own really own us resonated deeply with me, and it's been a guiding light of my life. It also nurtures respect, and I wrote about that recently...

    https://deadreckoning1.wordpress.com.../23/mottainai/



    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post

    Rather than "hoarding," I would call attention even to the desire to "acquire": acquisitiveness is the root force that we need to keep watch over, whether we own 5 pens or 500.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Rather than "hoarding," I would call attention even to the desire to "acquire": acquisitiveness is the root force that we need to keep watch over, whether we own 5 pens or 500.
    And if we are aware, cognizant of the tendency to acquire without meaning or rationale, is that not already the battle won? I have areas of my life where I repeatedly cull, tossing/recycling those things that do not have a deeper meaning or function, or replicate exactly the role that something else plays. I look around and see where I can reduce or reuse, to give to others. This is as it should be.

    However, there are other areas where I am happy to have an array of delights, elements that bring depth, enjoyment, and fullness to the day's experiences. I choose to keep the bulk of my vinyl collection, gathered not as an obsessive collector but from a life in music, the study and pleasure of listening to a world of music and great human performances. By any stretch of the imagination, it would be defined as a collection but was not accrued with that intent. The art on my walls, be it simple or ornate, has a place in my heart, each piece gotten as a token of something meaningful and special. These icons, which never cost me the ability to pay rent or go without, but instead were part of the reward for working hard, make me smile as I see them. I never sat around, finding the next thing I could buy, but at nearly 70 years of age, there are more 'things' than when I was 20. I don't have an issue with that, as it enriches my life and, in turn, makes me a better person.

    I've done the pen thing for about 15 years. it grew just as I grew in knowledge and interest in the history of the pens. I have books with thousands of photos, but when I want to understand the ethos of a particular pen, the one in hand is the ultimate experience. I have recently put all of my pen stuff together in a particular cabinet, taken a good look over the accumulation, and now am at a point to start a reverse course, and let many of them go. I won't, however, turn ascetic in this regard, and will retain enough to still have the physical and experiential pleasure of being with that object, to use or admire, for as long as I choose.

    Life is short. While I'm still here, as long as I can take care of our needs, be generous with others, and give willingly to the needs of those who are in desperate straits or for a worthy cause, I'll allow a small portion of that to bring a bit of enjoyment into my little corner.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; August 14th, 2023 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Clarification
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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Sounds awesome. Even the Buddha said strict asceticism was not the "way."

    Thoreau, however, was a woodchuck of a different kind. He said that anything that had to be dusted should be thrown out the window. Madman!

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    I read "Walden" when I was in high school. Thoreau's idea that the things we own really own us resonated deeply with me, and it's been a guiding light of my life. It also nurtures respect, and I wrote about that recently...

    https://deadreckoning1.wordpress.com.../23/mottainai/
    Forgot to add: thanks for sharing this blog entry. I had not heard this term before.

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    Default Re: Write or hoard?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSherbs View Post
    Rather than "hoarding," I would call attention even to the desire to "acquire": acquisitiveness is the root force that we need to keep watch over, whether we own 5 pens or 500.
    Spot on! That would apply equally to people who collect typewriters or cameras or anything else according to specific criteria — "my collection of 18th century ivory dip pen holders" — and to people who are less rigorous about that sort of thing — "here are a bunch of fountain pens I've managed to accumulate over the past 20 years." Both the collector and the accumulator have to deal with the desire to acquire, which is easily tainted by avarice. It can be a constant struggle. It certainly is for me.

    Also, regarding the never-ending battle against excessive self-indulgence, it doesn't seem to matter whether or not you are a writer when it comes to salivating at the sight of a pretty, shiny, glittery pen, and lusting after it.
    Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. — Horace
    (What are you laughing at? Just change the name and the joke’s on you.)

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