How to Buy and Sell All Pens

The Fountain Pen Community ... and Where Do You Fit?

Roger Cromwell presents a very interesting view of pen collectors. His hypothesis is that the pen community can be divided into three groups and based upon the group into which they fit, determines their collecting and buying habits. Each has very clear criteria for "membership" yet none is necessarily better than the other. However, awareness of where you fit could easily determine whether you build the kind of collection you want and which will be worth the money you expend. Those three groups are: Collectors, Users and Investors.
Sounds simple and obvious enough yet wait until one identifies the characteristics of each. The Collectors are impulse buyers. Their motivation is often of the moment; I want that pen, I must have it now. If they passed that way a few minutes later the need for that writing instrument may well have changed. They are 'impulse buyers'. If they have any focus at all it tends to be simply 'accumulation.''
The second group are the Users. They are t he people who write (with the writing instruments they purchase). They basically care about how the 'pen' writes; how it feels in their hand, the line it produces, the way the ink flows. They understand that the "nib makes the pen." They are low tech; they are writers; they must "make a connection with the pen." For them the purchase of pens rests upon trying out the nib, feeling that pen in hand and deciding whether "it" deserves to be in their collection. Color, model, manufacturer, date/era, looks - none of those characteristics supercedes the key fact - how does the nib write. It is easy to find them at pen shows; they are the ones sitting writing with pens (and writing long enough to make that basic decision).
The last group are the Investors. 'Return' on purchase price drives them. They buy pens, but ones that are sure things. They enjoy the risk of the investment and view themselves as only "bowerers" of what they buy. One buys and sells pens to advance their pocket books yet they have also figured something very basic out and that is following this process allows you to get pens for free. IF one makes good choices in purchasing writing instruments,IF one does not become attached to them and IF one sells them then the 'profit' made can be used to purchase a pen. The result: a free pen. Rarely can a collector be and investor.
Collectors tend to have tunnel vision.. They see a pen, want it, buy it and then lose interest in the pen. They accomplished their goal - accumulation. They have to come to the realization that building a collection demands getting good first quality judgment prior to making pen purchases. Yes the emphasis is on the good in the judgment. One needs to talk to a knowledgeable person in the pen community and to get a perspective.
The User tends to understand this better because purchasing is founded, again, on that principle that always "... the nib makes the pen." A pen with a great nib will always command a higher price. When a user sees a pen his premise is "don't try it - then don't buy it. If the nib is not perfect but feels good, if it could feel just a little better that have it adjusted right away. (After all that was the purpose of the purchase).The investor sets the bar by focusing only on a proven commodity. (ie Montblanc). Resist giving in to that impulse when you see a pen. Forgo that need for instant gratification of just having it. Stop making mistakes. Look in your collection and see how many pens there are that seldom if ever get used; pens that you wonder why you really bought them, pens you could have done without, pens whose collective value could have bought you a pen your really would like but didn't think you could afford. A pen you might have been able to have for ..."free".
Now, what might have been (which pens could be) the ones to lead you to that goal. Today Waterman overlays could serve that purpose. Their price is at an all time low yet over time Waterman overlays maintain their high value. Open your perspective, buy one. You could 'play with it' for a while and sell them in the future when that value again escalates to its normal level. The pens that are best at holding their value, (love them or hate them) are Montblanc pens. What the collector needs to do is to purchase pens that are re sellable in the future. In five years hence which pen will be worth more - a Waterman overlay or and Esterbrook? Is there anything wrong with Esterbrooks as pens. Great writers but they will not increase in value relative to that overlay. The smart collector would purchase the overlays, and when they increase in value, sell them and allow the profit to give you those Esterbooks for free.
Stop and look at your collection, at your purchasing habits, at what drives you in building your pen collection and decide "... where you fit."


Roger Cromwell can be found at Penopoly.

© James P. Stevenson 2014