It comes up surprisingly frequently on pen forums and Facebook groups. How many pens do you have? How many do you have inked? How many do you carry?
The questions have more than a hint of the confessional. Like we want to know if we’re normal.
The answers, of course, vary dramatically.
Some people — and remember, these are people who are active on fountain pen forums — only own a handful of pens (these are the same crazy folk who only write in Waterman Serenity Blue… I believe they’re missing out, like people who eat at the same cafe every day).
Others have museum-grade collections with dozens or hundreds of pens from vintage to modern. (This is where the distinction between “user” and “collector” becomes important — and I fear that collectors are missing the true purpose of a pen, which is to write).
But I digress. Leaving aside the outliers, most seem to have at least half a dozen inked and at least three carried daily.
Right now I have 12 inked and routinely carry five in my Nock Sinclair (if it wasn’t for the Sinclair, I would have no restraint, and would carry the whole lot).
That, I believe, is too many. Nobody wants to lug several hundred pounds (in value) with them, or several pounds (in weight) for that matter. And if you have to keep a list of which pens you’ve got filled with which inks, perhaps you have a problem.
Maybe it would be better to just pick three and stick with them? I hear you say.
But it’s not that easy! The temptation to ink and carry more is huge. It’s unthinkable to have so many great pens relegated to the desk drawer, waiting for their turn in six months. And there are so many inks to try! What if I fancy writing in orange?!
So the resolution and satisfaction of having just three pens inked gradually (or suddenly) goes out of the window, and we’re back to having a full rack of inked pens.
And it’s a vicious cycle. With a dozen pens inked, especially large German piston fillers, it can take months to write the whole lot dry. During which time you naturally get bored of the combinations you’ve got on hand and grow even more tempted to ink up another few to get a fresh hit.
There is one advantage to having a large number of pens inked. It becomes blindingly obvious, every day, which pens you tend to reach for and which sit unloved in the pen case. Those are the ones you should seriously consider selling.