I’m not sure when it started to feel OK for me to spend £500+ on a pen, or when I started to think of a £100 pen as “cheap”. I definitely remember agonising about buying a £70 pen, not that long ago. But somehow my brain has gradually acclimatised to higher and higher prices, just like the proverbial frog in the pot of hot water.
I am a guy with expensive tastes, given half a chance, but I certainly don’t have a lavish lifestyle. I don’t wear designer suits or bespoke shoes, I don’t drive an Aston Martin, I don’t live in a big house or carry luxury briefcases. I don’t have a stack of fancy wines, expensive furniture, or musical instruments. I don’t go on expensive holidays (hell, with the amount I’m travelling for work at the moment, I’m happy not going on holiday at all). I don’t even get expensive haircuts.
Sure, I’ve got plenty of stuff, like most privileged middle-class people do. I have a decent laptop and tablet, a midrange camera and lenses, a Nintendo Switch, some good headphones, the usual. I have some nice EDC gear too – knives and flashlights – but no single item is over £200.
Basically, aside from my Tudor and Speedmaster, the only really expensive things I own are my pens. (I’m a terrible ambassador for the luxury lifestyle that Montblanc and co espouse, and I should hand back my Instagram handle, I know.)
This leads to some very odd mental shenanigans, where for example I will recoil in horror at the idea of spending even £300 on a new bag for work, while happily and simultaneously bidding twice that for a pen on eBay that I don’t need or even particularly want.
In short, something in my value calibration has gone seriously out of whack when it comes to fountain pens.
The reason I’m saying all this is because I wonder if a lot of other “pen people” are like this too. Certainly the folks I see at pen shows and meet at clubs don’t seem to be millionaires pulling up in a Rolls – they’re just normal people, in normal clothes, with otherwise normal jobs and lives, who happen to have £5,000 worth of pens in their bag. I mean, we all joke about being broke, having blown the budget on pens – but this is England, and we don’t talk about money openly, do we?
Is this a problem? Some kind of mental health issue? Or are we all allowed one area of our life where we indulge and splurge? Do we have an excuse with our hobby, in that investment in pens is relatively easy to liquidate?