Looking back at old flames, with ever-widening eyes…

Someone approached me on Instagram today asking if I had a Conid for sale.

I didn’t, of course… but I have owned four of them. A special edition Minimalistica, a Regular and TWO Kingsize.

I’ve seen a few comparisons this week between the new Scribo model and the Pelikan Ocean Swirl… well, I’ve owned that too. And from memory, two M1000s, an M600, two M800s and several M200s and M400s. I don’t own any Pelikans right now.

With just these examples, I started realising that I’ve burned and reviewed my way through a huge chunk of grails and popular models that people go all wistful over even today.

Still in German pens, I’m known for my love of the Lamy 2000. Of course I have the Bauhaus Blue, the Brown and the Black Amber still in my collection. But I’ve retired a basic black 2000, sold a stainless steel… and I’ve owned and sold the Imporium and Dialog 3, among others, including various Studios and Al Stars. I haven’t quite stumped up the £6k+ for a urushi Lamy though!

I’m very fond of Montblanc. I have the Martele, Agatha and 149 now, but I’ve also been through the Homer, Shaw, 149 PT, another 149, 149 Calligraphy, Geometry, Petit Prince, a couple of 146s… and a couple of Rouge et Noirs and a 1912. Oh, and the ill-fated M. By my reckoning, I’ve sold 12 Montblancs to keep three.

I’ve bought and sold several Otto Hutts — but at least I’ve only had loans of its two most expensive models, the 8 and the C.

I’ve bought and sold at least four Grafs, including a Pen of the Year. Too many Kawecos to count, including Art Sports. The only Kaweco I own today is the one I just built, and a Perkeo in my ‘toy box’.

France? Well, I’ve owned two Oldwins, one in celluloid, one in unique artist’s lacquerwork — and while I miss them both, I can’t bring myself to buy another. Oh, and ST Dupont certainly fits here. Two of those, too.

Italy? Take a deep breath.

I’ve had the pleasure of owning and selling a Visconti London Fog… and a Midnight in Florence, an Opera Master River Thames, a Homo Sapiens in Steel Age and white, a Medici, and at least a few Van Goghs.

While we’re in Italy… I’ve owned and sold four Scribos, three Montegrappas, a Santini, Tesori, Gioia and a couple of ASCs (if they count). Four Leonardos. And, uh, six Auroras, if I’m counting correctly? Two Maioras, a Delta… the only ones left are my ASC Arco, Leonardo Cuspide, and Venvstas Magna CC.

I’ve owned various Sailors: a King of Pen demo, Bungubox special editions, Black Luster, Imperial Black, Ocean special edition, and a Special Nib. None are with me today.

Nakaya? I’ve owned four, including my current Dorsal 2 and 17mm Cigar. 50% hit-rate… not so bad. Best not think about the half a dozen or more Platinums I’ve bought and sold.

Pilot? Oh, I’ve been around the block. Capless, Capless LS, Capless Fermo, Capless faceted. Silvern. 823 (several, including FA nib). Myu, Murex. 912 FA, PO. 91, 92. The giant Custom Urushi. And does my Namiki count? I hope so — it’s the only one left.

Here in the UK I’ve owned several wonderful Onoto Magnas, several John Garnhams, two Parker Duofolds (plus Sonnets, 51, Jotters et al), a Yard o Led… I’m a bit ashamed to say none of them are with me now.

I’ve not even got to the US yet, and I don’t want to — I can’t even remember how many Franklin-Christophs I’ve owned, or Desideratas. And there are loads more countries and brands from A to Z.

This list started out with a gut-punch observation: how funny, I seem to not only have bought most people’s grail pens, but sold them! Often at a loss, before they got really popular! (I think I sold my two Kingsize Conids for about £700 each).

It’s turned into an eyes-wide ‘oh shit, I have no self-control‘ moment — I have binged my way through the great, the good and the mediocre over the past five years, from £50 to £1,000. I have been so focused, spent all my attention looking at what’s left in my pen tray today after all this buying and selling, but I hardly ever look back at the pens I’ve said goodbye to. Maybe I should?

Writing this post has certainly given me an itch to revisit some of these old flames, which is probably an unwanted and ironic consequence. Conid is probably off the cards for obvious reasons, but I’d like to get another Graf Classic, another Scribo, a Sailor Realo, another Capless LS… and if the right Oldwin comes along…

Oh dear. Oh dear…

13 thoughts on “Looking back at old flames, with ever-widening eyes…

  1. I think you would have surprising fun trying some well chosen reiable vintage pens, from trustworthy restorers/resellers.
    For example the wonderful Montblanc 12 or longer 14 from the 1960s; or a 1970s 146/149 with the bouncy “14C” (not 14K) stamped nib. Or an early, hooded Aurora 88 variant from the 50s/60s; or the Pelikan 400NN from the 1950s.
    In my perception they are still more than competitive. Especially the Montblanc 14 – there is nothing like it on the market.

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    • The only real vintage in my collection apart from my 149 is a rather spectacular Geha with springy gold nib. I have tried one of the reversible Auroras, old Esties, an old Vacumatic… honestly I worry about fragility, leaks, and the fact that most vintage pens are too small for my taste. But I’ll happily take donations 🤣

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  2. If you haven’t already you should read Kierkegaard’s ‘Repetition’ before embarking on this (and maybe then blog a contemporary pen-based equivalent).

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    • I fear my commitment to thoroughness in my pen-blogging endeavour falls short of consulting philosophical works prior to writing posts 😄. And alas (ironically?) I’m perhaps doomed to repeat well-trodden mistakes…!

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  3. I’ve thought about your pen “throughput” before as I’ve read your posts. The question I always had was – how much does it cost? What do you think is the average % loss you take – especially given you’re (rightly) using them before selling on?

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    • Oh, I probably take a 15% hit on every pen, more if you factor in postage cost of sending it on. In the past I would buy pens just to review — it’s one of the reasons I ask for donations, to cover that shortfall a little. I am certainly not turning a profit!

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  4. Hi there. That’s a great list and I coincide on some and in part I have a Geometry bought from the wonderful Roy at Izods because of your positive opinion at the time. I was after a Martele but my budget wasn’t, I suspect that will come in to the fold at some time. May I ask a question? My pens are largely MB’s but I have a fancy for an Onoto Magna and was sorely tempted when they ran a pretty good price promotion around Father’s Day I think it was. What do you think of these fine pens, I was thinking of a simple blue chased to offset the MB blacks.I note that it isn’t one of your “Old Flames” that you might buy again. I’d be grateful for your thoughts if you have a moment. all the best. des.

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    • I am hugely fond of Onoto as a brand and the Magna as a pen model. Their nibs and hand comfort in particular are exceptional. The one sticking point for me, and it’s becoming a bigger factor as my collection matures, is that the cap threads are long… like 3.5 turns, if I remember correctly. It frustrates me every time I take the cap off. I understand this doesn’t bother other people at all, and I understand why it’s a design feature.

      As to the Geometry, I love that pen. The Martele I think is a hair prettier, but the Geometry is no slouch. I sold mine because the BB nib wasn’t suiting my needs any longer. I’m probably not at a point where I’m happy spending that much on a pen again, but if someone offered me one at a killer price with an F or EF nib I would be overjoyed to have one in my collection again.

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