State of the collection: March 2022

Culling the grails

My last state of the collection post was in December, and this is what my main tray looked like then.

From that tray I’ve sold the Nakaya 17mm, Namiki Urushi 20, Radius, ASC arco, Graf Classic and Aurora 88. Six of 18.

Some really really good pens there! Honestly I probably wouldn’t have sold them all if I didn’t have some big, unexpected bills to pay. But now I have shipped them to their new owners… well actually I haven’t missed them. It’s funny that.

I have reasons for selling each of those pens. For the Nakaya and Namiki it was perhaps the arrival of the King of Pen, and acknowledgement that I didn’t use either of them enough to justify their tied up cash.

The Radius lost out to my Cuspide (Leonardo is involved in Radius and it shows). The ASC’s nib was too fat. The Aurora because I’m not that into demonstrators. Not sure why I sold the Graf (this time around).

The impulse purchases

In and out are also several personal purchases that arrived after my December list: Eboya Kobue, Oldwin Classic Arco, Elbwood Shortcap, Bungubox Raden Eco, Scribo Mariana.

Some of these were down to fits of overenthusiasm. Some to wanting to show loyalty to a manufacturer. Some down to curiosity. A little bit was down to booze, to be honest.

The Eboya was good (well, read my review) but to me just lacked a little something in the nib. I’m not sure I could square in my head a Japanese pen with a Bock-branded nib.

The Oldwin — well, I detailed that whole saga on Instagram. But it’s returned to France now and I’m getting most of my money back as a refund, along with the nib that I tuned, which Mora refused to accept. Suffice it to say I won’t be buying from Oldwin again. And I mean it this time.

In fact, I’ll go further this time and recommend that you don’t buy an Oldwin either. Yes, Mora seems to have a stock of unobtanium rods, but there are plenty of other places you can spend your money where you know the pen you get will be perfectly finished and write like a dream.

Elbwood — I stand by my review of the Pocketmaster that these are distinctive, beautiful and well-crafted pens. Frank is one of those craftsmen with a vision and the technical ability to make it real. But in the end I found the neusilber Shortcap a bit cold, and I decided the fluted grip didn’t suit my fingers.

The Bungubox raden Eco… a beautiful pen, but the definition of a FOMO impulse purchase. And I couldn’t help think it’s a bit like putting a solid gold paint job on a Dacia. Great economical car, but it’s somehow gross to spend multiples of the underlying product just on decoration.

And the Scribo… well the resin was Ocean Swirl good, the nib felt brilliant, but I didn’t like the cap threads. See, I’m picky.

The reasoned purchases

It’s not all outgoings, though. I have made a few investments that I don’t regret one bit and don’t plan to sell.

As you’ll know if you read my pen show writeup, I now have a second Onoto Sequoyah, this time with short cap threads and #8 18k nib. I can’t put it down. I am fully in love with this pen. This is a deeply satisfying conclusion for me. I’ve been an Onoto champion since, ooh, 2018, yet I’ve been without one for a while. I don’t think my collection feels complete without an Onoto.

I added a second Schon full-size pen, this time in aluminium, with a black Ultem section and titanium #8 nib. It is superb. There’s something very carefree about their invulnerability, and the ratio of tiny pen to big nib feels perfect.

Then there’s the Lamy Dialog CC, which I had on my list for so long. It has proven to be fun, practical and just so different to everything else. I often recommend Lamy’s Z55 gold nibs, and the CC reminds me why.

And lastly the Estie Nouveau Blue, repurchased at the pen show to remind myself why I like Esterbrooks so much. It’s my favourite resin in the Esterbrook range by far.

The tray today

That leaves me with 16 pens in my personal tray, and only one incoming (more on that later).

My main tray is characterised by three things:

  • I paid for them all myself. Bizarrely, no review samples have stuck in my main tray for a while.
  • They all have non-steel nibs, gold or titanium. Snobbery? Perhaps so.
  • They all cost over £250. Definitely snobbery! But my average price is much lower than it has been.

The exception to these rules is the Esterbrook Estie, which cost me about £150 plus the freebie custom ground needlepoint nib.

That aside, the pens in my tray still exemplify the principles I work towards and my long-standing preferences.

Variety is one. Only three manufacturers have more than one pen each (Lamy, Montblanc and Schon). There are pens in Ultem, Peek, ebonite, urushi, lacquered brass, acrylic, lava, silver, aluminium, Makrolon and wood. Five different filling mechanisms.

In-house is another. Just in terms of nibs: I’ve got in-house nibs on these pens from Platinum, Pilot, Sailor, Santini, Lamy, Montblanc, plus various branded and unbranded Bock and JoWo.

The other stashes

I work as hard as I can to keep my collection to that one tray, as I’ve explained various times. I just can’t cope with properly organising and caring for a huge array of pens and ensuring they have their due time in the sun. But.

I still have a couple of Preppies and a Curidas in my desk drawer, along with my Schon pocket pen. They’re my utility pens.

I have a small line of sentimental and retired pens tucked away safely.

There’s my lineup of review pens still to write up. (Capillaris not in shot — it’s in my bag)

Then there’s this…

The pen deluge

I make regular lower-value purchases, and I get sent a lot of pens to review that I’m fortunate not to have to send back. Naturally these pens can’t all make it to my main tray, with its 15 slots. So I have to put them somewhere. Right now, that somewhere is here.

Some of these pens will eventually get sold or given away. Others may sneak back into use. But there are 28 of them, and it’s freaking me out a little. And yeah, in total, that makes something like 60 pens. Gulp.

What next?

Honestly, I am very close to buying the Tibaldi Bononia Vintage on loan from Iguanasell and trying to fit that in my main tray.

I have the ‘damaged’ nib from my Oldwin return coming back to me, and I’ve bought a Schon Ultem to put it in.

And I have my eyes on a Danitrio. Work milestone coming up that might give me the excuse I need.

If you think all this is crazy, a desperate attempt to apply some made-up order to chaos, or to justify random irrational decisions… well you may be right. But it’s the best I can do!

Until next time.

6 thoughts on “State of the collection: March 2022

  1. Thank you! Always enjoy your considered and literate SOTC posts! I think in older posts, you’ve mentioned color as one of your criteria? I think pen tray needs a little gold . . .


  2. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – March 20, 2022 | Fountain Pen Quest

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