by Tony Thomas
I am sure many of us have looked longingly at Brian Goulet's amazing pen collection that is housed in a growing number of IKEA cabinets with drawers. Of course, Brian can justify owning all those beautiful pens. After all, he is in the pen business. Having a huge pen collection is one of the perks that comes with business ownership.
I watched a popular fountain pen vlogger admit that he spent a ton of money (over 20 grand) during his first year of production. While he didn't elaborate, I suspect that a fair amount of that money was used to purchase fountain pens and ink based on his content. An alarm bell went off in my head.
While many of us admit jokingly to having a bad case of "fountain pen acquisition syndrome", things can easily get out of control, especially given the price of high-end fountain pens. I admit I have more pens than I really need. To qualify that statement a bit, I acquired them over a period of several years. (That is a lame excuse, I know.)
However, one thing I did as a frugal fountain pen guy is to put severe limits on the amount of money that I would pay for a single fountain pen. My limit was (and is) $200 for a single pen. Most of the pens in my collection cost me $100 or less. A lot of them are way below $50. And many more are cheapies from China and India. This is helped me to keep my "pen habit" under control.
In recent years, I have been much more careful with my expenditures given the size of my collection. I rarely buy any new fountain pens anymore, and when I want to change things up a bit, I just switch nibs.
I have found that my best fountain pen investments have been in pens that have easily replaceable nibs. You can get a lot of mileage from a midrange pen from Edison, Franklin-Christoph, or even a less expensive one like a Ranga, by just buying some extra Jowo nib units.
For the most part, I have steered away from fountain pens that sport gold nibs. I do have a small collection of Japanese Pilots and Platinums with fine and extra-fine gold nibs. The writing experience of those pens certainly justifies the higher price. At some point, I may add a low-end Sailor to the mix, but I don't see any pricey Nakayas or Pelikans in my future.
I certainly don't begrudge those with high-end fountain pen collections. If you enjoy them and afford them, that is great. But for the rest of us, a bit of reality and moderation is in order.