Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Are you a Fountain Pen Addict?

by Tony Thomas

Is fountain pen addiction a thing? Given the large size of some of our pen collections, I often wonder.

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.

Check out the YouTube video:

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Help Keep the Fountain Pen Movement Going

by Tony Thomas

I watched with great interest the explosion of the fountain pen market around 2010.  It was an exciting time since flex nibs began their resurgence and it seemed like every pen lover had to have one.  Noodler’s pens and inks were riding that trend. A company called the Goulet Pen Company started in a bedroom around that time.  And an interesting vlogger from the Netherlands by the name of SBRE Brown started doing pen reviews.  

 I started “The Frugal Fountain Pen” blog in 2014 to focus on pens and accessories at the lower end of the cost scale.  It seemed like more attention was being devoted to expensive fountain pens and cheaper pens were not getting that much attention.  That trend continues.

It also seemed like not many new inexpensive fountain pens were being introduced. Fountain pen production is expensive, especially in the development stages, and most companies can’t afford to take the risk of releasing a product that may not sell.  

A few years ago, I turned my focus to fountain pen videos on YouTube with mixed success. YouTube is such a large and popular platform that it is hard to get enough visibility to build an audience. In addition, YouTube is making it much more difficult for smaller channels to produce revenue to help subsidize the costs of their productions.

Within the last few months, I read that one of the most popular YouTube channels covering fountain pens was shutting down. I enjoyed watching “The Pen Habit” since its introduction and will miss Matt Armstrong’s valuable videos and pen reviews.  He has raised the bar for YouTube fountain pen video production.  You can find his final video here:

To help fill the void, I have decided to spend more time writing for this blog rather than concentrating on fountain pen videos.  In addition, I just completed a new book aimed directly at new fountain pen users.  It is called: “Getting Started with Fountain Pens”.  It is a very short book in the introductory price is only $.99. It will be available on Amazon for Kindle, Smashwords, Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo.  

At some point, I may even make it available at no cost as a way of giving back to the fountain pen community.  It is imperative that we stimulate interest in the hobby so that companies will continue to make investments in new products and fountain pen retailers will continue to prosper.

If you know anybody that may be interested in my new book, or if you want to support my efforts, you can find the link here: