As a suggestion for a post, Stuart said,”I hear that fountain pens are enjoying a resurgence and I’d be interested to know how and if that impacts you.” I think that sentence goes a step too far too soon. The interesting question, for me, at least, is, “Is there a resurgence of interest in fountain pens?”
It’s certainly true that prices for unrestored pens have leapt in the last year or so. I’m thinking here of eBay UK; the same may not have happened elsewhere. Anyway, a price rise of around 50% across the board certainly means that something’s going on. However, it may not just be increased demand because there are more new people trying to buy old pens. It seems to me that there are far fewer good quality really old pens on offer. Ebay’s numbers are kept up by a proliferation of newer pens, nineteen-sixties or later. Are we coming to the end of the supply of earlier pens, and is that spurring people on to pay more? Another factor is the training courses that WES has mounted. In these difficult times it may be that many are trying to turn their new skill-set into a business and vying with each other for pens to restore. Or it may be that all of these factors are contributing, including an influx of new pen fanciers.
I read the Fountain Pen Board and Fountain Pen Geeks. Both of these discussion groups have seen a significant rise in numbers over the last year. Admittedly, some of that was from the trouble in Fountain Pen Network which caused many people, including yours truly, to leave and look for somewhere else to discuss pens. However, that was the best part of a year ago, and the numbers of those joining remain high. That’s the most positive sign I’ve seen that suggests that there is a resurgence of interest in fountain pens. True, Pentrace is in a “it’s closing, no, it’s not, yes, it is” phase at the moment but that doesn’t reflect a loss of passion for pens, more an outburst of frustration at some of the internecine warfare that goes on there. There is a suggestion that even if the owner does walk away someone else may keep it alive. I do hope so; pendom hasn’t been good at picking up its casualties: Lion & Pen, perhaps the best board of all despite its faults, lies moribund today with no sign that there may be a recovery.
All in all, I think there are signs of an increase in interest in fountain pens, both old and new. How does it affect me? Rising prices make my life more interesting than I would want it to be, but overall I welcome and applaud more people joining our hobby. I’d like to see numbers and interest rise a lot more, perhaps even back to the glory days of the late nineties.