Are More People Joining Our Hobby?

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.

11 thoughts on “Are More People Joining Our Hobby?

  1. Hi Deb,
    As an organiser of seven small regional pen shows I have noticed that visitor numbers have been growing year on year which is good for me and more importantly for our hobby. The downside (if indeed it is a downside) is that more and more visitors are buying new pens for large amounts of cash, at the South West Pen Show I heard that one visitor spent 4000 on modern pens!!

      1. I’m not quite as adverse to modern pens as you Deb, just looking at my desk now I have 20 modern pens inked up and 12 vintage inked and ready to go ranging in price from a fiver to several hundred pounds each and I’m just as happy using my Chinese ‘cheapies’ as I am the more expensive ones. My current favourite is a Mabie Todd eyedropper with a beautifully flexible nib – just wish I had the time to learn how to use it well!

  2. I’ve also noticed the trend of increasing price and decreasing quality in pens on eBay in the last year. I’m in the US, so I don’t think it’s relegated to the UK. Just my two cents worth, but it’s a little worrisome to a small-time collector like myself to see the prices increase in that manner.

  3. “…but spending all that money on modern pens? That’s just plain wrong!”

    Nah – more good old stuff for me 😉

    1. David, you’re going to start me on a rant now! What really annoys me about modern pens these days is that the manufacturers spend a fortune on the packaging and fit the pen with a crap cartridge/converter filling system, Come on manufacturers we can’t write with a box no matter how pretty it is!!! So please stop wasting our money on expensive packaging and spend more on giving us decent writing equipment!!

  4. My small collection of fountain pens comprises 40% / 60% vintage / modern pens and each of the groups has its pros and cons.

    As Deb says I am also a fairly new collector of fountain pens with less than a year since I started collecting.

    1. That’s great. You’re in a good place right now, as you still have much of the pen world to discover. Also, it sounds as though you’re in a good position to compare the writing qualities of old and new pens.

  5. Hello Deb, although I’ve used fountain pens for nearly fifty years I’ve only started to collect them within the last year. I’ve used them as I find my writing is more legible using a fountain pen. Although my modest collection currently consists of modern pens I shall be getting a vintage fountain pen for my birthday from my wife. Hopefully this will be the first of many older pens.
    I think the resurgence in fountain pen users may be because people want something different from the run of the mill rollerball or gel pen. In addition, the wide variety of designs old and new, nibs, filling systems and varied inks draw you in.
    Thanks for a superb website and blog.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Andy. I think you’re right about the resurgence in fountain pen use. Using a fountain pen is somehow much more rewarding, gives much more back, than using a crystal Bic.

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