The Conflict

I can’t keep all the pens I buy. I can’t, indeed, keep one tenth or even one hundredth of all the pens I buy. I buy them to write about, to restore and to sell. I already have thirty-five or forty pens that I keep. I really neither need nor can use more.

And yet… Though my criteria for pen purchase is often very different from what I would buy for myself, it is inevitable that some of the pens will appeal to me aesthetically and will suit my hand. The present pen is a case in point. If I was starting out and didn’t already have a boxful of pens, this one would be a keeper!

This is not a new problem for me. I’ve always had to deal with this conflict. I adjusted my thinking a long time ago. Now, I am grateful that I can enjoy these exceptional pens for a little while before they move on.

Still, it is a wrench to part with such exceptional pens…

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6 thoughts on “The Conflict

  1. I try to remember that, as with all material goods which we do not consume by using, we are only custodians. We get to use and care for these items for some part of our lives. I’m not sure it makes me less materialistic, but it certainly helps me understand that I need to let some possessions “move on” so that they can be better used and appreciated by others.

    One of the reasons I take such great pleasure in the simple repair of putting a new sac in a venerable Esterbrook pen, is knowing that it can now have a second life. Indeed, that’s why I have accumulated and sold at little profit quite a few Esties; we travel down the road together a bit, I have the pleasure of their company, then we part ways as is only proper. That does not mean that the parting is always easy. It does, however, keep a touch of something old-fashioned and slightly noble in our relationship with these instruments, something which the fountain pens themselves naturally bear.

    How many pens are too many? Ah, the perrenial question! My answer is, obviously, when a good pen would see more use and keen appreciation elsewhere. That respects the pen’s maker and purpose, and helps keep us focussed on why we assemble -collect- pens to start with, which is to appreciate them and help others to do so as well.

    As with children, love them enough to let them go.

  2. as with many objects in life, we really are only the guardians for a period of time and then they go on to another, hopefully, good home. However, psychologically, am tempted to think that I own them for long enough that they ‘really are mine’:-):-) I seem to have this thing about ‘no one can look after things as well as I can’ approach.

    Deborah – you don’t say which pen is currently giving you angst, about parting with it – take it you wanted anonymity for this particular pen, or not?

    1. I wasn’t looking for anonymity for the pen really, but it is one I have written about recently and so didn’t see the benefit in doing so again. It’s the Waterman 52 Red Ripple, the bearer of a thoroughly exceptional nib.

  3. If there is an answer to how many are too many, My wife would lick to know. All so is there a rehab center for fountain pen addiction?

    1. Afraid not. You either go cold turkey or give in to the need to buy ALL the pens. When it gets really bad you’ll be hiding them around the house so that you wife can’t find them. I have several hundreds in plastic bags in the toilet cistern.

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