On many occasions I have spent too much money on a single pen. Sometimes it’s ebay, an antique store, or even a pen show auction (ok, maybe almost EVERY pen show auction). I think you’ve been there too. You really need to have that pen and excitement kicks in and you pay too much. Everyone who has done this raise your hand. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Almost every time this happens I find someone (sometimes even myself) saying “You paid too much”. Well, maybe yes, maybe no. I can justify my price three different ways, aside from the typical economic supply and demand argument.
1) You will never regret paying too much for a pen you want if it is a hard to find vintage (or sometimes modern LE) pen. The pen I have spent the most on (or as Lisa likes to say, “You paid more for that pen than I did for several of my cars…combined!”) is an extremely rare Onoto made Esterbrook Gold Relief eyedropper with sterling silver chatelaine appointments and chain. It has an overfeed and 14ct Esterbrook marked nib. It’s “over the top” as I like to sometimes say. I’ve never seen another, and don’t expect to see one any time soon (I’ve seen them without the chatelaine, but that doesn’t count). I’ve now had the pen for close to ten years, and if I divide that out, it isn’t a whole lot per year.
2) Education - How do we know we’ve paid too much for something until we’ve actually had it? If you’ve always wanted a Pelikan 400 in tortoise, but never had one or used one, buying one is the only way to learn what they are really all about (and let me tell you, they are delightful pens!) So maybe you pay too much for the first one, but how else would you learn about them? Some of us don’t have the luxury of dealing with pens on a day to day basis, or there may be no close pen clubs or pen shows around to go to. Call it the School of Pendom. Welcome Freshmen! Come and learn!
3) The Concept of “Rent” - We are truly only stewards of our writing instruments. They were here long before us, and hopefully will be here long after we pass away. Others will enjoy them when we are gone. They will wonder, just as we do, who the person was that owned this pen before them. What important documents were signed with this pen? What love letters were written to their husband or wife? What special occasion were they presented for? I am only renting my pens for my time here on this earth. Consider a $150 pen. That’s $15 a year for ten years. Do my pens give me $15 a year in enjoyment? They sure do. That’s what, three Caramel Macchiatos from the local coffee shop? How long do those give you enjoyment? And if you keep your pens like I do, with intent to have them a long, long time, the price per year is even less.
Now, should we just go out and pay $100 for the next Wearever we see in an antique store, just because over time it doesn’t cost very much? Well, probably not, but don’t beat yourself up if you pay a bit too much for something because you like and enjoy it. As long as you aren’t missing your other financial obligations for something like pens, you’ll probably be ok.
Have a great weekend!