Culling the Herd: Is Less, More When Collecting Fountain Pens? 

Like selecting a Krispy Kreme donut, I often look at my pen collection and am totally confused as to which one to choose. There is simply TOO MUCH INKY/SUGARY CHOICE!

This got me thinking…what if I have too many pens? What if I am so blinded by choice that I end up not using any of them?! And do I really want a Krispy Kreme after all?

Pens are there to be used after all. And I want pens that I really really dig, not 13 that I kinda like. I’m learning about what my tastes are, what nibs I prefer and what my fountain soulmate looks like.

So, this is my exploration of how I’m going to cull my herd! It’s a topic that has had much coverage already in the community, like Alt Haven’s post; I hope you like my two cents!

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1. What is the magic number?

12? 6? A MILLION!? Who knows how many brain cells Trump has…or the right number of pens to enjoy.

Here are the 13 I have at the moment and a little low down on my thoughts:

  • Lamy 2000, M nib ADORE IT
  • Sailor Pro Gear Slim, HB – I want to like it so much, but I can’t get on with the feedback of the nib
  • Pilot VP, M nib – hardly ever use it, don’t know why, it just doesn’t get picked up
  • TWSBI Vac Mini, M and EF – daily writer for me!
  • TWSBI Diamond 580, F – my first ‘proper pen’, and I love its heft and writing style. BUT tend to reach for my Vac Mini more
  • Lamy Al Star, EF – another first, first fountain pen I ever bought.
  • Edison Collier, M and F nib – special gift from my aunt, would never part with!
  • Pilot Custom 74, F – one of my favourite nibs ever, super smooth with a bit of give!
  • Pilot Custom Heritage 91, SM – as above!
  • Kaweco Al Sport, F – always in my pocket for a quick note
  • Parker Duofold, B flex – charity shop find, but nib not for me, too broad and not flexible enough.
  • Parker 25 Flighter, M – another find and such a useable, smooth nib
  • Conway Stewart 12, F flex – a seriously flexi bitch!

So, tough decisions for culling, but I feel like 6 would see more use on a day to day basis. It’s enough to have variety without getting bored, but not being overwhelmed with guilt when leaving one of your pretties uninked for awhile. Or is that just me?

2. Do I already use it a bunch? OR would I use it if I had less choice? Can I get a custom nib grind?

Some of the above I use all the time and adore. Others I adore but rarely use. What’s a girl to do?! For example, my TWSBI Diamond 580 is beautiful, but I never pick it up over my mini. So could a custom nib be a good option? Maybe a cursive italic or an oblique? I’ve yet to try a specialist grind; maybe this option will help me get more out of my fleet!

3. Do I really need it?!

Well, you could argue that who needs anything over a biro. But then I would kill you. Slowly and painfully.

That said, do I need MORE pens? I have way more than I already use in a day, and I could get oodles more enjoyment from focusing on the experience of a select few. Quality over quantity.

4. Is it sexy? And does it have sentimental value?

If it looks mighty fine and a nice person gave it to me, then I’m keeping it. End of. Especially if the nice person was mighty fine looking too.

5. Is there room for a grail pen?

I’m contemplating selling a few and getting a serious grail pen. I’m a bit bored of the gold nibs around the £100-200 range and want to venture out into the big boys! Current contenders are:

  • Visconti Homo Sapiens Oversize, F nib
  • Mont Blanc 146, F nib
  • A custom made Twiss pen
  • Any Visconti come to think of it
  • A Franklin Christoph…I’ve not tried one yet you see
  • Pelikan M800
  • Another one that I’m sure you’ll all end up telling me I need!

My main criteria are: is it mean looking? Could it be wielded as a weapon? Dat nib tho’?! Simples.

6. F**k it: do I just keep them all and make an effort to use them on a rotation basis?

Or…do I stop over thinking it, continue to hoard and get even more strict on how I use my existing pens? Like a 3 in, 3 out basis for the month? I mean, I failed the 6 pen challenge miserably (it ended at 12 pens inked…), so maybe this wouldn’t work either?

So there you have it. I have essentially asked you a load of questions to help me with my predicament! I hope you’ve found it useful in some way ;).

Have you culled the herd recently? How did you decide what made the cut?

Keep those nibs mucky! 

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18 thoughts on “Culling the Herd: Is Less, More When Collecting Fountain Pens? 

  1. I have a dozen pens, the really nice ones which I plan on keeping forever I rotate, the others I keep inked. I always have a fine, medium and broad available, the vintage flex is usually inked too but travels less. Selling pens is like selling your children, the money can be good but you will miss them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain as I am sitting on a Pelikan M400, Visconti Salvador Dali, Faber Castell Ondoro and Visconti Wall Street that just aren’t getting the love – some were grail pens, some were just pretty flights of fancy. But for sure they all need to go.

    Pen collections in my mind are meant to be fluid and I am currently trying the rotation thing carrying 6 pens instead of 24. That way I will use the 6 for a longer period of time and maybe get to know them a little better. Its working for some pens and not so much for others.

    You have some nice grail pens on your list and I can heartily recommend a Twiss Custom for something bespoke and designed for you, I have two – the Jowo 1.1 stubs he uses are divinely smooth. I have also gone down the nib grind route with John Sorowka. I picked up a bargain Platinum 3776 Coarse (think of a thick Sharpie!) and had him regrind it to a broad, he told me it was criminal to do such a thing but I have a glorious pen for £60. So you could take the 580 and get a re-grind on it for very little money.

    I am hankering for another Sailor, I sold my Procolor as fine Japanese nibs I discovered are not my thing. Looking for a Pro Gear with a broad nib, something thats not all that common, so if you fancy rehoming yours drop me a line 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a gazillion (might be a *slight* exaggeration) fountain pens too and finally came up with this plan to use them all on a relatively regular basis: once the ink runs out in a pen, I switch it out for another one. Admittedly this doesn’t always happen (for example, I’ve been refilling my FC Marietta w/ Robert Oster Fire & Ice for about two months now because I’m not ready yet to give up this particular combo), but as a general rule it works. At least for me. And I’ve been using more of my pens this way. I also try to limit my pens inked to no more than 4. If I want to use another pen/ink combo, I have to give a currently inked pen up. I wish you luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just started checking out some grinds. The architect and an ultra-fine were great, but cursive italics have changed the world. It’s made the difference. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I adore my M805 Stresemann with an EF nib and it is always inked. So as my F L2K that soon will be visiting Mr John Sorowka for a cursive italic grind.
    The FC model 02 was my 3rd grail pen acquired and I have 3 nibs for her. Needlepoint, medium cursive italic and medium stub.
    I’m selling my VP because it is to heavy for me and she will be replaced by a Parker Vacumatic Major either Grey or Azure Blue.
    I have 7 inked pens at the moment and my maximum will be 24 pens owned in total. I swear. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmmm…
    No rush. If culling the herd will allow you to get a target pen – then fine. Otherwise, I hang on to mine. I just bought a TWSBI 580AL – what a lovely pen to write with! I’m buying more cases!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful summation of the situation most of us face. My greatest dilemma is what do I do with all the very inexpensive pens I accumulated before convincing myself I could afford to spend over $50 on a pen? Many of them seem too inexpensive to go through the effort to sell them. Of course, a few of them look cool enough to justify keeping, and some, especially Jinhao, allow me to have greater variety of nib types available by mating them with Goulet or other nibs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have too many pens. I need more. I agree with Ali because they are all special in some way but the money is nice. I also agree with all the folks who have suggested speciality nib grinds. That can make a world of difference and there is the “I don’t have one like this” argument which allows for more pens.
    Franklin Christoph makes some very cool pens and their nibs are great. Their customer service is excellent. I have 7 now and their Masuyama italics are sweet. Buy one. Or two.
    If you can get to a pen show consider trading pens. It’s a great way to get something you want. I will miss that Waterman 56 with that gorgeous giant nib that I never used but I adore the Montblanc Boheme that I have inked on my desk right now.
    I’m really looking at Nakayas as my grail pen. That helps me think harder about buying more thoughtfully and selling when I can do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I get bored easily, so with my x30 pens, which most are inked (yep, crazy woman) but I use each of them day by day and I love the variety and yes, there are some faves but I have to say I like them all because they’re all different.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m a bit of a hoarder, so a pen cull would definitely hurt (although I am thinking of getting rid of one of my TWSBI Eco’s – the green one – simply because I don’t like the colour and I’ve never used it!).

    TWSBI’s are a favourite of mine. I recently got a Sailor Procolor 500 (fine nib) and I’m loving it, despite usually prefering a wider nib.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think it’s down to your personality. Sounds like you’re much more of a user than a collector and there is some frustration mounting at “redundant kit” just sitting around. Your tastes have refined and there’d be nothing wrong in letting the bottom six go to new homes and bringing in a conribution towards a Homo Sapiens or similar which would feel like a really special purchase. Then you’ll have 7 pens all of which you’ll love and have got rid of the clutter of 6 things that drag you down mentally. Let us know how you go. Best of british.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey there, I have the exact plight as you, love my Lamy 2000, Sailor Pro Gear Slim and My Custom 74. Don’s really reach for my VP too and am targeting the Visconti Homo Sapien too. I also have a problem with cutting down the number of pens that i have in rotation. I would recommend seeing and trying (not asking you to buy) the Franklin Christoph pens. They make absolute wonderful demonstrates and their nib is wonderful. However, it is kinda expansive and at their price range, one can purchase a gold nib pen. Their steel nib is kinda a turnoff for some people. Anyways, explore into the world of inks 🙂
    Anyways, have a nice one and write on,
    Justin

    Liked by 1 person

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