Can a Pen Be Worth 10x More Than Another Pen?

Pen Value All Math is the one subject from school that I have used the most throughout my life. I was good at basic math but algebra and trigonometry, not so much. As I accurately, but naively, forecasted I have not used either of those last two in my real life. I don’t really apply a lot of math skills in supporting my hobbies but the overall price does play a role and I go by the very loose rule that more money buys higher quality and/or more exotic material.

After buying the last wrist timepiece that tickled my fancy (ok Amazon recommended buy that I bit on) I realized I paid 1/10 of what I invested in the watch now sitting right next to it on the dresser. I paused briefly and thought to myself did I get 10 times the enjoyment out of that watch over there?

In the picture above I dug through my hobby piles and found some examples of pairs that had a roughly 10x cost difference. Of these items, the watch duo is probably the easiest to pick out the 10 timer. From a practicality perspective the one on the left keeps time just as good as the one on right that costs 10x more. The one on the right certainly has more features and probably the aluminum construction and electronics cost a little more than the rubberized plastic of the Timex on the left. Quality I can’t speak to, though time may reveal a difference.

Pen Value WatchesThe pocket knife pair is a Chris Reeve Sebenza and a Cold Steel Tuff Lite. Both are very sharp, cut great and are built well enough to last through anything I will ever need to do with a knife.Pen Value KnivesYes the Chris Reeve fit and finish are better and the action is smoother. I thought later about a flashlight duo, another hobby of mine, but I think for this exercise you get my parables attempt.

Pen Value PensSince this is a pen blog I’ll focus on the pen comparison. The purple pen is a Lamy Safari, a very popular fine writer. I bought my first Safari, a different one, after reading positive recommendations that are plentiful for this model pen. I was not impressed with my first one and mistakenly assumed due to the price that a $30 fountain pen would always write like the first example I bought. Even that was not my first fountain pen disappointment before I really knew anything about sometimes finicky nibs.

The darker colored pen is a Visconti Homo Sapien that I truly love and it easily qualifies for the 10x cost factor compared to the Lamy. The material in the Visconti is some kind of million year old ancient sacred volcano lava that cures major illnesses (/hyperbole> and what Visconti calls a DreamTouch Palladium nib. I’m sure the material that makes up the Visconti costs more to harvest and process than the molded plastic and steel of the Lamy, but 10x as much?

Both of these pens are winners in my book regardless of price and will have a place in my EDC rotation for a long time. I have purchased, and subsequently sold, pens in both price ranges that just didn’t float my boat. I find that to be part of the joy of the hobby. I love how the Visconti feels in my hand, the balance, the size and the nib is the perfect balance of wetness, width and smoothness for my tastes. This second Lamy has been an equal joy to use, the shape is comfortable in my hand, the weight is different but the balance is good and the nib? Yep the perfect balance of wetness, width and smoothness for my tastes. A repeat performance every time I use it for 10x less money.

So why did I buy the Visconti? I bought the Visconti before I added this particular Lamy to my collection but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Visconti’s reputation, the uniqueness of the material, a palladium nib are some of the factors that drew my attention, my research and eventual purchase. It doesn’t write 10x better than the Lamy and I don’t think its quality is 10x better either. The Visconti had traits in a pen I had not experienced before and was willing to try them at the sale price I was able to reach. I’m very glad I took another shot at the Lamy Safari club, this one confirms to me that all the great recommendations for this pen were for a pen like this one, not the first one I owned a couple of years ago. Recurring theme: I am so glad both pens are in my collection.

My goal for this post was to give a real world example that one doesn’t have to spend a lot of money to thoroughly enjoy the fountain pen hobby. You may not like either of the pens discussed here but I’m sure there is a pen in all price ranges that will bring you joy using it every day.

As a last example I just spent twice the purchase cost of a pen to have the nib tuned. I made the pen myself so the purchase price was really for the kit. Total investment now is about $50 and I’ll put it up against any $50 pen I own in pure writing enjoyment. Probably not the wisest financial decision but I’m sure glad I did it.

Dr. Jonathon Dean did a much more in depth, fact based post here on a similar topic of the value of pens. If the economic side of the pen hobby really interests you I would encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Dean’s blog at peneconomics.com. He’s a lot smarter than me in this area.

Whatever the financial investment is in your pens I hope you take the opportunity today to enjoy them.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Lamy Multi-Pen Review

overall1I don’t think anyone sits down for a letter writing session and specifically reaches for a multi-pen. I don’t, but I can’t fault the convenience at work or on the go if you do a lot of markup or colored ink work. I owned a multi-pen when I was a young boy and still a closet stationery geek. It was the venerable Bic 4 Color Retractable.
bic
I loved that pen and guarded it with my life by only taking it out to show my buddies or for writing something special. Oh the horror if it were to run out of ink, I had no clue that I could actually buy a refill. Truth be known it probably dried up by NOT writing with it. That was 40+ years ago and they still sell it. In later years my standards for the writing experience has elevated somewhat and given the choice, a 4 color ballpoint is not my preferred. I own one other multi-pen.

AcroballA Pilot Acroball and for its intended use it’s not a bad pen. Good action and full size refills that right ok.
Now if there is a category for classy upscale multi-pens, I now own it. A Black Lamy 2000 Multifunction Pen. The Lamy 2000 line is nearly iconic in its stature as a fountain pen. The shape and design have been around unchanged for a long long time. It’s aesthetic just works and the Makrolon material is unique while being a comfortable material to handle, hold and write with. The brushed stainless steel trim gives a nice contrasting look against the black body.
overall1THE PEN:

    • 21.7 Grams
    • 7/16” Diameter
    • Length: 5 ½”
    • Brushed Makrolon resin barrel
    • Brushed stainless steel head and knock
    • Red, Black, Blue and Green D1 refills included
    • Street Price: $50

PACKAGING

Packaging is good for this price range, not much to review. If you usually discard packaging not much to change your mind on this one.

packaging1packaging2CONSTRUCTION FIT AND FINISH

Lamy’s build quality, fit and finish is known to be a consistent high quality. This one is no different, minus the clip, but more on that later. The Makrolon material is smooth with no burrs or rough areas The joint of the section and body is nearly invisible as you can see, or not see, below. Threads are smooth and start easy every time.

Section GapMakrolonREFILLS

Some multi-pens take proprietary refills. That can be good or bad. Usually that means more expensive and limited selection of color and point sizes. My Acroball takes proprietary refills and they write fairly well for a ballpoint but when they run out I would not have any extras laying around, and I’m a pen guy with way too many refills laying around. The Lamy takes the universal D1 size that are available in 80+ variations at my last count. In the Lamy you can mix and match the refills to your preference though the pen twist mechanism will always reference only blue, red and green.

RefillsTHE CLIP

clip1The clip is standard Lamy fare. Its thick shape lends itself positively to the overall aesthetics of the pen. The LAMY name is printed on the side discretely and doesn’t get in the way of the other iconic design elements of the pen showing off the great design. The clip is thick and has a good springiness for performing its main duty, namely holding it in one’s pocket or clipped to a notebook or pad. My particular example had a loose clip and my small amount of tinkering to take the pen apart did not yield any wisdom on how to tighten it up. It doesn’t affect the use of the clip or the pen at all but I found this minor defect unusual based on all the Lamy pens I have owned. I’m sure if I send it in Lamy they would make good on it.

IN USE:

Lamy has figured out how to fit 4 pens in a barrel the same size as the fountain pen. That’s a good thing as it’s comfortable to hold, incredibly lightweight and a pleasant shape proven over many years. I own a Lamy 2000 fountain pen and besides being heavier I can barely tell the difference. Deploying the writing tip of the pen is a normal pushbutton knock. To get the color you desire is a gravity exercise. Near the tail end of the pen is a 3 color ring.

Colorband1 A portion of the ring is colored in blue, red and green. Holding the pen horizontal and facing the color you want on the section up to towards the ceiling you depress the knock and you get the color facing up. You face the clip up to get black. It works ok most of the time. I am not an engineer and looking at the pen, after taking it apart, I don’t know how to do it better but to me it’s just not smooth. I think I understand what contortion each tip has to perform when you push the knock down but however clever the gravity selector is I wish for something a little smoother. That being noted I would not trade off pen thickness or weight for that smoothness so my expectation are probably unreasonable. It works, it works every time and the right color comes out of the tip so there is a fair amount of good design and technical engineering invested.

tip sticking outCONCLUSION

Thanks to The Pen Company for sending this pen over. Lamy has done a great job creating an affordable but higher end multi pen for those that have the need and enjoy the convenience of four colors in a single body. If your use is utilitarian with a pen body that looks good in a boardroom or with a client you need to impress and maybe you need it tough enough to be thrown around in a purse, pocket or EDC bag. The Lamy is probably a great choice for you.

Do deploy a multi-pen regularly?

Remember: Write something nice……

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