Friday, November 28, 2008

Those Expensive Pens... Who is Buying Them?

Today's post introduces Glenn Marcus as guest blogger on the subject of fine writing instruments.

Glenn is an avid user of fountain pens, and enjoys the connection a fountain pen owner has with his or her pen, the selection of ink and quality of paper that maximize the writing experience. Visiting pen companies and pen stores, his web site is a directory and review of great pen stores, pens and ink. He enjoys correspondence with other pen users around the world.

As I read the current issue of Stylus pen magazine I notice advertisement after advertisement with a profile for a high-end, very expensive pen.

At my office, I hear the gasp when I tell someone that one of my pens is $500 or $600 or $900. I also hear a little voice going off in my head when I say these big numbers in terms of what I paid for a pen. So when I see advertisements for pens in the couple to many of thousands of dollar range, well it begs the question: who is buying these pens?

The pens range from classics, such as the Laban Diamond Storm — a black pen with 216 diamonds studding the body and cap, for a cool $3,000 - to the Harivamsa Victory pen at $14,000.

I have talked to a few pen store owners about the sales of the very high end pens. I am told that some models seem to fly out the door. Usually it is a specific customer wanting a specific pen. Other times orders are received by fax or e-mail. The pen is packaged and sent, but little heard back.

I am curious as to who buys the pens. I am told it is typically surgeons, lawyers and executives. For the stores, it includes repeat customers as well as the one-time purchase.

Do individuals who buy the very expensive pens actually use them? Or are the pens going to be found on an Ebay listing with the notation: "never inked" or "in original box with papers?" I would hope the pen is going to be one of those writing instruments that you can see have been used; used with the care expected of a fine writing instrument, but nevertheless, used and enjoyed.

So I asked questions like: How many come back for repair? Do you get specific requests when the order is received?

It seems that very few come back for repair. If repairs are needed, it may be a case where the owners send the pens back directly to the manufacturer.

Yes there are special requests. Generally, pens sent to customers in Asia tend to be requested with fine nibs... a hint that the pen may be used, or a reflection of consideration for resale. Europeans are more included to order pens with fine and medium nibs. Pens with broad nibs tend to go more to North American customers.

So if you use one of these limited-edition, high-end pens I would be interested in hearing from you: is the pen actually used? Is it retained for a future use? Send me an email. I would be interested in hearing from you.

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