There are a wide variety of options when it comes to fountain pens. The economical sign of the industry focuses often on making user-friendly, cost-effective options that appeal to a wide array of novices and those curious about the writing utensil itself. Then there are the more serious pens. Those on the luxury side of the business. These, of course, have always had a place at Inkstable.
The division between a luxury fountain pen and a more economical option can seem like a wide gap, but it’s an important distinction that comes for those who really see the value (both in terms of cost and artistry) in collecting a writing instrument of distinction. But what is it, exactly, that makes a luxury pen, well…luxurious? Here are 5 signs to look at when considering the value of a pen.
While many pens across all markets and marketplaces use a factory to produce their nibs in high volume, a luxury fountain pen usually eschews this process for a more bespoke process. A nib from a luxury pen is one of the many items you’re paying for that makes these pens stand out. For example, we recently wrote about Montblanc’s nib process which shows the considered design and details that go into each nib, with a human touch to account for manufacturing variations that may arise.
Often, these nibs come in a higher-end metal that intrigues users as well, such as gold, and with additional detailing on the nib itself that shows the handiwork and craft every time you pick up the pen.
Speaking of materials, a luxury pen will generally be a bit more adventurous when it comes to decorating the pen. Whether its urushi, to the multimedia applications of the Bijo-To-Yaju (including woodblock and kintsugi) or the mainstay metal of an Otto Hutt, metal can play an important factor in elevating the writing experience with a luxury pen.
This makes sense, when considering that the luxury pen market employs a variety of artisans to produce pens that are unlike anything else in the market. Acrylic pens are beautiful, as are resins, but to understand the point of reference and inspiration of a luxury pen, one needs to experience the tactile materiality of the artisanal work as well.
Feel of the Pen
Pens have a pretty standard weight and feel to them (excluding, perhaps, most metal pens). It’s easy to move from one Kaweco to the next because there is very little variation in size. But to challenge yourself and expand your writing options, a luxury pen can offer a weighty handfeel that is quite unique – and pleasant – for a writer.
Because of the materials used, as mentioned above, and the decorations of the pen, the luxury market has, on average, heavier pens. They’re “more solid” and you’re buying the presence of the pen in-hand, as well as the decoration of the pen itself.
Decorations play an incredible role in the luxury pen market. The real estate of a pen is quite small, but somehow brands continue to add a finite amount of detail that takes on the challenge of making a pen elegant and full of symbolism without being garish. Take, for example, Montblanc’s Patron of the Arts or Writers’ Editions – the ability to really dive into the subject matter of the pen and produce such a high quality product, all while sourcing materials that resonate with the subject’s life is a feat in and of itself. Because of the time and research necessary to produce this level of detailing, it simply can’t be mimicked in a lower price point pen.
While not a hard and fast rule, it is something that is more commonplace than not. Luxury pens tend to forgo the traditional cartridge/converter for a more robust mechanism for filling the pen. Brands such as Montegrappa use a proprietary piston method, while others may go for a vacuum-style mechanism. This, again, goes back to the robust thoughtfulness that goes into pen design beyond economical manufacturing principles and looks to the holistic experience when writing – and using – a pen.