A LOOK INTO LUXURY FOUNTAIN PENS
Updated: Nov 28, 2021
In the world of collecting luxury items fountain pens have their own well-defined space and this is because writing has always interested the elite of society. From nobles to clergy, from artists to intellectuals, from professionals of all categories to politicians of the twentieth century, everyone has always used a writing instrument to leave their mark on history.
Who does not remember an image immortalizing an historical figure while signing a document of great value with a feather or a fountain pen? The examples are endless from Washington to Napoleon, from Fidel Castro to the Dalai Lama, every treaty, every contract, every document of value has always been signed with a luxurious writing instrument.
Anyhow, just the act to write is luxury it self. In a society where everyone is always in a rush, the time spent dragging the nib with a gentle gesture to releases marvelous colors on a thick paper sheet is priceless.
How much does a fountain pen cost?
As in the world of jewelry or fashion, there are multiple factors that make one pen more expensive than another, but how much can a fountain pen cost? It seems like a trivial question, but the answer is not at all. The entry price for a valuable fountain pen is around a few hundred euros whilst the most expensive fountain pen can get up to hundreds of thousands.
To think that such a small object which operates as a tool for a few euros can cost as much as an apartment… Incredible, isn’t it? It is certainly a very particular dynamic, but not unique in its kind when compared to the world of haute horlogerie for example. It is evident that a series of aspects that determine the causes correspond to such an impressive divergence in price. Without a doubt, the most determining factor of all is, as often happens, the brand.
Luxury fountain pen brands that have dominated the market for decades boast the power to grab the buyer’s attention thanks to their brand redundancy. Owning or giving away products of high end fountain pen brands is a “Status symbol” and, for the same quality, we are willing to pay a much higher price for a glamour brand than for an unknown one. Furthermore, we must consider the fact that, more and more often, the high price goes hand in hand with the uniqueness of the product.
Limited series are increasingly frequent in today’s productions as the uniqueness of the product is considered a very important quality by the collector. We can therefore conclude that a fountain pen will be worth what the buyer believes to be its fair price based on a complex series of intrinsic and non-intrinsic elements, as per any other luxury accessory.
Why are fountain pens so expensive?
In terms of intrinsic costs, to be able to have a perception of what we are really paying, we need to consider a series of aspects concerning technical innovations, materials choices, manual processing time and peculiar characteristics that we will illustrate below. Furthermore, like any product, it must be considered that in order to achieve sustainable profit margins, a series of secondary costs must be added.
Let’s now take a look at the intrinsic aspects that we can evaluate more analytically. So, why are fountain pens expensive? When we choose to buy an high end writing instrument, our attention will probably focus on several pen features. Starting from the most immediate, aesthetics, we must think that a determining factor in the final price of an high-end fountain pen is the time spent by creative designers in the development of innovative or, at least, unique solutions. We should consider that to develop an idea, from the initial sketch to the ready-made product, several months of intense design and development of physical prototypes can pass until the completion of the work.
The technical innovations in the loading mechanisms, rather than in the cap’s closure or in the clip functioning are some of the crucial aspects that makes the difference between a “standard” and a “special” fountain pen. For example, the retractable nib was one of the latest innovations that made it possible to create very expensive pen models based exclusively on this new mechanism that allows you to have a fountain pen without the cap. To create objects with such complex manual processing, it is necessary to have the hands of skilled craftsmen who are able to give added value to the finished product. In our case, these are Italian masters who have created some of the most iconic pens ever made. Their manual contribution is, rightly and undoubtedly, a significant element of the final price of the product.
Continuing further, let’s focus on the materials and their processing. Excluding the obvious additional cost of precious metals and stones or decorative crafts from ancient traditions, the choice of materials is another significant cost based on the processing time that the material itself needs to be manufactured. If we take carbon fiber for example, its cost is higher than any acrylic resin, but that’s not what makes the difference. The crucial point is the complexity of the processing as the resin is a simple malleable, elastic and printable polymer, while the carbon fiber is a rigid, ultra-resistant and extremely complex composite material to be molded into small shapes. This means that the techniques, timing and tools for processing carbon are much more expensive, leading to an increase in the cost of production.
Last but certainly not least, to answer why are fountain pens expensive, let’s mention an element that significantly increases the price of the best high end fountain pen, the nib material. There are gold nibs, titanium nibs and stainless steel nibs. It goes without saying that the price of each varies in relation to the price of the raw material, but this is not the only aspect. Since the nib is the crucial element for the writing experience, the most important fountain pen brands develops and produces their own nibs in house to achieve their own specific experience and attract a niche of customers faithful to that type of writing. This involves a further investment in machinery and specialized personnel who are able to work these gold foils to make the finished product a true jewel of writing.
So why buy a luxury fountain pen?
If you are asking yourself this question it is probable that you are taking your first steps in the world of collecting luxury writing instruments, but it doesn’t mean that you are not familiar with this type of objects. As we all know, the choice is wide and there are several prestigious and expensive fountain pen brands that produces instruments of great quality and incredible craftsmanship.
In the field of luxury instruments, we find models that can be shown off every day with ease and those to be kept under a crystal case to be shown only to the most deserving friends. With good reason, it is assumed that the choice of the instrument includes a series of technical and functional factors that influence the choice of a specific model, but they are not the only factors.
Nowadays, in addition to the demonstration of being a lover of writing instruments per se, we can assume that the choice to use a fountain pen can express several intrinsic meanings. Many people decide to outline their style with a writing instrument that represents their aesthetic taste and their lifestyle. Therefore, a fountain pen can be an accessory that defines a person’s style whether it is classic or contemporary, baroque or minimal, this object will tell who you are in the same way as your clothes and accessories does. It is no coincidence that expensive fountain pens are still today one of the most frequent gift to celebrate the important moments in the life of loved ones or to thank a professional for a service of great value.
Finally, let’s not forget to mention the fact that the most luxurious fountain pens are often produced in numbered series of small quantities which makes them even more precious. Furthermore, nowadays it is increasingly common to see fountain pens beaten by the most important auction houses. Consequently, in the long term, buying a fountain pen could also become a fruitful investment as well as a pleasure to be experienced every day. Moreover, choosing to write can be your take to approach life in a different way, someone does yoga, someone else draw colorful doodles… and doing it with a serious writing instrument makes the experience even more attractive.
Are expensive fountain pens worth it?
If a person asks himself such a question, he may be a wealthy novice who wants to take his first step in the world of writing, a collector who is thinking of entering an higher market segment or someone who is looking for a very special gift from a luxury fountain pen company.
Whether or not you are one of these profiles, there is no doubt that pens of a certain value have superior characteristics to products of a significantly lower price range. Probably the design, the materials, the nibs will be of better quality and the whole experience will be more attractive. Today more than ever, we believe that buying high quality products that last over time is the most sustainable and right choice to make.
If we had to give a good reason to buy an expensive fountain pen it would surely be to do it for personal passion or to gift it to a special person who can appreciate it. Collecting is an inner quest, and a collection is a part of a person life. Considering that creating a collection can take a great span of our life, then, surely, we would recommend to concentrate your research into creating a collection composed solely of your dream pens, so that one day it could be handed down with all the intrinsic value and affection with which it was created.