5 Reasons Why We Collect the Same Pens… over and over

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert Pens

I did an epic pen cleaning a couple weeks ago. While pen cleaning can be cathartic its also a time consuming ritual. As I cleaned an embarrassing number of pens that were inked, dried out or in some state in between, I started noticing my tendency to have multiples of the same pen.

Kaweco Sport Fountain Pens
How many pens of the same model before you start looking like a dealer? This is most of my Kaweco Sport/AL-Sport collection. And, like the true addict I am, I want more.

I asked fellow Desk-ers if they find themselves in the same situation. Jesi immediately showed me her full rainbow of TWSBI ECO pens and an assortment of Kaweco Sport and AL-Sport pens. Jaclyn also has what could only be described as a set of TWSBI ECOs and a good array of Sailor Pro Gears and Platinum 3776s. Laura is probably the most controlled in her “collecting” but even she has several of the same make and model though in different colors or finishes. Tina is most likely to own every budget fude fountain pen she can acquire. And I am embarrassed to admit how many of the pens in my collection are “more of the same” in a different color or finish. All of us have at least two Retro51s — the gateway drug for pen theme collecting. Bob has at least a half a dozen Retro51s with a space or plane design and he will tell you “I am not a pen collector.” Oh, really?

Baron Fig Pens
Collecting the same pen ins’t reserved for just fountain pens. This is my collection of Baron Fig Squire (and retractable Squire) pens. I am pretty sure I have a couple others but they must be in a pen case or jar somewhere.

If you’ve been collecting pens for any length of time, you have likely discovered a similar habit of pen collecting — in yourself or others.

As I was cleaning my vast array of pens, I started to think about what possesses us, as pen collectors, to buy the same pen in a different color? The first hurdle is buying those initial few pens and discovering a shape, size or finish that you like.

Here are my theories:

  • Nib variation: Once we as pen collectors find a barrel style we enjoy, we want to try multiple nib options with this barrel design. Even for pens like a Retro51, each version could contain a different refill — one with rollerball ink in black, one in blue, one with a ballpoint refill, etc. For inexpensive pens like Lamy Safari or TWSBI ECOs, the opportunity to have an array of colored barrels AND a full range of nib sizes is very appealing. I couldn’t be a rational human and decide to try various nib options with pens under $100. Nope. I fell in love with the nibs on Sailor Pro Gear Slim pens. I have a custom ground needlepoint fine (the Purple Cosmos on the far right in the photo below), a F in the multi-pink model (the actual name escapes me at the moment), a MF in the Graphite Lighthouse,  and a Music nib in the Pink Love (the glittery pink). I love each of the pens and their nibs for their own unique qualities.

Sailor Pro Gear Slim Fountain Pens

  • Matching ink to pen: If you collect a lot of ink, the tendency to match your ink to your pen body may become a deciding factor in your pen purchasing. Love teal ink? Then you might need a teal pen to use with those inks. I specifically use pink ink in the Sailor Pink Love pictured above and have both purchased ink to match the pen and matched ink in my stash to this pen. I also tend to use purple ink in my Purple Cosmos (also pictured above). I don’t have a lot of purple ink but the needlepoint fine nib works well with the dark purple inks I have collected.
  • Loss or damage: When we have found a pen model we love, the fear that we might misplace it or break it can often be all the motivation we need to purchase a “back-up”. Or two. I had acquired a Caran d’Ache 849 in hot pink which, to my surprise, became my “work pen”. With its ability to take a standard cartridge (and a back-up in the barrel) and a snap cap, it was the perfect pen to have at my desk to jot quick notes. I filled it with an array of random cartridges that made it easy to swap in new ink as needed without making a big production of changing out ink in cubicle-land. Then, after years of faithful service, the grip section cracked! I was able to work with the US Caran d’Ache distributor to acquire a new grip section but it would take a week or two to receive it. What do I do in the meantime? I bought a lime green model. And this is how it starts…

Caran d'Ache 849

  • FOMO: Like every other hobby, the scarcity factor lends itself to the desire to “grab that color before it’s gone!” and pen companies know this about us. From the  Lamy Safari and Pelikan M100 Color of the Year trends to the “prototype trays” often put out at pens shows to entice buyers. Do these pens perform differently from any other color model offered by the company? No. Is the color currently on offer our favorite-est color ever? Maybe. And so, we purchase another pen in a different color.

Lamy Safari and AL-Star

  • Pokemon: This is the “gotta catch ’em all!” phenomena. This is related to FOMO but is the more advanced collecting urge. Once you have the better part of a rainbow of a particular pen, well, you can’t just stop, can you? My best example of the Pokemon phenomena in my pen collection was when I discovered the Lady Sheaffer Skripserts. Once I found these vintage gems with the carved patterns in the bodies and the little upturned nibs, I knew I couldn’t stop at just one. Or ten.

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert Pens

Opus 88 Fantasia

What really got me thinking about this urge to collect the same pen in different colors came as I was cleaning my Opus 88 Fantasia in green and orange (I forget the official name for it but its the one in the photo above on the far right). I LOVE this pen. It holds a bucket of ink with the unique Opus 88 eyedropper filling system and I’ve been able to fit a custom ground Franklin-Christoph nib into the pen as well which makes it a joy to write with. I knew that Opus 88 had discontinued this petite model in favor of creating ever larger pens. As I was cleaning, I was overwhelmed with the urge to track down some of the other colors of this beloved pen before I could no longer find them. There were five colors originally and, of those, only four that I really want to own. So, I searched the internet until I was able to obtain two more of this candy-colored miniature pens. I am still seeking the last of the four I want, the black model. I have faith that it will find it’s way to me eventually but until then, I am happy to have a couple more to keep my original Fantasia company.

What pen do you collect over and over? What makes you want another one? Do you have different reasons for collecting multiples than I have listed above?


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26 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hello Ana,
    I do collect the following pens:

    Lamy Safari Fountain Pen & Pen
    Parker Jotter Fountain Pen & Pen
    Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen & Pen
    Kaweco Sport & Brass Fountain Pen
    Pilot Fountain Pens

    1. Buongiorno. Are you collecting the skinny Century with unpainted ends? If yes, then I may have one for you. Dark blue with logo of British Airways. Interested? Email is lightspiritphotography@gmail.com. Why do I part with it? I find it too thin for my hand to hold comfortably. I prefer my Parker Frontier and Cross Solo or Radiance pens. Rest assured, the Century is in very good condition and writes well.

  2. I have an exhaustive yet beautiful set of TWSBIs, in all its various color machinations; an embarrassingly large set of Montblanc Writers Edition beauties, and enough beautiful and exotic Viscontis to pay off a car… it is definitely an addiction… my eye catches that which is innovative, beautiful, unique or sentimental… a MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION…*

  3. I collect mostly vintage Esterbrook pens, all the various models. With various nib numbers. Each Esterbrook has a slight variant in the same colors
    For me each pen whether it’s the same each has its own personality.

  4. Question regarding the Opus 88 Fantasia – will a #5 Franklin-Christoph nib fit ?
    Those pens are beautiful- now I’m feeling the urge to track one down!
    Thank you!

  5. I feel the same about the Opus 88 Fantasias. I just got the black one a couple of days ago from Cult Pens in the UK and now I have all 5. They are my go-to travel pens with a different color waterproof ink in each one for drawing and writing in my travel journals.

  6. Parker Flighter Deluxe models. No 51 yet which is sad 🙁 Sheaffer Targa 1001 with gold trim and 14K nibs. Pelikan Signum models. Often brushed steel models of various other pen brands such as Pilot (Yes a Myu) and Pelikan… And a bunch of mechanical pencils, often bycatch.

    Usually the pens I buy are within that collection focus but sometimes I just see a nice pen and add it. Often I use them for a while just to get to know them. Some of them become regulars.

  7. I immediately recognized some of your Lady Sheaffer Skripserts. When I added one to my pen collection, the article on your blog was very helpful. I was also lucky enough to show it to you at an Arkansas Show a few years ago and you gave me some excellent advice.

    The pen I keep buying are Parker 45s. One of my first pens when I started collecting vintage pens. The fact that they were the longest running model Parker ever made (+45 years) means there are sooo many colors and variations. I’m at 82 today but that’ll probably change by next week-I’m currently negotiating will a guy in the Philippines for 4 more.

    Always fun reading your articles and running into you at shows. Stay safe Ana.

  8. I collect Kaweco Sport FPs, only in plastic, because they are pretty, I match pen and ink colours, I find them comfortable, they write well and they are available with BB and stub nibs.
    I also have a number of other pens that I bought in different colours or finishes, mainly because I found them second hand at a fair price: Parker 75, Sheaffer Legacy, Targa and Imperial, Cross Bailey, Waterman Carène, Perspective and Hemisphere. (The Perspective is the most underrated pen ever!!). As someone said in a previous comment, the same pen in a different couple colour (or nib) has a different personality.

    1. What colors are you still seeking of the Carene? I have a beautiful matte purple and a blue gloss I will consider selling.

    1. YESSSS!!! ^^^ THIS! ^^^

      No Nonsense bit me in as a High School student. I still have my first one somewhere in the clutter of my studio. And I have bought several more since high school. I found the newer “versions” of it to be wanting, so I hunted down the vintage 1980s models online. I’m glad I did–they’re sturdy, flow amazingly well, and the modern converters fit them well.

  9. I am more “collect the nibs” than the pens.
    My first “proper” pen after a couple of decades with nothing better than a Retro 51 (they never lasted long?!) was a Lamy CP1, and once I discovered the modularity of the nibs I quickly acquired a full set of standard and italic steel nibs (with one matching back-up, distinguished initially by a blob of nail-polish, but now by it’s visible history of dings and blemishes!) pen to allow two different ink colors and nib styles on the go at one time). However, since I upgraded both to Broad Gold nibs, I rarely revert to the steel.
    Same happened recently with the Kaweco Sport. I was given a calligraphy set with four nibs, including a 2.3 . I was impressed by the portability and design history, but the black body was a bit dull for me, so I bought first a Fox Red (Burned Orange? Not sure the official designation but it’s a great color), followed by a Brass, which I love so much I splurged on a Gold nib and a pen case which I attached to a key chain for security, and then, purely driven by color, I succumbed to the new Dark Olive (I have hybridized do Fox body with Olive grip section and vice versa ). This gives me, somehow, EF, F, M and BB nibs in addition to the calligraphy set, all of which are easy to swap around!
    Other than that I confess to generally having between 18 and 24 pens inked up, but that’s because I like to have a good range of ink colors and nib sizes available, including Fude and Flex.
    But I’m not looking to buy more now! It was a very rewarding five-year spree but I now feel very content with the options I have available. The Lamy CP1 was for my birthday in 2016 and for my 2021 birthday I have already bought my “final pen” – because I really did need an Ambition in Flamingo Pink as the cherry on top!

  10. I have just about every Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen color available. I think there are a couple of older styles I can’t find, or maybe they only existed in the muggle pen variety. I also have all of the TWSBI Eco and Eco T editions. And don’t get me started about PenBBS!

  11. OMG. You really got me in this oh-so-true portrayal of my pen collecting style. Guilty on all counts. I have Pelikan M200 Demonstrators in many colors; I love all colored demonstrators. I have a bunch of Kaweco AL Sports; I love the hefty metal weight of those adorably tiny pens! Can’t forget my collection of Sailor Minis – those are terribly addictive. My collection leans heavily on minis and rich colors. This was a great article – you made me stop and think about how I got to where I am now. An expensive but super fun journey. No regrets!

  12. I’ll ‘fess up!

    Lamy AL-Star:
    There’s just something about the satin aluminum finish in COLOR that grabs me. EF nibs alll the way.

    TWSBI Eco and Diamond 580:
    My workhorse pens that have smooth EF nibs and hold buckets of ink. I reach for them when I have long writing sessions to get through.

    Platinum Procyon:
    My EDC. Ever and always in EF and ever and always in my pocket. It makes my hand and heart sing.

    Pilot Metropolitan:
    My other EDC, fine nib, inked with Platinum Carbon Black for drawing & signatures.

    The first two models I have at least 11 each. The Special/Limited Edition color bug bit me hard.

    The last two, only one or two … but I could very easily convince myself to buy more. The thing holding me back from buying more is having learned my lesson with the AL-Stars and Ecos: a different color doesn’t change how the nib works. I can be a little more choosy and not so easily fall prey to FOMO.

    But I gotta say it’s HARD not to! LOL!

  13. I love the lady skripserts – when I first got into fountain pens as a kid (maybe 10?) she gave me her old black corduroy. I sprung the nib pretty quickly, but kept it, and eventually replaced the nib and started collecting others. love how it looks, writes, feels in my hand. If you have extras, I’m your gal. I only have four so far.

  14. When you’re obsessed with pens, & your all time favorite pen gets discontinued, there’s no such thing as too many. If I knew that they’d be discontinued AND impossible to find on ebay or anywhere else on the world wide web (trust me, I check at least once a month), I would’ve snagged every 1 left in Texas while I could! Not a fancy pen by any means, but it’s 1 of a kind – the retractable sharpie pen (not the retractable permanent marker, but the pen that came in red, blue, or black in with all black barrels). There are some of the non retractable sharpie pens still for sale, but they don’t feel or write quite the same. Luckily I did stock up somewhat, so i still have a dozen or so…God help anyone who dares to touch or use 1 of them! I’ve begged & pleaded with sharpie to make them again…no such luck though.

  15. Came across your site as I was looking for a review of the Opus 88 Fantasia. If you’re still looking for the other two colours, Cult Pens has all 5 colours available. I’m thinking of getting one myself but can’t decide on the colour!

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