In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about pen collecting, if fountain pens have peaked, and the 2019 DC Pen Show. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) Joe B- Facebook (16:16)

This may seem strange, but here goes – Question: What Constitutes a “Collection?” 1 Pen, 10 pens, 100 Pens? 1 ink, 10 inks, 100 inks? Are there any pens that you would consider as “must-have” or the collection is incomplete? Am I over thinking this? LOL

  • really good question actually, and it could be answered a lot of different ways
  • “a group of interesting or beautiful objects brought together in order to show or study them or as a hobby”- Merriam-Webster
  • WikiPedia has some interesting stuff on collecting, especially around the psychology, I’ll share and comment on that here
  • Coming off the DC show I can see a lot of this play out
  • “The hobby of collecting often goes hand-in-hand with an interest in the objects collected and what they represent. For this reason, collecting can have educational benefits, and some collectors even become experts in their field.”- I would probably fall into this category, if I may be so bold
  • “Maintaining a collection can be a relaxing activity that counteracts the stress of life, while providing a purposeful pursuit which prevents boredom. The hobby can lead to social connections between people with similar interests and the development of new friendships. It has also been shown to be particularly common among academics.”- I see this play out a lot especially with fountain pen people, who engage in a lot of very mental activity in their jobs (IT, academics, science, medicine, research, etc) and continue in this mental activity in the pen hobby
  • “Collecting for most people is a choice, but for some it can be a compulsion, sharing characteristics with obsessive hoarding.” – it talks about OCD here, I can’t comment on that really but it’s very possible there could be a compulsive aspect to pen collecting
  • “It has been speculated that the widespread appeal of collecting is connected to the hunting and gathering that was once necessary for human survival. Collecting is also associated with memory by association and the need for the human brain to catalogue and organize information and give meaning to ones actions.”- interesting speculation, that in an age where we aren’t really hunting or gathering, we could be playing out this instinct in our hobbies?
  • okay, backing away from the psychology of it a bit, I would say basically that if you’re buying pens intentionally beyond simply meeting a utilitarian need, even one pen could be considered a collection, it’s about the intent
  • I could also make a strong argument that it’s a group, so at least two things, and they should be similar (brand, color, feature, etc with intentionality)
  • I could argue that fountain pens in an of themselves are unique and similar enough to be considered a collection by their own nature (in modern culture)
  • “must haves” becomes unbelievably subjective, and based on the nature of the collection (or even sub-collection)
  • I think to have “must haves” you have to go a little deeper, like pens by country, filling mechanism, brand, model, etc
  • Really, I think fountain pens themselves are too broad of a category to have must-haves that everyone could agree on, but if we went narrower I could definitely come up with some
  • this would actually be great for content-creation: x# must have fountain pens for newbies, lefties, veteran pen users, artists, etc…I’ll think on this more!
  • I personally consider myself more an acquirer than a collector, since my methodology is much more scattered and based on personal preference and not a systematic approach
  • it’ll be different for everyone, do what makes you happy!

2) Carmen C- Facebook (31:13)

Do you prefer form or function when selecting a fountain pen? Or what balance between form and function do you prefer, or is it different with each pen?

  • for me personally, it’s completely different for each pen
  • I’m generally speaking a function over form person, the pen has to hit some basic functional use for me if I’m going to write with it
  • there are plenty of pens that I’ll get more for art, design, color, to support the artisans who make them
  • this is coming from a guy who largely wears cargo shorts and carries a backpack (with many pockets) because I want to be able to hold all the stuff I might need and don’t really care what people think about how I look
  • if my pens make me happy and meet my needs, I’ll go for them

Ink

3) Christine K- Facebook (34:17)

Have you ever looked at an ink color and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could paint my car with that?”

4) rubendhaenens- Instagram (38:53)

What is a good blue-black that’s waterproof and COMES IN CARTRIDGES? (No syringe refill)

  • Your options are….limited
  • Platinum Blue Black (this is basically your only option, and will only fit Platinum pens)
  • Platinum Pigmented Blue, not quite Blue Black but waterproof
  • Namiki Blue, pretty much same as Platinum, it’s more royal blue and proprietary to Pilot/Namiki pens
  • That’s all we carry
  • I think Montblanc Midnight Blue is waterproof…?
  • This is all I know though, someone share if there’s others
  • I don’t know if it’s the nature of cartridges or the companies that make them why the options are so limited, but basically, bottles will be the way to go if you really want options

Business

5) Vincent A- Facebook (41:13)

Do you think fountain pens are now reaching saturation or going to keep expanding into the future?

  • pun!
  • fountain pens peaked in the 50’s probably, and it’s a fraction now of what it was then, so it’s all relative
  • as far as I know they’re growing
  • there’s longer and longer lead times on nib production times, so that tells me the demand is still growing
  • fountain pen shows across the US seem to be growing and getting more exciting
  • our company is still growing, and we’re gaining new customers every day
  • I think some brands are shrinking, some are stale, and others are thriving, but as a whole, they’re still on the rise

6) John G- Facebook (44:31)

Did you see anything at the DC pen show that made you think, “We should carry this” ?

  • the DC show for me serves a few different purposes these days
  • family time, Rachel’s parents live in the area and we get to see them (and our kids get good grandparent time)
  • customer face-to-face interaction, we get to see people who support us
  • influencer time, meeting up with other people who product content online around pens, shooting/promoting things together, meeting IRL
  • vendor time, building stronger relations with the people in the industry we already do business with
  • prospecting, seeing new creations or brands that I haven’t seen before, building relations with new creators/artisans in the pen world
  • products, the pens, ink, paper, and accessories themselves
  • for me, it’s always people first since everyone travels to be there and it’s magical to be face-to-face instead of just online
  • learning about new products is almost sort of last on my list at shows, and if anything it’s just to buy something and bring it home to get to know it better, get samples, see prototypes and give feedback, etc
  • that said, there are some things I saw there that were of interest, for sure
  • Galen leather, nice people, great products, very cool backstory
  • Girologio Grab N Go
  • Additive Pens, still in startup phase but we’re talking still
  • Saw samples of some things from our existing brands that are still secret but we’ll definitely carry
  • Monteverde DC Supershow Teal, definitely
  • David Oscarson, we’ve been talking but talked intentionally
  • Considering Laban, would love feedback on them
  • there are certainly more I’m thinking about, but these were some of the ones that jumped out at me the most

7) Elizabeth D- Facebook (57:03)

What are the biggest changes/trends you’ve noticed comparing your first DC pen show to the most recent?

  • my first DC show was in 2009, 10 years ago (this was my 11th DC show)
  • I’m in a WAY different place now than I was then, and I know a whole lot more of what’s going on than I did then
  • the single most thing I notice is the youth and energy of the show, there are a lot more young people there than there used to be
  • there’s no age, demographic, traffic, or sales data from the show, but my observation is there’s more vitality there now than there was a while ago
  • there are also more innovators and prospective brands there, creators, people up and coming in the industry
  • DC is still a very vintage-heavy show, but it’s not just that anymore, there’s a lot of newer stuff there

QOTW: Would you consider yourself a fountain pen “collector”? And do you have other things in your life you collect? (01:03:29)

Write On,
Brian Goulet