Not Breaking the Bank

We do like to joke about how much money this pen obsession/interest/hobby costs us and, I can’t pretend otherwise, it has cost me a small fortune. It’s easy to lose perspective: you begin by sweating over spending £18 on a Kaweco Classic Sport (I mean, £18 on a pen) and before you know it you’re spending that on a bottle of ink and seriously trying to convince yourself that it’s perfectly okay to spend £350 on a Pelikan Streseman. (It’s way beyond my means but oh boy do I wish it wasn’t.)

This inflationary desire can end up driving people away, though. I know that some of the pens I review on here are beyond what many people can afford, just as many of the pens I read about on sites that I love, written by people that I admire, are way beyond what I can afford.

What got me absolutely hooked was listening to Brad talk to Myke on the Pen Addict podcast about the OHTO Graphic Liner. I bought one, for £1.50, and a whole new world opened up to me.

There is much delight to be had in finding and using a pen as good as the Graphic Liner. Then there’s Rhodia, who make some of the finest paper around and it is not expensive. Pilot gel pens are wonderful and very reasonably priced. Although not trivial purchases, Lamy, Kaweco, Faber-Castell and Pilot all make great fountain pens at prices within reach of most.

There is a whole world of writing goodness out there that everyone can enjoy without breaking the bank.

Now, maybe the kids can do without a holiday this year, and I can get that Streseman. . .


  1. Well stated. I’ve pens at many price points, but those that perform beautifully and don’t cost a fortune are always a delight. That doesn’t keep me from buying expensive pens, but it certainly keeps things in perspective.

  2. Very thoughtful post. I too learned of the Ohto Graphic Liner from the Pen Addict. I like the 01 better than the 02 that Brad favors. I just gave th 005 to a coworker who liked it (too scratchy for me). And I just bought some Uni signo gel pens in 0.38 and 0.28. They are great. I agree that inexpensive fountain pens can be fun and enjoyable. I like Pilot Metropolitan, Ohto F-Spirit, Platinum Preppy medium and fine with eye dropper conversion, Pilot 78g in all sizes up to BB and Pilot Penmanship–all smoother than Lamy nibs (though my Al-Stars and my Studio look great and are fun and durable). I have lately been enjoying Field Notes, though the paper is not as nice as some other notebooks.

    Please keep blogging. I am enjoying reading you work!

  3. Very good post. I agree with you that there are lots of reasonably priced pens in the market, which will last a lifetime if they are looked after properly. When you think of the fact that you are buying something that will potentially last you many years, and which will be a constant pleasure to use, I think that it becomes easier to justify the purchase (if you have the money). There is sometimes also a degree of flawed economic-thinking going on with some people, who assert that they would never “waste” £18 on Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen, but are quite happy to buy endless rounds of drinks in the pub, or to smoke a packet a day. When looked at over a lifetime, pens are great value.

  4. Thank you very much for this funny post. In 10 or 20 years from now on there will be more and more people into fountain pens and there will be more and new excuses to buy one new with different design, different nib, different colour. Sky is the limit.

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