Pen Ownership

2020 was my fourth full year truly invested in the pen world. I bought 3 pens in 2016 — over the entire year — but I wasn’t a “pen person” yet. So, what’s changed in four years? What’s stayed the same? And what have I learned?

I want to start with that last one. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to buy pens that I’m happy to own, not just pens I’m happy to buy. Pens that I’m happy to buy don’t stick around very long.

In an unexpected, and unpleasant, way, 2020 really helped me get a good handle on this new philosophy. Less money coming in means less money for pens. So I really had to question every purchase — especially pens.

And it made a huge difference. I acquired 40% less pens this year than last year, and even 10% less than 2018. In many cases, I sold other pens to fund purchases. And, to be fair to myself, several pens were gifts or trades.

What do the Numbers Say?

What 2020 really meant was less impulse purchases, and, therefore, less regrets. I’ve only sold 5.41% of this year’s acquisitions in comparison to 43.6%, 61%, and 87.5% of 2019, 2018, and 2017 respectively. While the transition away from “starter pens” and the amount of time since purchase skews the numbers, that’s still a major difference.

The numbers for pens purchased and sold within the same year don’t quite tell the whole story, though. I wasn’t invested in culling my collection in 2017. 2019 was the “buy all the things!” year — cue shameful music — and I sold even less pens total than in 2018. But, for comparison, in 2018 I sold 21.95% of pens purchased that year, 6.45% in 2019, and only 5.41% this year (although I have one more that I will be selling).

Of the two pens I’ve sold (and one for sale) from 2020’s acquisitions, I only regret one — and that regret is minor. I bought the Retro 51 Cherry Blossom fountain pen because I thought I should get it — you know, with it potentially being the last Cherry Blossom pen — not because I really wanted it. The other two, I really thought I’d love. But the materials weren’t as great in person. Or, I guess I should say they didn’t make me as happy as I honestly thought they would.

I’ve sold more pens this year than previous years, both in an effort to get rid of pens that weren’t making me happy, and to make space for new pens. I’ve sold 15 pens this year, compared to 11 last year, and another 8 (this year) are on the chopping block.

Hopes for the Future

I want to get to a point where every pen in my collection excites me. I want it to be hard to put away my pens each week to ink up new ones. I’m getting closer, but there’s still a ways to go.

Here’s to hoping this new “thoughtful” purchasing will continue, even once finances are back to normal.

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