Liking Pens Part I: Hobby or Obsession?

At some point in the life of a pen fanatic they may have to ask themselves: "Have I taken this too far?"  or "Is this healthy?"  I suppose this depends on what level of "addict" you are (or are in denial about), but could be a real issue.

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: I really, really like pens.  A lot.

Some people like cars, knives, baseball cards, watches, sports teams (or some combination of all), but pens are my deal.  I know I am completely stating the obvious by saying this, but sometimes figuring where you're at is important from time to time.  

Being a pen blogger I find myself spending a lot of time looking at pens, buying pens, trying new pens, listening to podcasts about pens and, in general, just thinking about pens.  From a "normal" outsider perspective, I'm sure I am completely insane or at least it would appear so.

My enjoyment around pens is difficult to pin down or to find the "why".  One thing I do know is that I enjoy the experience of writing, seeing my handwriting on paper, enjoying the design and feel of the pen that someone has created, and even seeing the ink dry (in fountain pens mainly) as it transitions from its wet color to its dry color.  Did you ever think you'd hear someone say they enjoy the sight of ink drying?  For goodness sakes, I am crazy...  

A trend I seem to see with myself is that when I find a brand or type of pen that really fascinates me I tend to become a bit obsessed.  I research their history, look up all of the different models, read what others have to say about them, look at photos, and often end up buying several models to try.  "But, Mike," you may say, "that doesn't seem so bad."  As it is all in education, right?  Hopefully!

The problem that has progressed over time with this is that I end up with a lot of pens I've bought and then I end up parting with some although usually not at the rate of purchase... this means I have a lot of pens.

In some recent correspondence with Thomas Hall of the new blog Penucopia (which he could have rightly named, "come here if you want me to help you spend your money..."), I talked about this journey I've been on.  I didn't go too deep into feelings and such, but talked about how at some point pens become somewhat of a commodity.  There isn't really the hunt for which pen is going to be the right one or a selection between 5 similar models.  Its a bit more free spirited than that.  What usually ends up happening is I will eventually buy one of each (which I try to find for good deals as to have a decent resale value if needed), try them all out, and see what ultimately sticks.

The problem with this philosophy is whether I really get the time to spend with pens to tell whether I am giving it a fair shot for the long haul.  One thing I do know is that I seem to like what I like and if I don't find myself reaching for a pen often then there is a good chance it won't be with me into retirement.

Lets take rOtring for example; I love rOtring pens, particularly the knurled 600 series.  In the recent past I bet we could even credit some fluctuations in the vintage rOtring pricing market due to this obsession.  (sorry everyone!)  Do I use rOtring pens everyday?  Nope.  There have even been months that have gone by without having a rOtring inked up.  Does this mean I am ready to jump ship on my rOtring collection?  Not entirely, but it does make me think about whether I need ALL of them.  This is a very utilitarian vs collector/hoarder battle that ultimately is waged inside our minds...  I'm finding that I would be willing to part with pens like my Newton rollerball, some 600 pens I don't think will get much use, or even my Lava collection simply to clean up house so-to-speak.  But, the vintage rOtring pens are still as fascinating to me as they were when I was itching to get my hands on my first although I'm at a point where the attachment to some models isn't quite there.  Ultimately, the brand is here to stay, but I may thin out the herd eventually.

My current obsession is the vintage steel Japanese pens produced by Pilot in the 1970's and into the very early 80's.  I literally can't get enough of these things not necessarily in quantity, although I am on a rOtring-esque path towards figuring them out.  I am fascinated by them just as I was with rOtring which means there will be a lot of posts about them in the coming future I'd imagine.

So, back to the original question: liking pens: hobby or obsession?  I guess this is a very personal thing.  Is the interest an inside, privately held one or is there a dedicated china cabinet in the living room displaying all of our pen boxes and paraphernalia? 

Honestly, I'm not really certain what this post is entirely about.  I'm not certain there is an underlying moral that I am trying to get across, but more so to maybe get a glimpse inside the head of a pen fanatic.

I would like to open this up for discussion and get thoughts if people are willing to share.  How do you see yourself? 

(pics taken from my Instagram feed of some "collections")