Liking Pens Part II: Can Pens Be An Investment?

My thoughts for this post are as a follow up to the "Liking Pens" series and are about buying and selling pens as a possible investment.  Or, not necessarily seeing pens as only pens or possessions. 

Crazy thoughts, right?  But, Mike, pens aren't meant to be looked at in this way; they are meant to be enjoyed.... well, tell that to every business you buy pens from.  They make their living by "investing" into stock of pens and selling them for slightly more.  Of course I am not planning on going into business selling pens as I have plenty of great people to buy from: Pen Chalet, JetPens, Goulet Pens, Karas Kustoms, and others, but there are times when there are pens I want that they do not have or my new discoveries take me to the more rare or difficult to find models.

I'm going to again discuss rOtring as it is an area that I am familiar with and I guess I am sort of the go-to rOtring guy in the blog world due to my obsessions.  Hands down vintage rOtring pens are expensive, almost obscenely so in some instances, but supply, demand, and capitalism all play a part in this world we live in.  Scarcity breeds high demand and high demand generally breeds higher prices.  Economics in a nutshell.

I have amassed a small army of rOtring pens that on paper, from a financial standpoint, seems absolutely insane.  Even I think it is crazy sometimes!  With the going rate of vintage rOtring fountain pens around $200, when the numbers in your collection start climbing to the 7, 8, or 9 range you can start doing the math.  I'm sure people that were able to buy rOtring pens while they were being sold at your local office supply store cringe at the thought of how much these go for now.  

The truth is, I have yet to pay "full price" for a vintage rOtring fountain pen according to the going rate.  My obsession, I suppose, has bred an aspect of "the hunt" for the next great find.  I am scouring eBay nearly every day (not all day, but for a few minutes) looking through to find which one I might be able to acquire for a great deal.  In turn, if I choose, I can sell these pens and make a slight profit which can help fund others.  It is almost like a game.  Several pens in my collection I've acquired for less than $100 each in near mint or oven NOS condition.

The real problem lies in then being able to part with them.  This battle I discussed in Part I of the series, but is a real challenge when you start rationalizing in your mind that you really do need one of every nib size in both the silver and black 600 versions... really, you don't.

I haven't sold too many of my rOtring collection when looking at the lot as a whole, but have parted with nearly 10 over the last year all of which were for slightly higher than what I paid.  I'm not the type to take advantage of people in the least so each pen I've sold has been for less than the "market value" for sure.  Those that have bought have gotten what I would still consider a great deal.

One of the benefits of doing this if able is the fact that I get to enjoy these pens yet, if I want/need to sell one or some I am unlikely to lose any money doing so and in most cases may pocket a few dollars to put towards the next.  Do I see my rOtring collection as a long-term, never part with type of thing?  For some of the pens, yes, I'll keep them forever if possible, but others are there to enjoy and may just be here for part of my journey.

I have this same ideology with my current fascination for the vintage Japanese Pilot pens like they Murex, Myu, M90, Custom, and Elites from the 1970's (except the M90 from 2008).  I am simply consumed by them right now which means I am always on the hunt.  I'll admit, I have bought a lot of these pens recently since the bug hit, but all have been within a price range where I could part with them for either a slight profit or at least the break even point if necessary. 

To raise funds for the new acquisitions, I've recently sold some of my other pens to make room for these ones.  A very fluid system that could leave some people going nuts, kind of like buying stocks I suppose.  It seems to work and is actually pretty fun.  It keeps things fresh.

Similar to the other post, I'm not entirely certain if there is a point or moral to the post, but is another peek into the mind of a pen fanatic and how I approach most of my pen purchasing decisions overall.  My pen journey is a bit more free spirited than many people I suppose as I buy and try new pens simply for the sake of learning what I like, what works the best, and ultimately what will likely stick.  Although it seems completely on the non-conservative side of the spectrum, it makes a bit more sense when seen through the lens of something temporary or as an investment.  Buy, try, see what sticks, potentially part with what you think won't.

Just don't let the collector bug grab hold too strongly...