I'm back from my travels and I appreciate the patience as I start back into some new content.
During my travels, I visited a pen store down in Kansas City, MO. It is a very small store but packed to the gills with a wide assortment of pens and ink. This was my second time visiting the store and the first time I was in was a great experience. This time went fine but I experienced the snooty side of the pen community that I have heard so much about.
My grail pen is a Pelikan M600 or higher and this store carried a few. The store was being manned by the owner and overall a very nice gentleman. He was knowledgeable, professional and pleasant.
I had a co-worker with me who has just been bitten by the fountain pen bug and he was looking around at cheaper alternatives, which is completely acceptable. Fountain pens are in fact for the users enjoyment, regardless of price. He ended up getting a Noodler's Ahab and some ink to match the pen.
The price on the Pelikan was rather steep for the M600 and I know that Pelikan's are on the higher scale of what is considered a luxury pen. It was nice and a pleasure to write with, don't get me wrong but I was having a problem trying to justify the price to myself. The pen wrote wonderfully but was not substantial in the hand and was a bit lighter than I like.
I then decided to see if he carried another pen I was interested in and that was a Twsbi Vac 700. He did have them and I asked to see one. He said sure and then mockingly looked at me and said, "you're going to go from a Pelikan to a Twsbi? Seriously?" There it was, the snooty idealism I have heard about. I wrote with the Twsbi and it was smoother that the Pelikan, in my opinion and was much more substantial in my hand at a fraction of the cost. I bought it with some ink along with a Pilot Falcon and more ink. All of those items combined were still considerably less than the Pelikan.
What is my point? Well, brand names and luxury pens are not everything even though some will belittle you into thinking so. I was underwhelmed by the M600 both by size, experience and cost. The Twsbi Vac 700 performs quite well and I love writing with it regardless of it being considered an inferior brand next to Pelikan. Make your own choice! That is my point. Try out the pens, any you like when you have the opportunity. Do not let luxury be the only driver. Pens are there to be used and enjoyed and only you can decide which pen will deliver that for you.
I have never been one to follow a brand just for the brand sake. Montblanc is a great example. I find them to be quite ugly pens and very plain. I realize I am in the minority here but it is my opinion and I choose to use those pens as I don't like them. My choice and that is powerful.
The fountain pen community is amazing and full of wonderful, helpful people. People who are supportive and very friendly. There are exceptions to every rule, of course and in my experience here, are in the minority. Think for yourself and make your choices when finding your pen. It can last a lifetime and can bring you joy.