Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The more money, the better it is, right?

This is a topic that can really generate some discussion whether casual or heated. The question is basically whether a pen, ink or even paper is better because it is more expensive than the others? My answer is no, not really but it depends. Allow me to elaborate.

Functionally, a pen will write at any price range, but the writing experience is what can be debateable. A Jinhao x750 can be purchased between $5 - $10 dollars, depending on where it is purchased from. The nib is a medium #6 size and usually a rather wet medium. The pen comes with a standard international cartridge converter and is a great all around pen. Is it less of a pen when compared to a Visconti Van Gogh or Rembrandt? The Visconti Van Gogh and Rembrandt are both steel nib based pens, but come in more sizes than medium, are cartridge converter based and write well. A Rembrandt has a MSRP of $165 and the Van Gogh is $289. These 2 Visconti pens are made with lacquer and resin and mimic Rembrandt’s brush stroke technique or one of Van Gogh’s paintings. Other than the material the pen is made of, in this case, same pen.

I have a Visconti Homo Sapiens Steel Age pen and I love it. I also feel it was worth the cost. It is a piston filling pen but the pen is constructed of a basaltic lava resin from Mt. Etna in Italy and the nib is 23kt Palladium. The writing experience is much more elevated with this pen. I love the heft, the springy nib and the feel of the material. In this case, the price justifies the material it is made of. I do have piston filling pens by Twsbi and Noodler’s and they function very well but the Visconti HS has the notable differences that drive the price.
I have a Franklin Christoph 19 pen which is a cartridge/converter style pen and has a steel nib. It is made of acrylic and resin and I paid $245 for it. Is it better than the Jinhao for a fraction of the cost? To me, yes. The difference here is the nib. Yes, it is steel but it is a custom ground medium cursive italic by Mike Masuyama. The writing experience is elevated by that for me.

Let’s look at ink. Caran D’Ache is roughly $41 per bottle. Bungubox is right around the same cost. Hieronymous is $51 a bottle. Seriously? Why? Private Reserve is $11, Noodler’s is $12.50, Organics Studio is $13, KWZ is $12, Diamine is around $14. The cheaper inks have greater varieties of colors, properties and flow compared to their expensive counterparts and are usually equal in saturation if not more so, depending on the particular ink. Why in the world would I pay so much for an ink? I understand Bungubox is a Japanese import but so is Sailor. Pilot Iroshizuku bottles are as well and are retailed around $35 but can be ordered through Amazon for $20. In my opinion, the same quality but cheaper ink. Is a $41 bottle of ink that much better? I have had samples and I don’t see a reason for it.

I recently went to Ikea and purchased some more notebooks. I did a review of one of them here on the blog and I love it. I bought more of that model as well as 2 others. The paper weight is the exact same as Rhodia paper but it does not have the ceramic coating that makes it so smooth. Ok, that’s fine. The Ikea books are $3 compared to the Rhodia ones which are a bit more. The Ikea books don’t feather, bleed or spread under normal use, a 1.5mm or 1.9mm stub is a bit different though but how often do you use those larger nib widths?

Is price ultimately the decider here? For some, yes but I am trying to get people to realize that is not always the case. There are always exceptions, as I mentioned above and it is always going to rely upon personal experience and opinion. All I ask is you be mindful of the price and know what you are truly getting for that price. Is it worth it to you? Do you feel comfortable paying the elevated cost like in the case of the Jinhao vs the Visconti Rembrandt or Van Gogh? No need to pay unnecessarily and like I said earlier, this is mainly my opinion here. I’m just trying to be the voice of reason in some manner.

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