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Old 05-20-2005, 12:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Anthony, As usual the pen is beautiful. I really admire your workmanship.

Years ago you could go into any Rexall Drug Store and somewhere on the counter was a display of pen nibs. You could hook your thumb nail on the little ball on the end of the nib of the pen in your pocket and pull the nib out. Choose another style, or width of line and slide it in, pay $0.50 or less and walk out the door with your pen and a new nib in it.

Fast forward to today. You now buy a fountain pen kit. You make the pen and find a customer. The customer says, "Gee Wiz, this has a medium point on it and I want a fine point." You hook your thumbnail on the little knob on the point of the pen and pull the nib out. Then you stand there with a dumb look on your face cause you can't slide a fine point nib back in.

You can tell your customer to go to one of the neat web sites that you can find on the net and pay $50-$150 for a nib and then have the person selling you that nib custom fit it to your $50 hand made pen for another $35.

I am sure that you won't sell that pen to the customer when he does a little math that tells him that a $50 pen will cost him as much as $240 plus postage both ways to get it to write a fine line.

Craft Supplies has nib holder/ink feed sections with nibs in them for $4.50. The nib part of that assembly likely is around 20% of the value.

All I want to do is:

If I drop the end of the pen when assembling it, be able to replace the nib.

If I want to sell a fine line instead of a medium line or a broad line nib to be able to change the nib.

A fountain pen nut will pay big bucks for a solid gold or antique nib. Your normal customer that will walk by a pen display won't. But I you could accommodate that customer for a reasonable price you may be able to sell another pen.

Right now my only choice is to pay $4.50 for a nib holder and pull the nib out and toss it. Or to buy a second pen kit pull the nib out of it and toss the rest of the kit in the parts box. Both options are not reasonable for a $1.00 item.
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In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable way of life, and lost it all - security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsablity, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. - Edward Gibbon
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Old 05-20-2005, 12:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Mac, it all comes down to numbers. If I had an extra 15K to order steel nibs in three writing grades, I could sell them to you all day long for .75-1.00 and even make a dime.
But I would end up holding an extra 14,900 nibs I couldn't get rid off. [B)]

I stock all the writing grades CSU has, for the money 4.50 and having the option to buy just one and the ability to just screw out the old and screw in the new, their price is right. I do not charge my client any extra to swap the nib out. In fact, they ussually will take the medium nib that comes with the pen and I sell them an extra nib with a converter so for only 12.00 nib - 5.00 for the converter, 17.00 the have an extra pen!

The steel nibs you spoke of above, went away with Rexall [:D] I haven't heard or seen a Rexall store for years.
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Old 05-20-2005, 12:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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I think $.50 nibs have gone the way of penny candy. [:D]
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Old 05-20-2005, 01:18 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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And to continue the stroll down memory lane.

Easterbrook had a pen called the Model J. With it you could grasp the nib and feed assembly section between two fingers and unscrew it. It came right out of your fountain pen. You could go to their nib display and choose among 33 different nib styles that would fit your pen. You chose the one you wanted and screwed it into the feed assembly holder and you had another style of pen or replaced the one that you dropped point first on the floor.

Thirty three different nibs and you could change to any one of them in about 20 seconds. I have one of those pens in my pocket right now. It has the Style 1551 nib in it, called the "Student" grade. There were accountant, italic, music broad, extra extra fine, casual writing, formal writing, flexible, extra flexible nibs and so on.

The pen was not expensive and still isn't expensive if you look around. You can still get the nib/feed assemblies on ebay. I don't know exactly when they quit making them but I suspect in the late 1950's or so.
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In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable way of life, and lost it all - security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsablity, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. - Edward Gibbon
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Old 05-20-2005, 02:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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This is a topic near to my heart, but I have some philosophical differences of opinion on the topic of fountain pens, their nibs, and the use of gold vs. steel as the material to make them. I see a greater challenge than just finding a better nib to put in the pens that we are already making.

Everyone is looking for a gold nib to put into a "Kit Pen". The problem is that it is still a pen that was made from a kit, and it is easily recognized as a "kit pen" by anyone knowledgable in fountain pens. The only thing that separates one "kit" pen from another is the craftsmanship, the plating, and the wood or other material that was used for making the barrel. Other than that, they are all the same.

The nibs that are available from our suppliers are a good quality steel nib for a good quality "kit" pen that sells in the $75 price range. We are competing with a Waterman that I can buy at Office Depot for about $35. The writing quality is almost the same. Adding a gold nib will not make either of them into something they are not.

There is another problem. Most of the buying public have never used a fountain pen, and they find that writing with one can be a challenge. Adding the gold nib does nothing to make learning to use a fountain pen an easier task.

Here is the problem. The market for the gold nib are those folks who have experience with and know how to use a fountain pen. These people who are willing to pay the price for a good quality gold nib also want and expect something more than a pen that was made from a kit. Adding the gold nib will not make the "kit" pen into a $250 pen, regardless of how much we paid for the nib.

Bottom line. Putting a gold nib in a "kit" pen is like putting racing stripes on a Chevette and trying to make everyone think it is a Corvette. It doesn't work. A pen with a gold nib has to look like a pen that has a a gold nib. It has to be something special, and that means it has to be something unique that distinguishes it from the "kit pen" that sells for $75.

Once we accept that the custom pen with the "gold nib" is something special, we will have to start making pens that do not have the apearance of a kit. The next logical step is making our own parts. Once we get to that point in our pen making there are no restrictions on the sources for nibs and reservoirs that we can use. It also removes the upper limit that we can charge for our creations.

That is how I see the custom pen and gold nibs.
Feel free to disagree.
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Old 05-20-2005, 03:07 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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I agree with your sentiments Russ. I brought my two titanium pens to the Atlanta Pen Show to get feedback from the people that live this stuff, and every one of them said, almost in unison, that my nib NEEDED to be a gold nib instead of the kit pen nib I had for the prototype. They didn't bother to try it out or look very closely at it; they just stated what the customer would expect. Whether or not it actually makes a difference, they certainly drove home the fact that there's an implied difference in customer perception. There is certainly some anti "kit" bias amongst the show folks, and from the sounds of it, from their customers as well.

They've psyched me into trying to think so far outside the box on designs that I'm shooting myself in the foot because the designs are so complex that I don't have time to make them. I wonder if I should be trying to do "normal" pens and actually sell a few or continue to try for strange high end ones and try to find time to work out the designs.
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Old 05-20-2005, 03:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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I have to agree with Russ on this... putting a $50+ nib on a $12.50 kit is not going to make it a custom pen.. it is just going to be a kit pen with an expensive nib...
Will it write better?? Maybe to someone who really knows and uses fountain pens a lot... but in all probability the person who is not a fountain pen junkie will probably not know the difference...
Tony has been doing some absolutely fantastic things with parts from kits to create truly one of a kid custom fountain pens... putting a gold nib in this type of work is right and good. The market he is aiming at is the person who truly loves a fountain pen and can appreciate the custom quality of the work..
Personally, I have never written with a fountain pen with a high quality gold nib, so I probably would not see a whole lot of difference right now... maybe later on when I get to Tony's level of expertise in customizing pens and use a FP all day instead of occassionally I will appreciate it...
But I know that the vast majority of my clients would not know the difference... even if I told them and allowed them to try one against the other..
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:19 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Thank you Russ, well said.

Boone, why not both? Time, I know!

All that is said so far still doesn't resolve why we can't purchase the dang nibs that are furnished with the pen kits we all use. That is all I want to do, purchase the same nib that comes with the kit. The nib by it's self, fine, medium and broad. I just want a little variety to be able to offer with the pens and a way to repair one should the nib get damaged. They are cheap steel nibs, the look nice, for the pen we are making and selling they are correct. Why the heck can't the kit suppliers get some from their sources and offer them? Nils?
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In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable way of life, and lost it all - security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsablity, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. - Edward Gibbon
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:32 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Yup, time's the main thing, but I also need to consider what my niche might be. Is it $1500 collector pens that most people can't machine or $75 pens that are easy to do? I can probably do one or the other, but doing both side by side probably won't work.

One of the catalog offers the nibs for El Grande. Maybe it's Berea?
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:45 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Bruce, you could always do your "normal" pens under a pseudonym, or a "down-line" brand, this way people don't get confused. You can use those to help finance the development of the other pens.
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