I am obsessed with metal mechanical pencils
We haven’t noticed.
Such a beautiful shot.
Or you could say, “I have a little thing about mechanical pencils. Nothing too overboard, though.”
Do you remember what year you started, Ray? And at what point did it go from casual to serious collecting?
I am very late for the party. Probably start my collecting around 2017. Too bad I missed the golden years. Getting serious when I discovered Buyee and made some trips to Japan…
Your fortuitous locale made a huge difference, being able to unearth some really precious examples that weren’t being recognized as such in the local markets. Some truly serious scores, especially with the Sakura brand. Access to Asian nations gave you a significant leg up.
I’m in the USA… and proxy services were so expensive when I got started (around 2010), in addition to a rather unhelpful exchange rate. I did get lucky at some spots. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, though. I passed on ones I deemed too expensive at the time… and now, for some prices are much higher. I am more of an accumulator, as I don’t seek out to complete a whole model variation range. While still miffed about having missed a few I really wanted, I do periodically take stock and remain grateful for what I was able to obtain!
Anyway, I enjoy seeing displays of some of your collection that you post from time to time. This whole genre is truly fascinating. I am often amazed at the artistic license makers gave to their designers and engineers when coming up with mechanical pencil model differences. It could be seen as such a mundane, utilitarian tool requiring little artistic flair, but the Japanese were clearly so passionate about the mechanical pencil, and I think buyers in those glory eras very much appreciated it. Would really be fun to one day track down a person who was a young student in the 1970’s ~ 80’s and get their take on them. Were there collectors even back then and did makers deliberately seek to satisfy them? Or was the passion for unusual and interesting design choices mostly just up to the whims of the makers?
I love and hate reading these recaps of collecting experience—I got interested in 2008 and 2009 but then (stupidly) took 11 years off before diving back in.
I had more money back then, and prices were cheaper… but I never discovered Buyee back then, either.
And in kind, I enjoy and regret going over the past… the joy of what I nabbed, but then the anguish of what I’d overlooked.
My interest in fountain pens started in the early 2000’s, due to a French girlfriend who got me into using one (Stypen brand). After we broke up, I still kept up my fountain pen use and then started to explore brands a bit more. As luck would have it, I happened upon PILOT and the legendary Vanishing Point. Bought the black carbonesque model. Had a lot of fun with it, though it did tend to dry out sooner than I liked. To learn more about how to improve the situation, that led me to the Fountain Pen Network forums. That blew me away. Vintage PILOT! I was hooked. And also, vintage rOtring. Started amassing what I could find. Along the way, I started picking up ballpoint companion writing instruments and some mechanical pencils. I remember finding out about the H-1005 and got one, for a fairly good price. In short order, I learned about the H-2005 and H-3005. They were absurdly expensive in comparison. Yes, with a poor exchange rate, high proxy service fees, and not much circulating on Yahoo Japan, bidding prices were pretty hefty most of the time. So I waved them off, presuming they were unobtainium for my collecting budget-per-pencil range. I still wasn’t “hooked” on vintage mechanical pencils at that point. But then, finally, the light switch was flipped.
As the exchange rate started to become more palatable and proxy services had to lower prices due to competition, the opportunities started to elevate. I grabbed an H-2005 and H-2003. I also learned about the Automatic and H-5005… and they were incredibly rare and insanely expensive. From there, I started branching out to Pentel, Tombow, Platinum, Staedtler, Faber Castell, and Zebra. I was completely ignorant of Sakura, Newman, Uchida, OHTO, and KOYUKO. I arrogantly presumed they weren’t worth bothering about since these brands were pretty much unknown in the USA. Thankfully other collector “what I got” posts woke me up to my ignorance… and began branching out, a bit late unfortunately.
Sorry… another ramble.
The “optimal window” for bargain acquisitions had been pretty narrow, because of exchange rates, available inventory, and proxy service fees. And also, collector bidding pool. When China, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea started jumping in… that pretty much ended the bargain opportunities on the most sought after models. Yeah, the “prime” good pricing days are pretty much gone, and it just comes down to luck of the draw–grabbing a “prompt bid” chance, or a gem hidden among lower tier pencils. But while so many people are focused on higher tier, that does leave a bit less competition on lower tier were some nice models can still be found without breaking the bank.