The Dynamics of Collectible Valuation

The Dynamics of Collectible Valuation: How Demand Skews the Market

In the ever-evolving world of collecting, items once deemed ordinary can abruptly skyrocket in value, setting new baseline prices and reshaping the market landscape. For both seasoned collectors and newcomers alike, understanding these market fluctuations is crucial.

The Unpredictable Rise of an Ordinary Item
An example…

Most might overlook the Pentel Quicker Clicker Junior PD325. But for a select group of collectors, it is a prize reminiscent of their formative years. With its limited availability, it exemplifies the unpredictability of the collector’s market. If overlooked by serious collectors, it can stay listed for a long time and possibly not even sell. But now there are 3-4 of us who actively search for this and when recognized it sells immediately.

And then, an interesting phenomenon unfolds: post-purchase, eager collectors, aware of its rarity, begin reaching out directly to sellers, asking if more are available or expressing their willingness to pay a premium. This barrage of interest serves as an epiphany for many sellers who may have one or more additional pieces, who may have been oblivious to its value. Enlightened, and sensing an opportunity, they re-list the item or similar ones, now with a substantially higher price tag.

A Universal Trend in Collecting

This rapid reevaluation isn’t confined to our niche of mechanical pencils. Whether it’s rare comic books, vintage toys, or vintage guitars, the market’s dynamics remain consistent. Enthusiastic collectors, driven by nostalgia and passion, inadvertently set new price standards, sometimes sidelining potential new enthusiasts with prohibitive costs. It’s a dance of demand and valuation, with collectors playing both the music and dancing to its tune.

Embrace the Collecting Journey

While the thrill of acquisition and the narratives behind each item are invaluable, it’s essential to strike a balance. To ensure the collecting community remains inclusive, and to keep the market’s ebbs and flows in check, a collective awareness is needed.

To the fresh faces in the realm of collecting: remain patient, diligent, and passionate. The items that currently elude you today might very well be within grasp in a few years.

To the veterans: remember the initial spark that ignited your passion and be mindful of the ripples our actions create in this shared pond.

In sum, the world of collecting is as dynamic as the items and stories it holds. As prices ebb, flow, and occasionally surge, it’s a vivid reminder of the intricate interplay of demand, nostalgia, and value.

Here’s to finding joy in the journey and to ensuring that our shared passions remain accessible to all. :beers:


Man… I haven’t felt this inspired/emotional since losing a sniper bid by ¥1 on an ¥18k+ price tag :pensive:


“All it takes is two.”

It’s really remarkable when you think about it. Millions of users on eBay and hundreds of thousands on YAJ. And then it comes down to an auction, where people interested in the category could number in the many thousands. But ultimately, it comes down to two. The winner, and the 2nd place bidder.

Seriously, you could have just a handful of enthusiasts who feverishly comb the auction listings and make watch of auctions that hit the criteria. Over and over. Auction after auction. Literally just two people could inflate the perceived market value of an item.

There is also the matter of persistence fatigue. Eventually you get one or two examples and getting additional backups or slight variants is not quite as important. You aren’t as vigilant on auction watches. And then, just a 3 or 5 day auction or poorly titled listing could pass you by,

The great unknown is the problem. Who knows how many people are out there at this very moment who’ve caught on and been enamored with vintage, becoming yet another competitor on picking up vintage examples. All I know is… the bidding pool has definitely gone up. And while that has happened, some models of interest have a pretty regular predictability of coming up. Spikes occur, but they eventually subside. Just look at the pricing of used H-2003 and H-2005. The swings across 3 to 6 months can be enormous.

But ones that appear less often… there’s too many people watching. Like the Hi Uni 3050, 3051FF, and 5050. Those went up and have not come down much at all. Then there’s Newman. An obscure Japanese vintage brand, defunct. All of the sudden, a cultural recognition takes place and now double, triple, quadruple and higher valuations, because of a new found awareness (which is a pretty rare thing).

As for losing by ¥1, always try to look at it by your highest bid amount acceptable. In most cases, the other bidder would’ve kept going. And then the price precedent would be higher and work against you on the next one (if people are watching price histories to gauge bid amounts).


It is good to develop interests in themes other than the ‘4 Toxic’ or whatever passes for the top 10-20 of the pantheon of mechanical pencils. Every collector goes through their own journey of discovery, learning, inconsequential detours and moments of delight that may never have any correlation to anyone else’s experience.


Btw, it was known as the “5 Toxic,” as relayed by Xiao. (HERE)

The Five Toxic to a great collection includes the Faber-Castell TK-Matic L, Rotring 600 gold, Hi-uni 5050, Pentel Mechanica and the Staedtler Micromatic 777 75. This name, “The Five Toxic”, became the Bible of every primary mechanical pencil collector in China.


I’m not quite clear exactly how it started, but apparently it was at least one or a few collectors who, upon amassing many highly regarded and expensive vintage mechanical pencils, defined this list as the “must have” models for a highly regarded collection. And “toxic” is the most closely translated word, for what is meant as unbearably desirable. But, the TK-matic L is not that particularly rare… while it is what I’d consider one of the best fixed pipe mechanical pencils ever made.

I don’t necessarily agree with this list. While the original rOtring 600 gold is rare, it’s only a minor cosmetic variation to a patently ubiquitous pencil model. And while the Micromatic 777 has an impressive mechanism, it’s so fragile to a fault… easily broken and even under gentle use. I would put the PN305 QX 05 in its place.

My revised list. It’s a little unconventional in that I have some entries that are groups (with several variants selectable). It’s by no means totally definitive as a list like this is always subjective to some degree. And in fact, while there were a few models I wanted to include, I excluded them because while they’re in my top 10, I don’t believe they’re quite as special enough to make this list.

I’m proposing a revised list of “10 Toxic.” And it doesn’t necessarily reflect extremely high cost. It’s more about highly regarded rarity plus appreciated quality and design that sets them apart from so many other choices.

  • PILOT H-5005 - needs no introduction. A titanium bodied automatic feed mechanical pencil of impeccable aesthetic design.

  • Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 5050 - needs no introduction. Top quality precision, carbon fiber body, and “finger flick” lead advancement option. The 3051FF would be a reasonable substitute.

  • Pentel PN305 QX 05 - most highly regarded automatic mechanism ever made, save for the Kuru Toga Dive.

  • Pentel Mechanica 03/05 - initially released in 1968, it was one of the ground breaking designs of its time, and continued production until 2002.

  • Pentel Accugraph series - this is the PG2003, PG1804, and PG1505. While not particularly rare, these pencils are extremely well made and are phenomeal examples of Pentel’s flagship quality.

  • Uchida Drawing Sharp E - there were 3 color available (gold, green, and blue), and while there were a few different “flankers” with minor differences, these have the most appealing aesthetic designs. They are works of art and it’s quite difficult to obtain all three.

  • Faber Castell TK-matic L / Alphamatic - one should have both of these supremely well made mechanical pencils featuring automatic lead feed. The TK-matic L is a fixed pipe and the alphamatic is a forward clutch. They came in a variety of finishes (colored plastic and various metals).

  • Pentel Excalibur PXE205 - likely the most superior capped all metal mechanical pencil ever made. Just phenomenal quality from end to end.

  • KOKUYO PS-10x series - this includes the PS-100 (brushed steel), PS-101 (black steel), and PS-102 (gold plated). Any one of these is worth owning, because the body-knock mechanism is so very much first rate. Super smooth and exudes quality with each compressing. The body is an understated design, but the mechanism is truly the best.

  • Sakura Archi YS3000 - This is not mechanically super rare or distinctive, but the design is so phenomenally enticing. Plus, the machined quality is first rate.


that’s sooo true! last sunday I had the by far highest bid of me in a yahoo auction (item is in your top 10s), but lost by 1 increment. my first thought is always “damn, why did I not put in slightly more”, but of course I don’t know the other’s max bid.

1 Like

Just out of curiosity, three quick questions: 1) Why no Pilot Automac E500 in this revision? 2) Also, why the Sakura Archi as an example of pure design and not, for instance, the Tombow V472 “Titan”? 3) Why the Uchida Drawing Sharp E instead of the more premium Drawing Sharp D?

By the way: I’ll have to find a Pentel PG1804: it looks like the ultimate 0.4 pencil.


I’ll let Gary defend his thesis :slight_smile:
But as to the ‘ultimate 0.4 pencil’ I think the Tombow Variable might want to have a word with you…


Well, I was talking about pencils; the Tombow Variable in 0.4 counts as a spaceship to me. :smiley:

Concerning 0.4’s, I have a Pentel GraphGear I really like, and a couple of Ohto’s which generate mixed feelings: I’d like to find a PG4 and a PG1804 at reasonable price, and maybe one day a Tombow Variable, but at the moment they are all far, far away.


Inconsequential detours. Nice phrase. I have spent a little too much money on some of those detours. But they help confirm the core direction of the collection. LordErenYeager posted a collection on reddit some years back that was a bit of a touchstone for me and could have saved me from some detours if I could have fully appreciated it early on in my journey.


Tombow Variable is the ultimate 0.4 piece. Here are the other super-notable 0.4mm pencils, IMO:

  • Mitsubishi M4-1052
  • Pentel Injecto
  • Pentel PG4
  • Pentel PG1804
  • Pilot H-584
  • Pilot H-1084
  • Pilot H-1094
  • Pilot Trusty
  • Pilot S10
  • Tombow Monotech 1000

And I hoped I could close this weekend without more items to add to the list.

Silly me.


Any love for the Mitsubishi Uni M4-552?
My only .4 and I must say, .4 is a really good size.


On the subject of 0.4mm: Here I was, feeling all geek like, technical and manly… and PILOT goes and does THIS :joy::

  • Pentel PG1004, the lengendary 0.4mm for ages
  • Ohto OP1004, a weird one with twist sleeve

Embrace your softer side! 'Cause I’m sure as hell not gonna get one. :crazy_face:

1 Like

Just out of curiosity, three quick questions: 1) Why no Pilot Automac E500 in this revision? 2) Also, why the Sakura Archi as an example of pure design and not, for instance, the Tombow V472 “Titan”? 3) Why the Uchida Drawing Sharp E instead of the more premium Drawing Sharp D?

By the way: I’ll have to find a Pentel PG1804: it looks like the ultimate 0.4 pencil.

The PILOT Automac E500 suffers breakage problems. No doubt it is a legend in automatic lead feed technology, but that vulnerability is unfortunate. That’s why I excluded it (same as Micromatic 777).

The Tombow v472, while dramatic and unusual in its design, is not a practical pencil. The design really requires a dock to keep it desk safe. The Sakura YS3000 appears to be a more solid build.

The Uchida Drawing Sharp “D” is slightly more premium, but to my eye misses an artful touch of the “E.” It’s subjective, of course.

As for the ultimate 0.4 mm pencil, I’m not sure the PG1804 hits that mark. As drifand and pearsonified pointed out, the TOMBOW Variable 4 is really the “king” of 0.4 mm.

NOTE, that there are several close runner-ups.

OHTO as a brand is a worthy runner up for 0.4 mm. They’ve made a number of models in that lead size. The Promecha 1000M is a real understated gem. While variable lead length control is nice, I really don’t find that tremendously useful. Lead pipe control? THAT is more useful. Sometimes you want the pipe longer or shorter, or fully retracted for safe carry. The Promecha 1000M requires just a simple rotation of the body tube. It’s easy to do intentionally and not by mistake. The mechanism is solid. The only gripe some people might have is that it’s forward heavy. But I actually like that. The end cap is well made with the lead hardness selector built-in. It’s a smart design, because it has a knob at the end to turn it. So much nicer than the clumsy method of having to loosen the body and rotate a ring, then re-tighten. Once set, that lead hardness indication isn’t going to change by accident.

Next, Pentel: As I mentioned earlier about the Accugraph series, the PG1804 is very well made. The Injecto was made mostly in 0.4 mm. It’s a cool design, but the build quality is just a little behind the Accugraph, IMHO.

Mitsubishi’s M4-1052 is a lighter offering, and nicely done. Everything is tight. The TOMBOW Monotech 1000 is very comparable.

PILOT has also done well in this area, namely with the H-1094 and H-1084 for vintage, and the S10 for modern. The S10 mechanism is very solid.


Is the Trusty in possession of some attribute(s) that elude me? It seems tame on all counts.

You’re probably looking at the ¥500 Trusty and not the matte black Batman variant I’m talking about here (rightmost pencil; grip also comes in yellow, burgundy, and blue).

First and foremost, thank you @cytherian for finding the time to elaborate on the topic of your revised top players list: you really took many more key aspects into consideration, besides the mere “appeal” of an MP.

I was lucky enough to get a Tombow Variable in 0.5 some time ago, it was already pricey, but not crazy expensive as it can be now: it’s certainly original and exquisitely built, yet I find its tapered body just a bit too extreme — but the fact that the clip can be separated from the main barrel because it’s attached to one of the best designed caps I’ve ever seen is a huge plus. I still hope I’ll get the chance to find a 0.4 Variable sooner or later, even though my priorities go towards the Accugraph 1804 at the moment.

The 0.4 MP’s available from Ohto are indeed cool: I prefer my “simple” Promecha SP-504P (no retractable tip) over the vaguely fancier Promecha OP 1004P (with retractable tip), because the latter is too front-heavy, and once again I find the designers pushed the tapering form factor a bit too much.

Another serious contender might be the Pentel Graphgear 1000 PG1014, but the fact that the retracting-tip mechanism is locked via the pocket clip makes it a very hard pencil for me to accept. If only they had invented a different mechanism to engage the double knock, and made the clip removable as every serious pencilmaker ought to provide…

[As for the Tombow “Titan” V472: yes, it decidedly needs a stand to become desk-safe, but it’s delightful to use, even in its weird, Spanish-flavoured torpedo shape: those stands are hard to come by, but I’m hoping for a lucky find.]