Vintage market of pencils vs fountain pens

So I’ve been buying some vintage fountain pens recently and they’re absurdly cheap on yahoo auctions. I thought that there would be more problems with them (nib alignment, broken bodies etc) but no, they work fabulously. Just cleaning them is enough to get most of them running. The vintage Pilot nibs are as good or better than the new ones and are way cheaper.

My question is, why are there such heavy premiums on pencils why there aren’t that many on fountain pens? Many pencils are selling at x10 the retail price back then, while fountain pens are, at most, x2, and many times x1 or x0.5 if you buy in sets.

Another way of rewording my question. Since when have there been such high premiums on mechanical pencils and would it be crazy to expect their prices to drop drastically in the future?

If I made my friends guess the most expensive item, none of them would choose the pencil

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I do not think MP prices are ever going to drop.

Right now, the entire community is being driven by two key factors:

  • Japanese students rediscovering the history of MPs and collecting them
  • Continued growth of the subreddit and Knockology

Now imagine 20 years from now, when those Japanese kids have money and a healthy dose of nostalgia.

IMO, MPs will be worth 3–4x current prices in 20 years.


Japanese kids are driving prices up for sure. It’s interesting how vintage pencils get them a ton of clout on twitter and thus make more kids want to buy them.
Also interesting how some non-pencil items (Pilot 2+1 in stainless steel, Pilot Myu) also have big premiums in the secondary market. I guess both of them are historically significant enough? I want to give Japanese kids enough credit and not assume that they just buy the pens for the clout lol.


There’s no telling who those buyers really are.

Remember… with a single vintage item, all it takes is 2 interested parties to drive a price through the roof. This hobby is a relatively small community… and online communications have greatly enabled awareness and thus (unfortunately) more competition. There’s a WeChat group that communicates regularly and some serious heavy hitter collectors are there often showing off their collections. And then all the late comers see that and begin to assemble their wish lists. And of course, there’s Reddit.

Kind of a double-edged sword. You share info, people learn from each other, but then there’s greater competition in bidding. Also, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect there’s a cultural aspect too. Some people are highly driven to collect something they see as rare and will spent significant money to get it. This has incited some serious bid wars. And of course, this bumps up the market value that people discover by searching history.

I do expect there are some young Japanese collectors out there, some coming from wealthy families, and they’re willing to spend serious money. I know from my own experience, I had managed to uncover a list server that showed conversations between some pencil collectors. It was all in Japanese, but I translated it using Google. We’re talking late 1990’s early 2000’s… and they boasted about coming across old stationery stores, nabbing collectibles that old shop keepers were letting collect dust in the back store rooms. A number of them gushed over getting H-5005 pencils at sticker price, because the sellers were clueless about the collector market. Unfortunately that list server eventually disappeared… and unfortunately I did not think to capture the text. Would’ve been really cool to share something like that!


That would have been a nice read! If you still have a link, we can probably access it through the wayback machine (

The conclusion I’ve come to is that it all comes down to how these items were sold and how they come into the market today. FPs were the “do it all” writing utensil, and everyone bought them. MPs were the “professional” writing utensil, so only architects and engineers bought the high tier items. That just implies that there is way less old MP stock than FP. As you said in another post, there isn’t a day that passes without a pawn shop selling a striped elite or custom FP on YAJ, but auctions for nice MPs are much more rare.

I do feel like MP prices can go down or become stagnant, but they won’t tank nor anything like that. Computers have made writing by hand almost unnecessary and mechanical pencils/fountain pens have been relegated to the “small trinket that men love to spend unholy amounts of money in”, together with mechanical watches and mechanical keyboards.


Oh yes, the vintage mechanical pencil professional tier is a very small one. Very narrow. So many engineers relied on simple cheap mechanical pencils like the Pentel P20x. It was the erudite Japanese and German architects, engineers, and draftsmen who were eager to spend more for something exclusive. And even they didn’t buy up all of the inventory. I have no idea of the percentage but I imagine far more unsold high end mechanical pencils languished in old stationery stores over ballpoints and fountain pens. The average person who doesn’t have to use pencils for study or work probably doesn’t even write with them. It’s a very small, club. In a way, it’s kind of cool. I hate to think what would’ve happened if the interest was double or even triple what it is now. Prices would be so depressingly beyond what we even think is high now.


I am absolutely counting on this 5-10 years from now.