One of my favorite elements of thrifting is the treasure hunt, the moment when I actually find what I’ve needed or been looking for. Even better is the surprise, when something utterly unexpected and irresistible shows up in my path. Things like our kitchen island and my single-button, green wool blazer (both $15) come to mind. Today gave me another such score when I found a Waterman Phileas fountain pen, new in the box, with cartridge and converter, for six dollars. They’re going for anywhere from $50 to $150 on line, and they’re simply gorgeous!
I’m getting used to how it writes. It’s so smooth that there’s very little feedback, which is rendering my penmanship rather spotty at best. I’m a little more comfortable writing with my Parker 45, as it has a bit more friction and feedback to it. The Waterman’s nib is also a “medium” and a little broader than I’m used to. The nib when inverted is a bit scratchy, so that’s out. The Waterman’s thicker and heavier too, so it sits in the hand differently. What a wonderful look it has, though; green and black marbled plastic, gold clip and bands, classic Art Deco “Zeppelin” profile, and a two-tone silver and gold nib. Yummay.
A cursory amount of internet research revealed that this pen was named after Phileas T Fogg, from the Jules Verne classic “Around the World in 80 Days,” which fact pleases me no end. It also brings up a classic collector’s conundrum: keep it or sell it? Since I’m naturally inclined to collecting things and have done so for most of my life, it’s a common dilemma for me. Still, I have a hard time resolving it, especially with favorite items. One has to weigh the pleasure brought by the object against the burden of keeping it, and the potential return of selling it against the joy of possession. It can also be difficult to reduce the intangible rewards of maintaining a collection to mere dollars, unless one is hard up for said dollars. That’s one argument for collecting small items, like coins, pens or keychains; they can be had very cheaply, and don’t take up much space, so the burden of ownership is low.
Try collecting something larger though, like bicycles, and a different picture emerges. Not long ago I had 15 bikes of various shape, type, and size. Needless to say, I could only ride one at a time, and even though several of the others were “for the rest of the family,” it was all too much-especially when we had to move across the state.
Selling the first few was easy enough, and quite profitable too. Then it came down to the wire: we were leaving in little over a week, and I still had three bikes when I had promised to only take one. But which one?
Don’t snicker; it was truly a difficult choice, and one on which I’ve second-guessed myself more than once. I wish I could have brought them all, as they made a complementary set, each with different strengths and missions. But in the end, I brought the most versatile one of the three, and it’s served me well here. Sometime I’ll have to tell the story of how I obtained that bike, and of the treasure-hunting I’ve done for it (and many others).
Oh, and I’m keeping all of the pens-for now, anyway. They’re easy to move.