Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rules of the Collection

I guess whether the collector knows it or not, every collection has its themes. Actually I really want to call them “rules” rather than “themes”, but that sounds far too strict, so “themes” it is. Even if your theme is just collecting stamps or teaspoons or whatever, that’s the start and over time you often you end up refining the theme to something a bit more specific, so stamps becomes stamps with animals on them, teaspoons becomes antique silver teaspoons, or whatever.

If asked, I say that my collection is mechanical pencils, so what are the main themes of my collection?

Mechanical Pencils - first and foremost my collection is mechanical pencils. OK, lets be honest, that’s not actually true, so it’s really:

  • Mechanical Pencils, and multi-function pen/pencils, plus some ballpoint and rollerball pens, particularly when the model is not available in pencil format. I do have a rule against fountain pens - I do not collect them. Nothing personal against fountain pens, its just I have to draw the line somewhere, and I feel I could be opening a Pandora’s Box if I start including fountain pens, so I force myself away from them.

The Looks - I collect a pencil because I like the way it looks, which might make me a shallow person. Trying to define “the look” that I like is a bit difficult but there are some generalisations

  • Art Deco – I tend to like pencils decorated with geometric shapes, patterns, lines etc. My tastes often seem to fit into the Art Deco category in books on design and art.
  • Unusual Materials and Designs – fairly self explanatory, I tend to like unusual designs.
  • I don’t really like “rubber” grips so tend to not collect pencils with them. Similarly I’m not really a fan of swirling flowing filigree work on pens so I tend to avoid those.
  • I generally prefer “silver” coloured metals to “gold” coloured metals.

Brand - I like to at least have one example of a pencil from all the main manufacturers, just for “completeness”. Also I have an interest in a couple of brands so I tend to collect anything of theirs. Pentel, Lamy and Caran d’Ache would be my current "brands of preference".

Condition – Brand new is best. Good condition is important to me. Obviously if poor condition second-hand is all that’s available then that’s what I am stuck with, but it’s not my preference. This “brand new” theme is one reason why I don’t have a lot of older or antique pencils. I certainly do have some, but my interest is much more in newer contemporary pencils.

Having said all of that, there really is one over-riding rule – I collect something because I want to, but I do try and keep the themes in mind to help stop me going off on an endless spending spree!

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