(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Like many people, my pen addiction began with a Lamy Safari and quickly escalated. I'm not quite sure how many pens I own right now, but everyone in my family will say, "Too many." One of the many symptoms of pen addiction is pen clutter. This is my usual method of organizing pens:
Obviously, this is not an ideal method, since it is not a method at all. Rather, the pens that I'm currently using are strewn across the living room side table. They are easily within reach, and I can choose from a variety of pen styles and colors without having to move an inch. Unfortunately, the pens are exposed to the vagaries of living room life, which includes cats skittering across the table on their way to capture a moth. Thus far, I haven't lost any pens to the cats, but the danger always looms.
My first attempt at pen organization was when I had fewer than ten pens. I ordered a faux crocodile, six-pen Penvelope from Franklin-Christoph.
This wonderful case managed my pens for a month or two, but I quickly outgrew it. Now the Penvelope serves as my carrying case for the favored pens I take with me to work each week.
Next, I ordered a wonderful cigar pen case from BamaPens. I love the glass top so I can see my pens while they are protected in the box. The box holds ten pens and has a lovely felt interior and a padded bottom so it doesn't scratch any surface. Just in case anyone wonders, the case has absolutely no residual cigar smell.
But, my collection kept growing because of my insatiable love for pens. I ordered another BamaPen case, hoping that this would take care of the overflow. I planned to keep my Urushi pens in this simpler, glass-free box to protect them from the sun.
The inner fabric is gorgeous, and I love the lion design on the outside. This pen box holds twelve pens horizontally.
Unfortunately, right after I bought my second BamaPen box, I went on what can only be described as a manic spending spree. I bought a ton of pens. Even with my Penvelope and my two Bama pen boxes, I didn't have a place for all of my pens. The living room side table looked like the aftermath of a tornado.
This time, I was determined to find something that could hold lots of pens. I thought about going really cheap and buying a tackle box or an art supply box. I even thought about trying to reengineer a jewelry cabinet. But I'm not crafty. I eventually found a gorgeous wooden, three drawer, thirty-six pen, display case with a glass lid, but, man, it was expensive ($240 at nibs.com). After some extensive searching I found it at Penn State Industries for $99.95.
This case is absolutely beautiful and well made. It is crafted from solid rosewood. The lid sports brass hardware and glass, allowing you to view the top drawer of pens. Another drawer sits below this one. Both slide out for viewing and can be completely removed, if you wish. A bottom drawer is independent of the other two and it also can be removed. All the pens are nestled in contoured foam.
I'd like to say that this pen case solved all my storage problems, but no. I've managed to fill it, the two BamaPen boxes, and my Penvelope. A few unlucky, stray pens sit adrift on table surfaces.
The only hope for completely containing the chaos is to sell some pens . . . or buy another pen case.