Feb 26, 2017311 views

What is the Appeal of Demonstrators?

I am not bashing them; I am genuinely curious about why demonstrators are so popular, and I cannot think of a better group to turn to in asking this question. Please enlighten me!
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1. Know how much ink is inside esp if a C/C Pen.
2. Enjoy looking at a piston mechanism you may have spent serious $$ on, or an interesting converter like a CON-70.
3. know what ink color is loaded in the pen before trying it (not always - colored demonstrators or darker inks are exceptions).

i look at it is the same reason some like the exhibition caseback on a mech/auto wristwatch. enhances the experience of use.

maybe I should kickstart a demonstrator lever fill pen?
Fountain pens are beautiful pieces of machinery. Demonstrators are also stimtoys for one's inner elven-year-old, who may have been in school when the 90's see-through GameBoys were cool. Since everything else has gotten more opaque and frustrating, I like that I can see the whole entire device, it runs off of physics, and it has zero (0) lines of code. I'm relatively new to fountain pens, too, and it's very easy to see if a demonstrator is leaking or imperfectly cleaned compared to an opaque pen.
Good exceptions to my rule (they were always demonstrators)!

https://www.jetpens.com/Wancher-Crystal-Fountain-Pen-Fire-Opal-Medium-Nib/pd/23412
Actually, not much!

True, your first or second "demonstrator" is trilling to fill and interesting to look at, but there can be a downside when you consider their value. Hate to be a wet blanket here, but when you consider what makes an expensive pen, expensive, one of the items on that list is the so-called "precious resins" they're typically made of. Jjust how precious that resin is in reality, is generally up to the manufacturer--and few of them will say it's cheap, and so, by implication of their MSRPs, we have no choice but to take them at their word.

On the other hand, when it comes to clear pens, the choices of material are fewer and always less exotic--after all, clear plastic, is clear plastic (lucite is lucite, there's just no getting around it.) But if that's the case, why are we paying the same price (or possibly more) for the so-called "demonstrator" than we are for the pen made from precious resin?

I'll tell you why--it's because we are being hood-winked! I say a Pelikan M800 made of clear plastic is much cheaper to make than the snappy striated red, green or blue ones we typically see. Or how about a Visconti Medici Rose Gold, "utilizing the same innovative Acrosilk resin" combined with 18kt rose gold trims. That pen retails for just south of $1,000--should we pay the same for a clear plastic version? The guts of either are the same, it's only the "wrapper" that changes, right?

So buy yourself a nice demonstrator someday and enjoy it's fascinating innards all to hell--but don't make a habit of them--they aren't worth it the prices we pay for them.

Fortunately, there are exceptions--buy a TWISB! As a mater of fact, buy a lot of TWISBs--they've always been clear and they've always been reasonably priced--and their filling systems are just as interesting to see and operate as 99% of the more exotic pens and expensive pens out there--be they clear or otherwise!
RayF
Most Demonstrators are priced about the same as their more secretive counterparts, when there are any. Usually you see higher priced demonstrators when they are limited editions.
The price hike comes mostly from being a limited edition. And in most cases non-demonstrator limited editions are much more expensive.
I think the sense that manufacturers are fleecing us with their demonstrators is mostly because of the Souveran demonstrators, though in all fairness to Pelikan we were asking for it.
As for TWSBIs... you can get your demonstrator fix for even less with the Wing Sung 698. I have four, love them as much as my TWSBIs and my Pilot 92.
Do you remember that impractical as hell highlighter inks exist for fountain pens? Things like the Pelikan Highlighter line an stuff like the Lamy neon lime green? Well now you can not only just be impractical and actually put them in pens, but you can also show off that you are an impractical af person by simply purchasing a twsbi eco (preferably obnoxious green) and loading it with this stuff.
Demonstrator pens were originally made by manufactures for dealers to advertise features to potential buyers. So you can imagine in the vintage case, demonstrators are rare and in a hobby, rareness is sufficient to generate popularity.

An analogue also exists for modern pens because for a handmade (rod turned) demonstrator pen, it takes extra effort to polish the inside of cap/barrel in order to reach the crystal clear see through effect. It takes more time and effort so it's going to be more expensive and are produced in lower quantity. For example, Delta has a couple of demonstrator pens with MSRP ~$1000. These are expensive pens even with a street price but cap and barrel are well polished in the inside and are crystal clear, achieved by hand.

Then what about non handmade modern pens (Pilot, Pelikan, twsbi......)? All the above expensive/rare alternatives could account for popularity/price boost and it's nice to see the filling mechanism.
woleizihan
I would disagree. Those processes you allege involve mostly sunk costs and the employe's who make them are not likely paid more--if indeed employees are needed at all. Polishing the inside of a barrel for instance is easily accomplished by mechanization. They MSRP for a $1,000 because that's what the market will bare (bolstered to some extent by your thinking). The market for LE pens is very strong and very profitable--or it simply wouldn't exit. Show me a Production Mgr who can't produce a pen for half the price, and I'll show you a Production Mgr looking for a job!
It's the machine geek in me. I like elegant machinery and interesting mechanisms... different solutions. Which is why I just ordered a TWSBI vac filler pen.
Agreed with SOmuch; I love being able to see the ink inside my pen.
Also, there's something about transparent pens that remind me of jelly shoes, which were my favorites as a kid. :D
How popular are transparent rollerballs or ballpoints? Not particularly, I would say. In fact I would venture to say that today's most popular ball-tipped pens are machined ones.
With a rollerball or ballpoint the pen is just a container, a handling device for the actual writing instrument, namely the refill.
A fountain pen, however, especially a piston-filler or eye-dropper, is still the writing instrument. The inner workings of a fountain pen are often unique to the pen, to its line, or to its manufacturer. Along with the design and quality of its frame, they give it its character. They are part of the beauty of the fountain pen.
It therefore shouldn't be surprising that fountain pen enthusiasts want to bring that inner beauty to the surface.
Theroc
My situation may be a bit unique, but I buy transparent fountain pens because I teach English in a state prison, and the only pens allowed through security are transparent ones... you could sneak drugs inside a pen...
DWoody
Transparent or not, I'm surprised fountain pens would get through security at any prison--the nibs are weapons and the ink is contraband. You'd never get by on my watch ;- )
IMHO it's the novelty/"cool factor" of the translucence and seeing the inner-workings of something; watching the ink play as you handle it. Also I think the ability to give your pen a different look depending on your choice of ink is fun, and seeing your ink level at a glance is convenient!

(image not my own; from Google)
SOmuch
Well said.
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