The Penabler: Limited vs Exclusive

Once you took a dive into the beautiful world of fountain pens, you’ll notice a few things. Especially if you follow retailers social media accounts. Every few months, you’ll see a new colour of an existing model; these can be limited, or exclusive colours.

Exclusive Editions

Exclusive models or colours are usually only sold through one retailer. The retailer and pen maker collaborate and create a limited run of pens. Enough to keep people interested and prices reasonable, but not enough to sell through multiple retailers. Exclusive editions are often numbered but not always. Think of hundreds (or even less), not thousands.

Goulet Pens is a good example. They work with a lot of pen brands to bring exclusive colours or materials to their customers. I’ll be honest, I like most of their collaborations. Rachel’s taste is very close to mine so nearly all of what she picks out, I will dream about. Goulet Pens has a new Edison every season, have done exclusive launches with Diplomat, and even collaborated with Pineider to clear out the last material stock.

The downside of exclusives is that you won’t be able to get them anywhere else. I’m in Europe and shipping from the US is expensive and will be more expensive in the future with changes in the international postal service. My shipping will be half or more than the pen itself. Then I still have to pay customs to receive my package. It’s expensive and I’ve only done it once so far. Not planning on doing it again soon.

I have given up on the idea of ever owning a Goulet exclusive pen, no matter how pretty it is. With the budget I have, it’s just not possible for me to purchase one of them.

Limited Editions

Limited editions are usually not limited to one retailer or region, but rather by time frame. Companies like Lamy, TWSBI, and Pelikan have new colours of popular models coming out each year. They produce them for one or several runs, but once that’s done, it’s done. They won’t produce anymore of that colour combination for a long time. Think closer to thousands, not hundreds.

Since more shops will receive them, you have a bigger chance of being able to buy your pen of choice. Even if it sells out at one place, another might have your preferred nib size. You won’t have to worry you’ll miss the launch because you’re working. Even now, Appelboom has a few limited edition TWSBI Ecos, and I could still order a Sailor Pro Gear Purple Cosmos when it was mostly unavailable at larger retailers.

I have a few limited edition pens, no exclusive pens. So I favour limited editions because they are sold here, but I see the appeal of an exclusive pen if I was a penmaker. Especially for smaller penmakers. I’m looking forward to the collaborations with EU pen shops.

Would you rather have penmakers make exclusive or limited edition pens? Do you need a specific number for your exclusive pen?

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