Pen Boxes: Good or Bad?

So in my entire three reviews so far I have left off mentioning the packaging, which I’d love to claim was intentional rather than simply editorial oversight, but sadly not. However the good news is that this has prompted a degree of thought about pen boxes.

There is something kind of exciting about an extravagant box, there’s a definite sense of occasion and it does kind of add something to the whole receiving a pen experience, earlier on in my pen journey I bought very few pens brand new, so the experience of opening up a box to reveal a shinning new box held a definite excitement. There was just one thing. As I spent a fair old chunk of time trawling through ebay looking for pens I’d notice that every once in a while there would be someone selling just the box of a pen, this seemed a bit odd to me, and by the looks of things they tended not to sell very well, but it did make me think. Presumably the box has a cost. In some cases this is blindingly obvious, the Pilot Seven Gods set would be a good example, a maki-e-chinkin box that is clearly a work of art, and something you would expect to pay for, but other, comparatively more pedestrian boxes must have a cost too. Take for instance the Graf Von Faber Castell box below, don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice box, but it’s not a work of art type thing. I wonder how much it adds to the cost of the pen? A slight insight to this can be found in the prices for the Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue, if you buy it with the gift packaging it’s £169, if you get it with just the normal packaging then it’s £150 (prices from The Writing Desk), you do get a bottle of ink with the gift packaging, but that’s still £19 difference. So at what point do you draw the line? At £5 I’d probably be happy to pay it, but what about at £10, £20, £30 even, for me there certainly comes a point when I’d rather pay less for the pen.

This is a nice box, but how much am I really willing to pay for it?

Then there’s the question of storage, I have a box under the bed which is at least half pen boxes. Yes I could get rid of them, but I kind of like the completeness of keeping them, plus having indirectly paid for them I’m not too keen to just throw them away.

Perhaps there is a solution though, and it might be in the shape of a step backwards rather than anything new and radical. As is demonstrated by the photo below in days of old pen boxes were a much less fancy affair. Just a simple cardboard box, quite attractive, but nothing that would likely add any extra on the retail price of the pen. There are some very nice pens there too (even a Montblanc if you look closely), so it’s not like the cardboard box was just for cheap pens, it was just simply what pens came in.

Personally I rather like the idea of my pens coming like this, if I decided to keep it it wouldn’t take up much room, it wouldn’t cost much and I also wouldn’t feel too bad about just chucking it in the recycling. There are a few modern pens that come packaged like this, I think the Kaweco Sport does, as do the Noodler’s pens, but maybe it’s time more pens came like this.

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