I haven’t been collecting pens for that long, at least relative to many people in the hobby. I bought my first fountain pen somewhere around March of 2012. I have always liked Zebra ballpoints and I stumbled onto a Zebra V-301 for a few bucks at a Walgreens and decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a pretty terrible pen but it was just good enough for me to be interested in a nicer fountain pen. I more or less immediately ordered one of the most commonly suggested beginner pens, a Lamy Safari. It is a decent enough pen but didn’t really work for me. It was too big and not quite interesting enough. I have always been interested in old or vintage things (lighters, knives, coins etc.). I decided to see if I could find some old pens and make them work. I started going to flea markets and estate sales and trolling eBay for pens.
On one of my first trips to the local flea market, I found a tackle box full of pens and drafting supplies that had belonged to a former Boeing engineer
Most of it didn’t interest me but it came with a fantastic Esterbrook SJ that I fixed up and started using. I found out that the other stuff was actually worth a bit of money and realized I could pay for my hobby by selling pens and pen related stuff (yay capitalism!). I ended up quintupling my investment in the lot and the rest is history. I’ve purchased and restored somewhere around 500 pens, many of which have since been sold. This has allowed me to own pens that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. My collection right now is somewhere between 100 and 200 pens, maybe 50 of which I am too attached to to ever sell.