Pen holders and racks

One of the points in having a premium pen is proudly displaying it on your work desk. Pen holders can have additional functions, for example as a paperweight. Why do we really need pen holders and how well do they protect our pens?

Pen in the drawer

Let us start with the alternative. While a pen may overheat in a bag in a car, it will be safe in your table drawer. It will not fall, will not get dusty, and probably you can put a part of it on cardboard to keep the ink from flowing out. Taking it out of the drawer is not a big deal. So why not do this?

For me, the main reason is the focus. Simply seeing a good pen and a white piece of paper is highly motivating and focusing. I know that I want to write from looking at the pen. If the pen was hidden, would I want to write? Would I want to open the drawer and turn off the page, see a mess in the drawer, start organizing?

Also, sometimes there is simply too much space on the desk, and there is a need to fill it.

The best present

A quality pen with a good holder is the best present for an average knowledge worker. We will treasure it, keep it on the table, show it off to our friends, look for opportunities to use it.

For our own sake, we will probably buy something more portable, something that can have multiple functions. That can boost our productivity.

And then for the sake of our clients, we may buy something well-designed and fabulous. Or not. Or maybe something to facilitate conversations.

So what pen holders do we really want?

3D printed fully custom

My favorite pen holder is a 3D printed design I scaled myself to fit 20 different pens of all sizes.

(This is a photo from PCMag. Mine is two colors and scaled differently)

The main advantage of such a design is its capacity to hold many heterogeneous pens with immediate access. Nothing blocks your fingers. And I love to have many different pens. A design like this is highly complex and not very suitable for injection molding.

My penholder is the best use of my 3D printer ever. And the printer works quite a lot. However, this penholder is huge, not very aristocratic, with little character, and it takes a lot of space. What other options do I have?

The original pen package

This can be a smart idea. A Lamy package is suitable for putting several pens on it. A Sailor package is good for keeping multiple lead holders. A Pilot 912 box keeps the Pilot 912 and a highlightler. My fidget pens are in Parker Jotter boxes, while my jotters are in the 3D printed stand. This is actually a great option, both for the table and for your desk, maybe even your bag.

Dedicated soft holder

To be honest, for your bag or your pocket a soft leather pocket protector will do a better job. Some quality models usually have a protective foam under the leather to shield the pen better. Most leather pen holders are good for two or three pens.

There are dedicated leather rolls that can house a dozen of pens and are more suitable for an artist or a collector. The rolls are not prohibitively expensive and can organize many writing tools both in the drawer and on the table. Yet they are huge, especially when unwrapped. And you cannot access a pen without fully unwrapping the roll.

I have a couple of leather holders for two pens – good as pocket protectors or as protection in a bag. Very useful when traveling. One slot is for the pen, and the other is for the Pineider traveling ink well. Alternatively, one is for a multipen and one is shared by a pointer and a ballpoint pen.

Multifunctional pen holder

I often work at night. There are many penholders with multiple functions, including clock and illumination. Some come with large lamps, others kind of luminescent. Russian company Benu has blue stands for one pen that shines at night.

If you need a shining stand to find your pen or a clock to keep track of time, writing is probably not your main concern. These functions are cool as an idea, a toy.

As you add functions and put in the stand scissors, staplers and your mobile phone, you kind of lose the main function. The pen holder should provide good protection and easy access to the pen. The pen should not be scratched by other devices, and the dust should not set on it. Also, the pen on your desk should focus your writing, not distract you with cheerful miscellanea.

Professional pen holder

A professional pen holder will usually serve for one or two pens.  It will possibly be fine-tuned for a very specific pen. Maybe for your holy-grail pen that will never leave your desk. With an expensive pen holder. Here is an example.

Int the photo is a quality stand made by Penwell exclusively for the Gentlemen Stationer blog. I quote:

Put simply, it’s a pen holder that turns any pen into a desk pen, firmly securing the cap and allowing you to remove and replace the body of the pen as you work. The pen is stored at a downward angle, ensuring that the nib doesn’t dry out. Featuring a soft foam insert with an internal taper the farther you insert the cap, the tighter it’s held and is particularly handy for stop and go writing as the pen usually doesn’t need to be fully capped between uses. Keeping the Penwell itself secured to your writing surface is a microsuction pad that adheres with simple suction technology for continual reuse.

Personally, I feel it is a bit overdone. I can 3D print stands for a single pens too, or I can use a glass cup with heavy bottom or an empty ink bottle (50ml).  Add some foam into it and you have a very professional pen holder.

Stylish pen holder

While the stylish pen holders do not really do a better job, we kind of need them at work. Usually wood and brass do the trick. A device like this will often include something beautiful and useless like a globe, barometer or nautical compass, a clock or a thermometer…

It is a toy to amuse you and your guests.

More professional versions are shaped like samurai sword rack.

A stylish pen stand can work as a great paperweight as it uses a lot of wood and metal.

Pen holder as a sculpture

Some pen holders are sculpures. Holding a pen is just an added value. Some pens are made as architectural marvels. Here is an exquisite and a very expensive pen by S.T.Dupont.

It is a beautiful sculpture. The pen is in the middle. It will write, but its main function is not writing. It is there for beauty. Integral with the pen.

There are many vintage affordable metal pen stands from India on ebay.

Display case

Collectors often have glass-top wooden boxes where they keep their best pens. The box is usually on display behind glass. The pens within typically cost less than a car but more than a computer.

Small display cases house 7 pens. Large can go above 60 with 3 drawers. Honestly, for me, it feels that pens are locked in those cages. Pens are built so you can work with them. There is something strange in buying a top-quality instrument and then observing it through glass.

A store, a manufacturer, or a blogger reviewing pens may need more than a dozen pens. In a normal family, a dozen pens will be enough for the entire family and then some. On your workdesk, you are not likely to need more than 6 pens, including a ballpoint pen, a fountain pen, a mechanical pencil, a paper knife, a lead holder, and a highlighter.

Revolver pen holder

For me, a revolving pen holder for 6 pens is the ultimate pen holder. It is well designed, but not overly expensive. Heavy. Suitable for many pens, but not too many pens. Offering very good protection for the pens. And a toy at the same time due to its rotating mechanism.

Do you need one? Probably not. But if you have one, you will probably enjoy it.

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