I bet you thought this was going to be a different topic. I keep track of my pens, nibs, and ink usage using software called Airtable. This is the first of three posts discussing how I use Airtable to manage my collection of pens, inks, etc. I don’t have a large collection of pens or inks but I enjoy the organization, plus it will be helpful with insurance claims if the house burns to the ground.
The most common use software is Fountain Pen Companion. So what is Airtable, welp it is an easy way to create your own organizational databases (for dummies, like me). I can create my own base, or copy preconfigured examples. Each base has tables that contain fields.
I know sounds geeky and complicated, but it’s really not and you can decide what fields (information) are essential. The hardest part is deciding what to include. The good news is that you can add a new field or change an existing one even after records (pen information) are added.
And did I mention it is FREE. It is well established I am a sucker for FREE. Granted FREE means only 1,200 records and 2GB of space. I’m pretty sure that if I have 1,200 pens plus ink I will be divorced and probably homeless.
*** Click any picture to display a better-quality enlargement.***
I have created 8 tables (Pens, Mfr, Nibs, Project, Vendors, Supplies, Inked Up, Inks) with Pens as the main table. Some of the fields on this main table are linked to the Mfr, Nibs, and Project tables.
I have created a View to group the pens by the manufacturer. The first column is the key, which is the pen name or model. I added a picture of the pen because I sometimes forget what the pen looks like (duh). I added a field linked to the Mfr table, description, and other information. I purchase vintage pens primarily, thus I added a Rating field, which is the topic that started me down this rabbit hole. I can delete or change any column at any time except the Key column.
The Mfr table is very basic, as pens are assigned they appear automagically in the Pen column. I can click the pen and the complete record of that pen is displayed. I can also change that record if desired.
The Nibs table is primarily home to Esterbrook nibs since I have so many. I also include a damaged column as many of the vintage pens arrive with a nib that is in need of TLC.
The columns of every table are assigned a basis or field type. Airtable support provides examples explaining the options and functionality of most field types, including videos. In this example, I choose the option limiting the available options to a predefined list. The list is modifiable at any time.
I have saved the best for last. Airtable provides dozens of fully configured Bases to explore and copy as your own. And they are FREE! They do all the hard work, you delete the records, change descriptions of columns, table, lists, and you are done.
Next, I will discuss my interest in rating my pens (the actual reason we started down this rabbit hole).
- Airtable: Plans
- Gentleman Stationer: Organizing a Pen Collection
2 thoughts on “Pen Organization in a Digital World”
Organisation is really important with so many fountain pens, inks, etc. Looks like your nailing it. Looks clear and useful. As you say. Sometimes it is difficult to remember a particular pen, especially in your mind. I only have a few, so bought an A to Z A4 sized book with those alphabet tabs. Should easily cope with some additional dip nibs information too. So this programme of yours is a great indicator for considered inclusions. Fine description of ‘Yuck’ for that pen you didn’t get on with. Made me laugh. Cheers a Danny.
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