Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bottled Clover

My first bottle of Montblanc black ink dates from around 1982 or 83. Still have that bottle. Nobuhiko Moriyama of Fullhalter pen shop in Tokyo told me that the ink is probably better now than when it was purchased. Have to trust him since he worked for Montblanc thirty years before opening his own store specializing in Pelikan and Pilot fountain pens. Whatever the vintage, Montblanc inks have for a long time been a great favorite of mine and at present there are fourteen bottles on my ink shelves. Two of my favorite colors—Turquoise and Racing green—have been discontinued and as a result are now rationed inks.

January’s issue of the Japanese magazine Shumi no bungu bako (Stationery Hobby Box) included a notice (and page sample) of the latest ink from Montblanc—Irish Green. Obviously they needed something to replace the very popular Racing Green, and why not a color at the other end of the green spectrum, something evocative of the Emerald Isle? The new Irish Green is a fresh green, a color that reminds us of clover, and while it is a big step away from the darker, browner Racing Green, it is a welcome shift if a tiny bit familiar in shade. Good chance that many will find Irish Green too much like other greens and lacking in individuality. I won’t argue that except to say that Montblanc’s quality is a large part of its singularity. Montblanc’s stronger focus is on writing instruments, but their history is long in a country that to many is undisputedly the premier maker of ink and fountain pens. All that history and quality is unmistakably a part of Montblanc inks.

The Irish Green flows beautifully—I tried it first in a Sailor Naginata with an M nib—laying down a smooth line with minimal shading. I personally would like to see more shading, but the freshness of the green may be an influence. Would impress me to see a page of Irish Green resemble more a patch of clover with dark and light highlights. That isn’t what I see, though disappointment is not a word that applies. I tried the ink on three different kinds of paper and all three liked the ink, leaving minimal show through and zero feathering. The best results were with white Clairefontaine Triomphe stationery, where the shading was more noticeable. It has a short drying time, much faster than several American inks I could name, but is also less waterproof that the bulletproof inks. I held a page of the Irish Green under running water for thirty seconds, leaving the words faint but at least legible if you get your squint just right.

Surprising that the $18.00 price tag (at a Montblanc store) is higher than the cost of the same ink in Tokyo. I could buy the ink there for $15.00 at one of several Montblanc stores. Understandable that Pilot Iroshizuku inks cost more here, but the Montblanc price caught me off guard.

For some green ink junkies maybe the high price tag is worth a spot-on Saint Patrick’s Day ink.


  1. Since Irish green is one of my favorite colors, I loved this post. The freshness of the green brightens my day. If I were a lover of pens and writing materials like you, I would buy this ink. Instead, I shall enjoy your post about it's qualities. It's such a statement of St. Patrick's Day and of Spring.

  2. Very nice shade. Can't say I like the Racing Green though. That one's more like khaki.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America