Thursday, March 1, 2012

Four Favorite Inks

It’s been some time since Scriblets has featured a post from the world of fountain pens and ink, and as a result the feeling of neglect is knocking about in my head. Easy to explain in some ways and daily habits do still include the use of one or more fountain pen and a whole assortment of inks. Most of my pens get a regular workout, and I’m often dithering over this or that ink to a degree many would call unreasonable. Still a passionate hobby, but one that has been affected in a large way by a change of scene.

It could be true that only a fountain pen hobbyist who has made the move from a major city to a very small and isolated town can understand the impact of change as far as fountain pens and inks are concerned. For many years my world was a heavenly realm of pens, ink, paper and fellow enthusiasts, Tokyo a paradise of stationery goods, an anytime avalanche of choices from basic to connoisseur. My little post-Tokyo beachtown in Florida is home to those for whom a Bic ballpoint and a giveaway memo pad are instrument enough for whatever needs jotting. And my guess is, you’d be confounded if you were shopping for a color other than black, blue or red. The inability to browse and experiment has had a negative influence on my love of pen and ink. Sure, there is a wide world of choices to look at and buy on hundreds of different websites, but my initiation was hands-on and looking at a digital image onscreen is nothing compared to holding it in my hand and giving it a try.

But still I scribble with my assortment of fountain pens, change ink for small reason, dabble with bottles of ink and Q-tips, read what I can to keep up with the game but purchase little outside of ink or paper from online stores. I can count on one hand the fountain pens I have purchased untested from online sources. Happily though, ink continues to be an easier and more trustworthy buy from distant vendors. Unless someone is badly screwing up the scans or photos of swab samples, ink is a safe bet without actually getting it on your fingers before purchase.

I have my favorites, though they change often enough to confound those on the outside, whose first question is always, “How will you ever use so much ink?” But for those on the inside, the question is hardly relevant. I have a bottle of Montblanc black ink purchased in Tokyo in 1985 which only improves with age; rather than using it up my concern is making it last. Ever changing, the three or four at the top of my list this month are shown below, all colors I use if not every day, then every other day. The case will probably be different in two or three weeks, but for now…

None of them new, and one unfortunately discontinued, these are the inks that color, stain, smear and highlight my journal pages these days. The oldest is the marvelous classic shade of gray-green from De Atramentis, Charles Dickens. Next is in my opinion an incomparable Turquoise from Montblanc, an ink no longer available and another I use carefully. Wine inks can be risky and shouldn’t be left too long in a fountain pen, but the Dornfelder from De Atramentis is one hard to deny. Nothing too special except it is a shade of red that appeals to me. The Diamine Denim is the newest and a very special shade of blue that instantly erases thoughts of ‘boring blue’ and hits the target dead on in terms of name and color. Seems like they stole the color straight out of the Levi Strauss dye pot.

The samples above (from top to bottom) were written with: (1) Pelikan Souverän 600 and De Atramentis Charles Dickens ink; (2) Sailor Profit with a Naginata nib and De Atramentis Dornfelder ink; (3) Montblanc Marcel Proust pen from the famous writers series and Montblanc’s Turquoise ink; (4) the wonderful Pelikano Junior with Diamine Denim ink.

All of the inks are available at Goulet Pens, where quality and service are unbeatable.


  1. A mere novice, me, but pull faithfully from my briefcase each morning two pens (Lamy and TWSBI Diamond 540)and used them both throughout the day with red and gray inks. Now, months after being introduced to real ink pens again, my hand trembles when someone hands me a ballpoint Bic to sign something with.

  2. I love the colors of the inks you showed today.

  3. Heyo. I just got my first fountain pen in ages. I bought pilot's ajisai ink, but the color isn't what I expected. I like the look of that Charles Dickens!


About Me

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