Old Ink – Naughty or Nice?


Someday you may run across an opportunity to acquire a discontinued ink. Most often old inks will turn up on eBay but a few times I have seen them offered on a message board.

Being a big fan of the long discontinued Parker Penman Ruby, I snapped up a single bottle offered on a board in August. I already had an open bottle so I set the latest one aside after I checked for signs of mold. Last week I loaded an Esterbrook with ink from the August bottle and put it to use for a paragraph or two. It was late so I left the pen on my desk with big plans for some flexy fun the following day.

First thing the next morning, I went right to work with that dark gray Estie and my ruby ink. They are a beautiful duo and perfect for the light gray paper I wanted to use. Well, in addition to the ink, a trail of gross, gelatinous, sludge oozed out of the nib. It is sometimes referred to as SITB. ITB = In The Bottle. You can use a lot of words for the “S”. Colorful language comes to mind first.

There is still no mold in the ink but it is worthless. The pen seems to be none the worse for the experience though I am keeping a close eye on it. All things considered, I was lucky.

Just in case you are wondering how often such things happen, my experience has been that old inks are bad 15-20% of the time. New bottles of ink are bad less than 1% of the time. With those odds guess where my ink money is going next time…


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Margana, Sam. Sam said: RT @inkophile: New post from Inkophile: "Old Ink – Naughty or Nice?" at http://wp.me/pfSKv-na. […]


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  3. Thanks for the warning! Sorry this happened to you.


    • Live and learn. Even those ink samples that we trade (not those we buy from Pear Tree Pens) can have problems. That’s a good reason/excuse to own a cheap pen or two to test any questionable acquisitions. Oops, did I enable you guys again?


  4. The bad thing is you probably paid a premium price for that ink too.


    • Actually in this case I did not pay a premium price. Total loss was $11 USD. Of greater concern would be damage to the Estie ‘J’ with a 9128 nib. Now THAT would be a real loss.


  5. Oh no! A few year ago I bought five bottles of Parker Penman Sapphire. The first bottle has been fine, but I would be disappointed if any of them have “gone bad”. I had no idea this was even possible! At least now I’ll know to watch out…


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