Sometimes the inks in my rotation do a little ink dance in my daily journal. The steps consist of the ink name plus a doodle that shows the ink color to good advantage.
My most recent ink and pen duos were chosen at random and include a few favorites plus several inks that warranted testing in pens different from their last outings. None of those former couples were wedded but rather suffered ill-fated flings. Time to be a bit more successful at matchmaking.
To my surprise and without planning, my rotation took on the colors of autumn. I have no idea how that happened but the result is quite pleasing.
Pens in order from top to bottom:
Pelikan M215, custom cursive italic
Levenger True Writer, Masuyama stub
Lamy Safari, custom fine cursive italic
Levenger True Writer, Masuyama cursive italic
Namiki Falcon (resin), Soft Fine
Pilot Elite Socrates pocket pen, Fine
Levenger True Writer, Fine
Lamy AL-Star, Oblique Broad
Lamy Vista, 1.1mm italic
Lamy AL-Star, custom fine italic
Notes: Montblanc Racing Green has been discontinued and Noodler’s FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire was a limited edition release. Noodler’s #41 Brown is the original formulation – not the one currently available. The Pilot pocket pen was made in 1976 but all of the other pens are current models. The paper is Strathmore Windpower Sketch. It’s a bit toothy for fountain pens but excellent for swabs and doodles.
History really does put things in perspective. Look at the years in which some well-known companies began offering ink. To be sure this is only a partial list compared to the number of labels on the market but it is still a good sampling. Whether you like these particular brands or not, the companies are doing something right to endure. Kudos to all of them.
Actually, it is more accurate to say that Pilot is demanding retailers adhere to the company’s pricing structure of $35 retail. A 20% discount is being offered at some stores dropping the price to $28 but I don’t know how long that will continue.
The good news is that more companies are offering Iroshizuku so availability has greatly improved. In the past Jet Pens had the best deal at $22.50 with free U.S. shipping for orders over $25. Two bottles for $45 neat is as good as it gets stateside but that will end this month. So if price is a factor in your ink purchases, load up while you can.
Much as I like Iroshizuku, whether for its lovely colors or its other fine properties, there are many terrific inks on the market at a fraction of the cost. So don’t feel left out if this high priced ink doesn’t fit your budget or your sense of value for money. I’ve been exploring Rohrer & Klingner recently and to a lesser extent De Atramentis*. So far I am very happy with R&K and count three colors amongst my new favorites. DeA is a huge line and I’ve only tried a few but have already found two that are great colors for my collection. Do read my remarks below before purchasing this brand.
No doubt you can find many suitable inks without forking over the price of a Lamy AL-Star fountain pen just for a single bottle. Or you can buy three bottles of an ink with less cachet and a more utilitarian shape for the retail price of a single bottle of Iroshizuku. Well, if you love ink, isn’t that the part that counts?
*There might be an issue with contamination of some De Atramentis inks as discussed at Fountain Pen Network today. I am not ready to condemn the line on the basis of one report extensively documented though it may be. I will post if/when I learn more.
However, based on that one report, I examined two samples of Stihlblau, a color I really love, and found one to be fine while the other has particles in it. Since they are samples and could have been contaminated by handling, this is not a condemnation. But it is a caveat emptor situation.
It only takes a brief glance around my office to see that I have tons of great products to enjoy. Many were new to me this year though a few sat around far too long before getting a chance to play. All of this turned out well in the long run, as I am enjoying them immensely now.
So here is a list of some of the best things that became Inkophile favorites in 2009.
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen – Whether used with pigment ink or J. Herbin Lie de Thé, this pen is great fun.
Pilot Elite Pocket Pen with a soft fine nib – For everyday writing with a little variation, this is my ideal pen.
Even with all this expansion to my collection, there remain two holes that I hope to fill in 2010: a light-weight stub nib and a full flex nib, preferably 14k with converter fillers and long enough to use without posting. The maker matters less than the quality of the nib. There may come an ink or paper that catches my eye as new product is released during the year but the pens are what I would use most.
So those are my new favorites and my wish list for next year. How about you? Any standout favorites from 2009? What will you look for in 2010?
(Note that more than a few items on my list were gifts from Karen Doherty at Exaclair, Inc., U. S. distributor of J. Herbin, Exacompta, G. Lalo, and Clairefontaine. De Atramentis Stihlblau was a gift from Ryan Roossinck of The Pear Tree Pen Company. Several inks were gifts from friends who had no connection to any retailer or product line at the time the gift was sent. A very big thank you to all of my generous friends. You have introduced me to products that will be favorites forever.)