It’s that time of year again. The Inkophile blog is now 3 years old as is Inkophile on Twitter. My participation at Fountain Pen Network will reach the five year milestone in a few days. Gosh, that sounds old at least on the Internet. Is there a comparable in dog years?
During this time the number of available ink colors has grown enormously which bodes well for people who love fountain pens. While some companies have retired colors that were peerless, others have come out with ones that are unique. The biggest loser is Montblanc who discontinued Racing Green. The biggest winner is Pilot with its Iroshizuku line. Sailor created the Kobe line but only for market in Japan so that’s a no gain. Platinum has released a line called Mix Free that is aimed at those who want to mix their own colors but it hasn’t reached the U.S. yet though it could arrive early summer. It may not be a game changer but it certainly will thrill those with a creative urge or want a one-of-a-kind color.
Virtually every ink manufacturer has at least a few new colors especially Diamine and Noodler’s. Then there are the recently released Pelikan Edelstein inks. The bottle is very attractive but the ink has yet to win over the pen community though amongst the samples sent by Pear Tree, Topaz and Ruby look promising.
Is the marketplace getting overcrowded? Perhaps. It may take a distinguishing characteristic or marketing campaign to become a standout product in future. Well, unless the ink is a standout on its own. That’s where Pilot made a breakthrough. With a premium ink that delivers in every respect including a beautiful bottle and handsome packaging, Iroshizuku has set the bar high for future luxury products.
There is less news at the economy end. Noodler’s remains the best value for money especially with colors that can tolerate a little dilution. The colorful and often amusing labels make up for the no-frills bottle that helps keep the cost of packaging down. Never at a loss for ink colors or colorful names, Nathan Tardiff continues to add to his line with no end in sight. All to the good for ink lovers.
There are so many new pens on the market you probably know more about them than I do. The only recent additions to my collection are a couple of Noodler’s pens that perform at a level commensurate with their prices. Not new but new to me was a pink Platinum Preppy, a gift from The Pear Tree Pen Company. At the price point, this steel nib is a steal.
Of course there are always new paper products. Rumor has it the revamped Quo Vadis Habana may prove to be the best new item for fountain pen users. The off-white color and narrow line spacing are similar to Moleskine but it has the paper quality necessary to control fountain pen ink. This sounds promising but I haven’t seen it myself.
Despite the economic challenges of the last few years, companies continue to provide pen people with new products. All to the good for a three-year-old inkophile.
A Few Inkophile Favorites
Pictured are bottles of Rohrer & Klingner Solferino from PearTreePens.com, J. Herbin Vert Olive, and Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, pads of G. Lalo and Rhodia paper, a 1970’s Montblanc 220 fountain pen with an OB nib, an Ebonite Dipless Dip Pen from AllWriteNow.com, and a pen wrap from HisNibs.com.