What I Bought in 2018: Inks

Platinum Blue-Black ink bottle

I like to do an annual accounting every year of the inks I bought. In 2018, it was 18 bottles.

Now, that seems like an awful lot. But, if you take the long view, I improved. Because in 2015 I bought 30 bottles of ink; and in 2016 I bought 20 bottles of ink and three boxes of cartridges.

Now, a strict accounting also would uncover that in 2017 I bought only 10 bottles of ink. But then strict accounting seems to be for unhappy people. Let’s forget that and take the long view. I improved!

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Inks Chris Bought in 2017

Inks I bought 2017_0002

My friend Chrissy, the indomitable ink goddess, is always kind enough to give us a list of the inks she bought each year. Her 2017 roster is awesome, as ever. She and I bought almost entirely different inks this year, too — our only common purchase was Lamy Petrol. Note, however, that Chrissy is the sort of person who not only lives through a terrible hurricane far from home, but actually emerges triumphant, with free Montblanc ink in hand. A Robinson Crusoe for our time. Here, in her own words, are Chrissy’s ink purchases from 2017:

For 2017 I’m pleased to report that I kept my New Year resolution and wrote records of my pen and ink purchases. I decided to start two separate pages in my Seven Seas Writer Journal, titled “Inks I Bought,” and “Pens I Bought.” I kept them accurately and feel almost saintly. 🙂

Yes, I admit the inks page has more entries, but I spent more on pens because I made one expensive purchase.

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My Favorite 2017 Inks

favorite 2017 inks

Here are my five favorite inks from 2017:

KWZ Baltic Memories, Walk Over Vistula and Warsaw Dreaming

KWZ Chicago Blue

Papier Plume Bayou Nightfall

This was a very easy list to compile. I looked through everything I’d tried this year, and these were the obvious standouts. These five inks made the biggest impression on me. On a scale of one-to-ten, these go to 11. One became one of the inks I use most.

KWZ Warsaw Dreaming and Papier Plume Bayou Nightfall are in some ways at opposite ends of a continuum, with one being the darkest (the black Warsaw Dreaming) and one being the lightest (the green-blue-gray Bayou Nightfall). But they are similar in other ways. Both are quiet, but have depth. These inks don’t shout for attention, but they repay your attention.

Baltic Memories, in contrast … this ink does grab your attention. It walks onstage and starts singing. It is super sheeny. It is dynamic. You will notice it.

Walk Over Vistula sort of snuck onto this list, because it seemed inseparable from the other two KWZ inks released at the same time. I think of the KWZ trio together. But Walk Over Vistula deserves its spot. It’s a bridge between the quieter inks on this list, and the bravura Baltic Memories.

Chicago Blue is a super-solid everyday blue ink. Which isn’t to suggest that it’s dull, just that it’s so good you may not notice how good. It’s the Tom Hanks of ink. Oh, it’s got sheen, if you like that, and saturation. But it’s also easy-to-clean and behaves in all my pens. It was my most-used ink this year, along with old standby Pelikan Brilliant Black.

All of the inks on my favorites list came out in 2017. But there were other 2017 inks I loved, as well as older inks I didn’t try until 2017. Here are ten that were also particularly good, in my view — my 2017 Honorable Mentions:

Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue

KWZ Honey

Papier Plume Mardi Gras Indians

Papier Plume Moss Green

Papier Plume Pecan

Papier Plume Red Beans and Rice

Papier Plume Streetcar Green

Platinum Classic iron gall inks

Robert Oster Bondi Blue

Robert Oster Rubine

Yes, the Platinum Classic line comprises six different inks. That’s not cheating; it’s creative accounting.

I’d love to hear other people’s favorites. Maybe I can try them in 2018.

What I Bought in 2017: Inks

2017 inks purchased

I bought 10 different bottles of ink in 2017 — one is not pictured, because I forgot it.

Buying only 10 bottles is pretty good for me. If I can be immodest, I slayed. Okay, sure, if I cast a critical eye, I could have done without four of them. Unsurprisingly, all four of those were inks I bought without sampling first. But you can’t be too strict, or you’ll never have any fun. Leave room for serendipity and surprise. Also, cut yourself some slack, because no one else will.

I did much better than in 2016, when I bought 20 bottles, and 2015, when I bought 30 bottles. If this trend continues, I will buy zero bottles in 2018. Now, that may be because I’ve been hit by a bus, but nothing lasts forever.

Here are the inks I purchased in 2017, by brand.

KWZ: (2) I bought both Chicago Blue, the 2017 Chicago Pen Show ink, and Confederation Brown, the 2017 Toronto Pen Show (Scriptus) ink. I have very limited interests, obviously.

I really love Chicago Blue, and I use it constantly.

Now, Confederation Brown in an ink I haven’t used myself, but I have seen a lot of photos online. It’s a green-brown sort of color. Everyone I know likes it. I trust it will behave, because it’s a KWZ Ink.

You know, though, ink color is a personal thing. Many people apparently can’t get enough green-brown. But I’ve realized, as I stare at my bottle of Confederation Brown, that I feel pretty “set” when it comes to green-brown inks. And I think I would have been just as happy with a sample of this.

I’m quite sure, however, that I’ll eventually sell or trade this bottle to someone who loves it, so I don’t totally regret the expenditure. Also, supporting KWZ Ink and Scriptus is good. As is supporting the Chicago Pen Show, by the way.

Lamy: (1) I actually forgot that I had this one — Lamy Petrol. I bought it months ago, and I guess the ink wan’t very memorable. It’s not even in the photo.

I do like it. Lamy Petrol is a very dark teal, a perfectly good ink. But I like it for a reason that will not resonate with many people: I like because it’s not spectacular. It is business-like and easy-to-read. It’s a nice blue- or black-ink substitute.

Lamy Petrol was very hard to get in the US. I bought my bottle from a European dealer, just to make sure I had it for our Chicago Pen Show Ink Testing Station. That was wise, since Petrol didn’t arrive at US retailers until after our show, and then only in small quantities. US buyers didn’t really get a fair crack at Lamy Petrol. Artificial scarcity like that irks me.

I bought four inks this year without sampling first — Lamy Petrol is the only one where I’d still have bought the bottle if I’d sampled it.

However, I didn’t like it enough to pop for a second bottle at regular retail, when I could have. Therefore, I did a double-take, a few hours ago, when I read that this ink is selling for multiples of the original price on the US secondary market. Guffaw.

Seriously, don’t.

Papier Plume: (5) The ones I bought were Pecan, Oyster Grey and Moss Green. Plus the limited edition Chicago Pen Show inks Lake Michigan Summer and Ivy 108, because, you’ll remember, I have very limited interests.

These are excellent inks, well-behaved, easy-to-clean, in beautiful, sophisticated colors, from a small boutique with wonderful customer service, run by great people. They are reasonably priced. I use these inks frequently. I will buy more when they run out.

Pelikan: (1) Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz. I use, like and recommend Pelikan inks. If you like this one, go for it.

Now, for me, this one is …. Well, it’s brown. I enjoy brown inks as much as the next person, but I don’t use brown inks as much as blue or black inks. And this one costs $28 a bottle, and I, well, I…. Um.

I guess the best thing to say in this situation is, Wow, that’s something.

Smoky Quartz is an ink I bought without sampling first. In retrospect, that was a mistake. Especially because, as luck would have it, Pelikan very generously gave Pelikan Hubs attendees a free bottle of Smoky Quartz. So I now have two bottles.

Wow, that’s something.

Robert Oster: (1). Robert Oster Tranquility is an ink I bought at the Chicago Pen Show. I just took a stab, and bought a bottle I’d never tried.

In retrospect, this was a mistake on one level, because Robert Oster makes so many other colors that I had tried, and already knew I liked. However, everyone loves Robert Oster inks, so I’ve nearly emptied the bottle giving samples to others. Whereas, if I’d bought an Oster I loved, that bottle would still be 95% full, nearly wasted on my shelf. So, this has turned out to be a very successful purchase. It hopefully brought pleasure to many.

All’s well that ends well.

Inks Chris Bought in 2016

Ink Bottles

I asked my friend Chris to tell us what inks she bought in 2016. I love her lists, because they always contain such interesting things. On the one hand, we both love Caran d’Ache and Montblanc inks. So, we’re practically twins. But Chris has much broader ink interests than I do. Occasionally I will insert an Editor’s Note in her text, because silence is not my forte. But here’s Chris.)

I think I’ve bought a similar number of bottles to last year, but I’m not counting any inks that I received for free. Like last year, I bought some more inks that I intend to sell, so I haven’t included those either.

I still haven’t kept very good records of inks I have bought, but I’ve gone back through PayPal and credit card purchases to compile a list for the purposes of this post. I buy inks from quite a few sources so my new years resolution for 2017 will be to keep an accurate record. (Editor’s Note: Good idea. I think my resolution will be to “forget” half my 2017 purchases.)

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What I Bought in 2016: Fountain Pens

2016 pen purchases

I like to do a year-end accounting of what I bought, to keep myself honest, and to try to learn a little. Here’s what I’ve learned looking back at my 2016 fountain pen purchases: ouch.

I bought 19 pens this year. They are all very nice pens. But I find the total number surprising, and excessive. Also, two of them are purple. Which is just messed up.

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Inks Chris Bought in 2015

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I asked my friend Chris what inks she had purchased in 2015.  I was tickled, and relieved, that not only did she buy the same number of inks as I did, but she enjoyed some of the same brands. Here is her report.

I decided I had plenty of ink when 2015 began. Enough ink to last me another two lifetimes. I made a resolution that I wouldn’t buy more ink until I emptied at least one bottle. That resolution was never going to work. I’ve never completely emptied a bottle of ink in forty years, so why would I think I might do that now?

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