Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

Cheap Ink Cartridges


  • Please log in to reply
80 replies to this topic

#1 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 21 October 2016 - 20:41

First, I am a cheapskate so I do not want to pay $7 for a box of six ink cartridges when I can get six of another brand for a dollar or two.  Second, even those of you who use gourmet inks for writing letters may be happy to save some money (to buy more gourmet ink!-) on the ink you use for grocery lists. 

 

You might ask why cartridges rather than the bottled ink much more popular at FPN.  That's a long story, much of which may not apply to you, but a general reason is that there are a lot more bargains available in cartridges, perhaps because they are so overpriced here in the US of A.  It's not too hard to find ink cartridges from overseas on eBay for about the sales tax you would pay on even non-gourmet cartridges in a pen store.  There are some catches, of course.  The quality could be poor, but that's been unusual in my experience.  Shipment could take a while.  The range of colors could be limited, ranging from a selection as sparse as that available in Cross cartridges, to a palette similar to other major pen manufacturers such as Sheaffer, Parker, Lamy, Pelikan, or Waterman.

 

So let's begin with the ongoing saga of the Thornton inks that have been on sale at ridiculously low prices this summer. 

 

http://www.fountainp...9-thornton-ink/

 

These inks can be variable in quality, so you'll need to check that thread for details,  but I can give a good recommendation to the blue which you can get in Lamy-shaped cartridges (that fit many Parkers, Heros, and Wing Sungs as well) for $10.22 per hundred, or about one-eighth the going price for other brands.  The link also includes color samples of bottled Thornton ink contributed by Amberlea Davis. 

 

I hope to add reviews of other cheap inks to this thread over time, and welcome others to do the same, or share their experiences or opinions of various cheap inks they have tried. 



Sponsored Content

#2 Sasha Royale

Sasha Royale

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,444 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 22 October 2016 - 01:23

As long as the cartridge is the correct size/format, I don't have objection to bargain brands, or unbranded.  Regardless of cost, choose reputable inks.  Or not.  It's your fountain pen.  


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#3 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 22 October 2016 - 20:56

The Manuscript Pen Company of Shropshire, England, is best known in the USA as a supplier of calligraphy materials.  I don't know where the other materials come from, but the ink cartridges they supply are made in Slovenia, which is also where Thornton and current Sheaffer ink cartridges are made.  In fact, the Manuscript inks show many similarities to the Thornton inks, but with better quality control.  One of the similarities is that the inks with blue dyes in them seem to get darker sitting in a pen, presumably because the ink is drying out or reacting with the air.

The inks are available in several forms but the really cheap option is packages of 30 cartridges.  These are available from qdsupplies on eBay for $6.59, including shipping from England.  That's about what you'd pay for half a dozen cartridges from a major pen manufacturer. Manuscript offers packages of all Black ink or two assortments.  One is Black, Sepia, Red, Blue & Green, while the other has nine unnamed colors. I purchased the five-color assortment some time ago and include a comparison of that with another box purchased recently.  Here are some more specifics, in an order to match the scan at the end.

Red

Initially this looked very close to the old Made-in-USA Sheaffer red, but the word "Later" is what it looks like after being in the pen for a while.  I like both shades so this ink works for me.

Blue

Again initially like the very pale USA Sheaffer ink but the 2016 batch looks like the Slovenian Sheaffer blue!  It darkens with time like the Thornton inks and gets more interesting as time goes on.

Green

Initially somewhere between green and turquoise and quite light, the 2016 batch is darker and greener, and becomes almost a green-black in time.

Black

This ink is highly lubricated.  It makes anything write smoothly.  I never noticed that with Thornton black, but the two inks match on color -- charcoal Grey.

Sepia

The old Sepia was a pretty neutral brown.  The new is darker and gets almost black in time.  This is probably not what we would want, and I should test this in another pen.

Dark Blue

Between blue and turquoise in color.  I don't think it is the same as just plain blue.  I find it a very interesting blue.

Gray

A bit bluish and darkens with time.

Light Blue

This is on the turquoise side and seems more lubricated than the others except not so much so as the black.

Orange

Starts out too light to be readable but then heads toward Herbin Orange Indien.

Pink

A very pink pink but may be too light for reading.

Purple

Rather magenta and UNlike the bluish Thornton purple.


As with the Thornton inks I did not find these to start immediately after sitting for a while, but this was a mild problem and about the same for all colors, contrasted with Thornton inks where some colors started right up while others were very hard to get flowing.  The tendency of some colors to shift with time could be an advantage or just annoying.  On the whole, I found them to be fairly average inks at far below average prices.  My main complaint would be with the plastic boxes the cartridges come in.  It is similar to those used by Private Reserve.  My experience is that they are very hard to open.  When they do open, it's with a bang and the contents fly all over.  Then the little slots to separate individual cartridges make it very hard to get them back in again.  What is wrong with simple cardboard boxes like Kaweco uses?-)

My own choice was to order five boxes of 30 black cartridges from pens_and_more on eBay for $26.99 which comes out to about a US dollar for six cartridges, compared to six or seven dollars for name-brand.  I use mostly black ink and these will be a cheap utility near-black that writes very smoothly.   The other colors are available cheaply only in assortments, and there were too many misses, and not enough hits, there for me to buy more.  


 

Attached Images

  • ManuscriptInk.jpg


#4 Arkanabar

Arkanabar

    Ain't I a stinker?

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,919 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 27 October 2016 - 17:35

I tend to think that 30 cartridges would last longer, with refills, than one or two converters for about the same price.



#5 EklecticMonkey

EklecticMonkey

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 37 posts
  • Location:Belgium
  • Flag:

Posted 05 November 2016 - 22:45

I'm all for bargain ink so long as it performs. My grocery store actually sells an unbranded (only has the store name) pack of 50 blue cartridges for €1,25, which is 3c per. Obviously you're not going to get anything special out of them, and presumably they'd do awful with water exposure, maybe their lightfastness is crappy, but hey, if you're just using them to take some simple notes that don't need to be preserved for posterity or whatnot, it's hard to beat!

 

Cheap options are never a bad thing, as far as I'm concerned.



#6 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 06 November 2016 - 00:29

As long as the cartridge is the correct size/format, I don't have objection to bargain brands, or unbranded.  Regardless of cost, choose reputable inks.  Or not.  It's your fountain pen.  

 

Of course on eBay you can't always tell what is "reputable" (nor what "performs").  A brand name can help.  At least you have someone to yell at.  But many expletives have had to be deleted from discussions of the Parker Penman inks, while the Quink we know and love had its origins in a disastrous ink that almost ruined Sheaffer. 

 

The Thornton inks are relatively new to the market (at least under that name) and had not established much of a track record at FPN.  In fact, the Thornton thread began with someone asking if anyone know about those inks.  There was not much info here  until Amberlea and I contributed our own recent tests, though the inks got highly varied reviews at Amazon..  So one purpose of this thread it to gather information on which of the cheap inks are good inks.

 

Manuscript has been around for years but because they sell more to folks doing calligraphy than to us fountain pen nuts, their inks have not established a track record here.  Perhaps their cartridges are cheap because they have not thought to set up "authorized" distributors in the US who will jack the price up by a factor of 5 or 10.  On eBay you can find people trying to sell the Thornton cartridges at near the going rate for ink from pen manufacturers, and others selling them for a small fraction of that. 



#7 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 08 November 2016 - 01:02

I have added a new post to the thread cited in the first post in this thread.  It looks at the Thornton short international cartridges and finds them less erratic in behavior than the Thornton ink in Lamy cartridges that I had reported on earlier there.  Considering that the prices are about one-sixteenth that of better known brands, these are worth a look. 

 

Elsewhere I put up a post on Schneider cartridges that cost about one-third as much as brands more familiar in the US.  These come from a German office supply company that also sells inexpensive fountain pens. 

 

http://www.fountainp...der-red-review/

 

I would expect these to be less risky and variable than the Thorntons, though at five times the price. 



#8 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 10 November 2016 - 16:05

The Schneider and Manuscript cartridges I mentioned are examples of a general pattern: ink cartridges are much cheaper in Europe than in the US of A.  Here in the US, fountain pens are a niche market as jewelry, fashion statement, or love objects of the tiny band of collectors who hang out at FPN;-)  The cheap Parkers and Sheaffers that used to show up in drug stores, five and ten cent stores, and discount department stores are long gone. 

 

When I was a lad in school in the early 1950s, I was taught penmanship with scratchy dip pens.  Oddly, in every other subject we used pencils or, later, ballpoints.  Fountain pens were associated with bankers and insurance salesmen.  In Europe, my understanding is that many schools require students to use fountain pens regularly.  That creates a demand for inexpensive "school" pens, and inexpensive ink to feed them.  In a number of places at FPN I have seen mention of tubs of 100 or so ink cartridges for sale even in grocery stores to keep the kiddies writing at minimal cost to European Moms and Dads.

 

A number of firms and individuals have taken advantage of this by offering inexpensive European ink cartridges in the US.  The Manuscript cartridges described above are one example.  I just discovered another.  The eBay seller morgans_direct in England is offering those tubs of 100 cartridges for $23.20 postpaid.  This seems high compared to the prices quoted on FPN, but it must cost a pretty penny to ship them across the Atlantic one tub at a time.

 

The cartridges are of the Manuscript brand and come in your choice of black or blue -- a pretty limited palette for FPN members, but adequate to school use.  I am reluctant to post a link to eBay, as eBay listings have a very short shelf life, but a search could find them. The listing title is

 

Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges Refills. Available In Blue And Black - Pack of 100

For black ink, pens-n-more currently offers 150 black cartridges for $26.99 on eBay, which is a better price per cartridge, but I am not sure if this is a temporary clearance item, and in any case the blue ink is not offered at that price.  I have not tried these myself, but would be reasonably comfortable assuming they are identical to the Manuscript cartridges I did try.  Currently I have lots of Manuscript and Kaweco Black, and lots of Thornton Blue, ink, so I do not plan to order or test these tubs.  Those who have already expressed a longing for such tubs in the US, though, may wish to obtain them.  I hope they will share their experience with them here. 



#9 Sasha Royale

Sasha Royale

    Ancient Artifact

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,444 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 11 November 2016 - 01:35

It costs nothing to flush your pen more often.  Do you make your own envelopes ?


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#10 tamiya

tamiya

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,426 posts
  • Location:AU, SG, MY & Zzzzzz...
  • Flag:

Posted 12 November 2016 - 23:57

The Manuscript Pen Company of Shropshire, England, is best known in the USA as a supplier of calligraphy materials.  I don't know where the other materials come from, but the ink cartridges they supply are made in Slovenia, which is also where Thornton and current Sheaffer ink cartridges are made.  In fact, the Manuscript inks show many similarities to the Thornton inks, but with better quality control.  One of the similarities is that the inks with blue dyes in them seem to get darker sitting in a pen, presumably because the ink is drying out or reacting with the air.
The inks are available in several forms but the really cheap option is packages of 30 cartridges.  These are available from qdsupplies on eBay for $6.59, including shipping from England.  That's about what you'd pay for half a dozen cartridges from a major pen manufacturer.


Is it a 2-row flat box? Think they'll be the same Manuscript brand I found in local oz art supply store, flat box of carts for about price of a beer A$6-8ish.

Was initially after the plastic vessels for refilling with 'gourmet' but their black ink turned out halfway decent anyway.

#11 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:27

The Manuscript cartridges are laid out 15X2X1 which makes for a box just thicker than a cartridge.   The other two sides are about the size of a 3X5 note card (US) and the box is clear plastic.



#12 tamiya

tamiya

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,426 posts
  • Location:AU, SG, MY & Zzzzzz...
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:41

Ah yes, sounds like the same mob then. :) that box piqued my interest, looked useful... (not that I've found a "use" for it since, so it's still containing carts)

The rest of the Manuscript calligraphy nibs & nibholders are your usual cheap China gear rebadged, nothing much to write home about. Waaay overpriced by the time it reaches retail downunder, per usual.

#13 dcwaites

dcwaites

    DavidW

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,001 posts
  • Location:Campbelltown, NSW, Oz
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 03:35

Don't forget Jinhao Blue cartridges on eBay. You can start with a pack of 6 for a bit over a dollar with free postage, and if you like them, get a pack or two of 25 for $5.

I did that, and decanted most of them into a bottle for filling cartridges. I think I did a review here somewhere on the Blue and the Black. The Black is pretty meh, but the Blue (a slight purply blue) is very good, and very well behaved.


fpn_1412827311__pg_d_104def64.gif

 

 

“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.

And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

Granny Aching


#14 tamiya

tamiya

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,426 posts
  • Location:AU, SG, MY & Zzzzzz...
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 07:27

Big bottle of Hero ink is usually cheaper than a can of Coke up in Asia... ;)

#15 GeneralSynopsis

GeneralSynopsis

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 151 posts
  • Location:Erewhon

Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:41

...  Do you make your own envelopes ?

Yes ...  That way they are the correct size for the cards I also make.

 

On Manuscript ink: green cart, in a Manuscript Dodec with  0.85 mm fine italic used for left page comments in my Day Book at work. Starts every time since it has been in use, which is about two months.


Edited by GeneralSynopsis, 13 November 2016 - 09:44.

--“Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.” 
― Giordano Bruno

 


#16 LizB

LizB

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 614 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 10:18

Thanks Bob, for the info on those Manuscript cartridges. I have just ordered a pack of the mixed colour ones, mainly for use by my daughter, who at 5 years old, wants to do everything for herself but is also not going anywhere near my bottle of Iroshizuku Tsutsuji on her own. But now she can learn how to use cartridges and have a fun selection of colours with those. Cheers for the tip.



#17 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 11:50

David, I was planning a review of a number of Chinese cartridges, but the Hero cartridges I ordered never arrived.  The seller says they will be resent, but I anticipate it may be pretty cold by the time they arrive, so freezing may be an issue here in Northern New England.  Perhaps I will write up such Chinese cartridges as I have on hand right now since Spring is a ways away.  The coming week is predicted to be mild so I may place final orders with US suppliers.

 

Tamiya, I have never visited Asia.  Here in the US of A the Hero bottled ink starts at about $6 a bottle on eBay, which is a relatively low price, but it's only about half what US brands sell for, whereas all the cartridges I've listed offer larger percentage savings.  I did buy several bottles when they were cheaper.  I did not have much trouble with the inks themselves, but the packaging left a lot to be desired.  Labels were crudely applied at odd angles or falling off, and leakage en route was a problem.  They are also hard to review as Hero seems to have what appear to be many different versions of each color.  If you are lucky you can find a number on the bottle that can be used to identify what you have, though the labels are in Chinese and I can't read them to see what the differences are among the various versions of a single color.  Online I can find comments on, say, "Hero blue" but they usually do not say which of the various blues are being discussed.  Perhaps they are all the same, and Hero just keeps changing the numbers and packaging, but I don't know that to be true. 

 

General Synopsis, are you finding the Manuscript Green to change color with time?  I am still not sure why Thornton and Manuscript inks seem to do that for me.  I wondered if it was due to my pen cleaning practices, though those have not changed recently.  I thought a pen could contain dried residue from an earlier ink that gradually dissolved in the new ink to darken it, or perhaps water left from rinsing made the ink look pale initially.  But in 50+ years of playing with fountain pens I have not seen this before.  Lately I have tried using these inks in new, uninked pens, and also tried to dry pens after flushing, but neither change seems to keep the inks from darkening. 

 

Liz, I am so glad I helped your daughter to have a colorful childhood!-)  It appears you are in Merrie Olde so the Manuscript inks may be more readily available, and cheaper, than here in the New World.



#18 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 13 November 2016 - 18:22

KaWeCo

 

The Manuscript cartridges provide one example of being able to find ink cartridges from Europe at low prices on eBay.  Another is KaWeCo cartridges which can be ordered from Germany on eBay.  In my case, I had heard that their black ink was especially black, so I searched on eBay to see what I could find.  As is often the case with bargain ink, you can get an even better bargain if you order in bulk.  So I ordered 20 boxes of six cartridges each for about $35.  This comes out to about $1.85 per box, or one-third to one-fourth the price of ink cartridges from other pen companies.  That is cheap, though not nearly as cheap as some of the options mentioned above. 

 

In my limited experience, the ink seemed just fine, but it did not seem particularly black, so I lost interest in exploring the brand any farther.  (You can find reviews of individual colors elsewhere at FPN.) But just before posting this note, I checked to see if the price I got was just a passing fancy.  Instead, I found many other colors now available at similar prices, and an assortment of one box of each color at a price nearly as low.  I thought these might appeal to those who would rather buy ink from an established fountain pen company than some of the options mentioned above. 

 

I figured I would not post a scan of the black ink as I am not sure the difference between 87% black and 94% black would survive scanning and display on a monitor, and others have already reviewed the ink. 



#19 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 15 November 2016 - 12:31

Just found this extended review of all the KaWeCo inks:

 

http://www.fountainp...inks-full-line/



#20 bob_hayden

bob_hayden

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 971 posts
  • Location:New Hampshire
  • Flag:

Posted 16 November 2016 - 01:45

Jinhao and Gullor

 

David told me not to forget Jinhao Blue.  Since the ink mailing season seems to be over here, I gathered up what I had on both Jinhao and Gullor inks.  You can find David' s review of the Jinhao black and blue (two different colors) here.

 

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/268585-jinhao-cartridge-inks-blue-and-black/

 

I first encountered Gullor inks when I bought a Jinhao pen from China and it came with a package of Gullor cartridges.  They looked a lot like Jinhao cartridges, and behave similarly.  You can find some samples of those colors in page 28 of this thread.

 

http://www.fountainp...-part-2/page-28

 

David's review shows three sizes of international cartridges.  The Jinhao ink he tested came in the middle size, which seems to be peculiar to China (and sometimes India).  Jinhao actually makes cartridges in all three sizes.  Since the consensus seems to be that the Jinhao Blue is the pride of the litter, I will attach to this post a scan of that blue as found in a long international cartridge.  I should note that the scans are of material not originally meant for posting and contain reviews of pens as well as providing ink samples.  I have used up many of the inks discussed and could not make new test sheets for this review as I did above.

Attached Images

  • Image6.jpg

Edited by bob_hayden, 16 November 2016 - 02:19.







Sponsored Content




|