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Inky T O D - Fewer Pens, More Ink - Why?



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The other day I was musing on the fact that while fountain-pen usage has declined dramatically in past decades, the number of ink lines and colours has exploded equally dramatically. Growing up I can remember using a fountain pen in school and having access to three or four ink brands and black, blue-black, purple, green, brown, turquoise and the occasional red. Today the sky's the limit and new colours and brands are blossoming on the market.

 

To what do you attribute this reversed ratio of fountain pen usage to ink proliferation? I would state my opinion up front but I don't have one yet. Very much looking forward to what are people's ideas on this.

Happiness is a real Montblanc...

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  • amberleadavis

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It partly depends when you were growing up. I grew up in 50s & 60s when fountain pens were losing out to ball points. At that time fountain pens were utility objects and ink was bought only through need. Now, nobody uses an FP through need, FPs are a hobby and people spend their money more freely on hobbies than necessities.

 

40 years ago when my father used an FP all the time he had three bottles of ink - blue, black and red which were replaced as they emptied. I have about 70, hardly any of which I will ever finish, several of which I do not even like, but I don't regret buying any of them because they are fun!

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Grew up around the same era. At that time everyone used or at least owned a fountain pen.

Happiness is a real Montblanc...

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Part of it is the internet, too; it's just a lot easier to be a "boutique" ink maker. If you think about the big pen makers, they usually don't have a super wide selection. The boost in colors has come from a small number of companies, several of which are a single person.

 

Personally, I own way more inks than pens because it's easier to justify ten or twenty dollars, and inks often are on sale, and therefore "a bargain". I'd like another $200 fountain pen, but it's a lot easier to talk myself into $200 of ink from Diamine, because shipping is flat rate and therefore it saves a bunch of money to get ALL THE INK.

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amberleadavis

Joane,

 

What a great question! I don't know if we are making quantifiably fewer fountain pens, but certainly inks are available in MANY MORE colors than they used to be, and it's not just fountain pens.

 

Many of us as kids were addicted to office supply stores as kids, but that's another Inky TOD. When I was a kid, pens came in blue and black. When my mom married my step dad it was a big deal that gold ink as a ball point was available. (Lousy but available). Now gel pens come in hundreds of colors. I think more colors are available for all pens and that now is the golden age of ink.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



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Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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Personally, I own way more inks than pens because it's easier to justify ten or twenty dollars, and inks often are on sale, and therefore "a bargain". I'd like another $200 fountain pen, but it's a lot easier to talk myself into $200 of ink from Diamine, because shipping is flat rate and therefore it saves a bunch of money to get ALL THE INK.

 

I agree with this. I definitely spend way more on ink than pens, because I don't do all that much writing so I don't need a bunch of pens inked at once. But, when it comes time to ink up a pen, I want lots of options! And, it's no fun to spend all your money on a new pen and then not have anything to put in it...

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Current collection: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Vac 700, Kaweco Al Sport, Lamy Safari, Nemosine Singularity

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Personally, I own way more inks than pens because it's easier to justify ten or twenty dollars, and inks often are on sale, and therefore "a bargain". I'd like another $200 fountain pen, but it's a lot easier to talk myself into $200 of ink from Diamine, because shipping is flat rate and therefore it saves a bunch of money to get ALL THE INK.

 

 

I agree with this. I definitely spend way more on ink than pens, because I don't do all that much writing so I don't need a bunch of pens inked at once. But, when it comes time to ink up a pen, I want lots of options! And, it's no fun to spend all your money on a new pen and then not have anything to put in it...

 

This is me, too. Although I've recently spent $300 on ink, and $40 on a bunch of different vintage pens, so it is possible to do that backwards... :)

--

Lou Erickson - Handwritten Blog Posts

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amberleadavis

My daughter said that if I counted ballpoints, rollerballs, gel pens and my beloved fountain pens, I actually have more pens than ink. I didn't know what to say... I mean "only fountain pens count" would be the only way I have more ink than pens.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



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Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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inkstainedruth

Interesting topic. I know that my husband has started going around saying "Ask her how many different inks she has...."
Admittedly, I did a rough head count and I have bought close to 100 samples in slightly under 3 years (I counted how many "holes" there were in the three vial trays). Mind you, some I haven't yet tried. And some I wouldn't buy full bottles of (for a number of reasons, from bad behavior to "why did I think this was a remotely attractive color?"). OTOH, I do have a number of bottled inks that I wasn't able to try ahead of time (and in the case of the new 1670 ink I was lucky enough to have seen a written exemplar a couple of months before the ink was available in the US, so I *knew* I was going to want to spring for a full bottle).

Most of my pens are vintage. So the prices are all over the map. I only have one relatively expensive pen (and even that was an older pen). But yeah, it's like Davros said -- I can buy one moderately priced pen (say $20-$60 range). Or for that same price range I can buy 2-5 bottles of ink. Or dozens of samples....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Ink production has low barriers to entry versus pens. I am sure profit margins are also higher for small scale production. (Let's not start on how much montblanc makes on a plastic 149.)

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Joane,

 

What a great question! I don't know if we are making quantifiably fewer fountain pens, but certainly inks are available in MANY MORE colors than they used to be, and it's not just fountain pens.

 

Many of us as kids were addicted to office supply stores as kids, but that's another Inky TOD. When I was a kid, pens came in blue and black. When my mom married my step dad it was a big deal that gold ink as a ball point was available. (Lousy but available). Now gel pens come in hundreds of colors. I think more colors are available for all pens and that now is the golden age of ink.

 

It's kind of funny that the golden age of fountain pens and the golden age of ink occur at different periods in history...:D

Happiness is a real Montblanc...

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amberleadavis

Right?

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



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Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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There is a whole culture difference between the 1950s to 1960s and now. Back then people were more frugal. Today the culture is more consumer oriented and people spend more. Who needed all these inks back in the day? Who needs them now? It's a matter of self indulgence.

 

There were a fair number of colors back in the 50s. Today there is an explosion of colors.

 

Back then I used black and blue black. Added red in 1970 for some love letters (Carter's red). Lately I added a violet black and a green black. I buy bottles. I don't need a hundred shades, and I do not use samples. I use something more than the sample allows before deciding I don't need it.

 

Montblanc midnight blue, Racing Green, Violet plus black, red added to black. Very dark stuff.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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I admit, I bought some samples, and have been unsatisfied with them. I, too, want more ink than that to tell if I like it. So I buy mostly bottles, after having looked at other people's scans.

 

I still haven't gotten anything to shade much.

--

Lou Erickson - Handwritten Blog Posts

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amberleadavis

I'll admit to having a LOT of ink and pens. More than I need.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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I'll admit to having a LOT of ink and pens. More than I need.

 

 

I will admit..... NOTHING!!!!! ;)

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amberleadavis

You're right! What was I thinking?

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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Currently have 4 times more bottle of inks, than pens, and well, still planning to buy some more. Except few days, returned to fountain pens a year ago, having 10 pens and 40 bottles of ink. For me its harder to get samples than actual bottles... but thanks for the FPN I'm not regretting my ink purchases. What I only regret to stocked up from Quink Blue, but that was really cheap and, that time my eyes wasn't open for new inks, it happened after. They now in use for testing my new pens.

Anyway still cheaper to buy tons of inks than pens. All of my ink collection together worth less than my priciest pen, but its give me a huge opportunity to choose color.

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Waski_the_Squirrel

Because of price, it's a lot easier to impulse buy an ink than it is a pen. That's why I have more inks than pens.

 

That said, I have given away a lot of ink over the past two years and cut back my buying. I now impulse buy samples and have been a lot happier that way. Occasionally I buy a bottle, but not nearly as often. Using an ink for a while usually cures me. Occasionally, it makes me really want a bottle.

Proud resident of the least visited state in the nation!

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Well, inks can somewhat change the character of a pen. The same "pen" doesn't have the same "feel" across different inks. Also, the same pen may give different effects across different ink lines. Can be easier to get different results, within reason, using different inks than to buy an additional pen. Sort of like a .223Rem rifle... depending on configuration, you can use it to kill varmints, use it to kill something the size of a deer, and use it for long-range target shooting ... simply by changing out ammunition types. May not be an ideal solution for each, but it is passable.

I've always been curious about MB pens, and really like rose gold. However, I'm not really going to plunk down the type of cash required for the 149 anniversary edition. For that money, I could complete my collection of Iroshizuku inks that I like (basically 5 left), round out my Pelikan collection with an M600 (have M400, 800, and 1000), and still have some money left.

Imagination and memory are but one thing which for diverse reasons hath diverse names. -- T. Hobbes - Leviathan

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