Nipping the Ink Hoarding in the Nib

a Webbie day

The recent Webbie hubub left me pondering my fountain pen accouterments. Taking inventory, I discovered 35 bottles of ink. (Before a recent purge of unloved inks and colors, I had more.) Some pen pals have far more ink bottles than I and some have far less. For moi, however, the information that I possess 35 bottles means that my “less is more” lifestyle is in danger.

It happens easily enough, doesn’t it? In my case, I thought green was my favorite ink. Along the way of trying out inks, I discover the favorite color might be brown. Bottles accumulate because any given new ink may be the “one” ink that is more spectacular than all the others. And somehow I acquire a lot of blue when I don’t even really care for blue ink. Of course, the same phenomenon transpires with pen accumulation.

Early on in my fountain pen days I tried bright beautiful colors like J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen. A lovely ink but not one I choose to write with regularly. And then there’s Caran d’Ache Saffron, quite a lovely orange shade in a beautiful bottle, sitting unused. My first inks were Noodler’s Ink because, wow, it’s made in the USA and isn’t that special? Noodler’s has cool names and artwork on the boxes and the bottles, too. (I might be a sucker for packaging.) Eventually I landed on J. Herbin and Diamine inks because my vintage pens write the best with those. There’s something lovely about the tradition of J. Herbin (1670) and Diamine (1864) that make me feel like I’m writing with the ink that Alexandre Dumas, Collette or Radclyffe Hall probably used.

35 bottles of ink… the brands break down as follows:

  1. Diamine 16 bottles (Twelve 50ml and three 30ml and one-sample size)
  2. J. Herbin 9 bottles (One 100ml and eight 30ml)
  3. Private Reserve 3 bottles (All 50ml)
  4. Montblanc 3 bottles (All 50ml)
  5. Caran d’Ache 1 bottle (30ml)
  6. Sailor Jentle 1 bottle (50ml)
  7. Sheaffer Skrip 1 bottle (60ml circa late 1990’s)
  8. Waterman 1 bottle (50ml)

a personal hoard of inks

Private Reserve is a more recent experiment and I’m not sure yet about these inks. They are highly saturated and come in some interesting colors like PR Avacado  and Ebony Purple. The Sailor Jentle was bought at the recommendation of Brian at Edison Pen and has been used exclusively in my Edison pen. The Waterman was a brown ink quest (Havana), the Sheaffer appeared mysteriously, and the Montblanc was bought for the bottle shape.

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? —Alice to the Cheshire Cat

That depends a good deal on where you want to get to. —The Cheshire Cat to Alice

Only unlike Alice, I care very much indeed where I end up. For a moment I wondered if I should sell bottles, trade bottles or give bottles away. Many of these inks I still like very much. The answer became clear:  Use them up, silly! Isn’t that what you bought ink for? To write with?

Sometimes slowly, ya know? My last personal challenge was to take my pen collection to a maximum of twenty pens. The new challenge to myself: No new bottles of ink until I use up an existing 33!

I wonder how long that will take me and what will be discovered? Yes, of course, I’ve come to the end of an ink bottle before. Ink bottles, however, have always been coming and going.

First ink bottles up to be sucked dry:  Diamine Florida Blue (30ml) and J. Herbin Cacao Du Bresil (3oml). The Webbie Ink Journal will record my progress.

Select Reading List on Referenced Ink Manufacturers

Misc Resources

Referenced Manufacturer Links

9 thoughts on “Nipping the Ink Hoarding in the Nib

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  2. SERIOUSLY!?!?

    No new inks until you use up 33 bottles or no new ink until you use up a bottle?

    Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the need to get a handle on your ink obsession, but have you calculated how quickly you use ink? My usage averages out to about 2 ml per week. At that rate I’d probably take me 10-20 YEARS to get through all 33 bottles!

    Even if it’s replacing one bottle with one bottle it would probably take me YEARS to get to the end of a bottle because I hardly ever use the same ink back to back. I’m constantly changing up my ink choices. I actually manage to cycle through all the ink in my collection (about 80 at this point). I’d imagine I’m 2 or 3 or 4 years away from actually finishing a bottle.

    I couldn’t imagine waiting years to buy ink! Perhaps I have a sickness, but I’m addicted to inks! I want them all!


    • Ah this was bound to invoke some horror, eh? Although I have not paid attention to how long it takes a bottle to empty, I suspect that it’s not long. Now that I’m paying attention to it, more to be revealed as I write along. 🙂


  3. What a funny and appropriate title to this post. Thirty-three bottles of ink on the wall, thirty-three bottles of ink, take one down, pass it around…..

    There are hundreds of colors to try and if you want to use up your bottles before trying more, you need to sample-swap or bottle-swap or sell samples or bottles. That way others can try a color without committing to the whole bottle and so can you. The logistics of that may be a slight hassle, but you would figure something out. Doesn’t FPN have a ink swap network?

    That said, I have only 6 bottles of ink that I can trade samples of. You stated you don’t like blue, that leaves Noodlers BP black, JH Vert Reseda (thank you, Karen of Quo Vadis!), and Visconti Bordeaux. Let me know if any of those are tempting to you and maybe we can swap! Dizzy, you too!


  4. Thirty-three crack pipes? Problem. Thirty-three bottles of ink. Not so much. When’s the last time anyone’s heard of a society circling the drain because of too much ink?


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