Go-to Inks. Some Thoughts

For the bulk of my fountain pen career, I’ve been a single-ink guy.

My first fountain pen (circa 1992 or so) came with a bottle of Waterman South Sea Blue (scandalously renamed Inspired Blue a few years back.) I used that ink and some long cartridges forever.

Later I got a Lamy Al-Star and a bottle of Lamy blue. That was it for a hot minute.

Soon after that I bought a bottle of Private Reserve Ebony Green. I used that for years. I’ll always remember Ebony Green as the ink I spilled on the carpet of the first home I ever owned. Good times.

It was a few years later that I found FPGeeks and started going to pen shows. The inks started proliferating after that, but I pretty reliably kept a standard go-to ink I’d always have in a pen, and I’d typically ink any new pen with that familiar ink.

After Ebony Green, I went over to Waterman Habana Brown for my everyday and new pen ink. That was the one for years, and will still suffice. I love Habana Ink and buy the old stock bottles whenever I see them– there is no such thing as Absolute Brown. The only thing less absolute than brown is gray. And it’s a frigging reddish brown for cripesakes.

During the Brown Years I was using Diamine Macassar enough that it could be a new pen ink. I haven’t done that in a while but I still love that dark, dank brown. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmacassar, yum.

These days it’s a lot of Waterman, either Serenity or Mysterious Blue. They’re solid. One thing they aren’t is water-resistant.

I know I’m heading in to clumsier times. I’ve never been particularly graceful (see the Ebony Green Carpet Caper above.) I spill stuff often, and sometimes it’s fluids on my papers.

So this month I’m bringing a new ink online as a go-to or new pen ink. The lucky ink (wait for it) is good ol’ Pilot Blue-Black.

My first Pilot Blue-Black experience was maybe a year ago, when my pen friend Dan brought a 12oz(!) bottle of Pilot Blue Black to a Central Ohio Pen Club meeting. It looked like a water bottle. Super cool! Dan was kind enough to let me nab a couple sample vials worth.

The first pen I tried it in was my navy blue Pilot Custom 74. I’d bought it in a lot of Japanese pens from a pen forum ad, and I’d only inked it once. Probably with Habana. I didn’t care for it, it seemed too dry for me. Once it was empty I cleaned it and set it aside.

Dark blue as it was, I thought it might be a fun match for the Pilot Blue Black ink. Maybe it’ll work better, too, I thought. Well, it did. It wrote with a lovely wet line in my beloved Japanese fine.

I’m bringing this one in by inking all my Pilots and any other pens with it. So far I’ve inked both Custom 912s, a Falcon SEF, my CH91 SM, and some other stuff too. I may be sick of this ink in a month or so, but I’ll know what it’ll do in any pen, and I’ll worry that much less about spilling beer, coffee or both on my important papers.

Pilot family shot. You’re all getting it.

Thank you for your time and attention!

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  1. Kaylen Richardson on February 22, 2019 at 9:28 am

    I’ve always wanted to have a go-to ink. If I had to pick one I think I would do Kon Peki. It was my first non black ink and I still love it!

    • Tim Hofmann on February 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Nice. Is there a black ink you use more than any others?

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