Advice from a Reformed Ink Hoarder

Dip Pen Ink

When I moved back to Chicago in September 2022 to reopen our store after 18 long months, there were several things I brought with me that I did not have during my previous stay in 2019/2020. A better table and chairs, different bed, and my beloved and long-hoarded Parker Penman Sapphire and Penman Emerald inks. During the Covid lockdowns, I had time to declutter and re-evaluate my pens and inks and I realized that I was wasting an opportunity to use the inks that I had so carefully collected over the years.

Why do we (or is it just me?) hoard ink anyway? We love the color, want a backup, or we fear missing out on a limited edition color? We think we could resell it down the road? We worry that the formula might change and the color will not be the same? I confess that I am a reformed ink hoarder. I had several bottles of Sailor Jentle Apricot stashed away when it was first discontinued. I LOVE that color. It then was rereleased and discontinued again, but Sailor Kin-mokusei is pretty much an exact duplicate, so I am using up my Apricot.

Parker Penman Sapphire, that mythical unicorn of inks. I have 3½ bottles, plus 1½ of Emerald. It occurred to me that it is doing me no good sitting in a box on a shelf in the dark. This is the one ink for which there is no perfect duplicate, but I’m ok with that. When I use up my bottles, I will have enjoyed them, and we all need a little enjoyment these days.

Hoarding ink can be costly, and not just in your initial investment. Some inks can last for years, even decades, if stored properly. Some inks go bad after several years, and there is no way to know how any ink will age. I had an Herbin ink that I loved and kept for over 15 years. The color was discontinued but I saved it for special occasions (like rarely if ever).

Eventually it turned smelly and slimy, and I had to throw it away. You can find older bottles of ink in antique stores and at pen shows, but unless you are the original owner, you never know how a bottle of ink has been cared for.

My thoughts, for what they are worth? Use the good china, as they say, and break out that beloved bottle of ink that you have saved for a rainy day. Lamy Dark Lilac ink, or Petrol? Use it. Pelikan Edelstein Amber? Use it. Sheaffer Burgundy ink? Use it. Enjoy what you have while you can.

If you are nervous about exhausting a rare color, use our Ink Comparison Tool and grab some samples to find a good alternative. You may find something even better. When you do, use it, and enjoy every word that you write.