In my introductory post to my recent series on the Sailor Jentle, 2011 Limited Edition Collection, I mentioned that limited editions were difficult, if not impossible to “sample”. Sampling fountain pen inks was something I discovered when I returned to Sydney and found that it was nigh on impossible to find inks that weren’t blue or black, here. Peter’s of Kensington ( a gorgeous, old fashioned department store that sends you to the Fifties when you walk in the door) has a good collection of pens and stock Noodler’s (though by no means the full collection,) Lamy and Waterman ink (again, not the full collection) but they won’t let you test it and the staff don’t seem to be particularly understanding of a fountain pen user who likes some colour in her nib.
I turned to the trick I had learned in Japan: ordering online. I accepted that, ordering sight unseen, I would get a few duds, not minding because it cost me less to order from overseas than to get any shop here to bring them in – even taking into account postage (just like ordering books from O.S.) That’s when I discovered a company called The Pear Tree Pen Company. While browsing their inks, I noticed a little item they called Fountain Pen Ink Samples.
For $4.99, the customer can choose any four inks they like from the extensive drop down list, and Ryan at Pear Tree Pens will put about 1cc/1ml of ink – enough to sample – into each small bottle, vacuum pack it, then box it up carefully, and whisk it off to you – it takes about a week to ten days to get to Sydney. As you can see in the picture above, the samples come in two basic types of bottles: with and without a dropper. I got the dropper first but found it just as easy to get it without and use my ink mixing syringes to get the ink out and into a pen.
There is another company that now also does samples but their international postage is just too expensive for me to consider (that may their intent) and I have a soft spot for Pear Tree Pens because of Ryan Roossinck , who fills the samples and always leaves a little note (usually in a wickedly tempting ink that becomes part of my next sample order) and provides great customer service, despite PTP being an online shop. Ryan understands when you put in an order for eight different pinks, and will suggest pinks you haven’t thought of, because he’s ‘one of us’ – as you’ll see when I post an interview I did with him about the samples and how the company works, soon.
For anyone who loves to use a fountain pen and wants some coloured ink but lives far from a well stocked pen shop (or even just one that doesn’t allow you to test inks,) Fountain Pen Ink Samples are wonderful. Perhaps a little too wonderful – since arriving in Sydney, last year, my ink and fountain pen collection has gone from this:
And I use all of those colours at least once a month, honest I do