Ten inks for 2020

I bought a lot of ink in 2020, and sold a lot, too. I’ve just pulled aside another batch to sell, leaving me with 67 distinct bottles of ink — a good ratio to the 27 pens I have left.

From the survivors, I’ve picked out ten inks that really brought me joy in 2020, as seems to be the trend on social right about now. Here goes.

  1. Scribo Grigio: Who would have thought a rather subdued grey-blue would be my favourite ink of 2020? It’s currently in my Lamy Black Amber and my Leonardo Cuspide, and that’s where it’s staying. Although it’s a different sort of grey entirely, its chameleon-like properties remind me of Sailor 123.
  2. Scribo Rosso Melograno: Somehow this ink makes every pen into a good writer. I probably like the colour of the slightly more winey Vinta La Union more, and Pilot Bishamonten has better sheen, but the free-flowing Scribo has stayed in pens longer.
  3. Maruzen Athena Murasaki: I have loads of good purples, even after many recent culls. Joker-suit Montblanc Psychedelic, gold-sheening Dark Lilac, warm Lavender Purple. I prefer purples towards the red end of the spectrum, but I still find myself with Murasaki, a stern, dark imperial purple, inked in at least one pen at all times.
  4. Montblanc Emerald: It’s exactly the same ink as Montblanc Pierced Sky. And it’s the permanent companion of my Rouge et Noir coral. With more green in it than my alternative Bungubox June Bride, it is bright yet legible.
  5. Diamine Fire Embers: a discovery after last year’s Inkvent calendar, this orangey-red ink is just so wet and free-flowing, and a beautiful bright colour. It doesn’t have quite the peach-tinged punch of Sailor Irori, the brick glow of Athena Akane, or the dark richness of Montblanc Velvet Red, but it’s my red discovery of the year.
  6. Montblanc Encre du Desert: nope, not the newer Rose Burgundy. The two colours are close, and when I compared them extensively back to back, I found I liked Desert more, and it’s really stuck. It’s not new to me this year, but this is the first time I’ve really written with it extensively.
  7. Montblanc Blue Planet: I have no shortage of dark blues, but this is wet and beautiful. I run it through sharp Masuyama italics that benefit from its smoothness and deliver crisp line variation from its darkness.
  8. KWZ Turquoise: I buy and sell KWZ inks fairly regularly. Grapefruit, Grey Plum, Monarch… they’re great colours but I often find they duplicate others in my collection, and tend to take longer to dry. Only Azure #5 has really stuck for me. And now this. It’s exactly what I want a turquoise to be. Wet, bright, like liquid sky.
  9. Choosing Keeping Blue: A gentle, good-shading blue with more purple in it than I normally like, yet I have found it charmed me much like Akkerman Cerulean Blue Vermeer and Montblanc Homer Greek Blue. It now takes pride of place in my Montblanc Agatha Christie.
  10. Kobe #21 Taisanji Yellow: who would have thought a mustard-yellow would become a favourite ink? For this final slot I was planning to include a green, of which I’m always on the hunt for just the right one. Vinta Sea Kelp I think finally scratched that itch, a dull khaki that’s not too yellow, not too blue, but Kobe 21 is like nothing else. It lives often in my ASC, which flows enough to bring the colour out at its most saturated.

Honourable mentions? I’m hanging on to my two Standard Bindery inks, Stargaze and Roadtrip, since this maker sadly disappeared this year. Roadtrip is a grassier green than I normally like, and Stargaze is a sheening grey-black — but they both have a special something. The unassuming Edelstein Aventurine has pleased me more than most inks this year, living in my ystudio portable in — gasp — long cartridge form. I find the zero maintenance approach surprisingly soothing, and with a fine nib it’ll take forever to run out. And although I only have it in sample form, Gazing Far Red Beans was a wonderful new discovery that I’m sure I will buy a bottle of soon.

For 2021, I’d like to finally make brown and black inks work as part of my rotation. I have cut myself down to three or four of each (why have eight brown inks when you don’t use any?), and on paper (ha) I like them a lot. I guess I just need to find the right pairing.

9 thoughts on “Ten inks for 2020

  1. No permanent/waterproof inks? Pigment or iron galls?

    Is that a conscious decision, or you prefer the vibrant colours of standard inks? FWIW, Konrad does make some marvellous IG colours, they tend to be much milder than standard gall inks, and so are less water fast. The trade off is understandable.


    • Nah, no iron gall, no pigmented, no shimmer, no sheen-monsters… I like shading, colour and wetness. I dislike long dry time, smudging, clogging, nib crud, difficulty cleaning, and staining. Honestly I’ve never really needed permanent inks and I’m nervous about iron galls, no matter how safe they are. I have all my pens inked all the time, which means they don’t get daily use and they may be inked for months without a flush. So I go for low maintenance. I have owned both IG and pigmented inks, but they don’t hang around long.


  2. Encre du Desert is indeed great.
    My fave new ink of the year is the Sailor’s Sailor anniversary blue. That may be the first bottle I will actually finish.
    Another fave of mine this year (not new) is Robert Oster Great Southern Ocean. Splendid in medium nibs.


  3. Have you tried Noodler’s Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman’s Sepia? It’s become my main go-to ink. Flows great, totally bulletproof, and has some interesting color characteristics when it dries on different papers. It’s permanently in my Pilot Custom 823 and Pineider travel inkwell. It has an interesting back story on its development inspiration as well.


    • Hey John, no I haven’t tried that — I have enjoyed a few Noodler’s inks in the past, but generally they dry too slowly for me on Tomoe and I end up with lots of smudging. I’ll take a look though! Thanks!


  4. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – December 13, 2020 | Fountain Pen Quest

  5. Pingback: Five Inks I’m Going To Use A Lot More In Winter 2021 – The Ace of Pens

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