Vintage fountain pens are truly a treasure to behold. Most that are still working today have stood the test of time and continue to uphold the quality and timelessness associated with fountain pens. However, similar to anything that has aged, vintage fountain pens do require special care and maintenance. And one of the best ways to take care of your fountain pens is to be mindful of the type of ink you are using in them.
What to look for in inks for vintage pens
There are several things you should look for when choosing a fountain pen ink for your vintage pen.
Inks with low pigment
Low pigment and non-sheening inks are your best friends when it comes to vintage pens. These inks contain less pigment, are thinner, and are therefore easier to clean out of more delicate pens.
Inks that are neutral in pH
Using a pH-neutral ink is the equivalent of using plain water in your fountain pen — it won’t cause any damage. Avoiding acidic and alkaline inks is ideal for vintage fountain pens. Alkaline inks such as those from Pilot’s Iroshizuku line, which have a pH value of 9 or 10, should be avoided.
Pen material and filling mechanism
The material your vintage pen uses is also an important factor in determining what ink should be used. Some materials and filling systems will hold up better than others. For instance, pens that use rubber sacs for their filling mechanism are more fragile. Pens with vacuum or eyedropper filling systems may also be more susceptible to damage since the celluloid pen body may react to modern fountain pen inks. The vintage Parker 51, however, is safe to use since it was designed for fast-drying, alkali super chrome ink.
Inks to use in vintage fountain pens
Most of the basic ink colors from respectable long-time brands such as Waterman, Sheaffer, and Parker will be safe for your vintage fountain pen. Be careful with J. Herbin inks as some of them are more acidic than others. It’s a good rule of thumb to steer clear of Japanese inks altogether since most of them are very basic or alkali in nature.
Here are some great standard colored inks you can start with for your vintage fountain pens:
- Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black
- Pelikan 4001 Black
- Diamine Sapphire Blue
- Diamine Prussian Blue
- J. Herbin Perle Noire
The Bottom Line
Having a vintage fountain pen is a privilege; it means you have a piece of history that has been passed onto you. Whether you have the famous Parker 51 vintage fountain pen or any other model that you’ve found or inherited, taking care of this writing instrument is a must, including using the right ink. It can help to ask your friends and fellow writing enthusiasts which inks they have found to be good for their vintage pens, especially if you’re looking to write in colors other than blue and black.
Happy inking, and happy writing!
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting