I got my first bottle of ink in 1994, along with my first fountain pen. It was Parker Penman Ebony, which was produced from 1993 to 2000. Over the years, I tried the Penman Ruby and Saphire. It came in a great bottle, which in my mind became the quintessential ink bottle.
The Saphire was my favorite ink, and probably the blue which I compare all others to. I signed many important things with that ink, such as the closing documents on my house, and my wedding paperwork. It had a luminescent quality.
When Penman came out, it was at a time really before Noodler’s and Diamine was commonly available in the United States, offering a broad range of vibrant colors. However, it developed a reputation for clogging pens due to the high concentration of the dyes in the ink. On the other hand, it continues to have a following with new old stock bottles trading for three-to-four times what they sold for originally.
My personal hypothesis around this is that Parker overestimated how much care and feeding people gave their pens. Back in the first half of the twentieth century, people used their pens all day, flushed them out like you might change the oil in your car, and in general do more maintenance-type activities on them. Today, only pen aficionados may take that degree of care to their pen. So, pens like the Lamy Safari and inks like Pelikan Royal Blue do well given their bulletproof nature. Parker Penman ink, which assumed a greater degree of care on the part of the user did not fare as well.
While cleaning out a drawer, I came across two Penman Saphire cartridges. I decided to use one this week, even though I generally don’t use cartridges (or the same pen for a solid week). If nothing else, it let me have a bit of nostalgia, and get a recent sample for comparison to color charts.