Parker Penman Ink   5 comments

Penman CartridgeI 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.
Penman Saphire Sample


Posted 2012-03-13 by Mr. Guilt in Fountain Pens

5 responses to “Parker Penman Ink

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  1. now you are REALLY making me feel old. I got my first fountain pen in the early 1960’s. by 1969 i had bottles of ink as well. The fountain pens with plastic refills were required at my school for 5th, 6th and 7th graders.
    My son, on the other hand, is in your school. He is also a pen afficionado, has the very inks you describe, and goes on wild goose hunts looking for special nibs and pens. He also has incredible penmanship, unlike his left-handed mother… I continue to keep ink and fountain pens. My most recent fav pen is a new one that goulet pens sells. It’s flashy and inexpensive, and the ink flows nicely from it.

    Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

    • I can help you feel a little less-old: I do have a couple of John Holland eyedropper-fillers. One dates to circa 1890; the other, 1910. I do use both, though I tend not to take them out of the house (mostly because they predate the time clips were put on pens, making them somewhat inconvenient).

      Also–I’m left handed with mediocre handwriting.

      • I saw your handwriting sample and wondered about whether or not you were a southpaw. I tell you, my son can do things that are incredible with these pens. YOu know I am an artist, but the pen just does not move for me the way it does for my son when he is doing his calligraphy. we have to write in the wrong direction. I have a great old pen with a gold nib dating from the 1920’s but i like my new one better. :-)

  2. A quick question, a little off topic: I have an old pen, black twist ball
    pointpen, the pen “pocket” clip is stamped “Penman, USA.” The center of the pen is clear plastic and encases a naked male. It appears that it may have once held fluid, but I have no proof of this. I have had no luck in My searches in identifying this pen in hopes of finding further information. If you can help in My search I would greatly appreciate it. Thank You and take care! Sincerely, ~Matthew~

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