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Sunday, March 20, 2011

What is your experience with Lamy inks?


Getting It In

We were backordered on our Lamy inks from our opening order, and from my previous experiences with backorders with other distributors I was thinking it would be weeks before we got them in. Nope! 4 days, and there they were.



In the past, I've always managed to put off doing pictures and ink swabs for new ink color for weeks after I get them. After all, it's a time consuming process. But this time I just decided I'd get it done right away. So the night we got the inks in, I did swabs, scanned them, color adjusted them, I took pics of the bottles, and Rachel put them up on the Swab Shop. Here they are:




Before you email me, I know the Lamy Red looks hot pink. That's cuz it really kind of is hot pink. It's really not very red at all! It's quite a vibrant pink! Now, typical disclaimer here, the swabs on your screen are going to be slightly different than they look in real life. I adjusted them to be as accurate as possible on a computer screen.

What I'd Heard About Lamy Inks

There were really only two things I ever heard much about Lamy inks. One was that the bottles were awesome. They are sturdy and nearly impossible to tip over. They have a roll of blotting paper on the bottom (I'm unsure at this point if they sell refills of this paper or not), which is used to clean the ink off your nib when you fill your pen. They're the only company that has that, and that's pretty cool, I have to say!

The bottles also have a reservoir in them to help you when filling your pen when the ink level is low. You can see this reservoir built in to the bottom of the bottle if you take off the blotting paper holder:


The bottle itself is sort of like a spinning top shape, and the blotting paper holder just snaps on to the bottom. It's really kind of neat.

The other thing that I've heard about Lamy inks was about the Turquoise. The other colors are fine, they seem sort of 'safe' and conventional like most of the inks that come from pen companies (like Pelikan, Sheaffer, Waterman, etc). But Turquoise is the one color we've had people asking us about repeatedly. Just from doing the swab and a short writing sample, I can say it's an ink that looks very neat, and can shift from more of a blue to a green depending on your pen and paper, and it shades well. I look forward to getting to know this ink better.

Your Experience With Lamy Ink

We had people ask us to carry Lamy inks, so here we are. We have them updated in our Swab Shop, and we have samples set up. I have little experience with the inks so far, though I do plan to change that. But until I do, I'd love to hear what you think of them. What I want to know is what experience do you have with Lamy inks and bottles?

58 comments:

  1. I reuse the bottles - filling them with ink from less easy to use bottles - they are pretty good in so far as getting the last ink out of the bottle. I've never seen refills for the blotting paper, but at the same time I've never needed one. There is plenty of paper in there, and I only tend to use it if I'm away from my home desk in need of an urgent re-fill and my normal blotting paper isn't to hand.

    I count all the Lamy inks as "safe" and well behaved. They are reasonably saturated and leave a good solid line on the page with a respectable drytime on Clairefontaine 90gsm. I'm not a fan of blues generally so my head is not turned by the turquoise, I'm afraid!

    The big question, the one I have never seen an answer to is, of course: Why is the stunning violet only available in cartridges? That is one gorgeous colour!

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  2. I'm a long term user of Lamy Turquoise and have had no issues. I quite like the colour and count it as one of my favourite Lamy inks.

    Of the inks in general, while I find the red is quite BRIGHT and hurts my eyes a little (I'd say it's a HOT pinkish reddish colour?) and the blue-black is a tad on the dull side, all of the inks seem safe and have caused me no issues (well, other than the red [pinkish reddish?] hurting my eyes.)

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  3. Why is the stunning violet only available in cartridges? That is one gorgeous colour!

    I'm wondering the same! That is my absolute favourite Lamy ink.

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  4. The Lamy turquoise is the only bottled ink I have from them, but I LOVE it. It's the ink I use in a pen to test it out, or when I'm having trouble with a pen. I think 'How will the Lamy work in this. . .. ". I also like the cartridge blue ink -- from the one included in the new pens.

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  5. Thanks for the feedback here Anon. I have no idea why they don't do the violet in a bottle! There seems to be this situation with several ink companies, that there is one decent color that's only in carts. Why? I don't know. I suppose I can ask and try to find out.

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  6. Nicky, I think safe is the right word for them. Particularly compares to more 'daring' inks like Noodler's, Lamy inks seem quite safe.

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  7. That's a good use for it, Julie. I'll have to play with the stock blue cart that comes with the pens, I haven't done it yet, believe it or not!

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  8. Thankfully more companies have a reduced cartridge range and more colours in bottles. I have to admit to syringing Lamy violet out of the cartridges and into sample vials for use!

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  9. Lamy does not indeed, to my knowledge, sell paper refills for their ink bottles. If they do, it certainly is an extremely confidential market, for I have never heard of that possibility, be it on retailers or in their own materials.

    That paper, which is indeed « neat » is also my biggest gripe with the bottles. Ink can last forever, but blotting paper goes by frightfully fast, especially when said paper is thin and narrow and used to perfect the ink filling process. Under the guise of design, what they have really achieved is building obsolescence in the bottles, because no bottle with an empty paper dispenser will feel as « right » as a brand new one.

    Still, Lamy inks are indeed great in and of themselves. They are used extensively in schools here in France and Lamy Blue is widely accepted as a working primary school ink, completing the triumvirate of Quink's Washable Blue and Waterman's Florida Blue. (No small feat, if you know the French school system.)

    They are indeed very demure colours but then Lamy is a reliable brand with a no-nonsense ethic. The essence of a fountain pen writing, in many ways.

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  10. Haha, that's certainly not the most efficient or cost-effective means of writing, but when it's your only option....

    There are so many great purples out there, I wonder if there isn't a nice alternative to Lamy Violet that is offered in bottle form. Perhaps a little investigation needs to take place! ;)

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  11. Yes, I can see how the paper would go faster than the ink. I highly doubt it would be cost effective for Lamy to go through the entire distribution chain just for paper refills for their bottles.

    Maybe when it empties out, you could turn it into a Scotch Tape dispenser....or better yet, it could hold a roll of Bubble Tape! (you'll remember that if you're an American kid growing up in the 1990's).

    Your description of the inks' use in France sounds exactly like what I suspected from two minutes of use of the inks. They seem to be very 'middle of the road', a solid array of colors, nothing too extreme one way or another, just a predictable line of inks with solid performance.

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  12. I certainly don't think there is any malicious intent from Lamy, and as you say the rolls can indeed be repurposed. Maybe there's even a niche market for replacement Lamy rolls from somewhere…

    We did have Bubble Tape in Paris, too, much to my delight. And chewing gum and ink are the two staples of a schoolboy's diet!

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  13. Now that's a weird way to do an ink bottle. I would have preferred if they included a bit of blotting paper in the box, thus simplifying the design of the bottle which would translate to a lower price. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, they could leave the blotting paper out altogether because these days you can easily use good quality paper towels as an alternative.

    I do appreciate the bottle design which minimizes ink waste.

    It looks like these inks are almost at the same price level as Noodler's, which makes them cheap. Again, a good thing.

    Brian, I thought you said in a previous post that you wouldn't be carrying Lamy cartridges. I was surprised to find that you are indeed selling them. That's good!

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  14. Haha, I didn't realize Bubble Tape was an international sensation! That's awesome...

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  15. I think most fountain pen users are used to having paper towels handy, so the blotting paper isn't a necessity but it's an interesting touch. It does help to make the ink unique. The bottle design is neat. I have to admit, just seeing pictures of it I thought it looked a little 'cheap', but seeing the bottles in person are actually pretty nice. The glass is clear, and very solid. I will be keeping a few of these bottles just for myself ;)

    Yes, they are quite inexpensive too. Having an ink approaching Noodler's prices and with a nice bottle to boot, not bad.

    You're right, I did say before we didn't plan on carrying the Lamy cartridges. I didn't want to carry them on speculation, only if there was interest in them. Well, it didn't take long for us to get requests for them, especially since they're proprietary to Lamy and no other brand will fit. So here we are, with Lamy carts now :)

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  16. Not only is the red ink a hot pink, in some lights it's an orangey hot pink. And, speaking from experience, if it gets on your fingernails, it can take a while to wear or scrub off. YMMV

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  17. Thanks for that tip! I doubt most of us want to go walking around with pink fingernails (or maybe I'm wrong?).

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  18. Cesar T. Garcia RamirezMarch 21, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    I love the bottles, but didn't care much for the blue and green. To be honest, I frankly hated the green. It was too bright and neon for me. It worked like a nice highlighter, but as something I would write with? No, thanks. Really tempted to try out the blue-black, though.

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  19. Thanks for your input Cesar. I'm eager to ink it up for myself and give it a test drive!

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  20. Haha! All this time I've had a bottle of Lamy ink (blue) and never realized the bottom could snap off, showing the design of the bottle. Ingenious design. Thanks for this post, Brian.

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  21. I rather shamefully confess it never occurred to me either…

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  22. Have seen the bottled blue/black referred to as an iron gall based ink. Do you know if it is, and if it is, does it matter? .....hope your family is feeling better.

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  23. Lamy Blue Black is definitely not iron gall. I think you may be thinking about Mont-Black Blue Black, which I do believe is iron gall. And yes, iron gall makes a huge difference, it's a whole different type of ink all together. It's a permanent ink made of natural materials, and it's a lot more maintenance in your pens.

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  24. One of my fav. inks brands, and they come in the best bottle. ;-)

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  25. Brian,

    Are you sure about this? On FPN, Lamy Blue-Black (bottled) is consistently referred to as an iron-gall ink, along with MB and Diamine Registrar's. the Lamy BB cartridges are not iron-gall, however, My personal experience of using LBB (bottled) is it definitely behaves as an iron-gall ink. The ink definitely oxidizes. It takes little maintenance, just flush the pen every two or three fills and, of course, don't let your pen sit around unused for weeks at a time.

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  26. I use Lamy Blue and Lamy Blue-Black (bottled) daily. Both behave superbly and even lesser quality paper. The LBB is a bit dry, but I still enjoy using it. Great shading and very, very water resistant as it is an iron-gall ink.

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  27. The water resistance referred to above is regarding the Lamy Blue-Black, not the Lamy Blue.

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  28. Any chance the empty Lamy bottles coming up for sale soon?

    Actually, that brings up an interesting idea... paper "refills" can be made available from spent Lamy bottles from the sampler sales.

    Could allow for two tiers to the empty Lamy bottles, with and without paper...

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  29. Forgot to add, if it happens I'll wait for it before punching an order through.

    Hope Rachel and Joseph are doing better!

    Same person as above, just the name thing changed on me... >_>

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  30. Bart, well now I'm not so sure! I haven't read that it is in any of the Lamy materials, but I just shot them an email to clarify. I'll get back to you on that.

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  31. Ha, that was the first thing I did before I even unscrewed the bottle! I guess I'm wired to take things apart and see how they work ;)

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  32. The bottles are pretty neat. Definitely more useful than most.

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  33. We will be listing empty Lamy bottles soon. I have samples done for them, so I do have empty bottles. I just have to get Rachel to be able to list them on our site, which may take until later in the week as she's getting over a really bad stomach bug right now.

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  34. I'm with you on the purple. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I haven't found a substitue yet that isn't too blue.

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  35. Everything I've read says it's iron gall. You can smell a rusty smell when flushing out. That said, it's been nothing but fantastic in my Lamy Safari (even sitting for over a month). A great ink for cheap paper, but can be a little wan with dry pens. It's also water resistant.

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  36. The Lamy Red is too weak, but blue is a good ink for any pen. Blue-Black is good on cheap paper and Lamy Turquoise...turned me off Waterman South Seas Blue and has filled up hundreds of journal pages. Love that Lamy ink.

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  37. I, too, use it in a Safari with great success.

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  38. Turquoise is the color I heard the most about. I see why, it's the standout of the group!

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  39. The lamy blue was an average ink in my EF safari. I switched because I wanted something waterproof, and because the lamy blue would fade very rapidly.

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  40. I do believe the Lamy blue is 'washable', so it would be entirely the opposite of a waterproof ink! The Blue-Black is apparently quite waterproof, that may work better for you.

    What did you end up switching to?

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  41. I wonder what would happen if we did a letter writing "campaign" of some sort requesting Lamy to bottle their violet ink?

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  42. I'm not sure....I don't know that it's up to the distributor here in the US, it may need to go higher up than that. I'll pass along the word that the interest is there, for sure. I'll see what I can find out.

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  43. Good question, I have been running through some samples ;) I am thinking hard about baystate but I would want to dedicate a pen to it, probably the Safari.

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  44. I've been using BSB in my Al-Star for a few weeks now, no problem. No exciting events to report other than crazy blue ink on the page!

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  45. Any word yet from Lamy?

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  46. Yes! I'm sorry, I heard back and meant to update but got caught up. Here's what they told me:

    "Kindly be informed that none of our inks do contain any acids. They are all made of water and different colours. Some inks however - such as black and blue ink - have a pH value below seven (acid). Inks with a pH value exceeding 7 (basic) are e.g. red and turquoise.

    If your customer wants to sign legal documents we would recommend that he uses a ballpoint pen since our inks are not document proof, whereas all our ballpoint pen pastes are."

    What's that all mean? Blue Black is not iron gall, and in fact not even recommended for writing that needs to be permanent.

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  47. The Pelikan is the closest I have seen to the Lamy. That said, the Lamy is preferable!

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  48. Hi

    Really think we should comment more about "iron gall" thing, because many sources note Lamy Blue-Black ink as iron gall. Not iron gall of Middle Ages, but modern iron gall ink indeed. I’m really into iron gall ink right now… I love Lamy and, for now, only have Turquoise.

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  49. What sources? I went to my Lamy rep. here in the US, who took the question to Lamy in Germany. I don't really know what source I'd trust more than that.

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  50. I'll just quote some:
    Blue Black - This is navy or midnight, very saturated dark blue. As is typical of many German inks, Lamy Blue Black has some iron gall content, not enough to harm your pens, but it does add a tiny bit of water resistance. (http://www.pendemonium.com/ink_facts.htm)
    Iron gall ink is not suitable for fountain pens as it will quickly corrode them (a phenomenon known as flash corrosion). Instead, modern surrogate formulas such as blue-black inks by Montblanc and Lamy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_gall_ink)
    Maybe someone could check Greg Clark's Ink Sampler for info.

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  51. I have Lamy Turquoise and I like it a lot. With a flex nib it looks awesome with nice shading and is more blue to my eyes. With a finer nib, it seems a little darker and more greenish to me. My bottle came from Mexico and there is no blotter paper in it, or even a slot for the blotter paper, but it has the same bottle and plastic thing (minus the slot to pull the paper out of).

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  52. Really? Interesting...I wonder if it was an older bottle before they made them with blotting paper. As far as I know, they don't make 2 versions of it now, only with the paper.

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  53. Got the red one recently and found it really is tottally pink, I guess it is so unsaturated that it may not be useful for many people. But, if you know one thing or two about pens, you will have noticed that from looking at the bootle and being able to see clearly the bottom of it through the ink.

    I mix inks and have not found the right mix to make this ink a usable red.The most interesting combination is adding around 15-20% of blue-black to get a deep pink which maybe could pass as a darker red.

    For me it is only useful as a "signaling" ink in notes and drawings. Hope this info helps you make your decision!

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  54. Thanks for your input here. I agree, the red is quite pink and pretty unusable. I actually find a lot of reds to be like that, Pelikan Brilliant Red, Platinum Red...I don't know what the reason is behind making these pinky reds. Are they appealing to anyone?

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  55. It must be a t51. I've seen those with no paper.

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  56. Thanks for your input here. I've found that most red inks from pen companies are very, very pink. Lamy is that way, so is Pelikan, and Platinum. I don't know why they do that!

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  57. It certainly is a common problem, but there are some true reds available: Diamine Classic Red is one example.

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