Tag Archives: green ink

How Do I Write a Christmas Card?

Glitter spells death for fountain pens!

Writing good Christmas cards is easy once you accept the “glitter-death principle.” Glitter truly looks great on a lot of cards, but it also gets in your nib and destroys the perfection of your tipping material, suddenly rendering your favorite pen scratchy and irregular.

Break out the green ink and keep away from the glitter for a great Christmas card writing experience.

Tip #1 for writing good Christmas cards is finding great glitter-free cards. This is a surprisingly difficult challenge, especially when you must also account for those waxy and artistically bumpy card stocks, which make it notoriously tough to use a fountain pen.

Now that we have that out of the way, I love writing Christmas cards! What is the point of having a pen collection if you never use it? Plus, the season gives you an excuse to bust out the red and green ink in your collection, which you might not normally use.

Christmas cards are great because whether you’re a more religious or secular person, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to your family and friends who you might not normally be in contact with to say hi and let them know you are thinking about them and care. There’s no wrong way to tell people those things.

Tip #2: Make it personal.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a box of cards, signing them and stuffing them in the mail, but it is always a little nicer if you can add in a little message or update. It makes a huge difference. Just two or three sentences will do. “It’s been a crazy year. Janice got a raise, so we took the kids to Africa. Jesse got the mauled by a lion and Maria got ebola, but we are all fine now. I heard your little Bobby got scurvy. That sucks, but I hope everyone is well now. Merry Christmas! Love, ______”

You tell a little about your life; you ask after a little of their life. Perfect. But hopefully nobody in your family got a dread disease.

Tip #3: Christmas letters.

If a lot happened in your year, you might want to sit down to write a one-page letter about all that your family did so that you can copy it and put it in all of your cards. It might save you from having to explain ebola in 50 different cards. These are great and can be especially fun with a little humor thrown in. The trick is to still include a few handwritten personal lines to the card. A lot of times those letters give a good overview, but there might be particular events certain people will want a few more details about. The card is a good place to add these.

Tip #4: Acknowledge and accept other faiths.

A lot of religions have special events in December and January. If you celebrate Christmas but your friend celebrates Hanukkah, there’s nothing wrong with sending your friend a Hanukkah card. Conversely, if you celebrate one religion but get a card from another religion, don’t be offended. Often the sender might not know, or they mean no harm. They just want to send you a happy greeting without buying a bunch of different boxes of cards. Most people are trying to spread messages of love, family and friendship this time of year. Just roll with it…unless there is a genuinely mean message or ham-handed attempt at conversion…which is really inappropriate. Stick with love, family and friendship, and you can’t go wrong. Stick with that philosophy for all 365 days of the year, and you really can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

Treat Yourself as You Write Your Christmas Cards

With its striking greens and golden browns, this beautiful Parker Duofold fountain pen from 1941 would make an ideal pen for writing your Christmas cards. Not only does it look good, it is fully restored and has a very smooth fine-medium nib.

With its striking greens and golden browns, this beautiful Parker Duofold fountain pen from 1941 would make an ideal pen for writing your Christmas cards. Not only does it look good, it is fully restored and has a very smooth fine-medium nib.

I love writing Christmas cards. I don’t do group letters or holiday e-cards. I don’t care if you think it is hoaky. I love sitting down with some hot chocolate, my favorite holiday CDs and writing actual Christmas cards.

It is part of the holiday ritual that helps get me in the mood for the season’s festivities. It is a cathartic time to reflect on the past year and reconnect with my family and friends who are flung to the 4 corners of the map. For many of these people, this is the only time I hear from them…and they me.

The smell of vintage Sheaffer green ink for the cards and modern Parker red for the envelopes is heartwarming.

Plus, part of the ritual is selecting a new, or new-to-me, fountain pen to add to the collection and joyously write up each card and letter.

While it is way too early for me to buy the cards, let alone start writing them, this is the time I pick up my new or vintage pen. I’m already winnowing down my options…a restored Snorkel, a brand new Pelikan, or maybe that Cross Century II midnight pen with little pin-point stars that came out a couple years ago. The process of making that selection is half the fun.

Whether you are planning on sending out your first Christmas cards or 70th season’s worth of them, treat yourself to a new pen to make the most of your holiday writing experience with our more than 200 fully restored vintage pens and lightly used modern pens.

Fountain Pen Ink 101

This is just an "inkling" of ThePenMarket.com's private collection of vintage and modern fountain pen ink. It includes Sanford ink, Sheaffer towers of ink, Carter's ink and Parker V-mail ink from WWII!

This is just an “inkling” of ThePenMarket.com’s private collection of vintage and modern fountain pen ink. It includes Sanford ink, Sheaffer towers of ink, Carter’s ink and Parker V-mail ink from WWII!

Many people ask me about ink and what they should use in their pens, and it is a great question.

The best rule of thumb is to never, ever use India ink. It has sediments that will clog your pen faster than a diet of Big Macs will clog your arteries. While these pens can be unclogged, it is often a time consuming mess that could potentially damage the pen.

Most of the major name brands make very reliable fountain pen inks that are specially designed to help clean your pen as you write. They might slowly clog your pen over time, especially if you routinely let the ink dry inside your pen. However, they are easier to unclog with a simple flush.

Brands such as Parker, Waterman, Sheaffer, Mont Blanc, Cross, Pelikan, Lamy, Aurora and other major pen makers are always safe bets.

Many modern pen lovers swear by a brand named Private Reserve. These specialty inks offer a zillion different colors that are truely vibrant and beautiful. My trouble with them is that they have always clogged my pens within one or two fills. Personally, I don’t feel they are worth the trouble. Other collectors I talk with insist they never have the trouble with clogging, but I am far from being alone with that issue.

Ink color should also play a role in your decision. Black, blue and blue-black are always safe choices. Red inks have a notorious past for more quickly rotting ink sacs. Even modern red ink shouldn’t be left to set in pens for very long. It is safe to use, but flush your pen when you are done with the ink. Other colors such as greens and purples have a checkered history of ruining ink sacs and pen seals if left in the pen for too long.

One of the many great myths about Mont Blanc pens is that they can only use Mont Blanc inks. The company line is that their inks are specially formulated to preserve and protect their fountain pens. That might very well be true, but most of the other major brand inks are just as safe. Mont Blanc just wants to cash in on their overpriced ink.

Can vintage pens use modern inks? Absolutely. That is virtually all I’ve ever used on my vintage pens.

Can you still use vintage inks on your modern and vintage pens? Certainly! Despite the fact it is a liquid, there are still huge reserves of fresh bottled ink from the 1920s up to present day. Most of the inks in the photo above are from the 1950s and ’60s, and they are still very nice. The #1 vintage ink you want to avoid is “Parker 51 Ink” or “Super Chrome” ink by Parker. It was designed for use in the Parker 51 pens that used latex/silicone ink sacs. The chemicals in the ink very quickly rot traditional rubber ink sacs, diaphragms and piston seals.

Vintage inks can go bad every now and again. When buying vintage ink, check it for “oil slicks,” stuff growing on or in the ink and color separation. Sometimes the old ink loses its pigmentations. Don’t use it if it has any of these issues.

One of my favorite hoaxes in history used vintage inks from the 1880s! In the 1990s, the supposed diary of Jack the Ripper was discovered in London. The diary was to have belonged to one James Maybrick who was never on the radar of “ripperologists.” The initial results on the paper and ink proved they were genuinely from the 1880s. Later tests realized that the diary had been written in the 1950s and cleverly tucked inside a wall of some old building or house, not to be discovered for another 40 years when new owners discovered it during a remodel. I think that makes the hoax all the better, as whoever perpetrated it was likely dead by the time it hit the book stands. That type of patience for a laugh deserves respect.