Inkuisition – Birmingham Pen Co.

The Birmingham Pen Company is a small (tiny) family-run business in Pennsylvania specializing in a variety of unique inks inspired by and named for features of the region. They have recently expanded their ink catalog to several new formulations in a variety of unique colors. So, when I read that the Crisp Formula was supposed to “perform well with a variety of premium, mid range, and discount papers,” I took a long moment to reflect upon all the non-FP friendly notebooks I’ve bought over the years and knew I had to try. And, because I just had to have free shipping, I also got some of the Swift Formula to check out.

The Formula

The Swift Formula is described as being a versatile, wet-writing ink that starts quickly in a variety of pens. The ink is available in a wide variety of interesting colors, and start at $13 for a 30ml bottle. The color I picked up, Cold Steel, is a rich dark blue that dries without much shading or sheen.

The Crisp Formula is specially formulated to work well in a range of paper qualities, not just our traditional roster of fountain pen friendly papers. This ink series is also priced at $13 per 30ml bottle, with a good variety of colors available. I picked up a bottle of Kentucky Bluegrass; a dark and murky green, and Stormwater Runoff which looks exactly how you’d think that would look.

The Inksperiment

So the Birmingham Pen Company is making some pretty interesting claims for their new inks. To have a fountain pen ink that performs cleanly on regular or general-use paper would could be huge. Finding a fountain pen friendly paper brand can be an expensive and tiring endeavor. To test the relative performance of these inks, I gathered a batch of fairly common/popular paper brands and a few well-known pens. Paper and ink performance can be pretty subjective, but my hope is that this combination of controlled factors will give you a decent idea of how this ink will actually perform, should you pick some up.

With the test materials in place, I took a a brief moment to reflect on the shopping habits that led me to just having all these pens and papers available on a whim, and set out to write the standard pen sample sentence.

Tomoe River

Clairefontaine

Leuchtturm1917

Baron Fig

Moleskine

TRU RED

The Results

After rigorous, incredibly scientific, and not-at-all improvised testing, I found that the Birmingham Pen Co. inks do seem to dry slightly faster than other brands across all paper brands. Even Tomoe River. Unfortunately, when it comes to feathering, I did notice what I would refer to as a light to normal amount. Comparing alongside the other inks tested, there isn’t really a standout performer here. It seems that feathering on some paper will still be a concern with this ink.

Overall, I’m still a big fan of the Birmingham Pen Company’s products. I like that they’re making these in-house, experimenting with different formulas, and getting creative with the color offerings. While these inks don’t solve all of my cheap paper problems, I fully intend to try out a few more colors from BPC’s catalog, and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.

Check out the beautiful and unique inks at Birmingham Pens!

Disclaimer: All products shown in this article (except the TRU RED paper) were purchased at retail price. Statements and opinions are my own.

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