(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
When Ana Reinert from Well-Appointed Desk came out with her Col-o-ring cards, I was thrilled. I wrote a review here, and discussed the nice quality of the cards and how convenient they were for doing ink swatches.
Recently, Ana came up with a new ingenious idea: Col-o-dex Rotary Cards. What a terrific brainstorm! The Col-o-dex cards work on any normal-sized Rolodex card system. So, no longer do you have to fiddle with rings, now you can put your ink swatch cards in a Rolodex and organize them with the Col-o-dex Tab Cards.
The Col-o-dex cards are 4 inches x 2.625 inches, which is plenty of room for whatever you want to include. On my cards, I put a large swatch at the top so that I can easily compare colors within color groups. I wrote the name of the company and the ink color in the middle. On the left side I did some swirls to test for shading, and on the right I did splats since those often are what show off an ink’s sheen. For all my cards, I used a Brause 361 Steno Blue Pumpkin Calligraphy Pen Nib for consistency. Plus, this nib (for dip pens) is super easy to rinse off, so I could do numerous cards at once.
The Col-o-dex cards are made of 160gsm European pure white paper. The paper is thick enough that ink does not bleed, feather, or show through. It has some texture that you can see in your swabs, but the paper fibers do not get caught in your nib.
However, the cards do curl a bit due to the wetness of the swabs. I’m sure you could press them between heavy books to flatten them out before you put them in your Rolodex.
The best part about the Col-o-dex Cards is that you can organize them with a set of tab cards. I labled the tabs with color names and then organized the cards by company name alphabetically. This is an OCD-ink-fanatic’s dream system!
Another wonderful thing about organizing your ink swatches this way is you discover interesting things about your ink collecting trends. For example, I have a zillion blue and turquoise inks, which makes sense because blue is my favorite ink color.
But, I was surprised to discover that I own only three red inks: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red (my favorite); Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot, and Diamine Red Dragon. I don’t use red ink very often, so that’s why I don’t own many bottles of it, but it’s definitely a color I need to test more. In fact, I need to get out of my blue ink rut and try more pinks, yellows, golds, and browns.
I think the Col-o-dex Cards are an absolutely fantastic way to organize your ink swabs. The only caveat is that it is super hard to find a freaking ordinary Rolodex! Sure, you can find some models on Amazon, but most of them are for business cards or they get horrible reviews. I finally caved and bought this massive Rolodex 200-card File.
At first I thought, “This thing is way too big! I’ll never fill it up enough for it to work well.” And, it’s true. Right now, the cards just dangle like limp fish and won’t rotate when I turn the knobs.
I thought about sending the thing back, but then I realized how much ink I have. I spent several hours swabbing most of my bottled ink. But I haven’t even touched all the samples I’ve accumulated over the years. Maybe my Texas-sized Rolodex isn’t too big after all.
Obviously, you can find older, ordinary Rolodex systems on eBay or in your mom’s garage. I know I had my mom’s old Rolodex, but I think I threw it away when I cleaned my home office a while back. Now, of course, I’m upset that I didn’t keep it.
You can purchase the Col-o-dex Rotary Cards from Vanness Pen Shop for $15.00. The pack comes with 100 cards. I suggest also purchasing the Tab Accessory Pack ($5.00 for 20) so you can organize your swatches. The Tab Accessory Packs come in three colors: kraft brown, blue raspberry, and limeade green.
(Vanness Pens provided the Col-o-dex Rotary Cards and an Accessory Tab Pack to Pen Addict for review at no cost.)
Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.
Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!