(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Once upon a time there was the Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book with lovely textured, cream-colored cards that many pen afficionados used for ink sampling. And then, suddenly, they were gone. No longer produced. No longer stocked. And, lo, pen addicts across the world knew not what to do—go back to gasp index cards?
No! For along came a fountain pen Queen with pink hair to save the ink-testing world. Ana Reinert of The Well-Appointed Desk kindly created the Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book. And all was well again.
The Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book is a single-ring-bound book of 100 cards made of 100lb/160gsm acid-free white paper. Each book has a thick brown cardboard cover and back.
When you put a Mnemosyne card next to a card from the Col-o-ring notebook, you’ll notice several differences. First, the Col-o-ring cards are slightly smaller (2 inches by 4 inches vs. Mnemosyne’s 2.1 x 4.1). Second, the Col-o-ring paper is white whereas Mnemosyne is a yellowish-cream color. Third, the Col-o-ring cards are smooth whereas the Mnemosyne cards have significant texture.
I much prefer the Col-o-ring cards to the Mnemosyne. Although I love Mnemosyne’s texture for swabbing, it isn’t so great for nibs, especially flexible nibs which sometimes catch on textured paper. The Col-o-ring paper won’t catch your nibs. I also prefer Col-o-ring’s white paper to Mnemosyne’s cream. Inks look different on cream paper than true white paper, and when I’m testing ink, I want to see the actual color, not a slightly yellowed version.
I received a new batch of ink samples from Vanness Pens, mostly Kobe and Kyoto inks, so I used my Col-o-ring book to do initial swabs, splats, and swirls. I am so impressed with this paper. It is thick, smooth, and offers plenty of space for ink testing.
I like to do my swabs at the bottom so I can see the colors quickly when I fan out the cards.
The paper takes swabs well, though it does curl up slightly when it dries. Like Tomoe River Paper, it displays sheen beautifully:
Col-o-ring books are a steal at $10.00 a piece. The only problem is getting them! Queen Ana is hurriedly trying to meet demand, so be patient. She has pen shows to attend, pink hair to maintain, and other queenly duties. You can sign up here to be notified when the books are back in stock.
All hail Queen Ana!
(The Well-Appointed Desk provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)