Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tools of the Trade: Ink Review - P.W. Akkerman Denneweg Groen

Have you ever noticed how seeing something you can't have makes you want it even more?

Yeah, me too. My list is long, including vintage Mustangs, signed first editions of To Kill a Mockingbird, 90's Nickelodeon, a bed (don't ever give away your old bed before your new bed is delivered because it probably won't be delivered--ask me how I know), a vacation, and Akkerman ink.

I first heard about Akkerman ink from the inimitable fountain pen reviewer and contributor to FPGeeks, Stephen Brown. Being a resident of the Netherlands, he first showed the rest of world the un-have-able Akkerman ink.

Photo courtesy of Marieke G. via yelp.com
I wanted it. Lots of people wanted it, but the only place a person could get it was from P.W. Akkerman's located in the Hague, Netherlands. For a time, there was no way to order it unless you were fluent in Dutch and were prepared to buy a plane ticket to pick it up.

The ink itself looked good to me, but the real draw was the BOTTLE. Even if I was not an avid pen user and ink enthusiast, I would want the bottle. It is just cool. If there was such a thing as a genie and it had a literary streak, it would live in this ink bottle. If I was that genie, I certainly would.

I grumbled about my misfortune, this cool bottle of ink that I wanted as much a vintage Mustang and a new episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that I was likely never to have.

But then! My favorite pen store came to the rescue.

Vanness Pens in Little Rock, Arkansas is the only distributor of Akkerman ink in the U.S. that I know of, and they carry all the colors of the rainbow. It is a beautiful, genie-filled rainbow.

After my last trip to Vanness, I left with a bottle of Akkerman Denneweg Groen (translated as Denneweg Green. Denneweg is a street in The Hague, but why oh why is it associated with green?) I may have also slunk out with a pen and some paper, but that is beside the point. I only bought those things because the staff at Vanness is so nice. ONLY. I'm cool that way.

I chose this color because I have long been after a bottle of Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (Forest Green). It is a lovely dark blue-tinged green with a lot of nuance and texture. Akkerman Denneweg Green is a DEAD RINGER for the Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku, and when you calculate the price to volume ratio, it is a lot cheaper. Plus, the awesome bottle! Plus-plus the fact that this is the vaunted grail ink I thought I'd never have.

Yes, please.

It's a huge bottle of ink. 150mL is roughly enough ink to write by hand the great American (Dutch?) novel, the second greatest American novel, and the second greatest French novel (because Les Miserables can never be topped), and you would still have enough left over to write letters to all the TV executives that cancelled your favorite shows. It is a LOT of ink.

The inkwell in the neck of the bottle is worth the price of admission. It makes it so easy to fill your pen without getting inky, and when the ink level gets low (and by then, expect you'll be in a nursing home explaining to the staff what a pen is and why you insist on scratching symbols on wood-pulp instead of communicating telepathically like everyone else), you will still have enough volume to submerge the nib. The bottle shape also keeps things stable, and with that much ink volume, stable is a good thing.

Since I wrote the handwritten review, I've had more time to play with the ink, and I can say that it is truly well-behaved. I haven't had any problems with it clogging or staining, and the flow has been satisfactory in the pens I've used it in. I've tried it on a variety of papers, ranging from Rhodia to a cheap composition notebook, and while there was some mild feathering and bleedthrough on the cheaper paper, it was comparable to other well-known, well-behaved inks. I tend to write with finer nibs, so your mileage may vary if you prefer broader ones, but thus far, I'd say this ink uses its manners.

If you want your very own bottle of Akkerman, you needn't gnash your teeth or cash in your frequent flier miles, you just need to pick up the phone and call Vanness Pens. I believe there may be some restrictions with advertising the ink on their website, but I assure you, they have the ink in stock and if you pay them a fair and reasonable amount of money, they will send you some. If you find yourself in Little Rock, pick some up in person, but be warned--you'll probably also leave with a pen. Or two.

My scan doesn't really capture the true color of the ink. I tried to get some pictures of the subtle depth and sheen of the ink, but didn't really manage it. I guess you'll just have to try some for yourself.

Now you have no excuse not to.


Christy said...

I just saw a picture of these bottles, and they're so amazing. And as I am going to be moving from the United States to Belgium next year, it is entirely likely that I'll have a chance to pop over to The Hague and get myself some. Would you mind telling how much you paid for your bottle?

Marisa said...

Hi Christy, I am so sorry that I have taken so long to reply to your comment! I've been on a bit of a hiatus, as I am sure you can see! The bottle of Akkerman ink I got was somewhere just south of $40, but I believe they have discontinued these large bottles and now have similarly shaped smaller ones. I am not sure of the price on those. I hope your move goes well, and I certainly hope you find a good source for your writing supplies!