A little bit of history Advent calendars started in Germany, or possibly Austria, but at any rate fairly close to one of the great homes of nibmeisters then and now. Beloved of Lutherans in particular, the versions with pretty pictures cheered up the home in winter, and the versions with sweets made up for that monotonous Diet of Worms. But it took Scousers to come up with a version of the advent calendar which would brighten your life for the rest of the year without threatening one’s waistline, and thus in 2019 the Inkvent calendar was born. Twenty-five little bottles of ink, all of them new, behind cardboard doors. Some of us gave in immediately. Some of us waited until we could buy full bottles individually. But all of us wanted to share the results.
How it looks It looks much like an ordinary advent calendar with something boring like chocolate inside, but that’s just a cunning disguise. There’s a jolly snowman design printed in blue, which might be why the inks are now labelled as ‘Blue Edition’… but that’s probably not what you wanted to know about. The new bottles are amazing four-legged contraptions which look like they could canter away at any moment if you don’t put down that wretched ballpoint and play with a real pen. But perhaps that’s not what you’re after either? Oh – the inks!! Well they look amazing as a range, don’t they? We were a little surprised to find quite so many browns and dark greens, but the whole palette of midwinter hues is here. There are also plenty of traditionally festive reds, some very groovy blues, a gold, a silver, two cracking purples and a terrific turquoise. Unusually for a set released together, some are ‘solid colours’ but many feature sheen, shimmer or both, which is showing off really, but if you can’t do that on special days when can you?
Crucially, how it writes… These all seemed to be fairly well-behaved inks for our expanded testing team (these are very popular inks), although the usual caveat about shimmering inks applies; i.e. use these only in pens which can be readily dismantled for full cleaning (and, preferably, reassembled without consulting a Haynes manual).
Ink! What is it good for? These aren’t inks for taking to the office, to be honest, but as those are all closed at the time of writing perhaps that’s no bad thing. They’re inks for having fun with – and they’re just right for it!
VFM These are not the cheapest inks Diamine has ever produced, but they’re nevertheless admirably affordable by international standards. The prices are variable depending upon complexity, too, so the standard inks are about £8 , and the shimmery sheen monsters about £11, depending as ever upon where you shop. For 50ml that’s not bad value, especially when the results look this snazzy.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… Seriously? Come on, there a lot of really interesting inks here. If there isn’t a single thing which takes your fancy, we’re probably not going to be friends. But if you want a second chance, there’s a fair bet that another one is on the cards for this Yule, when we’ll all need some more cheering-up after all.
Our overall recommendation Have a meander around the detailed reviews which this article draws upon – links below – and see what grabs you. Something will! Top tips from our gang include sheeny blue Polar Glow, teal/red sheen monster Season’s Greetings, robust red Fire Embers, tinsel-turquoise Blue Peppermint and shiny dark Winter Miracle, which looks like Scribble Purple with bright blue glitter and is none the worse for it.
Where to get hold of some These are new, but they’re not limited editions; available then, at any good stationery shop – and until those are open, on all decent fountain pen retail websites.
This meta-review references:
- Jo’s review
- Joe’s review
- Ania’s review
- Mick’s review
- Nick’s review
- Scribble’s review
- and, finally, the mysterious Mr Teal’s review
Thanks to Diamine for inundating us with a postcard from quite near North Wales, actually, and an awful lot of sample pots.