It had never occurred to me to look for interesting ink cartridges at the local office supply store. Until now… I happened to glance across the aisle at my nearest Office Depot to discover that they stock various pen refills (lots of Parker-style refills, FYI) and noticed all the way at the bottom of the shelf was a 12-pack of colored ink cartrdiges from Staedtler in the oh-so-familiar European short cartridge size. $2.69, you say? Don’t mind if I do!

I was surprised to see yellow and orange cartridges but no red or purple. If I were to make a color sample pack of cartridges, I would have skipped blue which is common enough to find elsewhere and probably would have replaced it with purple. My instinct is that the yellow would be hard to use and would swap it out for a red instead. But, hey, Staedtler didn’t ask me and at $2.69 for a dozen cartridges, I’ll take my chances.

So, I hopped home with my purchase and found six fountain pens that all accepted the standard short cartridges (thank you, stash of Kawecos!) to see how they worked.


Carefully reading the back of the package guaranteed that all the colors were standard dye-based, water-based inks so I felt safe to load them into my pens. The yellow was far more usable than I expected, more of a yellow-orange. The orange color has lots of shading but its not as vibrant as I hoped it would be. The pink was a very watery color — it seemed to spread even more than any of the other colors. I switched the color from the Muji with the medium nib to a finer nib Kaweco and it was still squishy and runny.  The blue, green and brown were all fine colors. The green has a bit of shading as well and is a nice kelly green, a hair on the blue side. The brown is a dark brown, almost a walnutty brown-black. So, of the six colors, three are solid usable colors. I don’t mind the orange and the yellow was a fun color to have to play with.

The only true dud is the pink. It was just too runny. It might work great in a very fine, very dry pen. I might try it in my EF Prera just to see.

Office Depot does not sell the ink refill pack online but JetPens does. For $3.50 per pack. Worth a try if you like to keep some European short cartridges around for quick refill needs.

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