First Look: Birmingham Pen Co. Inks

Laura’s Perspective:

Recently, Ana introduced me to the Birmingham Pen Company and their own line of inks ($7.99 per 30ml).

Birmingham Pen Company is located on the Southside of Pittsburgh, which was once called “Little Birmingham” due to the fact that it was a manufacturing hub in the 1900’s, like Birmingham was to England . Today, the Birmingham Pen Company serves as a reminder of this tradition. At the moment, the Birmingham Pen Company is online only though they had a store front in Shadyside for awhile.

The Birmingham brand inks are all named for historic places, events or people from the Pittsburgh area. Each writing ink is bottled in Pittsburgh in a beautiful glass bottle, and labeled with a bit of a history lesson. The inks are manufactured in Germany.

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

I tried Mt. Washington Sunset, David O Selznick Lilac Wind, and Kier Refinery Petroleum.

Birmingham Pen Co Ink

All of the inks I tried performed well. Of this set, I think my favorite was the Lilac Wind and I confess I filled up my Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Cosmos with it.

Ana’s Perspective:

Laura and I split duties for the overview of the Birmingham inks. Over the past few weeks, we’ve tried eight of the 40 colors currently listed on the web site with new colors being added monthly. They have even announced an ink subscription option as well called The Pen Parcel. They are currently sold out of subscriptions at the moment but check back… its a chance to get their new ink colors, as soon as they are available.

Somehow, I managed to choose mostly dark, moody colors. I ordered my ink in the deepest darkest months of winter so they were the perfect antithesis to my normal eye-bleedingly, bright palette of spring and summer.

I think the colors are a reflection of the soot-stained history in and around the industrial landscapes of the working-class city of Pittsburgh, PA. Having lived for several years, just over the border in Ohio, in another steel mill town, I can appreciate these hues. They are seeped in a sort of history. There’s a depth to the color but also a richness.

And come on, anyone who immortalizes Jeff Goldblum in ink is a friend of mine.

So far, I’ve found the inks to be very well-behaved. Others might call them a little dry but I’d say they are right in the middle… not too wet, not too dry. I love the apothecary-style bottles and the elegant typography on the bottles is very appealing. The logo branding could be a little more apparent but at least its not overly ostentatious.

There are some brighter colors in the Birmingham range like Fred Rogers Cardigan Red and Irish Festival Clover Green but I admire the deeper colors like Allegheny River Twilight , Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue and Andrew Carnegie Steel Blue. Looks like I’ll be placing another order soon. And at $7.99 a bottle, how can I resist?

My hope is that there will be an Andy Warhol ink in the future (there is! But sadly its sold out!) and that there might be some women of note that will be immortalized ink!

Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided free of charge by Birmingham Pen Company for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I published my review of a few Birmingham inks back in May last year ( and it’s been consistently trafficked since — the word is spreading. I think they’re made by De Atramentis. Funny you should say that some people find them dry; I’ve found them on the wet side. With the interesting, muted colours they’re among my favourite inks. Thanks for the review and the great photos!

  2. I haven’t tried all ten colors I purchased in December, but of those I have tried, I like them. The colors are unique and I’ve had no problems with the inks in either my contemporary or vintage pens. I do plan to purchase more in the very near future. Thank you for your review, Birmingham has a winner in these inks.

  3. My favorite of the Birmingham inks I have tried is the Cathedral of Learning Panther Blue. I’ve used it in a Pilot Prera and my new Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue. It behaves just fine in both, and the color makes a great match for the Pelikan.

  4. It seems like the ink brands are multiplying very rapidly. I have four of the little 5ml glass bottles on order to test out. Thanks for letting us know about them!

  5. We were in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago and I was so disappointed to learn they didn’t have a brick & mortar anymore! I love the inks and will need to get some samples into my life. being a Rust Belt girl myself (Gary, Chicago, Cleveland).

  6. I love the colors selected for this review. They look appropriate for the workplace without being too stuffy.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I noticed on their website the inks are made in Germany. Does anyone know if they are made by another ink maker (ie De Atramentis)? Or could there be a different reason they are made in Germany?

    I’m intrigued by the inks associated with steel production because my father spent some Summers of his term years in Pennsylvania near a US Steel plant though closer to Philadelphia.

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