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Pennonia Tintenbuch – Ink Swabbing Book


Hi! Today I’m going to present the Pennonia Tintenbuch. It is an ink swabbing book that will help you view the colors in your ink collection, you’ll be able to organize and compare your inks as you see fit. Our American readers are more than likely already familiar with a similar product called the Col-o-Ring created by The Well Appointed Desk. The Tintenbuch was created to fulfill my personal need to have a similar product at my disposal. I’m an avid pen enthusiast with a huge ink collection and I’ve been longing for a similar product like this ever since I saw my first ink swatch card. The problem and was that it is simply too expensive to buy products from the US when you are located in Europe. Not only is shipping expensive, but you will have to pay customs tax and VAT as well. If you’re also like me who lives in a small town you’ll also need to travel to the nearest customs office (which is 30 km from me). That’s basically why the Pennonia and the Tintenbuch exists.

So to sum it up, the Pennonia Tintenbuch is an ink swabbing book for us in Europe so we can also enjoy and organize our inks into neat little color swatches. Without further ado, let’s jump into the presentation!


The Pennonia Tintenbuch includes 100 white paper cards measuring 100×55 mm with rounded edges. The paper is manufactured in Serbia and has been carefully selected to be fountain pen ink friendly, to allow sheen to appear when ink is applied amply onto the pages. The paper is textured and is not as smooth as your standard notebook paper would be, however I think this creates the feeling that these cards are even more durable than they already are. It’s also important to mention that the paper used in the Tintenbuch is 180 g/m2 which means that these cards will maintain their shape without bending when you are holding them in your hands.

In the top left corner the ink swab book is held together with a partially threaded screw and a hooded bolt. This makes it really compact and the cards are secured properly. The hooded decorative bolt also protects from accidental injury by the end of the screw.

Pennonia Tintenbuch

I took the inspiration from the ink swatch books that are used by house painters. My family has been in the house renovation business for 20 years now and I don’t even know how many of these books I have looked through.

House Painter’s Ink Swatches

The book is protected by a hard cardboard cover both at the front and at the back.

Unscrewing the bolt and taking out cards is easy and can be done with one hand.

I have used the Pennonia Tintenbuch as my ink swab book for all of my inks and as of writing this post I have 97 inks swabbed. Below you can see a picture of all of my current ink swabs. It was fairly easy to create the swabs however it was time consuming because the dip pen I used had to be cleaned properly after each writing sample. The ink dried at a normal pace and by the time I have cleaned my dip pen, the ink was already dry and I was ready to move on to the next card.

My current ink swab collection.

Here is a macro shot of the texture of the paper. The ink on this card is Rohrer & Klingner dokumentus Dark Blue.

Pennonia Tintenbuch Macro shot

The Creation Process

I will be honest with you, I’m very proud of how the Tintenbuch came out and performs as I have put a huge amount of work into creating and designing it. Creating an ink swab book, as it turns out, is not an easy task. The process involves a lot of planning, research, testing and even negotiating. I started by deciding how big a card should be. For this I took a standard A4 and my driving license calculated how many times does it fit into one sheet. I didn’t like it at first because the license was too short so I ended up modifying the length to be a bit longer. Once this was set, I now had to find a source for my paper.

I went online and started looking at paper manufacturers and bought a bunch of paper from 160 g/m2 all the way to 230 g/m2. Manually cut out a test card from each and then swabbed them with Diamine Oxford Blue to see how they reacted. I chose Oxford Blue because it sheens and I wanted a paper that will show sheen. Some papers were horrible, they were really absorbent and muted the colors. Other papers had crazy bleed through even though they were heavy paper. Finally I found the perfect paper so this problem was solved. It turns out that the first paper I bought and tried was the best. I also was really picky and wanted to get it from a company who can deliver this type of paper for years to come.

The next big problem was how to tie the whole book together. I didn’t want to use rings like Col-o-Ring does because I don’t like the way it looks personally and because I want to do it differently. So since I knew that ink swatches for painters use a screw and a bolt I decided to go with that instead. I think it’s more durable is just as easy to use, if not easier and it makes the book look better in my opinion. Now after this was decided, I had to figure out what screw, what bolt will I use and from where will I acquire them. I looked all over the internet to see what type of screws and bolts exist and after a lot of searching around and a few trips to the local metal shops, as well as the big city to Dedeman (think Praktiker, Bricostore, Leroy Merlin) I found the perfect screw and bolt. The problem was it was shockingly expensive. So contacted the manufacturer directly and managed to order the bolts and screws I needed. The downside of living in a small town is that nobody had the screws/bolts I wanted in stock.

Now that I had everything set it was time to make a prototype. I took a ruler, a scalpel, my veggie cutting board and started to cut out 100 cards. I then had to order from the internet round corner cutters because there wasn’t a single shop which sold them locally (they didn’t even know it existed). So I punched a hole and cut down the four corners for each card manually. It took a bazillion years and I don’t think there were two exactly the same size. It worked out pretty great though. I actually used my prototype cards to create most of my ink swabs you see in this very post.

After this came the design of the cover. I liked the natural paper look so I decided to go with it too, but I was also thinking about a plastic cover too. I’m fairly proficient in photo/vector editing so this part wasn’t hard. I got stuck on choosing the best font for the backcover though.

Now that everything was set, I had to go to my local print office to get a quote from them because these cards needed to be cut using a computer operated guillotine to be consistent. After explaining what I want, waiting for a price quote and then actually giving them the paper things were all set. So you’re excited as can be and naturally they promise you a sample by the end of the week and they don’t deliver. Eventually though the sample came and I went, talked to the technicians on what things needed to be changed, oversaw the cutting process personally to make sure they do it right. I actually adjusted to round corner cutting machine personally to be perfect because the way they set it up cut the corners short and they looked ugly and unprofessional and the technician wasn’t paid enough to care about a minute detail like that.

After about two more false promises, all the Tintenbuchs were finally cut out and the covers have been printed. πŸ˜€

Final Words

All in all I would just like to say that I hope the Tintenbuch will catch your fancy and that you found the post, the pictures and the creation process interesting. I poured my soul into this project and I’m very proud of what came out of it. I hope others will see too that this is a quality product and that it will find success. My goal is provide an ink swab book to all fountain pen and ink lovers in Europe.

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments, suggestions, critique or just simply don’t agree with me on something please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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