Monday, July 8, 2019


Montblanc The Blue Palette inks
Montblanc recently released yet another new range of inks: Six shades of blue (although I wouldn't describe the Turquoise as blue, but that's besides the point!), aptly named: 'the Blue Palette'. I thought their range of writing fluids was hard enough to comprehend as it was, with seemingly a million different types of ink, all priced differently. Yet apparently the people over at Montblanc HQ in Hamburg were willing to go one step further. 

Montblanc definitely noticed the increasing attention to inks, because they seem to be more invested in bringing out new inks each year. At the same time, they also changed their ink pricing structure in recent years. It started out with a general price hike across the board -Which is fair enough, that's what all brands do every year or so- but I'm pretty certain somewhere along the road they somehow lost track of what they were doing.

When we break down Montblanc's ink catalog (I'll use the EU pricing from MB's own website for this post to keep it as simple as possible), the standard range of inks (the shoe-shaped bottles) slowly went up in price in the past few years. The standard range recently received an aesthetic overhaul, so they now come with a white box and label similar to how the 'Colour of the Year' (Golden Yellow, Lucky Orange,...) are packaged. They still come in the shoe-shaped 60ml bottles, but the new look also comes with a new price of 20.4, about 10% more than before the facelift. They renamed some colors and added a few new ones (like Manganese Orange or Pop Pink). Interestingly, a few 'old' bottles are still shown on MB's website, also at the new price. Although I assume those will all eventually be replaced and make way once retailers get through their current stock. For completeness' sake, there's also the two standard range permanent inks (60ml bottles) that go for 26.5. Which seems like a reasonable upcharge for a permanent ink.

On the other hand, the special editions (like the Writers editions, Patron of Arts, Great Characters and Ink of the Year) have seen a much more drastic price increase in the past years. I seem to recall they once cost roughly the same as the standard range (let's say they used to cost about 20), but for smaller 30ml bottles. Nowadays, the special edition inks come in larger 50ml bottles at almost double the cost. Ok, you get more for a higher price. That's not too unfair, but in the end the price/ml still went up.

Next up we have the 'Elixir' range. They aren't special editions, but I wouldn't exactly call them standard either. You don't see these very often, probably because they cost 60 per bottle! The scented ones go for 70. The price doesn't come from being a limited production, but rather this is Montblanc's premium range and they justify the cost because they are based on natural dyes. In itself, the idea of extracting dyes from nature instead of using synthetic derivatives is pretty cool. But at that price... yeah, no thanks Montblanc. 
Montblanc The Blue Palette inks
© Photos property of Montblanc
All of the above probably still made sense to you, but the new Blue Palette range will undoubtedly throw you off. It looks the same as the new standard range or Ink of the Year packaging, but they use the 30ml bottles from the old special edition inks. And here's the interesting part: from what I can tell they are part of the standard collection, yet at 25.4 they cost 25% more for a much smaller bottle. I received a few samples of this new range in Appelboom's latest Inxperiment and they are nice colors for sure, but their premium price certainly struck me as odd when I first saw them.
Montblanc Ink pricing table
In case I hadn't bored you to death with numbers yet, I went ahead and put all this information in a table where I calculated the price/ml for each ink. Of course, the price/ml of the Blue Palette inks is high, very high. It's almost three times as much as the standard range, and easily surpasses the special edition inks, slowly inching closer to the *overpriced* Elixir inks! 

Don't get me wrong, I love Montblanc inks, yet I couldn't help but wonder why a brand would want to make things so complicated? Montblanc being Montblanc, they probably have a perfectly clever explanation for this pricing maze. My guess it's a gentle nudge towards another price change. I wouldn't be surprised if the Blue Palette is actually MB dipping their toes into the waters to test if lower priced and smaller special edition bottles would appeal more to a wider audience - similar to the tiny Iroshizuku or Sailor bottles. 

Personally, I used to buy most of their special releases but stopped doing so after they changed to the more expensive 50ml bottles. Simply because I didn't feel like dropping 35 euros for every single new release. I'm pretty sure I'd be more tempted to buy special editions at 25 euros per bottle. Of course the absolute price/ml is quite outrageous, but relatively speaking the investment is more bearable and most people probably don't need large 50ml bottles of every single color anyway. 

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this! Would you rather pay less for a much smaller bottle, or get the best price-per-ml deal?

Appelboom is a sponsor of this blog. I received this product free of charge. I was in no way influenced in the making of this article, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This article does not contain affiliate links. Use of photo(s) property of Montblanc falls under fair dealing.

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