taiwanese brands, and stationery stores in taipei - ink between the teeth

Apr 6, 2018

taiwanese brands, and stationery stores in taipei

There are a couple of brands and releases that are exclusive to stores or to the island, and I wanted to talk about that briefly in advance of my first Taiwan-exclusive ink review. This is going to be a relatively quick rundown, but I hope that if you happen to be there you'll be able to take a look around and find some relatively rare inks.

SKB
SKB is a manufacturer of writing instruments and stationery supplies. They also make fountain pens and inks. I haven't purchased their fountain pens before, but I did pick up two bottles of ink, which I've been enjoying so far.

Lennon Tool Bar
Lennon Tool Bar is a shop that specializes in indigo dying, I believe. They make inks as well, but not fountain pens. I purchased two bottles that I have yet to try, but they're super interesting.
It may seem they mostly have inks in the "blue" category, but recently they've started expanding into other colors as limited runs. Whoever runs the store also has a big soft spot for stray cats and takes care of them, which is also great in my book!

Taiwanese Fountain Pen Collective
The Taiwanese Fountain Pen Collective is exactly what it sounds like: a group of people who just really love fountain pens. They work with Taiwanese artist NIN on fountain pen inks. Currently, there are two lines: 台灣鳥 (Taiwan Birds) and 台灣建築 (Taiwan Historic Buildings). They're very simple, sort of like "standard" fountain pen inks, and are mostly special because of the cool packaging.

Penlux
Penlux is a company I don't know very much about. It's supposedly a distributor of Sailor products within Taiwan, but it has a very limited presence on the Internet (although it is listed on the official Sailor website). Interestingly, they have a small line of exclusive inks made for them by Sailor.

It's only three inks, but they all come in these really cool folding boxes, which is good enough for me to add it to this very short list.

Ty Lee
Ty Lee is a retailer of fountain pens and inks, but they also have a few store-exclusive inks that are made by De Atramentis. These inks are based off of Chinese mythology, with colors named after characters from The Journey to the West. They also have inks named after historical figures like Chiang Kai-shek.

Fine Writing International
This is a store I've never visited before, but I believe they also produce their own fountain pens that you can purchase at other stores. They also sell these porcelain pen and ink holders that are incredibly pretty.

Where to visit

I'm based in Taipei, so I can only talk about the shops that are here. This list includes stores that specialize in fountain pens, as well as stationery stores. My usual haunts during my trips are:
  • 一分之一工作室 (One Over One Studio): This store is located inside an apartment building and has a great selection of Japanese and European stationery. They also have a testing station so you can try out a bunch of papers, fountain pens, and inks. If you've never been, expect to arrive about 15 minutes early so you can find it—and be sure to check their Facebook for when they're open. Seriously, don't be like me on my last visit and spend 30 minutes looking for the building in 100°F heat only to discover that they're closed for a break. Their buzzer to open the front gate has a drawing of a bear next to it!
  • 直物文具Café (Plain Stationery & Café): This is the smaller location of the two Plain stores, but it's still very lovely! They have those adorable elf ink bottle stamps that you may have seen on Instagram. Their collection is mostly imported Japanese stationery, but they also sell home goods like plates, knives, coffee makers, etc.
  • 茉莉生活風格 (Jasmine Lifestyle): An extremely tiny store that recently opened its back room for more space, much to my surprise and happiness! This is an eclectic collection of Japanese, Taiwanese, and European stationery, as well as film cameras and their accoutrements. I love visiting here because its so close to where I stay. The store is very small and there's usually a healthy amount of people inside, so be ready to squeeze.
  • TOOLS to LIVEBY: Another hidden gem. I've only been here once (it's a bit out of the way for me) but I do enjoy walking around this little store. They have a lot more stuff under their own brand, but they also carry lots of Traveler's Notebook kind of things if you're into that.
  • 小品雅集 (Ty Lee): Ty Lee is a new-to-me store, but it is absolutely incredible. It's two stories of inks and fountain pens. They carry European, Japanese, and Taiwanese brands. Everyone is super helpful, friendly, and they really know their fountain pen stuff—if you can't speak much Mandarin, like I can't, they have clerks who can speak a little English. I love their swatch books, where they have every ink they carry swabbed and written out. 
Want a map? I got you.
If you visit any of these stores, bring your notebook for their store-exclusive stamps! You may have to ask for them at Ty Lee; they're from the last Pelikan Hub, so they've been put away. However, for the rest, they're usually out on display for you to use.

This post was previously a section in the post "my top five inks of 2017, and some other thoughts" but I've decided to move it to its own post along with some other information that I've collected.

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