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Inkblotters.com

The Alchemist of Zionsville, IN
A visit to Avalon
from the fountain pen of Len Provisor

Seems just a short while ago pen folk were discussing the finer points of available inks with manufacturer's singular names like blue, blue-black, green and red among others. Not very exciting, somewhat boring and pretty much the same as used in Mesopotamia eons ago.
Well, something was missing.

Soon we were tweaking the finer points of the exotic inks that arrived from France and Italy such as Herbin's Encre Rose Cyclamen and Violette Pensee. Along came Campo Marzio Roma, Rosa Ciclamino and Violetto. The colors sounded and looked delicious. Penmakers finally got the message and soon realized the market for a variety of appealing ink colors.
The demand for appealing inks grew and suddenly many European ink brands were becoming very popular.

Terry at AvalonThe Parker Pen Co. introduced a range of Penman inks which proved very popular, especially Sapphire Blue. Unfortunately, clogging of ink feeds proved to be a problem with the ingredients of Sapphire, and was soon discontinued. The pangs of deprivation rippled through the pen community, for there was no substitute. Creative mixing and experimentation among novices had begun. The time was coming for something exciting in the world of inks.

Let me tell you some pre-history of Terry, owner of Avalon Pens and creator of Private Reserve Inks. In the 1980's Terry was a gem stone dealer, attracted to the beautiful colors of lapis lazuli, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. Terry traveled to Brazil and other South American countries building his trade in gemstones, always having a strong attraction to the beauty of nature and the gift of brilliant colors. These colors have made such a strong impression that they are in large part responsible for his motivation to produce inks with this same appeal.
I've really enjoyed these inks for some time and wanted to meet this mysterious alchemist.

When planning my drive to the Ohio Pen Show recently, I realized Avalon Pens was only a few miles off my main route. I love getting lost down back roads and peeking back into days-past America. I was not disappointed.
Just north of Indianapolis, IN and soon off the Interstate highway, farm fields yielded to modern sub-divisions and manicured landscapes, yielding again to stately older homes along the main road closer to town. Here and there 1930's bungalows and the familiar box-like pioneer architecture of early 1900's. Dignified Oak trees lined the streets that have witnessed two hundred or more years of progress and parades at their feet. Victorian fretwork lined the white verandas with cushioned rocking chairs and potted plants. Speed limit: 25 mph. I just wanted to park the Volvo and walk the rest of the way.

Zionsville IN

Zionsville is a cobblestone street village only a few blocks long and as much wide. Main street has a curious zig and a zag, probably a good idea many years ago to slow a runaway team of horses spooked by one of those new horseless carraiges. Population about 5,000.
I saw one gas station, one set of traffic lights and a lot of antique stores. Nothing comes closer to middle-America than this. Boy, did I wish I had more time to linger here, so I made a mental note that I will be back again, and soon.
So here you see, folks, this is where some Indy Yankee concocted a potion of inks that really caught our attention. By the way, anyone 'noth of southern Indiana is still considered a Yankee. The closer I got to Avalon, the more my image of a high tech lab faded and the sooner I expected someone mixing a bubbling cauldron in a back shed on the farm.

Avalon Pens is on this cobblestone Main Street, nestled among some of the oldest buildings in town. No parking meters, didn't see the horse hitching posts, but I almost expected to hear the clop of hooves and the jingle of harness.
Terry is still a dealer in jewelry, and has enjoyed collecting vintage pens for the last eight years. Travelling to surrounding states he accumulated a large collection and started his own repairs. These were the days when pen collectors were mostly self-taught. No pen shows, no books or manuals. Pen Fancier was still a few years away, so Terry started tinkering with his own repairs.
Not unlike many vintage collectors, he finally reached a point where he would have to start selling off some of his pens to upgrade and build his collection. This is when he also started to represent certain new pen lines to local customers. Soon Terry became an authorized dealer for Sheaffer, Bexley, Namiki, Visconti, Pelikan, and many others. Naturally, inks were a popular sales item as well.

Susan SchubeTerry and his partner Susan Schube, who today does much of the repairs also, have divided his new and vintage pens business, with his jewelry and antique merchandise. This is the kind of shop one walks into and suddenly you don't know which way to turn first. I guess pens would win out, but his vintage jewelry and antiques are magnetic as well.

Terry also is manufacturing vintage pen parts which are excellent quality. He is producing Parker Vacumatic tassies for Maximas, oversizes, and "51"s. Parts for Chilton, LeBoeuf, Wahl-Eversharp, Duofolds, Waterman, Conklin and other pen parts such as clips and levers, pocket clips.

The store is well guarded by one of his many cats, one was fast asleep on top of a bright lamp-heated display case. I noticed a line up of guitars and mandolins hanging along one wall, Terry smiled and admitted he used to play keyboard back in the 70's. Ok, think back…1970's, is it flooding back? The sounds, the colors, the Yellow Submarine, and the Spandex? I won't go there right now, but this too, eventually was to influence the creation of Private Reserve Inks. Suddenly I'm getting a whole lot curiouser of this quiet and greying long-haired guitar man and I feel he has story that needs prodding a bit. Where did these brilliant inks come from?

In the 1960's and 70's Terry's fortunes turned to selling musical instruments. He was especially attracted to the brilliant gemstone colors of Fender and Gibson guitars. Now just think of who was using these guitars in those electric days of new awareness. Gibson and Fender were considered to be some of the very best and were used by the most famous in the business.

Suddenly the answer was right there. The brilliant colored paints used for these high quality guitars were made by Duco Paints, and one guess as to the names of these colors?
The guitar names and colors were Lake Placid Blue, Fiesta Red, Copperburst, Candy Apple Red, Naples Blue, and Sherwood Green.
Suddenly my favorite music from the 70's has a whole new meaning. The next time I hear Jimmie Hendrix, Janis Joplin and and the wailing tunes of the time…I'll have to look closely to those guitar colors, and scan the backstage crowds for maybe a glimpse of that guitar man Terry.

Today Private Reserve Inks are very popular and sold though out the U.S., Canada, and even Hawaii. Part of this success has been due to his creation of one of his first inks, Lake Placid Blue which suddenly became very popular due to it's close color to the discontinued Penman Sapphire.

Terry has just introduced Midnight Blues and Grey Flannel. Shades of John Mayall and the Bluebreakers. What a Boogie Woogie Man.

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