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Intrigue, Ink and Drama Grip the Fountain Pen Community

Lamy, a German pen manufacturer, made a recent splash when it quietly rereleased Dark Lilac, a much-celebrated color of ink. A lush purple with a golden sheen, Dark Lilac, despite its popularity, had been produced only once before — as a limited edition in 2016.

Its reappearance a couple of weeks ago was so unexpected that the fountain pen community, which makes up a small but passionate corner of the office supplies market, was agog.

There was just one problem: It was not the same color.

“There is drama in the fountain pen community,” Aidan Bernal, a 23-year-old fountain pen enthusiast, said at the start of a recent TikTok in which he did his best to explain the saga — one that has involved conflicting company statements, amateur sleuthing and an elusive shade of purple.

“An absolutely beautiful ink,” Mr. Bernal said in a telephone interview.

Long overshadowed by its ballpoint, gel and felt-tip rivals, the regal fountain pen, which has an internal reservoir for refillable ink, has enjoyed a modest resurgence in recent years. Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens, an online retailer in Richmond, Va., suggested that its revival had dovetailed with a trend of consumers returning to analog goods like vinyl records, mechanical watches and single-blade safety razors.

“The fountain pen really plugs into that,” he said.

As a teenager, Mr. Bernal was so enchanted by his grandfather’s fountain pens that he hit the internet to find out more about them. There, he said, he found a vast community of fellow hobbyists. He now has an online audience of more than 550,000 subscribers on YouTube.

“I’ve been interested in stationery my whole life,” said Mr. Bernal, who works as an engineer in Seattle. “I always had to be the kid in class with the coolest pencils and erasers.”

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