Orange – 1) c 1300, of the fruit, from Old French orange, orenge, from Medieval Latin pomum de orange, from Italian arancia, originally narancia (Venetian naranza), alteration of Arabic naranj, from Persian narang, from Sanskrit naranga-s; not used as a color word until the 1540s. 2) one of the few words for which there is no perfect rhyme
The Oxford English Dictionary
Since ink in its earliest form – the Chinese produced it from soot – was colored black, it was perhaps inevitable that the first fountain pens would be made in black as well. Indeed, there are few pen manufacturers around the world who do not have a black pen in their stable of writing instruments.
As well, black ink seems to be the default choice for official records and business documents – visas, cheques, ballots, credit applications and annulment papers. Debrett’s New Guide To Etiquette and Modern Manners in fact suggests that in matters of writing, “black is the most correct and distinguished choice,” adding further, and somewhat disdainfully, “colored inks are considered very suspect in traditional circles.” But that is, of course, like comparing apples and oranges.
Of the many historical events in 2015, perhaps none cast more luminosity on the world of consumer products than the declaration by the purveyors of haute couture (not to mention paint manufacturers) of Copper Orange as the color of the year. Rhapsodized as the natural palette of the earth and the sepia hue of the past, the color Orange was hailed as “combining wonderfully with the everyday.”
Was it any marvel, then, that in 2015, Honda released its new CR-V model in Orange Copper Sunset? Or that American cosmetics manufacturer O.P.I. unveiled its Orange Nail Lacquer? Or that Chrysler added a Sunset Orange edition to its already iconic Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon series? And does it surprise you that German writing instrument maker Lamy launched its “AL Star Limited Edition” fountain pen in Copper Orange?
Today, it would no longer be unusual for Orange and variegated Orange fountain pens to be seen in stationers, pen shops, shirt pockets, and, why not, even behind one’s ear! Whether it’s the “Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir,” in Coral, or the “Montegrappa Fortuna Mule” in Copper, or the “Aurora Satin Ipsilon” in Orange, or the “Delta Dolcevita” in classic Orange & Black, there is no shortage of that bold, brash and bright implement for creating poems, music, love letters to a beloved, and, etiquette forbid, the occasional business correspondence. Of this color of molten lava and burning wood, the Russian abstractionist Wassily Kandinsky once wrote, “It is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.”
It makes perfect sense to pair Orange-hued pens with similarly tinted inks, and thankfully, manufacturers have not fallen behind. Diamine has its Blood Orange, Caran d’Ache its Electric Orange, J. Herbin its Orange Indien, Montblanc its Lucky Orange, Edelstein its Mandarin Orange, Nemosine its Solar Storm, Noodler’s its Apache Sunset, and numerous other iterations of what Frank Sinatra called “the happiest color” are easily available. Orange you glad?
But why use Orange in fountain pens, a shade that one writer, waxing lyrical, christened “the color of fall, marigold flowers, beautiful sunsets, and a warm fireplace in dreary winters”? Because it is visible, a color most easily seen in dim light, like life jackets, the black box, prisoners’ uniforms and the Golden Gate Bridge. Because it is also distinct and sets one apart from the mass of pen wielders all brandishing their tedious, dreary and melancholic black instruments. But above all, because it represents creativity, enthusiasm, fascination and the unconventional, perhaps a joie de vivre that is oh so lacking in the humdrum spectrum of everyday pens. To whip out a Terracotta Orange “Delta Dolcevita” or an over-sized Cardinal Orange “Bexley 58” out of the blue, as it were, radiates a certain warmth and energy, and identifies its holder as fun, frivolous, and maybe even a bit flamboyant, someone who can look at our less than perfect world through orange-tinted glasses. A day without orange is, as they say, like a day without sunshine.
“The sky takes on a shade of orange during sunrise and sunset, the color that gives you hope that the sun will set, only to rise again.”
Ram Charan, author, speaker and business consultant