Recently Badger & Blade commissioned Noodler’s Ink to create a signature ink – “5 O’Clock Shadow” (FOS). FOS is a deeply pigmented black with shadings of grey and green.
At a recent pen club meeting there was a brief discussion about the colour of FOS and how it compares to Noodler’s Zhivago ink.
Interestingly, there has been some discussion on the online pen boards whether FOS is simply Zhivago in a different bottle. Our trusty ink testers assure us that this is NOT the case. Yes, both are a dark green ink and appear very similar; however, there is a subtle difference – FOS is more grey (grey-green-black) than Zhivago (green-black). The scan (below) of the two inks made with a Q-tip on Rhodia paper provides further evidence of this subtle but real difference.
The $100,000 question is how FOS compares to the now discontinued Mont Blanc Racing Green or the recently released Diamine Racing Green (created for Missing-Pen ) and offered for sale in this FPN classified ad??
The Duofold was retired in 1932 (while it was removed from the Parker catalog, American production continued until 1937) and reintroduced in 1939 as the Geometric Duofold (aka the “Toothbrush” because of the black patten). The Geometric was quickly replaced in 1940 by the Striped Duofold, which was eventually discontinued in 1948. The Striped Duofolds were manufactured using a material that Parker called Laidtone in four colours – blue (blue, silver and black), maroon (pink, silver and black), green (green, brown and black) and black – and eight models (Button filler – Dufold and Lady Duofold, Vacumatic filler – Junior, Sub-Debutante, Major, Debutante, Senior and Ingenue). Black was not available in all models, e.g., Vacumatic – Major, Debutante, Senior and Ingenue.
I was talking to another pen collector a week or so ago about my set of three striped Senior Duofolds. I have a set of three Seniors (Blue, Maroon and Green). The Seniors can be identified by the Blue Diamond on their clips.
When I mentioned that I owned a complete set of three Striped Duofolds, the other collector told me that there was a fourth colour (the black one) and thus, my set was not a complete one. I had never heard this before, so the completist ( a collector who attempts to collect an example of every item in a particular field) in me began to hyperventilate. The anxiety subsided (eventually) and I started researching the matter, beginning with the Parker Duofold book by Shepherd and Zazove. While the book mentioned black as one of the colours, it did not specify whether it was used in all of the models. A few searches on Google were not helpful so I turned to the smart people on the Fountain Pen Network, where I posted my picture and asked for help. David Isaacson of Vacumania.com came to the rescue and provided me with the information concerning the models that used black. Phew, my Senior set is complete!
Of course, there had to be a bit of a twist as David mentioned that a blue diamond black Duofold does exist – a rather scarce high line desk pen was made in black. Now, where can that one be? If you have any information concerning this pen, please send me a note.
A fellow LPC member was kind enough to pick up a bottle of De Atramentis Dark Blue ink from Laywine’s in Toronto. The ink is also known by the not very PC name of “Business Ink for Successful Men”. I certainly agree that it would make a nice business ink but I expect it could be used just as well, if not better, by the fairer sex.
A very nice ink with a blue-black look to it, no hint of purple as you may find in a number of blue inks. Fwiw, I have seen some comments that it is similar to Dupont Blue-Black.
Sept. 13 update – When I posted this on the Fountain Pen Network and mentioned how difficult I found the De Atramentis website to navigate, in terms of finding the inks suitable for fountain pens and the colours that interest me, I was directed to this tremendously useful color card that lists the inks by colour and both their German and English names. Beware though, it is not in numerical order as their newer colours appear to have been added at the end, e.g. #47 Taubenblau/Colombin.
I recently came across a discussion on the Fountain Pen Network concerning a new, custom Noodler’s Ink made for our friends Murtaza et al at Sleuth & Statesman, i.e., Blue Upon The Plains of Abraham (BUPA). As you can see from the above picture of the label, the artwork is very detailed and draws on (no pun intended) the historical significance of this location, namely, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (BOPA). In fact, those of you who are more historically and/or artistically inclined may notice that the label is an artistic reproduction of A View of the Taking of Quebec, seen below:
A couple of nits about the label itself. Obviously the Canadian flag is not historically correct. I also must admit that I am confused by the meaning of the phrase “American Canadian Ink for Canada”. I guess I could speculate a bit about that and maybe even rant; however, I have decided to let “sleeping dogs lie” in this instance rather than risk sparking a nationalist uproar.
Before I get to the ink itself, I think it would be interesting to review the history of the BOPA. After all, it was only the most significant battle in Canadian history! The actual Plains of Abraham (POA) was a large, flat piece of farmland on high cliffs to the west of Quebec City (and derive their name from a previous owner, Martin Abraham). The BOPA was a battle fought between the French and English in 1759. In less than an hour, the British troops led by Major-General Thomas Wolfe defeated the French forces commanded by Lieutenant-General le Marquis de Montcalm. The French army retreated to Montreal and within a year had surrendered New France (Quebec). A few years later, France transferred its North American possessions to England. Needless to say, had the French been successful in the BOPA, this blog might very well be written in French!
Now, to the real reasons for you reading this blog entry – what is the story on the ink.
Cost and Availability
As I noted previously Noodler’s mixed up a limited number of bottles of this bulletproof ink for Sleuth & Statesman (S&S) in Toronto. Unless you live in or around Toronto or plan to visit in the near future, you will have to email or call and have them ship the number of bottles that you require. The cost of each bottle is around Cdn $25, including taxes, and shipping is extra (which will depend on the number of bottles and method selected). Expensive, yes, but understandable in the circumstances – how else could S&S offer their customers a unique ink while recovering their costs and a small profit, if any, on such a small “batch” of ink (I thought that I read somewhere it was 50 bottles or so).
Performance of the ink
From what I have read, the ink has a strong magenta undertone that takes on varying and differing degrees of prominence. It apparently can be so temperamental as to reflect those different undertones while using the same pen at different times! Someone even referred to it as the Canadian “Baystate Blue” – not necessarily a particularly positive comment (to some people) but inaccurate, at least to the extent that the BUPA ink is labelled as being pH neutral – the Baystate line of inks are not. On the other hand, it can very a very nice blue when the dyes stay mixed!
At our pen club meeting on Saturday morning, I test dipped the bottle with a Q-tip – the line that it laid down showed a variety of colours with a heavy magenta undertone; however, I did not see that special blue that I was expecting. Perhaps it was because the ink was not as shaken up as it might have been (and that I can remain objective in my test dips and writing samples).
The first thing that I did on Sunday (after shaking the bottle a number of times) was create an ink swatch on Maruman grid paper with a Q-tip with ink from the bottle and then from the inside of the cap. The results were much better than the first swab on Saturday, however, there is even a noticeable difference in these swipes. When the ink is blue, it is a very, very nice blue; otherwise, I am not sure what to call it.
I then filled an old warhorse that I have, a Sheaffer Fashion fountain pen with a broad nib. You can see the handwriting samples on first the Maruman and then the Whitelines paper. In each case, the pen started skipping and then stopped after writing with it for a few minutes. When I chose to stop writing, capped the pen, and then tried to write with it again (less than five minutes later), the pen would not start – I had to pump the aerometric filler in order to restart the flow. In my past experience with this Sheaffer pen, it has been a wet writer with a generous flow (I used it with Baystate Blue on a number of occasions without difficulty). This ink felt very dry when writing on both paper samples, in fact, you could really hear the nib on the paper. I could even tell that it was going to skip and stop, it was just a question of when. The other thing I noticed on the Whitelines paper, was that the writing seemed to have a slight aura of magenta.
After leaving my desk and thinking about this for a bit, I thought it might be useful to try out this ink on some different paper (Rhodia reverse book this time) and using two glass dipping pens that I have. What a disaster, as you can see below. I tried both glass dipping pens with the same incredibly poor result – the ink either splatted off the pen or nothing, I could not write anything decipherable with it. And there was clearly ink on the glass nib but it seemed to have dried almost instantly so that it was not able to flow from the glass nib to the paper.
This ink is incredibly temperamental – either the colour is not right or the colour is right but the pen is skipping and stopping. I am going to have to decide if (and that’s a very big IF) it makes sense to invest some time trying the BUPA in different pens and on different paper to see whether there is a magical combination that works.
I applaud S&S for making the effort to provide their customers with a unique ink but it appears to me that something went wrong here. I would love to see the test results for this ink and if they are positive, I would love to find out what I (and others) are doing wrong. It should not be that hard, I mean, we are talking about fountain pen ink after all, not the formula for the fountain of youth. I cannot believe that Noodler’s would put their name on ink that I can’t figure out how to get work in a fountain pen.
The great people at the Fountain Pen Network (FPN) have created a few inks of their own (in association with the ink wizards at Noodler’s). To date, the FPN has created three inks to be exact – Galileo Manuscript Brown, Dumas Tulipe Noire and the just released Van Gogh Starry Night Blue. I ordered a number of the blues and one each of the brown and tulipe noire, however, I have not yet received the brown. In any event, here is a scan of the blue and tulipe noire. The people at FPN are so artistic that they even created the labels for the bottles!
The first two scans are of the blue – one of handwriting with a Sailor King of Pens Professional Gear with a Togi nib and the other a swab using a Q tip.
This is a scan of the tulipe noire scan, swabbed with a Q tip.