Update on Black inks

It has been some time since we posted a comparison of black inks, something that is useful to do because there are always new inks available and in some cases, the manufacturers make changes in their formulae.  In 2008, we had two posts on black inks – Black and Sorta Black Inks and also Black Inks (notice the catchy titles, eh!).  Several personal favourites were noted, including Aurora Black, Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, and Mont Blanc Black.  On the other hand, Private Reserve Ultra Black seemed to be the only ink that garnered negative comments – “soul sucking”, “evil”, and “you’d better have a W (presumably meaning a broad) nib because it doesn’t flow so much as it oozes”.

This post has several different black inks such as Sheaffer, Noodler’s Borealis Black and Dark Matter, to name a few.

2012 black inks.jpg 002
2012 black inks.jpg 001

The Noodler’s Borealis Black (a poorly disguised attempt at Aurora Black) and Dark Matter acquit themselves rather well when compared to our all-around champion of Aurora Black. What about you – do you have a favourite black and if yes, why that particular black?

Care of Fountain Pens & Ink in Winter

Great advice from our friends at Pendemonium.  You can sign up for their Inky Greetings and Midnight Madness newsletters on their homepage.

The Deep Freeze & Happy Ink
Thankfully not all of you reading this live in the frigid world like we’ve been in lately. I’d be pleased if it would just get above freezing for a few days. It’s been an especially cold winter thus far and the sooner it ends, the happier I’ll be. But more important than that is what these bitter temps can do to your pens and ink. If you’re in a cold zone, don’t even think about leaving your pens in the car overnight. They stand a good chance of cracking. We’re still shipping ink, but with extra insulation. If your ink arrives frozen, it’s still OK, let it come to room temp before opening. That way the bottles won’t crack causing a huge ink stain! Once again, for those of you in the cold zones, it might be a good idea to have your ink shipped to your office if no one is home during the day to bring it inside. Your ink will be so happy! Remember to wear your mittens.

Ink – a fluid or viscous substance used for writing

Ink – the lifeblood of a pen.  When vintage pens were modern, it was “the black liquor with which men write”, then blue and blue-black.  Today, it’s a completely different ballgame altogether – you can get virtually any colour of the rainbow and with different characteristics – fast-drying, eternal, scented,  and so on.  At the current rate of innovation, I predict it won’t very long before we are able to order our own “custom” ink.

Ink was the theme of yesterday’s pen club meeting.  We have had terrific attendance and participation with the themes and yesterday was no exception.  I for one enjoyed seeing such a large quantity and variety of ink (modern and vintage).  Plenty of discussion about the characteristics and quality of different colours and brands.  I am also sure the other customers in Williams raised their eyebrows and shook their heads as they watched us sniffing ink like it was a fine wine – was this ink still good, smell this Solv-X, doesn’t this FPN Brown smell like paint, etc.  And let’s not forget the assortment of ink bottles – Parker Penman, Levenger, etc.  All in all, another terrific meeting.

As the member of our club who is believed to have the largest collection of ink (especially if it is blue), I was asked a number of different questions about the inks that I prefer, etc… and I suggested the best way to describe my addiction to ink is that it is a cheap thrill – very inexpensive relative to most new pens but the possibilities are endless – you can write with it, sketch with it, mix it and even trade it for another kind.  To me, it is analogous to those who collect Lamy Safaris – very nice pens, wide range of colours and nibs – what more could you ask for?

Finally,  I wanted to mention a number of terrific blogs that feature ink.  I really enjoy reading their comments and marvel at their creativity in presenting the many colours of ink that they are using/demonstrating.  Here is a list of ink- related blogs that have caught my eye – if I have missed one, please let me know.

Ink Quest – brilliant narrative!

Inkophile – amazing imagination and presentation!

Spiritual Evolution of the Bean – The name seems to capture it perfectly!

The Harmless Dilettante – has a digital ink sampler with over 160 reviews!

The Laurel Tree – the latest on Japanese ink and pens!

I posed a question to the author of Inkophile about how they were able to ink so many pens and keep them all clean – http://inkophile.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/how-do-you-keep-up-with-all-those-pens/ .  The author will be happy to know that I ordered my ultra sonic cleaner after I read their response – I have been on the fence about one for some time, the author just pushed me over.

Until next week or sooner!



De Atramentis (Blue) Ink Scans

At the weekly meeting of the London Pen Club this morning, I had the opportunity to swab the De Atramentis inks that I purchased from Laywine’s . As you can tell from the bottles that I purchased, I like blue ink.

In case you can’t read my handwriting on the scan (which was rather poor by my usual standards) the colours are as follows – Petrol, Dark Blue, Indigo Blue, Sapphire, Atlantic Blue and Blue Grey.

De Atramentis Blue Ink
De Atramentis Blue Ink

When I passed the scan around the coffee table this morning, the Indigo Blue seemed to attract the most attention (in terms of a favourite) while the Petrol also generated some discussion (the ink and also its name).  I can understand the popularity of the Indigo Blue, however, I am quite pleased with all of them.  I am most curious to see what the Atlantic Blue looks like with different nibs.  I think it has the most variation in colour that should produce some interesting shading with the right nib, such as a Bexley broad stub or a Conway Stewart Italic Broad.

Not Your Typical Green Ink

While my favourite colour of ink is blue, hands-down, I also like certain green inks.  Specifically, I tend toward the blue-green (or green-blue, if you prefer) and darker shades,e.g., evergreen.  For the most part, my preferred green ink has been Conway Stewart CS Green aka Signature Green (why Conway Stewart named their two green inks – Conway Stewart Green (an emerald green colour) and Conway Stewart CS Green (the darker shade that I prefer) is beyond me; I don’t know how many times I have ordered the latter and received the former!).

A few other (relatively new, I think) green inks have attracted my attention – Pilot Iroshizuku “syo-ro”  and De Atramentis “Petrol”.  Both of these inks are difficult to source – the Pilot Iroshizuku line of inks can only be purchased through Japanese suppliers, e.g., eBay sellers such as engeika or ujuku123, while the De Atramentis (DA) inks are even more difficult to find.  They can be purchased directly from Germany or if you are lucky, you might be able to find a local supplier.  Because I am in Canada, I buy my DA ink from Laywine’s in Toronto.  FYI, I know that Laywine’s just received a large order of DA ink, so if you want some, now would be a good time to call or email them.

I have inserted a scan of these three inks below – the paper used for this purpose is Behance Dot Grid book paper which is an 80 lb. premium blend.  To me, the syo-ro appears to have a bit more blue while the CS green is certainly the deepest green.  I am quite fascinated by the Petrol; in hindsight, I wish I would have added some Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris ink for comparison purposes.

All of the inks performed very nicely – nice flow and quick to dry.  The CS Green was the only ink to bleed through and most of the writing with it could be detected on the other side of the page.


Herbin Ink

Herbin Perle des Encre Ink

Some of the most popular inks are made by J. Herbin – I have used their cartridges and bottles (you know, the demi ones with the pen rest) for years.  My personal favourites are eclat de saphir and poussière de lune; my youngest daughter’s one and only favourite – rose cyclamen.  I am looking forward to trying Vert Empire and Lie de Thé.

Interesting to note that the top selling inks made by Herbin include Perle Noire, Violette Pensée and Bleu Myosotis.  You can find out this information, as well as the history, manufacturing, download an ink chart and more from Pen And Co.’s Herbin ink pages, starting with the history page.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had purchased my Conklin Crescent filler from Jean Elie at Pen And Co. – with excellent results.  Well, in reviewing the Pen And Co. website after my pen purchase, I discovered a number of other goodies, including the best kept secret on the internet (hopefully not for long!).  Pen And Co.  sells Herbin inks here for the incredible price of just under  6 Euros per bottle and free shipping with a minimum order of 3 bottles (about $22 Cdn).  I don’t know anywhere that you can get this price and service!