Ink Notes: Sheaffer Red

Sheaffer Red bottleFor some reason I had two bottles of Sheaffer Red ink. I’d like to think that meant I liked the ink enough to get a second bottle but the reality is I probably forgot I had the first bottle and decided to try the color a second time. Both were at the back of my ink drawer, full and long ignored. That changed recently when I decided to match the brand and the color with my newly acquired Sheaffer Crest in Nova Red. I liked the ink enough that one bottle was poured into the inkwell for the newly acquired Esterbrook Dip-less which now sits on my desk. This is the modern Sheaffer ink made in Slovenia.

Sheaffer is a straight-on, no apologies red ink. While fewer and fewer fire engines are red these days I’d call the color fire engine red. Even a thin red lines stands out on the page. It’s appropriate for grading papers or marking up documents.

The ink is mostly well behaved. The only blemish was with my very wet Retro 51 Lincoln medium nib which had heavy show-through and some minor bleed-through with the 20lb. Staples copy paper. My wider 1.1 mm nib with a more normal flow didn’t bleed-through but there was medium show-through on the Staples paper. There wasn’t any bleed or show-through with any pens on the other paper.

The ink isn’t waterproof. The ink spread a lot and left stains underneath the paper after about a 15 second soak and sponging the water off. It was actually legible for a short time but as the water dried the ink continued to spread and become unreadable.

There’s no shading or line variation, just a bold red line.

The ink has cleaned easily from my pens. It cleaned easily from the Crest after being in there for a couple of weeks between cleaning. While the vacuum converter could hide stains the visible areas were stain free and the ink cleaned easily from the pen and converter. The test pens were only inked for a day but the ink flushed out easily. The Waterman Red in the Edison Pearl took a little longer to get the last traces of ink out, although it didn’t need anything beyond water. Different pens, so not a perfect test, but the Sheaffer Red was slightly easier to clean.

I did include a comparison with Waterman Red and Pelikan Edelstein Ruby in the writing samples. It was so close to Waterman Red that I had to ink a pen up with it. The Pelikan Ruby was already inked so I did the comparison.

Pens Used

Except for a brief dalliance with Sheaffer Peacock Blue, Sheaffer Red has been the standard ink in my Nova Red Sheaffer Crest. They seem made for each other. The ink has never failed to start, even after being forced to stand nib up for five days. It has also been skip free.

I poured one bottle into an inkwell for my Esterbrook Dip-less pen. The ink performs well in this setup. While I typically only use it for short notes, I can get nearly a page of writing from on dip. Being red, it starts to stain the collar of the pen that seals the pen in the inkwell hole, but it has been easy to clean off so far.

Wrapping Up

It’s been a long time since I used a straight-up red. The slot used to be filled by Waterman Red. Sheaffer Red is a near perfect color match for Waterman Red and it’s over a buck cheaper for a 50 ml. bottle. Add to that the early indication that Sheaffer Red is easier to flush from a pen (not that Waterman is hard to flush) and Sheaffer Red is my new “go to” red.

Additional Reading

Sheaffer Skrip Red – Ink Reviews – The Fountain Pen Network


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Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black

GvFC Carbon Black bottleGraf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is the sixth Graf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) ink I’ve looked at. It’s the last of their new line of inks for me to review. Carbon Black is one of the inks that Graf von Faber-Castell classifies as “Document Proof.” This means they are non-correctable and also non removable without leaving a trace. They’re also UV and water resistant. It’s also supposed to not be visible on the back of standard paper. I’ve never found that last item to be true with the other Document Proof colors and it wasn’t true with this one. I’m beginning to think they mean no bleed-through which would be true.

I’ve liked all the new GvFC inks, some more than others. So what do I think of Carbon Black? Wow! It’s a really nice black ink. I did the swab before inking any pens and immediately thought of Aurora Black. You’ll find an Aurora Black swab for comparison in the gallery. I don’t use a black ink a lot, but GvFC immediately became my go to black. Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler for the rest of the review.

The ink puts down a nice crisp line with no ink spreading or feathering. It’s a dark ink so there is show-through on thinner papers. I didn’t encounter any bleed-through.

The ink has a wet, but not watery, flow. If there’s enough ink it looks wet and has a bit of a sheen. The sheen vanishes quickly as the ink dries. I used the Lamy 2000 with a fine nib as my daily writer. The fine nib doesn’t put down enough ink to give it a sheen so don’t expect it all the time. Sheen or no sheen, the ink always drives to a deep dark black true to the cobalt black name. There’s no shading or line variation at all, just deep black.

Dry time is good on most paper although it’s considerably longer on Rhodia and other papers traditionally slow to absorb ink. It was quick enough on Doane Jotter paper so that I avoided accidental smudges. The Jotter is my typical note tacking pad.

The ink flushed easily from my pens although it wasn’t in them for very long. I expect the Lamy 2000 to clean easily once it’s written dry.

Pens Used

My Lamy 2000 was my daily driver for testing this ink. The nib was tuned by Mike Masuyama so it it’s friendly to almost every ink. It was great with the GvFc Carbon Black. A consistently dark black line without any skipping.

My Platinum 3776 Ribbed with an ultra extra fine nib was used for testing. The inked flowed easily through the very thin nib. The flow was able to keep up with some quick writing and was problem free.

My Retro 51 Lincoln medium nib is the wettest nib of the bunch. Despite a wet flowing ink on a wet nib it was surprisingly well behaved, There wasn’t any feathering or bleed-through.

My Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with 1.1 mm stub was the widest nib I used. Again, the line was consistent.

Wrapping Up

Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is my new go to black fountain pen ink.

Additional Reading


Reviewed on FPN

Links to my other five Faber-Castell Ink Notes

Sheaffer Ink Sampling

Three Sheaffer bottle stylesWhile I’ve managed to accumulate a large number of Sheaffer pens, I’ve never really used Sheaffer ink beyond the occasional cartridge received with a new fountain pen. Somewhere along the line I picked up two bottle of Sheaffer Red and a bottle of Blue-Black. That all changed recently.

While browsing eBay for all things Sheaffer I came across some old Sheaffer ink for sale. It was ink in the burgundy boxes and and inkwells in the bottle. The ink ships from an old Sheaffer factory in Wisconsin (according to the listing). The ink is offered by eBay user abolt among other Sheaffer items. (There’s still some ink available, although shipping prices has gone up on the 12 ml bottles.) This seems to be from the last ink Sheaffer made in Wisconsin. I had to buy a few bottles.

For reference, here’s a FPN post that shows six different bottle types from Sheaffer history.

Even though turquoise isn’t among the colors I like I had to give Peacock Blue a try since it’s a legendary Sheaffer fan favorite. Supposedly the modern turquoise was an attempt to match the Peacock Blue with a modern formulation. I see a slight difference when they’re side by side, but viewed apart I can’t tell the difference.

For the older inks there were two bottle sizes. There’s a full size 2 oz. (60 ml) bottle which is what the Peacock Blue and Grey inks came in. This bottle has a built in inkwell. The other ink was in smaller 12 ml. bottles that came in two-bottle blister packs marked “For Calligraphers.” The modern inks come in 50 ml. cone shaped bottles.

Gallery with Swabs and Writing Samples

Swabs labelled “12 ml” are the small calligraphy ink bottles. The swab labelled “burgundy label” are the old 2 oz bottle. The rest are the modern inks.

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue

GvFc Cobalt Blue BottleGraf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue is my fifth review of the new Graf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) ink line. Blue would be near the bottom of my list if I was to rank my color preferences. I decided to give it a chance anyway. I had the other five inks and I have a compulsion to complete sets, so I decided to give this one a try.

Since I rarely use blue inks I don’t have much to compare with this ink. It’s color is what I consider a true blue. It is a dark blue ink, but I still consider it a vivid blue, not a blue-black. Based on the color on the box I expected some hints of violet, but there’s none that I can see. There’s a bit of sheen to the ink.

When used in my wet Omas nib or in a broad nib there’s some shading. Drying times ranged from very good to very long. My extra fine nib dried fast enough to be smudge free on all the papers I used. The longest it took was four seconds on Rhodia paper. Other nibs took considerably longer on Rhodia paper (drying times are in the writing samples). On the other hand, all nibs, even the wide and wet ones, dried quickly on generic Staples copy paper. Although those quick dry times on the Staple paper came at the expense of bleed-through and feathering.

This is a dark ink so some show through was expected, but it was a bit more than I expected, especially on the copy paper. There was heavy show-through and some minor bleed-through on the copy paper with the wetter nibs and the feathering was noticeable. The feathering wasn’t noticeable to me on the Doane or Rhodia paper unless I looked closely so I could call it light feathering. The Cobalt Blue definitely has more bleed-through and feathering than the other four GvFC inks I’ve used.

I’d stop short of calling the ink waterproof, but it is very water-resistant. The ink color ran, but the writing was clearly visible after the water test. Graf von Faber-Castell does classify this ink as document proof and permanent.

The ink cleaned easily from my pens, although it wasn’t in any of them for more than a week. It also cleaned easily from my hands after an unplanned inky fingers test. It washed off easily after being on my hand for about 30 minutes. Just soap, water, a washcloth and a small bit of scrubbing were all that was needed.

Pens Used

I used the ink in the Omas 360 Vintage LE which has a custom Mike Masuyama fine nib. It’s a very wet writing nib, certainly my wettest fine and among my wettest nibs of any grind. There weren’t any flow problems or skipping. This pen is finicky with some inks but the GvFC Cobalt Blue wrote great with the pen. I used it as my primary writer for a couple of problem free days.

I also used the Vac 700 with an extra fine nib for a day. Again, no flow problems or skipping. I used the pen for note taking during a smug free day.

The Retro 51 with a wet, medium nib and the TWSBI Vac 700 with the 1.1 mm nib were only used for the writing samples.

Wrapping Up

Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue is a nice blue ink. I don’t want a lot of blue inks and since the GvFC Cobalt Blue is a well-behaved ink and a pleasing blue it can fill the blue slot.

Additional Reding

Reviewed on FPN


Swabbing 10 Year Old Ink

My ink drawer, two ink drawers actually, are overflowing and it was time to clear out some ink. What better place to start than with my oldest ink bottles to see if they’re still good. That would be Private Reserve and Noodler’s inks. Much of my stock of these inks dates back to 2003 and 2004. I actually dated some of the bottles and I made a note of when I got the bottle if I knew the date. Some of the Private Reserve ink is recent enough to be in the newer bottles, namely the two Fast Dry inks and Cadillac Green.

I ended up doing a swab of each ink on a Maruman Mnemosyne Word Card and then doing a writing sample on both Doane Writing Pad paper and Rhodia Dotpad paper. I used my Esterbrook Dip-Less #7550 Firm Extra Fine nib for the writing sample. It was a great excuse to use the pen.

I tried to be consistent with the swabs. A cotton swab was used and the top line on the card was a single pass with the new dipped swab. The larger ink area is just the ink painted onto the card with the swab. The writing on the card is with a glass dip pen.

Most of the ink held up well over the years. There wasn’t any mold. A couple of the colors definitely changed for the worse. Private Reserve Copper Burst and Orange Crush now share a similar washed out yellowish brown color. Fiesta Red seems to have a little little more pink than I remember and when compared to swabs I find online. The rest of the inks seems to have held up well. The inks were stored in a dark drawer at room temperature which didn’t always include air conditioning in the summer.

Private Reserve was my first bottled ink brand after Waterman and I liked the choice of colors and I really haven’t had any interest in the brand for years. So, since most of the ink is still good I now need to figure out what I want to do with it.

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown

GvFC Hazelnut brown bottleGraf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) Hazelnut Brown is priced and bottled as a luxury ink. It’s a nice heavy bottle and I love the look. Even though a bottle doesn’t do anything for the ink, fancy bottles are all the rage among luxury ink makers. The ink is definitely in the luxury price category, but it’s a 75 ml bottle which helps the price per milliliter a bit. According to Faber-Castell this ink is light fast, which means the color holds up with extended exposure to light, although this is something I haven’t tested.

The ink flow is good, although it’s not a wet ink. I like dryish nibs and this ink suffers a bit for this. As an example, my Pelikan 620 Piazza Novone’s broad nib was ground to a stub by Mike Masuyama at the 2013 Washington DC pen show. I had him tune it to be on the dry side. The ink is good in this nib, with good shading. But it’s obvious that the ink would be better with more ink on the nib. Plus, the line tended to thin out if I write fast.

GvFC Hazelnut brown has a nice, deep brown color that has a hint of red to it. Despite my comments above, the ink flows well in any pen that hasn’t been tuned to be on the dry side. The Piazza Novone was the only pen I used that had anything less than perfect performance.

The ink can’t be called waterproof. There was some trace of what I wrote after the water test an extended soaking would wash it away.

Dry time was pretty good, especially with extra fine nibs, But the drying time goes up considerably with wider and wetter nibs. While the colors aren’t close, Montblanc Toffee Brown is my current brown ink of choice and the GvFC Hazelnut Brown takes about twice as long to dry with everything except extra fine nibs.

Feathering was non-existent on any of the papers I used. It’s a dark ink so there was some show through on thin papers but there wasn’t any bleed through.

This is a nice brown ink that will get as much use as my current favorite brown – Montblanc Toffee Brown. I like the color and the shading. If I didn’t value dry time so much Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown could have topped Toffee Brown as my favorite brown. I like the ink and will be keeping the bottle.

Additional Reading

Reviewed at The Pen Habit

Reviewed on FPN

Ink Notes: Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite Cartridge

Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite cartridge tinFor the second week in a row I’ll be reviewing an ink cartridge. It’s another Edelstein ink – Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite. The cartridges for this review were provided by Goulet Pens.

I’m not a fan of blue inks, but blue-blacks can get my attention and even make my favorite 5 inks list. My first reaction when I used this ink was “meh”. It performed OK but just one of many blue-blacks. It’s grown on me over time. Like the Edelstein Aventurine ink it’s well behaved so it starts off with a likeable personality.

An ink called Tanzanite might be expected to have a violet look to it but I don’t see any in this ink. Although there is some purple dye on the paper towel when cleaning the pen. The ink color is growing on me and I like it better on some papers than others. Personally I like it’s looks better on non-white papers.

There’s just a little bit of shading. This isn’t really noticeable with my typical thin nibs unless I look closely.

In addition to the color varying based on the paper it also varies based on the nib. Wider nibs have a bluer color while the thinner nibs have more grey. Considering I like grey but not blue it’s not surprising I prefer the ink’s color with thinner nibs. This is most noticeable in the swab where all that ink looks more blue than I’ve ever seen when the ink comes out of the pen. It’s no wonder I didn’t really like the color at first since I started with the wettest, widest nib so the ink was on the blue side.

The ink dries quickly, especially on the Doane paper I use most of the time. Smooth Rhodia paper takes longer to dry but it’s still acceptable. It’s not really waterproof but it wasn’t completely washed away. There wasn’t any noticeable feathering and no bleed-through on any paper I used. The line it puts down is consistent and true to the nib size.

Pens Used

The pens used for the writing samples where used just long enough for the sample, then the cartridge was moved to the next pen. The Edison Collier with an extra fine nib was used for a couple of days as was the Franlkin-Christoph Model 25 with a medium stub nib. Both pens wrote flawlessly, no skipping or false starts. The Franklin-Christoph sat unused for an enforced five days and wrote immediately when the nib touched the paper.

The cartridge went dry earlier than expected due to a leak in the Faber-Castell eMotion. After writing the Rhodia sample about half the ink leaked into the cap. The problem was completely unrelated to the ink. But the end result was the cartridge was only in the Collier for a few days.

Wrapping Up

The R & K Blau-Schwarz Limited Edition remains my favorite blue-black ink although it is limited. Second place has a lot of contenders, depending on my mood (my current mood has MB Midnight Blue in second place). Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite is a little faster drying than most, so it will probably get some use and would be a good choice if drying time is a priority. It really is a nice ink but I don’t see it kicking any of my other blue-blacks to the curb. It is fun seeing how the color varies depending on the paper or nib.

Thanks again to Goulet Pens for providing the Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite cartridges.

Additional Reading