Ink Notes: Montblanc Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green

photo of the box and botleMontblanc is one of my favorite ink brands as it makes up three of my five favorite inks. Montblanc Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green is a limited edition ink which means it sells at a premium price. Prices vary considerably since availability is limited but I found mine for $17 for a 35 ml bottle. At 49 cents per ml this puts it solidly in the luxury ink category and about twice the proce as the standard Montblanc inks.

The ink color immediately reminded me of Montblanc Racing Green, #3 on my favorite inks list. When swabbed the ink is a little lighter than Racing Green, but when used from a fountain pen it’s a fairly close color, just a little less saturated.

Seaweed Green is not a wet, free-flowing ink. But like other Montblanc inks it’s consistent and puts down a nice line. The ink has enough water resistance so that it can still be read after having water spilled on it. Dry time was very good. I didn’t experience any feathering or bleed-through.

The color does vary quit a bit depending on the nib and paper. In my thin wet nibs the ink was noticeably darker. With drier nibs or nibs where the ink spread out more, like my broad stub the ink had more of a khaki color. I like the variety in the way the ink performs.

There was some nice line variation with both the stub nibs. There was some nice shading with the wetter nibs, when there was enough ink put down to actually shade.

Pens Used

I tested this ink a bit differently this time, skipping the TWSBI Vac 700 opting to use four different pens.

Sheaffer PFM I with a fine nib – the ink was at it’s best in this pen. While it’s a fine nib it’s the wettest nib of the bunch that I used. The ink when onto the paper with a nice dark color. Because of this the ink took as long to dry when using this pen as it did when I used the broad nib. No signs of feathering. I liked this pen/ink combo so much that it’s been my daily writer.

Esterbrook J with 1 #2442 Fine Stub – a nice consistent flow without any skipping or other problems. The ink was drier with this nob but still problem free. Drying time was less than 5 seconds.

Caran d’ Ache Geneve with a medium nib – this was the only convertor fill pen of the bunch and was a problem pen. It’s been a long time since I used the pen but it’s always been a good writer. I had flow problems mainly from the ink clinging to the convertor, but it was inconsistent from the beginning. I’ve yet to try another ink in the pen, but this was so unlike the other pens I used I’m blaming the pen. You’ll see some smudges on the Rhodia sample. This was when I had just forced ink into the feed because it was stuck in the convertor.

Pelikan M620 Shanghai with a custom broad stub – while the widest nib used, it was ground and tuned by Mike Masuyama to write on the dry side. So dry times were comparable to the PFM I fine nib.

Wrapping Up

It’s a well behaved ink with a color I like. Is it worth the premium? I bought mine at the low end of prices I’ve seen. It’s a well behaved ink with a fast drying time and pretty good water resistance so I don’t regret buying the bottle. I also like that the color varies depending on the nib used.

Additional Reading

Review on FPN

FPGeeks Inkcyclopedia

Reviewed at Inked Up and Happy

At Glenn’s Pens




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Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red

Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red bottleA garnet is a “precious stone consisting of a deep red vitreous silicate material.” Another definition is simply a dark red color. So, while Graf von Faber-Cstell Garnet Red may have a redundant name, it does accurately reflect the ink’s color.

I have a thing for Maroon and Burgundy inks so I’m predisposed to like GvFC Garnet Red. The ink falls into the category Graf von Faber-Castell calls “Light Fast” which means the color hold will be consistent long after exposure to light. This isn’t something I can really test in a short time, especially with the recent overcast and rainy days. So I’ll take Faber-Castell’s word for it.

At $30 for a 75 ml bottle this puts the ink in the luxury category. Bit with a per ml price of 49 cents it’s less expensive than Pilot Iroshizuku inks. GvFC inks are now listed on Fahrney’s website in addition to Pen Boutique in the US. But both still sell the ink for full list price. Other than Cult Pens has the ink in the UK no other sources turn up in an internet search.

The ink leaves the pen in a dark red color, true to its name, and dries with the same color. The exception was a wet Noodler’s nib on cheap copy paper where it went on the paper redder and dried to the darker color. The ink reminds me of Diamine Oxblood so I pulled out that ink for a comparison. It’s very similar as shown in the photo of the swabs. But there is significant variation in the color depending on how wet the nib is. The Diamine Oxblood keeps its color better with drier nibs so it would be a better choice for a consistently darker red across different nibs. The GvFC Garnet Red tends to be more of a Bordeaux with a drier nib. Since I tend to like drier nibs this means the ink is more of a bordeaux when I use it.

The box and bottle design fit the luxury branding. While still just cardboard, the box colors give it a classy look as does it’s matte, non-shiny finish. The heavy glass bottle also telegraphs luxury. The wide opening makes it easy to insert the pen and the heavy weight makes it stable. But once the ink level gets low enough it becomes difficult to immerse the nib. There no indent or filling assist mechanism to keep the ink level high enough around the nib. The weight and shape of the bottle make it difficult to tilt when trying to fill a pen.

As shown in the writing samples, the ink is not in the least bit water resistant and it doesn’t claim to be. Drying is fast so there’s little chance of accidental smudges.

The ink flows well and I didn’t have and hard starts or skipping. The ink did cling to one convertor which reduced the flow to the nib and resulted in a lighter color.

Bottom Line

I like the color, especially in a wet nib. The ink performs well and dries fast. But I’m not sure I like it better than Diamine Oxblood which is significantly less expensive.

Pens Used

I used the TWSBI Vac 700 with extra fine, fine, medium and broad nibs for the writing samples. The ink flushed easily from the nibs and the pen,

My Sheaffer Balance Aspen was used as a daily writer for a couple of days. The pen’s nib and feed was adjusted by Mike Masuyama and all inks have consistently flowed well in it. The GvFC Garnet Red clung to the convertor which reduced the flow rather quickly (after about a page) so the ink was more of a bordeaux color. While I could force ink into the feed it would soon thin out so this would become tedious. The ink never went dry, it was just drier with this nib than any other ink I used in the pen. While the ink was only in the pen a couple of days it flushed out easily.

The Monteverde Impressa also had the ink for a couple of days This pen is a wet fine nib, All inks cling to the convertor in this pen and the GvFC Garnet Red was no different. But unlike the Aspen the flow was good until the ink level became low at which point it needed help saturating the feed. Like the other pens, the ink flushed easily from this pen. Like every other ink it was necessary to take apart the convertor to remove all traces of the ink.

I gave the ink a try in my Pelikan M101N “Lizard” SE. Flow was good, without the problems I had with a convertor since it’s a piston filler. Flow was good and the line was dark despite being an extra fine nib. The ink was easy to flush from the piston filler without needing to remove the nib,

Gallery and Writing Samples

Ink Notes: Visconti Bordeaux

A bottle of Visconti Bordeaux and the TWSBI Vac 700 filled with itWith the name “Bordeaux” it was only a matter of time before I gave Visconti Bordeaux a try. I’ll get this out of the way immediately – it’s not a replacement for my beloved Montblanc Bordeaux. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

A bottle of Visconti Bordeaux in its caseThe ink comes in a fancy 40 ml. plastic bottle and costs about 44 cents per ml. The bottle is in a see-through plastic container instead of a box. The base of the container matches the ink color, as does the bottle cap. The container’s plastic cover is tapped to the base although I wish they snapped together as this would make storage easier. The fist time I got a bottle of Visconti ink I tossed the container. That is, until I realized the bottle design made it unstable so putting the bottle inside the inverted container cover while filling helped prevent accidents. The bottle design helps collect the last bits of ink making the pens easier to fill as the ink is used up.

Visconti Bordeaux has a good solid color without being overly saturated. This made it easy to read on all the papers I used. The flow was consistently good. The ink is well lubricated and the flow is just at the borderline of being too wet for me. I do prefer a ink on the dryish side so this doesn’t mean the ink forms puddles.

The ink puts down a line that’s dark enough to be easily read on all the paper I used. There’s no bleed-through, even with a wider broad stub on cheap copy paper. Show through is non-existent unless the page is held up to a light. Likewise I didn’t notice feathering on any paper I used, including some cheap stuff. The bottom line is that this is a very well behaved ink.

There is some shading and line variation present with the ink. I suspect an experienced flex writer could get some nice shading from the ink. It gives the line a little bit of character, even with a fine nib.

The ink is not at all waterproof. Enough ink was left behind in the spill test, where I immediately soaked up the water. But with a longer soak the test was unreadable between the faded line and smeared ink stain.

I used the ink as my daily writer in a Monteverde Impressa, which means about 8 pages of writing. The pen is a wet writer despite having a fine nib. This is the one pen where there was ink inside the cap and on the nib on the same day that I inked it. The pen is new but I’ve yet to experience this with any other inks. By comparison, the ink spent six weeks in my Pelikan 620 and ink in the cap was not a problem despite being carried to and from work in my computer bag.

For long-term testing I used my Pelikan 620 Shanghai with a broad nib ground to a custom stub. The nib is not something I’d use as a daily writer so there would often be several days of none use. The ink was always ready when I uncapped the pen for use. There wasn’t any ink in the cap, a least not in drops big enough to notice, and there was’t any nib creep. The ink easily flushed from the pen after six weeks without any signs of staining.

Comparison Swabs

Writing is with a glass dip pen, not a fountain pen.

Pens Used

My standard ink test pen is my TWSBI Vac 700 with extra-fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1mm nibs. Flow was good with all the nibs. The nibs and pen were easily cleaned by flushing with water. The results are in the writing samples.

The Pelikan M620 Shanghai with a custom broad stub was used for long term testing. No signs of ink stains after six weeks. The pen also sat nib-up for a week without any signs of clogging. It took just a short extra stroke to get the ink flowing when the ink was up. The pen also sat for a couple days unused and wrote immediately when needed. Also easily flushed with regular water.

The Monteverde Impressa with a fine nib was used for the extended writing test, which was about 5 pages at once and about 8 pages throughout the day. This pen is new to me so I can’t compare it to other inks. It’s a wet pen so this ink flowed extremely well. This is the one pen that had problems with ink in the cap and on the  nib. This was just hours after inking it up. Maybe I should have forced one more drop out of the convertor after filling it. While it hasn’t been as bad I have noticed a couple new ink drops in the cap after another day. This pen still has the ink in it so it hasn’t been cleaned.

Wrapping Up

Visconti_Bordeaux_open-bottleI like the ink. It’s a nice color, is well behaved and puts down a consistent line. It’s a little redder than Montblanc Bordeaux so won’t replace the ink for me since I prefer the more subdued MB Bordeaux for everyday writing. The Visconti Bordeaux usb;t so red I wouldn’t use it for everyday writing, but I’m more likely to use it for marking up pages or highlighting notes.

Writing Samples

Additional Reading

Reviewed on FPN

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green

photo GvFC Moss Green bottle and inked Vac 700Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green is the second Graf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) ink I’ve reviewed with Stone Grey being the first. Like Stone Grey, the GvFC Green Moss is one of their four Document Proof colors. So it’s non-correctable, non-removable without a trace, uv-resistant, and more. It’s also supposed to be waterproof and fast drying, but more on this later. The price is the same as Stone Grey- #30 per 75ml bottle which is 40 cents per milliliter. So it’s a luxury ink but still less per ml than Iroshizuku or Caran d’ Ache inks.

GvFC Moss Green is a saturated ink with a deep green color than I rather like. Although the color does vary depending on how much ink is put down by the pen. It leaves the pen a bright green and darkens a bit as it dries. I prefer the ink in wider or wetter nibs. It’s rather boring in my drier thin nibs. It’s flows well enough, it just doesn’t pop off the paper. My Sheaffer Balance Junior with a fine stub nib and this ink get along well. While it has a thin nib, it’s fairly wet and the stub added some nice variation.

I was less impressed by the “quick drying” feature of this ink, especially in the pens that show off this ink the best. The ink is fast drying in those thin extra-fine and fine nibs that put down a dry and boring line. But as the writing sample show, I had some smudging problems in wetter nibs. Even the fine stub took a minimum of 15 seconds to dry enough to be smudge proof. So yes, it can dry quickly. But it’s not worth using in those nibs.

Is it Water resistant? It’s supposed to be. The writing sample dried overnight, a little over 12 hours. While there are still traces of ink, it’s not what I would consider water resistant. It doesn’t smudge so it can still be read, but just barely.


The ink does clean easily from pens. It seemed to take me longer than other other inks, but it cleaned differently than other inks. Usually I get clear water after a flush or two with the bulb syringe although there are still traces if I shake the nib into a tissue. With the Moss Green there was still traces of the ink after four or five flushes but in this case all traces of the ink was gone. The ink is saturated enough that even a little left behind is easily noticeable.

Pens Used

The TWSBI Vac 700 was used with the extra fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm nibs for the writing samples. The extra fine and fine nibs put down a thin, quick drying line. It was also rather boring. In my opinion, not worth the cost of the ink. The medium nib was wet enough that the ink began to pop off the paper and had a bit of a sheen as it left the pen for the paper. The dry time for the medium nib was a reasonable, if not fast, 10 seconds. The broad and 1.1 mm nibs also put down enough ink to bring out the color.

The Sheaffer Balance Junior with the custom fine stub was the first pen I used with this ink. Despite being a fine line it’s wet enough to bring out the color. The stub adds some nice character which made it an excellent introduction to the ink. This was my daily writer for a couple days and it was great. I did have to be careful about smudges and there were a couple accidents.

Wrapping Up

I really liked the GvFC Stone Grey ink and can see it as a regular in my rotation. While I like the Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green color it’s not an ink I foresee being a regular. The color is great with wet nibs but then it takes too long to dry (for me anyways). For work notes and such I can’t can’t be that careful all the time, or wait for ink to dry before turning the page. And there’s no reason to use this ink in a thin nib which allows it to dry quickly.

So the bottom line. – a nice color with a wet nib but the slow drying ruins if for me.

Writing Samples

(Click any photo for full size)

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Stone Grey

Graf von Faber-Castell ink bottleGraf von Faber-Castell recently updated their line of inks with six new colors in gorgeous new bottles. I’ve only seen the inks available from two places – in the US from Pen Boutique and in the UK from Cult Pens. The ink is $30 per 75ml bottle at Pen Boutique which puts it firmly in the luxury category although it doesn’t seem as bad when priced per milliliter. At 40 cents per ml it’s well below the 64 cents per ml for Caran d’ Ache’s new inks and Pilot Iroshizuku’s 56 cents per ml. Both those inks are even more expensive when comparing their list prices.

The Graf von Faber-Castell Stone Grey ink is “Document Safe” according to Faber-Castell. This means it’s not visible on the back of standard paper, non-correctable, not removable without traces, UV resistant and resistant to water and solvents.

The ink leaves the pen on the black side of grey and lightens a bit as it dries. On white paper, such as the Rhodia Dotpad or my Black and Red Notebook, the ink stays on the black side of grey even after it lightens up. On slightly off-white paper, such as my Doane Paper Jotter, they ink is a more muted grey. It shades a bit and provides some nice variation.

The ink is a little on the dry side, but I like my inks this way so it’s not a problem. In my thin nibs it’s dries fairly fast, about 5 seconds. It can be smudged for 20 seconds or longer with broad nibs. I found it interesting that dry time was about the same on both Rhodia and Doane papers. The ink lives up to it’s waterproof claim and I didn’t detect any show-through on the papers as used.

The ink was easy to flush from my pens although it was only in there for a day so that’s really not a good test. It will be in my Pelikan for awhile (until it runs out) and I’ll update these notes if it’s anything but easy to flush.

I like this ink and it will compete with my Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun as a standard grey ink in my rotation.

Pens Used

It wrote well in my TWSBI Vac 700 with extra fine, fine, medium and broad nibs for the writing samples. It was also easy to clean from the nibs and pen.

I used my Pelikan 101N with this ink as my daily writer, mostly as a note taker. As expected, the flow was consistent and problem free. After sitting uncapped and unused for just over six minutes it did write immediately, but with a thin line at first. It wrote normally at the 5 minute mark.

Writing Samples

(Click the images to show full size.)