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.

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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

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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

OfficeSupplyGeek

FPN

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Ink Notes: Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine Cartridge

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine cartridge tinThis review is a little different in that I used cartridges for the review rather than bottled ink or a sample. I wanted to try some Pelikan Edelstein inks, but I didn’t want more bottles of ink but wanted more than a sample. So when the cartridges became available I took advantage of the opportunity. Cartridges cost more per milliliter but are less money out of pocket. Cartridges will also dry out over time, unlike bottled ink (at least ink in glass bottles). I picked Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine as my first cartridge since I’ve been itching to try a new green ink.

The Edelstein cartridges are long international so at 3 ml per cartridge that works out to about $0.44/ml. The six cartridges come in a nice tin and are protected by tissue paper inside the tin.

Aventurine is a nice bright green that has enough saturation to stand out with my preferred thin nibs. With wider or wetter nibs there’s some very nice shading. Pelikan is known for dry writing inks but Aventurine has good flow and I wouldn’t consider it a dry writing ink.

The ink is pleasant to use. I didn’t encounter any noticeable feathering or bleed-through with my common nibs and paper. With the wet Retro 51 medium nib I did encounter some feathering with cheap copy paper. There was also some show through with this nib and paper but no bleed-through.

The ink also dries fast. Considering how wet the ink looked when it hit the paper I was surprised it dried so fast. It was especially fast on Doane Paper (Jotter and writing pads) which is great for me since that’s what I use most. Drying time was longer, but very acceptable, on Rhodia paper.

I did notice that the ink as noticeably darker every morning when I first used the pen. The color returned to normal after a sentence or two. It remained darker even after the ink dried. Normally the ink brightens up just a bit as it dries.

I realize green ink is a negative is some countries and green isn’t a business ink. Despite that, I find the ink pleasing to look at when writing all day and used it as my daily driver for several days. I quickly ran through about 3/4 of the cartridge in my Franklin-Christoph Model 25 with a medium stub nib.

The ink barely leaves a trace after the water test, but it did leave a trace. But if you spilled a beer on your plan to make millions you could probably read enough to make about half that.

I show some swab comparisons in the gallery. While not an exact color match, I would use this ink the same way I would use Montblanc Irish Green. MB Irish Green is my bright green of choice although Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine would replace it if I didn’t already have a bottle of MB Irish Green. I don’t like it so much more that I would buy a bottle before the Irish Green is gone. I’ll have no problem using the cartrisges before they dry up.

Pens Used

The Franklin-Christoph Model 25 with a medium (0.9 mm) stub nib was inked up for a couple of weeks and was used as my daily writer for several days during that time. Except for the previously mentioned starting off dark each morning the ink was problem free. There wasn’t any skipping or false starts. I didn’t have any problems flushing this pen when I was done. This is one of the fastest and easiest ink flushes I’ve had in a long time.

The other pens shown in the writing samples were inked only long enough to do the writing samples. I moved the cartridge from pen to pen and gave the ink about 5 minutes to reach the nib. The Retro 51 was the only one that needed a little more time but it found the nib with just gravity.

Since there was still a little ink in the cartridge I decided to move it to my Franklin-Christoph Model 29 with a fine nib rather than waste the ink. Like the other pens flow and color depth is good.

Wrapping Up

Like I said, if I didn’t already have a bottle of MB Irish Green then Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine would be my bright green ink of choice. I like the colors equally but the Aventurine wins based on drying speed and shading.

Additional Reading

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine – Handwritten Ink Review | edjelley.com

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine – The Fountain Pen Network

Pelikan Edelstein Fountain Pen Ink – Office Supply Geek

Ink Review: Pelikan Edelstein Overview Ink – Goulet Pens Video overview of six Edelstein inks. Aventurine is shown at 7:40

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Ink Notes: Caran D’Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey boxCaran D’Ache recently replaced their entire fountain pen ink line with new, considerably more expensive, inks called Caran d’Ache Chromatics. Or as the box says – Caran d’Ache Chromatics INKCredible inks. These are the most expensive regular production fountain pen inks that I know of. At $32 for a 50 ml. bottle that works out to a whopping $0.64/ml. Pilot Iroshizuku inks top out at $0.56/ml, although it is sometimes on sale on Amazon.com. Graf von Faber-Castell, another recently reformulated luxery ink lin is just $0.40/ml. I see Montblanc special edition inks for a penny per milliliter less than Caran d’Ache. OK, I think I hammered the cost enough. This stuff is pricey so I expected a lot.

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey open bottleDespite the cost I decided to buy a full bottle rather than a sample. The bottle design is unique and I wanted at least one bottle. I’m currently enjoying grey inks so went with Infinite Grey since it was the most likely to please me. The bottle is different, maybe gimmicky, but I like it. It stands up straight in the box and sits at an angle when sitting on my desk. This makes it a little easier to see into the bottle to fill the pen. But I’m concerned it may make things harder when the ink level is low since the bottle starts off tipped.

The first pen I inked up with this liquid gold ink was my Franklin-Christoph Model 03 with an extra fine (but a wide extra fine) nib. It was heaven. I thought the ink was worth every penny. If that had been the only pen I used the ink in I’d be proclaiming it as the best ink ever and worth the cost. It’s the only ink that’s ever been in the pen so I can’t compare it to anything in that pen. There was some nice line variation and shading. Despite appearing to go on the paper very wet it was a quick drier. This may be the only ink I’ll use in the pen, at least until the bottle is empty.

Then I used it in other pens. In the Sheaffer Custom Legacy with an extra fine nib (and this one being a real extra fine) it was pretty bad. I ended up flushing it from the pen. I did a quick Waterman ink fill to see if maybe I had screwed up the pen. It wasn’t the pen, it was the ink. The nib is on the dry side and the ink did not like that one bit. There was a lot of skipping. A grey ink with a thin line starts off in a hole as far as visibility goes and the result was a disaster. The writing sample in the photos below look pretty good but was the best the ink did and it was a anomaly.

The Faber-Castell eMotion, a medium nib, also had some minor flow problems which is most visible in the horizontal and vertical lines. This pen has a smooth nib that is not a dry writer. It masks itself as line variation in the samples, but there was brief skipping when doing regular writing.

The Retro 51 Lincoln is one of the wettest medium nibs that I have. The Caran d’Ache Infinite Grey did well with this nib.There was some nice line variation and shading. I typically find this pen much too wet a nib to be pleasant for me. But the Infinite Grey was dry enough to be pleasant for me.

The Taccia Staccato resulted in some nice variation and shading. The pen did well with the ink, no complaints.

The properties of the ink are good, but not great. It washed almost completely away in the water test. Feathering was non-existent on all the papers I used. Bleed-through was nearly non-existent on the papers I used. The only bleed-through was minor and on some cheap, unknown office paper I tried. There wasn’t any bleed-through on the papers I typically use (such as Doane, Rhodia, and some Staples copy paper.

It’s hard for me to pin down the flow of this ink. It depends on the fountain pen. Flow was perfect with the F-C Model 03, terrible with the Sheaffer and OK with the Retro 51 although other inks are wetter in that pen. So I’d say flow is a little on the dry side.

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey bottleThe intensity of the grey (can grey be intense?) depends a lot on the paper and the pen which is why I like it. The shade of grey varies greatly based on the paper. Not just the color of the paper but also on how quickly the paper absorbs the ink. Non-absorbent papers (Rhodia) result in a lighter grey while  more absorbent paper (Doane) results in a darker grey. Caran d’Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey in the Model 03 writing on a Doane Paper writing pad is trifecta. The Doane Paper Jotter is nearly as good. This ink is very enjoyable on absorbent papers, less so on so-called “fountain pen friendly” papers like Rhodia.

This doesn’t make me want to run out an buy some of their other colors. I can’t justify the price difference compared to other inks but it was worth the cost to satisfy my curiosity and I really do like this grey. The bottle will provide several years supply for my Model 03.

Additional Reading and Viewing

Reviewed on FPN

Goulet Pens has a good comparison video showing all the Chromatics inks along with some comparisons.

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