Ink and Pen Notes: Sheaffer PFM and Montblanc Daniel Defoe

Sheaffer PFM I and Montblanc Daniel Defoe ink bottleYou ever have one of those fountain pens that just wants to make you feel stupid? No? Well let me tell you about mine.

It’s a Sheaffer PFM I with a fine nib. It’s not my only snorkel filler, in fact I have a Sheaffer Snorkel currently inked. It’s been nearly a year, but I’ve inked this PFM before and it wasn’t out to get me back then.

Last week I went to ink it up with Montblanc Daniel Defoe and it decided to put me in my place. I had a terrible time filling it. It just didn’t want to take in ink. I finally got what I thought was a good fill and went to work using the pen. I did use it a lot over the next two days but it went dry far to soon if it had been full. I again tried filling and after a couple obvious failures I thought it was full. Bit it barely lasted a day.

While unexpected since the pen was purchased with a new sac, I figured I had a bad sac but decided to try another ink first. Since I was changing inks I cleaned out the pen. It took in plenty of water and didn’t seem to be having any problems. So I was optimistic when I open the bottle of J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage. But I continued to have problems getting a good fill. Back to water and it’s fine. Then the sledgehammer hits me and knocks some sense into me. I realized I was being timid and pushed the plunger down must slower when holding the pen in the relatively small and narrow ink bottles than I was with the large glass of water. Once I punched the plunger at a normal speed I got a good fill.

Suitably humbled, I’ve been using the pen several days and the ink is still flowing strong.

Despite the Sheaffer PFM making me look stupid I still like the pen. It fits my hand well and I really like the nib. I also like the Montblanc Daniel Defoe ink (also called Palm Green which is more descriptive). It’s a rather unique green, at least among the inks I’ve used. Unfortunately it does better in wetter or wider nibs. I say unfortunately because my nib preference is thin and on the dry side. I also wish the ink dried a little faster, there were some smudges.

The ink was relatively easy to clean from the pen although snorkels are notoriously difficult to get all traces of the ink out. I was refilling so I didn’t need to remove every trace.

As I mentioned, I’ve re-inked the Sheaffer PFM I, but now it has J. Herbin Lierrer Sauvage ink.

The MB Daniel Defoe ink ran through the pen so quickly that I didn’t get any nib photos with the ink. The Daniel Defoe ink didn’t creep or splash onto the nib at all. So, since it looked a lot like any other nib photos I included some with other ink.

Ink and Pen Notes: Sheaffer Balance Aspen and Montblanc Permanent Grey

Sheaffer Balance Aspen LE medium nib with Montblanc Permanent Grey ink bottleThe Sheaffer Balance Aspen SE tops my favorite 5 fountain pens list. I picked it up for a writing session today and it immediately skipped. No, not a pen problem, it had been written dry. I actually noticed yesterday but had forgotten when I picked up the pen. I wanted to use it so I immediately refilled it with the same Montblanc Permanent Grey ink. Officially it’s called Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey ink. I’ve seen the word “anniversary” thrown in there but it’s doesn’t appear on the box or bottle.

The pen’s reputation as being fragile has me keep it in it’s own personal single pen case and I rarely take it out of the house. It’s the only pen that gets such treatment. No doubt my continued use will cause some damage but I can’t bring myself to not use this pen so I’ll settle for putting it off as long as possible.

The ink is also a favorite and I bought a second and third bottle even though this is a more expensive limited edition ink. I was surprised to find that I’ve yet to publish a review of this ink. Short review: I like it a lot.

This pen has had this inked constantly since Sept 27th. I usually don’t go that long between real cleaning, usually flushing every second fill even if the ink stays the same. I was so intent on using the pen today I never even considered that. Plus, the pen has been problem free. The nib was tuned by Mike Masuyama so I’m not surprised to say it has been both hard start and skip free. It’s a Montblanc ink so I’m not overly concerned that it’s been so long between flushes although I did make a mental note to flush it the next time it goes dry.

I wouldn’t have thought a medium nib would stay inked for so long because it’s a favorite instead of staying inked because I don’t use it. But I really love this nib. It’s not a pen I use for notes, marking up documents, or quick writing but when I’m using it for longer writing sessions I don’t want to stop. This usage works well with the ink which isn’t fast drying. The nib is just wide enough to start showing off the saturation and shading of the ink.


Ink Notes: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red

Montblanc Corn Poppy Red bottleCorn Poppy Red is Montblanc’s latest addition to its regular ink line. I like red inks and I like Montblanc inks so getting a bottle was inevitable. I did manage to hold out for a couple of months since I already had plenty of red inks. But I have a bottle now.

I’ve switched up the way I’m doing this ink notes. I used this ink as a daily writer in one fountain pen, in this case a Sheaffer Crest with an extra fine nib. The rest of the writing samples were do with various Esterbrook nibs in a dip pen.

The color reminds me of Sheaffer red, it’s a nice bright true red color. There’s a little bit of line variation with wetter nibs but its a smooth, solid red in my preferred thin nibs. Wider nibs do provide a little bit of shading. There’s no noticeable feathering and the line stays consistent with the nib width. It’s a wet flowing ink with a good level of saturation.

As for being waterproof – it didn’t wash completely away but it might as well have. It’s not at all waterproof.

Dry times are pretty standard but I did have some problems with accidental smudges on slower drying paper such as Tomoe River and Rhodia. With thin nibs on my typical Doane Paper it was a more reasonable 5 seconds or so and was safely smudge free at 10 seconds. With wetter nibs or anything wider

When I first saw Montblanc Corn Poppy Red I thought of Sheaffer Red which is my current favorite red ink. It’s pretty close.

Wrapping Up

I like Montblanc Corn Poppy Red. It’s a nice vivid red that performs well, but it’s nothing special. I like Sheaffer Red just as much and a bottle is half the price (although the Montblanc bottle holds 20% more ink, it’s still about twice as expensive per ml). I’ll use the bottle, in fact I may refill my Esterbrook Inkwell with it, but when it comes time to buy a new bottle of red ink it will be Sheaffer Red and not Montblanc Corn Poppy Red.

While there’s not a lot of shading, and I think it requires a nib that’s both wet and wide, if that’s your pen and would like to see some variation you may prefer Montblanc Corn Poppy Red.

Additional Reading

INK REVIEW: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red – Pentulant

Seeing Red: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red Compared – FPGeeks

Ink Shot Review: Montblanc LE Corn Poppy Red Ink – Gourmet Pens

Photo Gallery

Ink and Pen Notes: Edison Menlo with Montblanc Toffee Brown

Edison Menlo Punp Filler with Montblanc Toffee Brown bottleI picked up the Edison Menlo Pump Filler at the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show and it’s been a favorite since then. Montblanc Toffee Brown, also a favorite ink, has been the most common inked picked for this pen so it was an obvious choice when I inked it up again.

This pen and ink have always gone well together. I inked the pen up way back on November 26th so it was just over two months ago. I did have a rare skipping problem, the only one I can remember, in early January. The pen had been used the day before and stored overnight, nib up, in the pen stand. A very common occurrence, yet this time the pen needed some help getting ink to the feed the next morning. Other then that one incident this ink and pen were a joy to use. The nib has a good flow but it is an extra fine and the Menlo holds a lot of ink, so the pen lasts a long, long time.

Because this is a pump filler (think old style Parker Vacumatic this pen is a pain to clean). There’s a thin tub attached to the feed so ink tends to stay in there. Plus, there’s just not a lot of pressure when the water is pumped out. So when I’m cleaning the pen for storage I unscrew the nib & feed to give the pen a good cleaning. An ultrasonic cleaner also saves time with the feed. It does mean applying a little silicone grease when replacing the nib, but is saves so much time.

Of course, it’s saves even more time to just re-ink the pen and keep it going. But I bit the bullet this time and cleaned it out for storage. This way I’m more likely to use my other pens. The Edison Menlo has such a large ink capacity and is such a nice writer I always want to reach for it.

Ink and Pen Notes: Omas 360 Vintage with Montblanc Bordeaux

Omas 360 Vintage with Montblanc Bordeaux ink bottleThe Omas 360 Vintage has a name I hate. It’s vintage in name only and there are in fact vintage (meaning old) Omas 360s. I feel like I have to mention this every time I say this pen’s name. This a modern pen I picked up at the 2013 DC Pen show. I review it here. The nib started as a factory medium but I had Mike Masuyama turn it into a fine.

It’s easily the wettest fine nib that I have and also the one with the most spring. While it may not meet vintage nib flexibility standards it’s the most flexible nib I have. It doesn’t really suit my writing style, the line is too wide, but I still have fun using it.

Montblanc Bordeaux is my favorite ink, plain and simple. It’s topped my Top 5 Inks list since, well, since I made the list. I reviewed the ink here.

Together, they were fun to use. Although I couldn’t really use them as my daily writer which is all due to the pen. But it was fun to play with the flexible nib on weekends (a weekend pen?). Thanks to the very wet nib the ink doesn’t last too long in this pen. I inked the pen December 28th and it went dry today.

Ink & Pen Notes: KarasKustoms Ink and Montblanc Permanent Blue

KarasKustoms Ink (silver) fine nibWhen I empty a pen, either by writing or otherwise, I usually write a few notes about the pen and ink for future reference. I decided to try moving those notes to the website. This isn’t an original idea as David from NibsAnd.Ink and has been doing this regularly when he inks his pens.

I inked up the KarasKustoms Ink with Montblanc Permanent Blue back on November 26, 2014 and cleaned it out January 7, 2015. I picked the fine nib and aluminum gripping section.

Forty two days is a bit long for a ink that has some iron gall in it. But the modern stuff is very mild and Montblanc themselves (in the included pamphlet) just say to clean the pen “regularly.” Although, they say this is to avoid build-up of solids rather than corrosion.

Montblanc Permanent Blue is a bit on the dry side which I like. The flow was good in this pen until the final days. I’m not a fan of true blues, which is what this is, but I kind of like the color. There was some skipping and I noticed a little ink clinging to the sides of converter. I forced the ink down into the feed and got another page or two before it was completely dry.

I reviewed the KarasKustoms Ink here. I’ve yet to review Montblanc Permanent Blue but my limited experience matches this review at The Unroyal Warrant.


Ink Notes: Montblanc Mystery Black

Montblanc Mystery Black bottle and Vac 700

Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of Montblanc inks. Despite not owning any of their pens. But I’ve ignored Montblanc Mystery Black because there are so many other blacks I like – Aurora, Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black, Platinum Carbon Black and more. But I decided it was time to give it try and ordered a bottle a couple months ago.

If memory serves, Montblanc changed up their inks in 2010 but the Mystery Black ink remained similar to the Black it replaced. I never used the old black ink so I can’t compare them.

Montblanc is a luxury brand so it’s thought of as an expensive ink, but at $19 for a 60 ml bottle it’s $0.32/ml, which puts it well under some of today’s other luxury inks and competitive with many others.

It’s not a deep, dark pitch black and in fact some line variation can be detected at times, with wider or wetter nibs. The dry time is very acceptable with my preferred fine and extra fine nibs.

The flow is very good and the ink seems well lubricated. I prefer dryer nibs and found this pen to be near my “wetness” tolerance in them, although not a gusher.

I was especially taken by it’s performance in my Esterbrook #2668 Firm Medium nib. Despite my preference for thinner nibs I liked the ink in this pen. Drying time was longer than the TWSBI medium I tested with and I had a few accidental smudges since it was a wet writer. The line stayed true to the nib size despite being wet.

The ink is dark enough to contribute to some show through on papers prone to such things (but not on the Rhodia or Doane paper I used). I didn’t encounter any bleed through or feathering, even on cheap non-FP paper.

The ink didn’t wash completely away in the water test but it was close. I wouldn’t trust it if moister could be a problem.

Pens Used

The TWSBI Vac 700 with the usual nib selection (x-fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1 mm) was used for testing. The ink didn’t remain in the pen very long so I didn’t expect problems cleaning it and there weren’t any.

I started using my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black with a fine nib as a daily writer to test the ink. It was problem free and I didn’t encounter and skipping or false starts. The ink was in the pen just under a month and there wasn’t any problem cleaning it.

After I inked my Esterbook J with the #2668 medium nib with Mystery Black I enjoyed it so much it became my daily writer when I wanted black ink. Again, no problems and it was easily cleaned after being inked about two weeks.

Bottom Line

I like the performance of the ink. Unfortunately it’s not pitch black and I prefer grey inks over black. This puts the ink behind the eight ball. I won’t use it when I want a black ink since in those cases I want pitch black. And the color isn’t different enough to make me want to use it in daily writing. On the other hand, I was really taken by it in the Esterbrook medium nib so I’d like to say I may use Montblanc Mystery Black in some wider nibs from time to time and see if there are other nibs with which it gets along as well. But the reality is that Montblanc Mystery Black will probably be lost among the many other ink choices I have.

Additional Reading

Reviewed on FPN