Ink Notes: Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa bottle

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa is one of two R & K iron gall inks, the other being Salix. Scabiosa is a family of flowering plants that often has purple flowers so it’s no surprise this is a purple ink. These modern iron gall inks are a lot milder than iron gall inks in the age of vintage pens, with a lower acid content.
Generally speaking, iron gall can corrode nibs and other metals, steel quicker than gold. Despite being milder I’ve read that R&K still recommends flushing the ink weekly. I tend to give the ink two weeks in a pen before flushing it as long as the pen is used regularly during that period and doesn’t sit unused. While it’s true to say I haven’t had any corrosion or other problems I haven’t used the ink very long in any one pen and it’s not like the nibs would dissolve on contact. In days of olde, iron gall inks were used regularly and had a higher acid content so I’m not too concerned. I am paranoid about forgetting and letting the ink sit in the unused pen for a couple of months so I do add a calendar item to flush the pen after two weeks.
Iron gall inks are considered archival since the ink bonds with the paper and is waterproof which is what has me looking at them. Although in theory the iron gall could eat away the paper after a few centuries, so nothing is forever. Iron gall inks tend to darken over time as the ink oxidizes and Scabiosa is no different.
Scabiosa goes onto the paper as a nice shade of purple and darkens over time. There is quit a bit of darkening as the ink first dries. I didn’t get any shading to speak of with thin nibs. With wider nibs there was some nice shading as the ink went onto the paper but it became less pronounced as the ink dried and darkened.
Other reviewers have said drying time is pretty good and quicker than Salix. I found the Salix drying time is comparable to Scabiosa and slower with some nibs/paper. As for the speed, I had annoying smudging problems with this ink on a consistent basis and had to be careful. The drying time isn’t all that long with my typical thin nibs but I still had the smudging problems. It seemed the ink went from wet to dry in a second, but it spent the previous 7 seconds figuring out how to dry and stayed very wet during that time. This was especially true on Rhodia paper.
Dry times on Doane paper were actually slower that Rhodia, but I had fewer smudging problems. It may have taken 10 to 12 seconds to dry on Doane paper, but in less than half that time it was mostly dry. For example, after 7 seconds on Rhodia a careless smudge would make a word unreadable. On Doane I could try and smudge the ink after 5 seconds and it would streak and I’d get a little on my finger, but the word would be completely readable.
I didn’t experience any bleed-through, even on cheap copy paper. There was some show-through with thick nibs on the cheap copy paper once the ink dried and darkened, but not on any other paper I used. Feathering wasn’t noticeable on any paper except the cheap copy paper, again with a think wet nib.
As expected the ink is waterproof. Some of the dye has smeared but there’s no problem at all reading the what was written.
I really like this ink and it will be a regular. I enjoy the bright purple that goes onto the paper as I write and yet it darkens to a business appropriate color. Plus it’s permanent and will survive my spilled coffee.

Additional Reading

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