Ink and Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink bottle

I filled the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink back on March 13th and refilled it one more time between then and now.

The Bronze Age is my favorite fountain pen and R&K Blau-Schwarz is one of my favorite inks. This is the first time that these two have been paired and I had high expectations. I picked the ink to cleanse my palate after a disastrous performance of Montblanc Golden Yellow in this pen.

I wasn’t disappointed, it was a terrific writing experience, the pen and ink performed perfectly without any skipping or hard starts. Cleaning did take a little while. Flushing the pen until the water was clear didn’t take too long but then I held the nib in the ultrasonic cleaner. Ink flowed from every nook and cranny for nearly 10 minutes.

The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, with its lovely extra fine nib, will get a little time off in order to give some other pens a chance. I’m having fun using different inks in it so when it returns it will be with something new, at least new for it. Likewise the R&K Blau-Schwarz LE will be back in the rotation in the near future.

Ink and Pen Notes: Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver and Visconti Bordeaux

Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver with Visconti Burgundy ink bottle

There was a time when I had a handful of Sailor 1911 fountain pens with various nibs. They all got sold off, leaving me with this lone Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver fountain pen. I bought this pen in 2004 and it started it’s life as a medium nib. In 2013 I had the nib ground to a stub by Richard Binder at the DC Pen Show. It was rarely used except when it was new or newly stubbed yet I kept this 1911 because it was shiny and had a less exotic (for me) Sailor nib than the others. The resin (plastic) 1911’s are too light for my tastes but the Sterling Silver had a nice weight.

I did have to polish up the pen before inking it up. I picked Visconti Bordeaux for the pen and filled it on March 28th. Visconti Bordeaux is an ink I like, but haven’t used very much. I was interested in seeing how it did with a stub nib.

Being a Japanese nib it’s a rather thin medium and about the widest nib I’d use for everyday writing. The combination worked well together, no skipping or hard starts. I did use the pen a lot, but it went dry faster than I expected so I suspect there was some evaporation, but no leaks or ink splattered in the cap.

I don’t have any complaints about the combination of the Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver and Visconti Bordeaux ink. The ink just doesn’t pull me in and its no Montblanc Bordeaux. Like the ink, I’ve no complaints about the pen but it doesn’t call to me when I’m looking for a pen to ink up. Both will get some future use but neither will be frequent visitors to my rotation.

Ink and Pen Notes: Omas 360 Vintage LE and Montblanc Golden Yellow

Omas 360 Vintage LE with Montbanc Golden Yellow ink bottle

This has been a week to write fountain pens dry. The latest pen to go dry is the Omas 360 Vintage LE filled with Montblanc Golden Yellow. I feel compelled to mention that this pen is vintage in name only.

I filled the Omas back on March 13th, wrote it dry once, and then refilled it. Now that it’s dry again I decided to put the pen back into storage.

As I mentioned in my review, I really shouldn’t like this pen. But I do. It’s ended up being a specialty pen for that I pull out occasionally, not one I use as a daily writer. Despite being such a large piston filler the Omas doesn’t hold very much ink and it doesn’t take long to write dry. It’s also prone to evaporation.

My first outing with the Montblanc Golden Yellow was in the Visconti Bronze Age, and it was not great experience so it was flushed early. The Omas is a much wetter nib and the ink liked it much better. It’s a nice yellow color that’s surprisingly easy to read and has some nice line variation.

I used the pen primarily to write headings for my notes or to make some notes stand out. That’s not a lot of words, so I did use the pen for some longer sessions of a page or two. During these extended sessions the nib began to dry up and it wasn’t as wet and I noticed some dry ink higher up on the nib. Washing this off improved the flow, either because of the added water or because the dry ink was a problem.

The Omas 360 Vintage LE is extremely comfortable in my hand, even with the triangle shape. The Montblanc Golden Yellow was easy to flush from the pen. I’ll limit it’s use to wetter nibs and use it when I’m looking for something different.

You may notice the nib is labeled as a medium. It started that way but was ground to a fine.

Ink and Pen Notes: Sheaffer Balance II and Noodler’s Berning Red

Sheaffer Balance II Crimson Glow with Noodler's Berning Red bottle

This is the second Sheaffer Balance II to be written dry this week, it’s the one with the bright Crimson Glow acrylic which finally got filled with a red ink. Sheaffer Peacock Blue was the exclusive ink for this pen until March 13th which is when I filled it with Noodler’s Berning Red.

The ink is named after Bernie Sanders, the US Senator and Presidential aspirant. Nathan Tardiff has always been opinionated about his ink names but this seems to take it to a new level. The introduction video goes on for over 20 minutes before the ink makes an appearance. Noodler’s Berning Red is formulated to be a quick drying ink and Nathan says it’s a ink for lefties which is also word play for Sander’s politics. The quick dry property is achieved by fast absorption into the paper.

I have mixed opinions about the ink. It’s a nice enough red color and I like it. So that’s a positive. Another positive is that the quick drying ability let’s me use the ink to mark up documents or emphasize notes with little concern about smudging. But the quick drying, since it’s from fast absorption, has its drawbacks. The line put down is consistently wider than the nib and prone to feathering. Since it’s absorbed by the paper show-through was a problem, although I never experienced actual bleed-through to the next page. The ink was easily flushed from the pen with no signs of staining.

As I mentioned before I really like the Sheaffer Balance IIs. They look great, the nib is a joy to write with, and they fit my hand well. Like it’s Jade Green sibling the nib could benefit from a little tuning. I’m afraid I’ll ruin it ,so it too has been added to the list to get some attention at the Washington DC Pen Show in August.

The Sheaffer Balance II and Noodler’s Berning Red are a nice enough combination, but not great, so I didn’t consider a refill. I’d pick Sheaffer Red or Montblanc Corn Poppy Red over this ink unless I specifically wanted it’s quick drying benefits. I’ll use it, but the bottle will last a long time. The pen will probably remain in storage until the nib gets tuned in August.

Ink and Pen Notes: Edison Menlo Pump Filler and Athena Sepia

Edison Menlo Pump Filler with Athena Sepia ink bottle

I’ve had the Edison Menlo Pump Filler for just under three years. It was a purchase from the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show. It topped my Favorite 5 list back when it still had that new pen glow. It never repeated as a top 5 modern pen, but it’s still been a frequent visitor to my rotation since I got it. It’s always paired with a brown ink. This time it’s Athena Sepia. Athena is the house brand for the Maruzen stores in Japan. Sepia describes the color, not that the ink is derived from the cuttlefish.

The pen was filled at the end of December, meaning it lasted just under four months. This is a little long for this pen even though it holds a gallon if ink (OK, not a gallon, but a lot.) This is the longest an ink has lasted in this pen which did surprise me since it really gets along well with the extra fine nib in this pen.

This ink makes the nib feel even smoother than the previous inks. The nib has always been smooth, especially for an extra fine, but with this ink it feels like it’s gliding above the paper, especially on smooth Tomoe River or Rhodia paper. Yet it puts down a nice dark line without the hint of skipping. There weren’t any hard starts, even after sitting for a week or so.

Athena Sepia rivals Montblanc Toffee Brown as my favorite brown ink. I bought this bottle from Nanami Paper (where it was very expensive) but they no longer carry it, and since it’s a department store brand it’s non-existent outside of Japan. I’ve seen contradicting claims that Athena ink is made by various manufacturers. I suppose it’s possible that the manufacturer varies by color and people have assumed they are all the same. This FPN post says the Sepia is made by Sailor. If Athena Sepia crossed my path again I’d buy another bottle. But I doubt it will so I’ll simply enjoy it while it lasts ,then go back to Montblanc Toffee Brown.

The ink is easy to flush from a pen, but the Edison Menlo Pump Filler is a royal pain to clean. The large capacity and feeder tube makes it take forever to flush out. So this is one pen where I break my rule and do remove the nib/section simply to clean the pen. Or, I do what I did in this case and simply re-ink the pen. Not only do I kick the cleaning can down the road, but I get a very nice ink and pen combination to write with. The Athena Sepia ink is well behaved so I’m not worried about damage or staining.

I usually don’t write these Ink & Pen Notes until I’m ready to clean the pen and put it away. That was my intent in this case, but after writing this up I realized what a pain it would be to clean the pen and I’d much rather enjoy the using the Edison Menlo Pump Filler for another month or two.

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