Ink Notes: P.W. Akkerman Hofkwartier Groen #28

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 stub nib with Akkerman #28 ink bottleI picked up this bottle of Akkerman Hofkwartier Groen #28 in March at the Long Island Pen Show. My previous experience with Akkerman inks was only fair. Not bad enough to dump the ink and re-use the bottle for a favorite ink, but not good enough for regular use in my pens. Green is my favorite ink color so I decided to give this one a try. I’m glad I did as this ink has boosted my opinion of Akkerman inks.

I’ve only used this ink in wide(ish) nibs -stubs and mediums. I figured this color would need some width to avoid vanishing into the page. But as the writing samples show, it does well with an extra fine nib. I tend to like bright greens and while this ink isn’t neon bright, it is easily legible on every paper I’ve written on. The more I use it the more the color grows on me.

I use Doane Paper Grids + Lines for my writing samples because I like it, and use it a lot. But it also provides a good test of how an ink stands out since the Doane Jotter paper has a bit of a yellow/green tint to it along with the busy Grids + Lines in blue. The Hofkwartier Groen is very legible on this paper even with the extra fine nib. The ink would be fine on white paper even with an extra fine nib.

I use a Seven Seas Writer with Tomoe River paper and this ink looks and performs really well on the paper. The color is just different enough, and there’s enough line variation to provide a fun and enjoyable writing experience.

The ink performance has been great, no hard starts or skipping in any of the pens I used. The ink flow is nice and provides some line variation. Drying times are reasonable. I’m really pleased with how well this ink performs.

Considering the complete lack of water resistance it’s no surprise that this ink was easily flushed from my pens.

A major attraction of Akkerman inks is their unique bottle. While it looks great on a desk it also has the only “last drop” filling system I’ve encountered that actually works, even with big nibs.

Akkerman Hofkwartier Groen #28 is the first Akkerman ink I’ve encountered that could see regular use in my pens. The main thing holding it back is that I have several green inks that I like, although it’s unique color may give it an advantage.

Additional Reading

The Gentleman Stationer Ink Review – He use is in thinner nibs and for annotation. A typical use for my green inks yet not something with this one yet.



Ink Notes: KWZ Gummiberry

KWZ Gummiberry Ink BottleKWZ is a relatively new boutique ink brand from Poland with is available from Vanness Pens in the US. You can find out more about them at their website. Actually, I use “them” & “their” out of habit, the ink is made by one guy. I bought three bottles of KWZ ink at the Washington DC Pen Show including KWZ Gummiberry.

My introduction to the KWZ brand was back in June with KWZ Iron Gall (IG) Blue-Black and wasn’t very impressed with that ink. It was fine but nothing special in my opinion. KWZ got it’s initial buzz from its variety of iron gall ink colors. There is a IG Gummiberry but this one is a non-IG ink. (I do have a bottle of the IG version, but I’ve yet to open the bottle.)

I have two bottles of non-IG KWZ inks (Green #2 is the other) and both have the same odor. I don’t consider the odor either good or bad, it’s just there and it’s strong when the bottle is opened. It does smell like a chemical. It dissipates a bit when it’s in the pen and I haven’t noticed it with inked pens. My KWZ iron gall inks don’t have the same odor.

I really liked the color right from the beginning. It looked great in the medium Sailor KOP nib as well as the thinner Visconti Homo Sapien EF nib. There was some slight line variation with the wider nib that wasn’t there with the thinner nib. Still, even with the extra fine nib the line was clearly visible and the color was vibrant. I don’t have a lot of purple inks to compare this to and it’s been awhile since I inked up one of the ones I have.

The line is true to the nib size and I haven’t encountered any noticeable feathering. There is some heavy show-through and I did encounter some minor bleed-through. While writing on my Doane Paper writing pad, with the extra fine nib, I noticed a few dots each time I went to a new page. A little research showed these were under places where I had crossed out or written over something, so there was extra ink there.

As the water test shows, the ink has no water fastness worth noting, so it’s not a surprise that the ink was easy to clean from my pens. The Sailor KOP and Lamy AL-Star are cartridge/converter pens which are generally easy to clean. So they were quick and easy as expected. The Visconti Homo Sapien is a power filler (similar to a vac filler) so it generally takes longer to flush. The Gummiberry was flushed from the pen well before the tedium set in.

The KWZ Gummiberry quickly became one of my current favorite fountain pen inks and has been in pen since I got it. Much of this may be because the color is relatively unique for me, but the friendly ink properties also contribute a lot. The only potential downside is the odor, which doesn’t bother me. Bleed or show-through may bother some people but it’s not bad with my pens and paper of choice, at least not bad enough to bother me.

Ink Notes: Bookbinders Ground Rattler

Bookbinders is another new (to me) ink brand and I picked Ground Rattler as my introduction to it. Bookbinders is a store brand from Australia and available in the U.S. from Anderson Pens and from Appelboom in the Netherlands. Bookbinders is an Australian based online shop that, as its name suggests, has it’s roots in bookbinding.

The ink is available in 30 ml. glass bottles that are relatively easy to fill a pen from. The bottle is in a brown hessian bag (that’s a burlap bag for those of us in the US and Canada). The ink is $12.50 a bottle which puts its per ml. cost below premium inks such as Pilot Iroshizuku, but well above Sheaffer, Waterman and other workhorse inks.

They brand their inks “Snake Inks” as a call-back to the snake-oil salesman of the past and use the tongue-in-cheek tagline “Cures Writers Block”. All the names are based on snakes.

Anderson Pens had the Bookbinders inks at the Washington DC Pen Show and after looking through the ink swabs I decided on Ground Rattler as by first ink for the brand, even though grey is not usually the best introduction to a brand. But I like grey inks and this one looked interesting.

I picked the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen for the inaugural use of this ink. I was concerned my typical extra fine nib wouldn’t do well with this fairly light grey ink. The Sailor KOP has a wider medium nib. The ink did well in this pen although it always felt a little dry. The dryness seemed to be more in my head than in the nib. There wasn’t any actual problem, and there was a little line variation as the ink pooled and dried. While the result was fine it just wasn’t a pleasant writing experience as my brain kept telling me to press harder to get more ink as the pen was about to go dry. Even though I use grey a lot this one seemed to be messing with my head. This is one of the lighter grey I’ve used and my favorite grey, Montblanc Permanent Grey is significantly darker than this ink . It couldn’t have been that bad though, I wrote the pen dry in a week. But I never got used to it.

The Lamy nibs I use for the writing samples tend to be on the dry side, especially the extra fine. The extra fine Lamy nib was much too light to be a daily writer, or even an occasional writer, but the other nibs (fine, medium, 1.9mm) performed well with the Ground Rattler.

Drying time is respectable and I didn’t have any accidental smudges. My writing was legible after the water test although I wouldn’t trust it with thinner nibs or longer soaks.

The ink flushed easily from all my pens with one caveat. There was some ink that just wouldn’t flush from the Sailor converter, leaving a ring where the piston ended and I had to use a q-tip to clean it. This isn’t so unusual but it surprised me since the ink isn’t close to waterproof. It wasn’t so much a stain as just clinging to the converter.

The Bookbinders Ground Rattler won’t challenge Montblanc Permanent Grey as my favorite grey ink. The light grey color ended up being more of a negative than I expected. Yet I’ll use it with other medium or wider nibs from time to time and I liked the properties enough to order a couple other colors of Bookbinders ink.

Ink Notes: Montblanc Ultra Black

Montblanc Ultra BlackMontblanc is easily my favorite ink brand and I readily try buy any of their ink. Well, not so much the blue ones, but the others for sure. I find that the inks work well in my thin nibs, are well behaved and work on all types of paper. So I had high hopes when I picked up a bottle of Montblanc Ultra Black at the Washington DC Pen Show.

Unfortunately this ink was a disappointment.

The color is a nice dark black, although not the darkest. Aurora Black and Platinum Carbon Black are two that come to mind as darker inks. This wasn’t a negative for me since I never equated “Ultra” to “the darkest” and I was happy with the color. Unfortunately the ink doesn’t match any definition I could assign to “ultra”.

Maybe it was me, but I was always smudging this ink, even in an extra fine nib. Plus I kept having to wait before turning a page in my notebook. While the dry time with the extra fine Lamy nib used in the writing samples was a very reasonable 2 seconds, that was an anomaly. The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age was the fountain pen I used as a daily writer with this ink and the dry time was close to 10 seconds on Tomoe River paper and not much faster on Write Notepads paper.

The ink has very little water resistance although it was mostly legible after the drip test. The water soaked up a lot of dye and it was a grey mess that wanted to stain everything it touched. That’s why I was surprised that it was so difficult to flush from my pen. The Homo Sapien isn’t the quickest pen to clean but it took what seemed like forever to flush this ink from it. Eventually I just filled it with water and left it nib down in a tissue to wick the ink out. I ended up refilling the pen even though there were still traces of ink in the tissue.

Admittedly my problems with this ink a subjective based on what I expected and how was to use the ink. I don’t find the color of this ink to be anything special and there are plenty of other black inks out there. As this is a special edition ink it does have a premium price, about $19 for a 30ml bottle. But it’s the other ink properties that ruin it for me. It seems out of character for what I expect from a Montblanc ink. Montblanc Ultra Black isn’t “ultra” for me in any way.

Ink Notes: Papier Plume Burgundy

Papier Plume Burgundy bottle - openIt’s been a long time since my last ink review, so I’m due. It seems appropriate that my first ink review in over a year is for an ink brand I’d never heard of until this year’s Washington DC Pen Show.

Papier Plume is a stationery store in New Orleans. This is their store branded fountain pen ink which they are now distributing through other sellers. I’ve seen it at both Anderson Pens and Vaness Pens. Papier Plume also sells it through their website. They say the inks are:

Hand poured and bottled right in our shop, these beautiful water based French inks are smooth flowing and fast drying make them ideal for any refillable fountain pen or glass dipping pen.

That sentence could be interpreted a couple different ways when considering the source of the ink. I did a cursory search to see if there were more details available, but didn’t find any. I already had a bottle of the ink so it’s pedigree didn’t really matter. Either I’d like it or I wouldn’t.

I saw the ink at the Anderson Pens table while at the Washington DC Pen show earlier this year. While I later learned the brand had been around awhile this was the first I heard of it. I have a weakness for burgundy inks and the swab for this one looked interesting, so I bought a bottle.

It’s first use was in a new pen, the Ryan Krusac Legend which I also got at the DC pen show. When I first used the ink it reminded me of Montblanc Bordeaux. It’s not an exact color match (I have a comparison in the writing samples) but I like he way it flows from the pen and the other properties also remind me of my favorite ink.

The ink performed well, although a little on the dry side, but not too dry for me. Since this was the first ink I’d ever used in the pen I couldn’t compare it to anything. I’ve since used it in other pens and find it to flow very well, providing a nice dark burgundy line. What I really like is how quickly the ink dries. With my typical this nib on my typical daily paper it dries almost instantly. It takes a little longer on Rhodia, Tomoe River and other fountain pen friendly papers, but it’s still only a few seconds with my thin nibs. The ink flows well enough that my thin nibs can provide some subtle line variation, which is what I like about Montblanc inks.

The ink spent about two weeks in the Legend and was easily flushed. Two weeks was less time than I expected since it was competing with several other shiny new pens and inks, so it gets bonus points for that. It was also easily flushed from the Lamy I used for testing although it didn’t have any time to stain. I have enough confidence that the ink is friendly to pens that I’ve now loaded it into a piston filler, and one of my nicer pens at that.

The ink has more resistance to water than I expected (I expected a complete washout since it was so easy to clean). While water does remove enough dye to change the color to purple it is still very legible.

I really like everything about this ink. (I already mentioned my weakness for burgundy ink). It’s one of the few inks I’ve used recently that could become a regular in my rotation. I will be trying more Papier Plume ink although I suspect this burgundy will remain my brand favorite.


Additional Reading

I couldn’t find any Papier Plume Burgundy ink reviews, but you can search Pennaquod for reviews of other Papier Plume inks.

Ink Notes: Sailor Storia Balloon Green

Sailor Storia Balloon Green open bottleSailor has released a new line of pigmented inks they are calling Storia. At least they’re new in the U.S. There are eight colors in the Storia line. All are pigmented inks and can be mixed with each other, Sailor says not to mix them with non-Storia inks. Itoya, Sailor’s U.S. distributer, was running a free ink promotion when I bought my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip fountain pen. Since my only expense was for a postage stamp there wasn’t any reason not to get the ink. I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the color samples but liked the Balloon Green the most. All the colors seemed rather washed out.

The Sailor Storia ink is just becoming available in the United States. I noticed it first at JetPens where it’s an astronomical $32 for a 30ml bottle. Pen Chalet recently listed it for $24, which is cheap only by comparison. I have seen forum mentions where it’s as low as $13 from sources in Japan, but that doesn’t include shipping.

The packaging is nice, which no doubt accounts for some of the cost. The bottle is heavy frosted glass. The bottle is wrapped in paper and placed inside a heavy cardboard round container. It’s a nice presentation.

I picked two stub nibs to use for testing this ink. Both are Franklin-Christoph pens with the Mike Masuyama ground nibs. The Model 25 has the medium stub and the Model 19 has the broad stub. Even though Sailor’s Nano pigment inks work fine in my thin nibs I didn’t want to try this new ink in a thin nib, especially a green ink which I may not use every day and could dry out.

The Model 25 has an recessed nib so I don’t dip it into the ink, instead I fill the converter directly. The ink still hadn’t reached the nib after an hour of being nib down so I forced the ink down by twisting the converter and the ink finally reached the nib. This made me a little concerned about the flow but I haven’t had any problems.

The bottle has a plastic insert (common is Sailor inks) that can be filled with ink by inverting the covered bottle. This raises the ink level so it can cover the nib even when the bottle itself is low on ink. That’s the theory. The nib on the Model 19 was too big for the insert. I had to remove the insert and then I could cover the nib with ink and fill it. (This was a nearly full bottle.) Since this was filled via the nib it was immediately ready to write.

Since this ink is potentially my most expensive (per milliliter, if I had paid for it) I didn’t fill either pen completely. Being a pigment ink I’m also concerned that if I ignore the pens for a few days I may have to flush them out, so no sense wasting liquid gold.

I rather like the balloon green color in the thicker nibs. It has some line variation and doesn’t look nearly as washed out as the swabs do. It has good flow and is pleasing to write with. As much as I prefer thin nibs I really liked this ink in the Model 19’s broad stub. I used it to write the draft of this article along with several or multi-page writing sessions.

I’ve carried the thinner Model 25 in the pen loop of my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. This gave me a bright color to use for notes without having to take up a slot in my pen case. This also worked well for me.

The ink is very waterproof. There was any trace of green in the water and none of the ink washed away.

Dry time between the Doane Paper and the Rhodia Paper didn’t vary by any significant amount. Typically the more absorbent Doane Paper dries quicker, but not in this case. Considering these nibs are wider than I typically use the 12 to 15 second dry time isn’t terrible. These aren’t pens I’d use for note taking where I want dry times of less than 5 seconds.

[Updated Aug. 7 – Cleaning]

This ink wasn’t any harder to clean from the pen than other pigment based ink, but it did take longer than normal fountain pen inks. I’m also a little paranoid with pigment (or iron gall) ink that I will leave a trace behind and it will lodge itself in the pen causing a significant future problem.

I cleaned the pen about 12 hours after writing the pen dry so the ink didn’t have much time to dry and solidify or stain the pen. It took more flushes with a bulb syringe than usual, about 9 or 10, to remove all traces of green when I shook the pen (like an old mercury thermometer) into a tissue. Then I noticed a few drops of green still on the nib surface. These were easily removed with a damp cotton swab. They didn’t require hard scrubbing to remove, although the incidental contact with the tissue wasn’t enough.

Because of this I then gave the nib a brief bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I didn’t notice any traces of green coming from the nib so this wasn’t necessary, but like I said – I am paranoid.

Wrapping Up

Storia ink is ridiculously expensive, at least here in the United States. Even at $24 for a 30ml bottle the ink is one of the more expensive ones out there. That’s a whopping $0.80 per milliliter. Caran d’Ache ink, one of the more expensive ink brands, is only about $0.67 per milliliter and Montblanc Limited Edition inks seem downright cheap at $0.57 per milliliter. Even if what I’ve read is true and it’s about $13 a bottle in Japan that’s still $0.43 per milliliter.

If you have a use for mixable waterproof inks then the Sailor Storia inks may be worth checking out. Platinum has a few pigment based ink colors but Sailor Storia is the most complete color range that I know of.

I liked Sailor Storia Balloon Green more than I expected. It’s a pleasant green. It’s nice to have a waterproof green option. That said, I don’t foresee replacing the bottle when I empty it and I don’t plan on trying any of the other Storia inks.

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

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