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.

Pen Shows and Pen Clubs Added to Resource Pages

Fine Steel Nib of the Edison Nouveau Premiere Cherry Cordial LE fountain pen

Nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to return to the first picture I published on this site.

A nice relaxing holiday weekend was a good time to put together some information I’ve been collecting. I’ve added two new pages to the resources section. They’re available from the Resources selection along the top menu. If the drop-down is too finicky for your mobile device then go to the main resource page and you find links there too. or just click the links further down in this post.

US Pen Show Schedule

I put together all the US pens hows that I know of and listed them here. The 2017 dates are already finalized for a few shows and are listed. The Long Island Pen Show has moved back a couple of weeks and is now in April. If the show has passed and there’s no “next” show scheduled then the show is listed without a date in the month when it typically occurs.

Pen Clubs

Also, I’ve been collecting pen club information and finally listed it. These are clubs which have in-person meetings on a regular basis (although “regular” is wide-open to interpretation.) These are ones I found online. I’m sure I’m missing many others, especially outside the US. If you know of any that I missed you can contact me using the form or email found here. I prefer that the club have their own online presence for contacts and meeting announcements, but if this isn’t possible we can probably work something out so that my info doesn’t become incorrect over time.



Sunday Notes and Links – September 04, 2016

It’s been nearly four months, but with the unofficial end of summer here in the States I decided to resume Sunday Notes and Links, although it will be less notes and more links. And it may not even be every Sunday. It’s been awhile so some of these links are old but well worth reading if you missed them.

The Commonwealth Pen Show (aka Boston Pen Show) is later this month, It’s a Sunday only show that’s runs from 9am to 5pm on September 25, 2016. It’s a small show but is to be growing. There’s 23 exhibiters listed for this year and all the available tables are sold out. I’m hoping the show grows big enough to justify two days since Saturdays generally works better for me. Still, I am hoping to make it there sometime Sunday.

The Dallas Pen Show is September 23–24.

You can find European Pen Shows here. There’s a couple coming up Sept. 24th and 25th.

Speaking of pen shows…

My 2016 D.C. Pen Show Haul — The Gentleman Stationer

SF Pen Show: Day 3 and Wrap-Up – The Well-Appointed Desk (Day2) and Day 1

Reflections of a Fountain Pen Initiate — Gorgeous.Ink

In addition to shows there are clubs…

Appleton Wisconsin (Sept 15th): Appleton Pen Club – Vintage – Anderson PensAnderson Pens

Fountain Pens Australia (Facebook Group & monthly meetings): One Year of Fountain Pens Australia! — Pen Economics

What Others Are Using

Currently Inked: September 2016 — Pendora’s Box

Video: Currently Inked #11 | 2 September 2016 – Pen Habit

Monthly Load Out: September 2016 – Gorgeous.Ink

I like reading reviews for pens that have (or haven’t) stood the test of time. This time around two people revisited the same fountain pen,

Revisited: Pilot Vanishing Point — Alt. Haven and Review Redux – Four Years with the Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen – – Fountain Pen, Ink, and Stationery Reviews

Misc Links

Notebooks designed to get you organized — Original Content Books via The Cramped

A Hobby: Fountain Pens | The Maddog Rag

Montblanc’s Augmented Paper digitizes rich people’s handwriting – The Verge

What Not To Do | From the Pen Cup

The “Metal” Stamp You Probably Don’t Know About « The Pelikan’s Perch

Introducing journal guides! | Leigh Reyes. My Life As a Verb.

Profile of John Twiss | United Inkdom // There’s a related giveaway but you’ll have to browse the site for it. The giveaway ends Sept. 10th.

I missed the Pilot Pen Clinic, but… – On Fountain Pens

Lastly, thanks to automation, most of what I read gets pushed out to Fountain Pen Links as a link even if it’s not in this post, so if you want a firehose of links you’ll find it there.

Currently Inked – September 2016

I did a lot of writing this past month, especially since the Washington DC Pen Show, writing every day and averaging over two A5 journal pages every night. That made the ink flow fast, and I wrote six pens dry during the month, a couple pens more than once. Every pen I bought at the pen show was written dry, the five pens that are being carried over were inked prior to the show. So new pens kept my attention, which isn’t surprising.

Currenly Inked September 2016 - the pens

Currenly Inked September 2016 - the pens uncappedCurrenly Inked September 2016 - writing samples

Still Inked.

The first five pens in the photo are carried over from August (or earlier) . The Vacumatic got a lot of use and I thought I would write it dry, but it holds a lot of ink. The Vanishing Point may look new, but I simply swapped the Maplewood barrel for the Red Bamboo one. Its’s the same nib and ink.

New Pens and Inks

I limited myself to 10 pens in total so that each pen has a reasonable chance of regular use. I didn’t make any attempt to bring any new pens into the mix, so many were recently inked. Many of the inks were also recently used, just loaded into a different fountain pen.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Bookbinders Ground Rattler

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with Bookbinders Ground RattlerThe King of Pen has a good chance of replacing the Visconti Bronze Age as my favorite pen, although I haven’t had it long enough to hand it the crown. Like the Visconti my plan is to keep it in the rotation but to use a different ink with each fill. The Bookbinders ink brand, and therefore the ink, is new to me. I picked it for this pen because the grey ink is likely to benefit from this wide (for me) nib.

Pelikan M805 Stresemann (EF) with Papier Plume Burgundy

Pelikan M805 Stresemann with Papier Plume Burgundy writing sampleI had Pelikan’s overly-generous factory extra fine ground down to a more traditional extra fine size. This is the nib that was technically fine from day one, smooth with a good flow, but it just didn’t feel right. Now it does. The ink is new to me and I really like it, so I’m looking forward to using it in this pen which has been in storage since the end of April. I already reviewed both the pen and the ink.

Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with Montblanc Irish Green

Fisher of Pens Hermes with Montblanc Irish GreenThe first ink in theFisher of Pens Hermes was new to me as was the pen. The combination was a little dry so this time I picked Montblanc Irish Green which I know well. It also happens to be my favorite green ink.

Sheaffer Balance II (M) with KWZ Green #2

Sheaffer Ba;ance II with KWZ Green #2This ink was originally paired with the Fisher of Pens Hermes and they were a little dry. I liked the color so I put it in an appropriate green pen that is a nice writer.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with KWZ Gummiberry

Visconti Homo Sapien bronze Age with KWZ GummiberryMy favorite pen returns, this time with its ninth ink. KWZ Gummiberry was in a different pen during August. I like the color and wanted to try it in a thinner nib.

Written Dry.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with KWZ Gummiberry.

My new Sailor Pro Gear KOP went dry for a second time since the Washington DC Pen Show so I flushed it out back on August 18th. I managed to keep it dry for the rest of the month so my other pens would get some use. I liked the color of the KWZ Gummiberry ink, a very nice purple. Plus, the ink was easily flushed from the pen. I’d have no problem matching this fountain pen and ink in the future, but for now I’ll enjoy a variety of inks in this pen.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with KWZ Gummiberry Writing Sample

Sheaffer Balance Oversize (Pearl/Red) (F) with Sheaffer Peacock Blue (Yellow label).

The ink got darker after it was in the pen for a couple of days, appearing to be more of a blue-black than a turquoise. This was a vintage pen, and new to me, so there might have been old ink in the pen. There was no signs of ink when I tested the lever and sac, but I didn’t test it with water. I was in a hurry to ink up my new pen.

I’ll try in ink in another pen eventually but I still have one inked pen with Sheaffer Peacock Blue so it’ll be awhile. The Sheaffer Balance Oversize will return to the rotation with Montblanc Bordeaux, although I’ll wait until the Parker Vacumatic is written dry of the same ink.

Sheaffer Balance Oversize c1934 with Sheaffer Peacock Blue Writing Sample

Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with KWZ Green #2

Another new pen from the 2016 DC Pen show, this one took two weeks to write dry. The pen and ink started off being a little on the dry side, even for me. It never skipped although it did have a hard time waking up several mornings. Once it got going it never actually skipped and things got better over time. I obviously should have cleaned the pen before its first fill but I gave in to the impulse and inked it right up. I did keep going until I wrote the pen dry and then gave it a good cleaning. I liked the ink, unless of course I’m wrong and it was the cause of the problems and in fact a really dry ink. I already returned the pen to the rotation with a different ink. The KWZ Green #2 also returned, but in a different pen.

Fisher of Pens Hermes with KWZ Green #2 Writing Sample

Sheaffer Balance Aspen (fine-medium) with Montblanc Permanent Grey

This pen took nearly two months to write dry. I love the pen and the way it writes, yet I always seem to pass it over. Montblanc Permanent Grey is a nice grey, if you like grey, and I do. For now the pen will return to the pen case and I’ll ink up a different Balance II.

Sheaffer Balance Aspen with Montblanc Permanent Grey writing sample

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Ultra Black

The Homo Sapien is a favorite pen and Montblanc is a favorite ink brand so I had high hopes for Montblanc Ultra Black. Unfortunately, while I don’t actually dislike the ink, it’s been a disappointment. The color is OK, but a run-of-the-mill black in my opinion. In addition, it’s slow drying so I often smudge it or turn a page too soon. This pen isn’t the easiest to clean, but even considering this, the ink took exceedingly long to flush from the pen. Since I was filling it immediately I didn’t get to concerned about removing every last trace and eventually gave up. Very un-Montblanc like. Even though it’s a small bottle I anticipate needing years to empty it. As for the pen, it’s still a favorite and has a new ink.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ultra Black Writing Sample

Ryan Krusac Legend

Both the pen and ink were new from the DC Show. They worked well together and I like them both. The pen is a little light, compared to most of my pens, but comfortable to write with. The ink has already returned to the rotation and the pen will be back soon.

Ryan Krusac The Legend with Papier Plume Burgundy Writing Sample

What Others are Using

Hobonichi Techo – A [3/4ths] Year in Review – No Pen Intended reviews a 3/4 used Hobonichi. It is planner buying season and the new Hobonichis are available today.

Pen Cleaning Disaster! (Again…) — Pendora’s Box – A significant reason I don’t like taking pens part to clean. I would so do this.

Fountain Pen Wish List Updated — Pendora’s Box – Some nice pens moved from a wish to a reality.

Currently Inked #10 | 25 August 2016 – Pen Habit – (Video) A nice mix of Q&A and showing what’s currently inked. Be sure to check earlier video as Matt posts several a month.

Review: Recollector Collection Management Software « The Pelikan’s Perch – Everyone needs a way to track their pens. I use DS Note (think Evernote wanna-be) for Synology. If I was starting over I would consider this software.

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.

Currently Inked – Mid-August 2016

Currently Inled pens, Mid-August after the DC Pen Show. (Pen tray capped)After the 2016 Washington DC Pen Show I’m up to eleven inked fountain pens, so it’s a good time for an update. One fountain pen went dry just before the show and it was re-inked with new ink from the show. All the other pens and ink remain, although my four new pens/ink are new from the show.

I’ve been using my fountain pens a lot since the show so hopefully I’ll empty many of these before the month ends. In addition to written drafts of all the articles I’ve posted, I’ve also written at least two pages every day. I guess I could call them journal entries but they are really just an excuse to use the pens. Hopefully I can keep this pace because my normal daily routine doesn’t give me much opportunity to use my pens these days.

Anyway, I’ll start with the new fountain pens and inks. If you just want to see all the pens and quick writing samples, or links to what others are using, then drop down to the bottom of the post. Links are to a review or “This Just In Post” for the pen if no review exists.

New Pens and Ink

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Ultra Black

This is the pen I wrote dry before the show. I picked up Montblanc Ultra Black early Friday at the show but didn’t use it much until Sunday after I had the Homo Sapien’s nib tuned by Dan Smith. It was good, but now it’s perfect and worthy of my favorite pen. The Ultra Black is a dark black, even in this extra fine nib, but it’s nothing special. I wouldn’t say ultra=darkest. Montblanc’s new Ultra Black Pens are a matte black and this ink tends to match them. I don’t like that the ink takes so long to dry and I’ve had more than a few careless smudges even though I’m not a lefty. I like to use different inks in this pen and usually give each ink two fills before cleaning the pen although Montblanc Ultra Black will only get one turn in the pen and I’ll switch inks when I write it dry the first time.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ultra Black Writing Sample

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with KWZ Gummiberry

Both pen and ink are new from the 2016 DC Pen Show. The Sailor KOP has a medium nib which does a great job of showing off this ink. The pen has already been written dry once and was refilled with the same ink. I’ll probably swap inks when it goes dry again, but the pen will stay in the rotation and the ink may return in another pen shortly.

Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with KWZ Gummiberry Writing Sample

Sheaffer Balance Oversize (c. 1934) (F) with Sheaffer Peacock Blue

While I’ve used Sheaffer Peacock Blue before, and it’s the only turquoise ink I like, this particular bottle is a NOS yellow label bottle from the pen show. I hesitate to call it “vintage” because it dates to the late 1970’s or 80’s making it younger than me. While it was made 40 or 50 years after the Sheaffer Balance, it still seems more appropriate than an ink made this century.

The more I use the Sheaffer Balance, the more I like it. The material is mesmerizing and changes as the lighting changes.

The pen has a tendency to collect ink between the nib and feed and will let go a a drop of ink onto the paper every three or four pages if I don’t dab it. I find a quick dab on a ink towel every time I turn the page (I write on both sides, so this is two pages) avoids any issue. The pen doesn’t leak or splatter even when I carry it or move my hand somewhat quickly. Although being a 80+ year old pen I make sure it doesn’t get jostled about in my bag.

Sheaffer Balance Oversize c1934 with Sheaffer Peacock Blue Writing Sample

Fisher of Pens Hermes (F) with KWZ Green #2

Again, both pen and ink are new from the pen show. I’d previously mentioned that the Fisher of Pens Hermes experienced hard starts. Those have since gone away and the pen has become a wetter (relative to it’s past) writer. I didn’t clean the pen before I used it so there may have been some oil or crud in the nib. While I would expect custom made pens to be clean, Carl did swap the nib to a fine nib from stock, so the nib was probably never cleaned.

The three previous pens have had a near monopoly on my writing so this pen hasn’t been used all that much and is still on it’s first fill. It will stay in the rotation when it goes dry although I’ll give it a good flush and probably switch the ink for variety.

Fisher of Pens Hermes with KWZ Green #2 Writing Sample

Ryan Krusac The Legend (EF) with Papier Plume Burgundy

Continuing the theme, both pen and paper are from the pen show. The Legend is Ryan’s newest design and my first pen from him. The ink is also a new brand for me. The two work well together, but they haven’t been used as much thanks to the pens listed above. The ink, in both flow and color, reminds me a bit of my favorite Montblanc Bordeaux, not an exact match but it does have hints of my favorite ink.

Ryan Krusac The Legend with Papier Plume Burgundy Writing Sample

Written Dry

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Aurora Black

The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age is the only pen to go dry so far this month. It had Aurora Black which is nice and dark even with this extra fine nib. I like running different inks through this pen and limit any ink to two fills. So even though Aurora Black is a great black ink it was time to clean the pen and move on.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Aurora Black writing sample

Still Inked

The following inks and pens remain in the rotation. All are performing well, they just can’t compete with the new and shiny.

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What Others are Using (or Used)

Currently Inked #8 | 11 August 2016 – Pen Habit – video that includes his inked pens along with some Q&A.

My New Work Notebook. — The Ink Smudge – I too use a steno style pad but I settled on the Doane Paper Large Flap Jotter simply because I prefer Grids + Lines.

Currently Inked: August 2016 — Pendora’s Box and Currently Inked: EDC for Kayaking — Pendora’s Box

One Book July 2016 Recap — The Purl Bug – I couldn’t stick to just one notebook, but this was a innovative way to mimic more than one notebook.

All The Pens

The writing sample is in the same order as the photos.

Currently Inled pens, Mid-August after the DC Pen Show

Currently Inled pens, Mid-August after the DC Pen Show. Writing sample

This Just In: Fisher of Pens Hermes

Fisher of Pens Hermes - capped on pen stand

The photo doesn’t do it justice, this pen is hard to photograph.

I spent some time on Friday talking to custom pen maker Carl Fisher of Fisher of Pens. I liked his designs and had pretty much decided to save some of my pen budget for a pen order after the show. During all this time, and future passes by his table, I never noticed this pen. If I had, I would have gotten it on Friday. On Sunday Carl posted a photo of his green pens grouped together. All that green caught my attention and I headed back to his table. While the photo was of mostly bright green pens that just weren’t quit right for me, this one was tucked in the back of the photo. It’s black celluloid with an olive green web running through it. It’s called vintage web green celluloid.

I looked at the bright green ones first, after all they were bright and shiny. But then I picked up this one. It wasn’t exactly bright and shiny, but I loved the look. Naturally the material made it more expensive than the bright green acrylic pens. Plus it was an oversize pen which seems to be my preference these days. The more I looked at the celluloid pattern the more I liked it and I made sure I didn’t put it down, fearing someone else would get it. It didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted this pen. The only change was to swap a two-tone nib for a polished silver fine nib. The pen already had a silver clip.

While I call this a green pen, the base color is a deep dark black with an olive green web running through it. It’s a long pen that’s a perfect cylinder and the cap is flush with the body. The finials are black and while I didn’t ask, the finials and griping section feel like ebonite. The Fisher of Pens brand is engraved into the body. Most fountain pens have branding, although it’s usually on the clip or band. I have mixed feelings about engraving the brand into the body, especially when it’s a different color than the material. In this case the logo is white and does stand out, but it’s restrained and subtle and is also in line with the silver furniture of the pen. So I’m OK with it. I’m even beginning to convince myself that it helps highlight the darker colors of the pen. The material is hard to photograph, at least with my abilities, and I hope to get better photos when the sun returns and I can use natural light to photograph the pen.

It has a fine JoWo nib that’s nice and smooth. I picked KWZ Green #2 as the first ink for this pen. I have had a couple hard starts when the pen has been nib up for several hours, but once I start writing there’s no skipping. I can also pause for a extended period of time or put the pen down flat for an hour or more without any hard start. The ink is new to me so I can’t say how much the ink contributes to this.

It’s a cartridge/converter pen that accepts standard international cartridges and converters. I could be wrong, but I don’t think celluloid pens can be converted to eyedropper fill as the ink could degrade/discolor the celluloid. So the pen will remain a converter fill.

I don’t know what’s included with pens that are shipped, but I picked a cloth pen sleeve for the pen. There’s no box or ink cartridge. I would have thrown both out so didn’t even ask if they were available. (Many vendors don’t bring bulky boxes to the show.)

The bottom line – I am really happy with the Fisher of Pens Hermes in web green celluloid. The nib might need some tuning, but that’s minor.

Fisher of Pens Hermes - uncapped on pen stand

Fisher of Pens Hermes writing sample with KWZ Green #2 ink