I inked up the Maplewood Pilot Vanishing Point the day before Halloween. I used an extra fine 18K gold rhodium plated nib and a Pilot Back ink cartridge. The cartridges makes it easy to get the most ink into a Vanishing Point and I like Pilot ink, at least the blue and black Pilot inks. The pen was inked just over three months which surprised me when I updated the record. It seems like I’m always using the pen. But after some thought it does make sense. I carry the pen a lot, and I frequently use it for note taking. But the times I pick it are when I can benefit from a retractable, clickable fountain pen. It “uncaps” quickly, I make a couple quick notes, and I quickly “cap” it again. So while it’s true I frequently use the pen, I don’t do a lot of writing with it so in retrospect three months shouldn’t be a surprise. Especially using an thin Japanese extra fine nib. Despite the thin nib, and three months of ink I never had any hard starts or skipping problems. I was tempted to simply pop in a new cartridge but I decided to give other fountain pens a chance so I flushed this one out.
I recently had a reader question about permanent inks. I thought FPQuest readers may be able to add some answers and comment on my answer.
Question: I’m interested in a fountain pen with an extra fine nib that uses waterproof, archival ink. I have heard that DeAtrementis is that such ink, but am having difficulty finding much info on it. Do you know: 1. Is there a non-clogging waterproof ink for fountain pens? 2. If so, do you have recommendations? 3. If so, do you have a great extra fine pen for sale per the above requirements, or a recommendation for some?
My Answer: I typically use Montblanc Permanent inks (Blue or Black) for permanence. I’ve left these in a extra fine and fine nib pens for over a month, close to two, without any clogging or other adverse affects. Unfortunately they’re more expensive than regular MB inks.
I also like Rohrer & Klingner Salix and Scabiosa along with Diamine Registrar’s although they are iron gall based. While mild compared to older formulas I don’t like to leave them in my pens for more than a couple of weeks, although I gone about a month a times. Flow has never been a problem but the iron gall could corrode the nib over time.
If you need real archival (as in centuries) and don’t want the iron gall inks I think the sailor Nano-Carbon inks (KiwaGuro Black and Sei-Boku Blue) or Platinum pigmented inks are the best choice. I’ve use the black from each brand and find them to flow well in extra fine and fine nibs, even my Platinum ultra extra fine nib. I do have to use the pen every couple days or so otherwise they are hard to start. Other than that the flow is good.
I don’t have any experience with De Atramentis document inks. Noodler’s also has a few options but I’ve never used them.
As for pens, I like Platinum’s ultra extra fine nib which I have in a 3776 pen. Platinum also has a desk pen which sells for about $15 (or less) which they say is designed for their carbon inks and has an extra fine nib. I did find the desk pen can go longer without use so there may be something to their claim. Platinum has their own proprietary cartridges/converters which have a wide opening which helps the flow. I also like Pilot nibs which seem to be universally better than their price point. I’m also partial to older Sheaffer gold nib pens. They can be found reasonably priced.
Any additions or suggestions, let me know in the comments.
I have too much ink. There, I said it. Although, I really don’t believe it. But I do have so much ink that it scares me and I’ve been sticking to my well known inks lately. To get a handle on things, I spent a couple nights listing all my inks in a spreadsheet. I did exclude all the inks I’ve decided to never use again (I’ve been giving it away but still have some put aside). I probably have a few miscellaneous ink cartridges in various nooks, crannies or couch cushions but this should be any ink that counts. I also avoided including my ink samples. I ended up with 146 different colors. While that total count didn’t surprise me (after all, I have two overflowing drawers full of ink bottles), the breakdown of the numbers was surprising, even to me. I have more Montblanc ink colors than any other brand. With 19 colors, all of which are bottles. Montblanc is my favorite ink brand, but that number surprised me. Especially since I have multiple bottles for several of those colors, giving me 25 Montblanc bottles in all. Montblanc Bordeaux leads all inks with four bottles, although one of those is nearly empty. That was no surprise since it’s my favorite ink and I hoarded it when it was discontinued. Pilot is second in the brand count, with 14 colors. Five in the “Pilot” line and nine in the “Iroshizuku” line. Third place among the brands is Diamine with 13 different colors, although two of them are sold as a Cult Pens brand.
The breakdown by color family also brought its own surprises. No surprise that Blacks and Greens topped the list. While black may be a pretty basic color I do like variety. Green is also a favorite color even though I don’t use it much. I don’t use green as much as black so it was a bit of surprise that I have as many green options as I do black options. On the other hand, I rarely meet a green ink I’m not willing to buy. I went through a recent sepia buying binge recently so I wasn’t surprise by having so many brown options. The problem here (for me) is that Montblanc Toffee Brown is my typical brown choice.
I need to expand my ink horizons. It’s not enough to set a goal to use each ink at least once in 2015. While I may pick some inks just because I want to use them, I’ll use the new list to pick my inks. I’ll just generate a random number and use the ink on that row. I can always filter by color family if I want and exclude inks I’ve already used. There’s no guarantee I’ll use every ink this year, but at least there will be variety. Although I imagine Montblanc Bordeaux will always be in a pen as will R&K Blau-Schwarz and I’m sure other favorite inks will be used multiple times, just because I want to use them. Leaving myself at completely at the mercy of chance would be crazy. Do you have a few standard inks? If not, and you have many inks, how do you rotate through them?
Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is the sixth Graf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) ink I’ve looked at. It’s the last of their new line of inks for me to review. Carbon Black is one of the inks that Graf von Faber-Castell classifies as “Document Proof.” This means they are non-correctable and also non removable without leaving a trace. They’re also UV and water resistant. It’s also supposed to not be visible on the back of standard paper. I’ve never found that last item to be true with the other Document Proof colors and it wasn’t true with this one. I’m beginning to think they mean no bleed-through which would be true. I’ve liked all the new GvFC inks, some more than others. So what do I think of Carbon Black? Wow! It’s a really nice black ink. I did the swab before inking any pens and immediately thought of Aurora Black. You’ll find an Aurora Black swab for comparison in the gallery. I don’t use a black ink a lot, but GvFC immediately became my go to black. Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler for the rest of the review. The ink puts down a nice crisp line with no ink spreading or feathering. It’s a dark ink so there is show-through on thinner papers. I didn’t encounter any bleed-through. The ink has a wet, but not watery, flow. If there’s enough ink it looks wet and has a bit of a sheen. The sheen vanishes quickly as the ink dries. I used the Lamy 2000 with a fine nib as my daily writer. The fine nib doesn’t put down enough ink to give it a sheen so don’t expect it all the time. Sheen or no sheen, the ink always drives to a deep dark black true to the cobalt black name. There’s no shading or line variation at all, just deep black. Dry time is good on most paper although it’s considerably longer on Rhodia and other papers traditionally slow to absorb ink. It was quick enough on Doane Jotter paper so that I avoided accidental smudges. The Jotter is my typical note tacking pad. The ink flushed easily from my pens although it wasn’t in them for very long. I expect the Lamy 2000 to clean easily once it’s written dry.
My Lamy 2000 was my daily driver for testing this ink. The nib was tuned by Mike Masuyama so it it’s friendly to almost every ink. It was great with the GvFc Carbon Black. A consistently dark black line without any skipping. My Platinum 3776 Ribbed with an ultra extra fine nib was used for testing. The inked flowed easily through the very thin nib. The flow was able to keep up with some quick writing and was problem free. My Retro 51 Lincoln medium nib is the wettest nib of the bunch. Despite a wet flowing ink on a wet nib it was surprisingly well behaved, There wasn’t any feathering or bleed-through. My Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with 1.1 mm stub was the widest nib I used. Again, the line was consistent.
Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is my new go to black fountain pen ink.
While I’ve managed to accumulate a large number of Sheaffer pens, I’ve never really used Sheaffer ink beyond the occasional cartridge received with a new fountain pen. Somewhere along the line I picked up two bottle of Sheaffer Red and a bottle of Blue-Black. That all changed recently. While browsing eBay for all things Sheaffer I came across some old Sheaffer ink for sale. It was ink in the burgundy boxes and and inkwells in the bottle. The ink ships from an old Sheaffer factory in Wisconsin (according to the listing). The ink is offered by eBay user abolt among other Sheaffer items. (There’s still some ink available, although shipping prices has gone up on the 12 ml bottles.) This seems to be from the last ink Sheaffer made in Wisconsin. I had to buy a few bottles. For reference, here’s a FPN post that shows six different bottle types from Sheaffer history. Even though turquoise isn’t among the colors I like I had to give Peacock Blue a try since it’s a legendary Sheaffer fan favorite. Supposedly the modern turquoise was an attempt to match the Peacock Blue with a modern formulation. I see a slight difference when they’re side by side, but viewed apart I can’t tell the difference. For the older inks there were two bottle sizes. There’s a full size 2 oz. (60 ml) bottle which is what the Peacock Blue and Grey inks came in. This bottle has a built in inkwell. The other ink was in smaller 12 ml. bottles that came in two-bottle blister packs marked “For Calligraphers.” The modern inks come in 50 ml. cone shaped bottles.
Gallery with Swabs and Writing Samples
Swabs labelled “12 ml” are the small calligraphy ink bottles. The swab labelled “burgundy label” are the old 2 oz bottle. The rest are the modern inks.