Ink Notes: Montblanc Toffee Brown

Montblanc Toffee Brown sample vial

Montblanc Toffee Brown is the fourth of the current Montblanc inks that I’ve looked at recently. I only bought a sample since it seemed like a rather unexciting brown.. Some browns are described as “reddish brown”, some a “yellowish brown”. I’d describe Toffee Brown as a “brown brown”. It’s a nice dark, saturated brown ink.

I tested this ink differently than other ink tests, at least in the pen selection. The Vac 700 just doesn’t work well with ink samples and all those nib swaps. So I decided to use different pens. I picked my collection of Sailors, mostly 1911. I didn’t go back and check, but this has got to be the first time I used all gold nibs, and mostly 21kt gold at that. The Sailor nibs are thinner than the European counterparts, more so for the fine nibs. I added a Lamy Safari medium nib to add a dose of reality with a steel nib. The Lamy is a steel nib, the 1911M is a 14 kt gold nib and the rest are 21 kt gold nibs.

As I said, Montblanc Toffee Brown is a dark brown with good saturation. There’s a little shading and line variation with my thin nibs. Shading is more pronounced with thicker nibs although it’s not heavy shading, but I like the look.

The ink is well behaved. The only noticeable feathering was on cheap copy paper with a broad nib. There was some feathering with medium nibs but I had to look really close to see it.

Since it is a dark, saturated ink there is some show-through on both Doane and Rhodia paper, even with the thin nibs. It becomes minor bleed-through on Doane paper with thicker nibs. I call it minor because it only happens when there’s a higher concentration of ink than normal writing would put down. There wasn’t any bleed-through on Rhodia paper. The bottom line is I can take notes on both sides of my Doane Jotter without being affected since I typical use extra fine or fine nibs. Even a medium is OK.

Drying time is better than most inks. On Doane Paper a Sailor fine nib dries in about 3 seconds. The Lamy medium takes about 8 seconds on Doane Paper. Fast enough for my typical use. See the sample photos for the drying times of the various nibs.

The ink has a hint of water resistance. I could still read the washed out ink after the water test. Some of it was mostly gone and none of it looked brown after getting wet. It might be enough for a accidental spill that is quickly soaked up, but I wouldn’t use it when I really needed to count on it be water proof.

Cleaning is extremely easy. A couple flushes with the bulb syringe and the pen was ink free with any pen I used.

The bottom line – I love this ink and added it to my DC show shopping list.

Pens Used

Lamy Safari with a medium nib – Good ink flow and saturation as shown in the samples.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black with a fine nib – One of my favorite writing thin nibs and the thinnest of the nibs tested. The dark brown is easy to read even with the thin line.

Sailor 1911s with a medium nib, a zoom nib and a music nib and a Sailor 1911M with a broad nib. The ink wrote fine with the topside of the zoom nib which is a very thin line.

[Updated Sept 1, 2013] – I’ve been using the ink in my Edison Menlo Pump Filler with an extra fine nib. Never a hard start or any skipping. A consistent flow.

Writing Samples

Additional Reading/Viewing

FPGeeks Inkcyclopedia

From the Pen Cup

Ink Notes: Montblanc Oyster Grey

I’m continuing my string of Montblanc ink reviews, this time with Montblanc Oyster Grey. I only had a sample of this ink, not a bottle, so using the Vac 700 for my ink testing just wasn’t practical if I wanted to swap nibs. So I went back to using several pens.

I like the Oyster Grey color. It has good flow and dries quickly. I could use it for my daily notes at work without accidental smudges. It’s a little blacker/darker than my current grey of choice – Iroshizuku Fuyo-Syogun. There was plenty left behind after the water test so I could easily read what was written. The ink cleaned easily out of all my pens, even the one left unused for a week.

I didn’t experience any feathering problems although the only cheap paper used was a quick test using office copy paper.

I used the ink in the latest “America the Beautiful” Field Notes book.(which has different paper than normal). I used the Edison extra-fine and VP medium stub nibs. There is just the hint of show-through but there’s no problem writing on both sides. There’s slightly more show-through (but no bleed-through) with the original Field Notes books. I still write on both sides but the show through is noticeable and may annoy some people.

The only hard start I had was with the Sailor 1911 with a broad nib. I syringe filled the converter and didn’t wait for the ink to flow in into the feed. So I don’t really count this as a problem even though it shows on the writing sample.

While I like the Montblanc Oyster Grey I already have a bottle of Iroshizuku Fuyo-Syogun and don’t see a reason the replace it. I’ll use up the sample, but won’t be buying a bottle of Oyster Grey. The writing samples have a comparison of the two inks.

Pens Used

Edison Pearl 2012 LEE with an extra fine nib. No problems with this pen and it cleaned easily. This is the pen I used as my daily note taker for a couple problem-free days.

Franklin-Christoph Model 29 with a fine nib // Faber-Castell Emotion with a medium nib // Sailor 1911M with a broad nib – all these pens handled the ink well and were easy to clean. It’s the 1911M that had the ink left in it for a week. It wrote immediately and then was easily cleaned.

Pilot Vanishing Point with medium stub nib. I liked the ink with this nib, it’s the one pen where I might choose Oyster Grey over Fuyo-Syogun. It’s a bit darker and shows just a bit more variation with the nib. This is the pen that will use up the rest of my sample. While I won’t get a bottle, I won’t rule out another sample for use with this nib.

Additional Reading/Viewing

Inkcyclopdedia entry (

Writing Samples

Ink Notes: Montblanc Burgundy Red

Montblanc Burgundy Red Bottle

[Updated pens used on Oct 16, 2013]

Montblanc Bordeaux is one of my favorite inks, if not my absolute favorite. When Montblanc discontinued Bordeaux I was prepared to hate it’s replacement, Montblanc Burgundy Red, as a usurper to the crown. Since I had stocked up on Bordeaux I was in no hurry to replace it and ignored Burgundy Red. I finally broke down and bought a bottle at the Long Island Pen Show once I saw the swabs in person.

I like the Burgundy Red. There’s enough pop from the red in the ink, but it’s not a neon red. The ink is a quick drier, especially in my thin nibs. It’s relatively easy to flush from the pen. It’s not water resistant but there was enough left behind so I could still read my words after the water test. Although I wouldn’t use the ink to address envelopes or write checks.

One thing I have noticed is the ink seems to darken a bit after it’s been in the pen awhile. At first I thought it was my Esterbrook writing darker, but then realized the ink had been in the pen much longer than others (and was refilled without flushing) so checked some other pens and sure enough, it had darkened a bit, looking more like the Bordeaux.

Montblanc Burgundy Red  will be a regular in my pens although I’m still partial to Bordeaux. I’m glad I bought the bottle.

Pens Used

Opened Montblanc Burgundy Red bottle

TWSBI Vac 700 with 5 different nibs – EF, F, M, B, 1.1 mm  Stub. This pen was used for the writing samples in the gallery. The extra fine nib was used as my primary writer for a day and then on and off after that. I didn’t have any hesitation or hard starts and cleaning was easy.

Esterbrook $1 Bandless with a #9555 Fine nib – I first noticed the ink was darker when using this pen. The ink has been in this pen longer than any other and it was not flushed when it was refilled with the same ink. I’ve since revisited my writing with the Vac 700 and it too has gotten slightly darker. Flushing the pen was easy and there wasn’t any sign of staining despite the ink being used (with a refill) in this pen for about a month.

Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver with a Medium Nib – I just filled this pen in order to write the draft of this review since my Esterbrook went dry and it was time time to flush it. Writing has been smooth and consistent, without any hard starts.

[Oct. 16, 2013] Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Pocket with a Needlepoint nib – the line got a little thin when I wrote fast, although never actually skipped. No problems with any paper and easy to clean from the pen.

Ink Notes: Montblanc Irish Green

Montblanc Irish Green Ink Bottle

The discontinued Montblanc Racing Green is a favorite of mine and although it’s discontinued I still have a couple bottles. So let’s get this out of the way first – Montblanc Irish Green is nothing like Racing Green. The writing samples show that Irish Green is a much brighter green. When I think “green” the color I think of is more along the lines of Irish Green.

I rather like this shade of green along with its properties. The ink has good saturation and some subtle line variation. Plus, it dries in 5 seconds or less with my thin nibs on Doane Paper.

I’ve also been using Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku recently but I seem to prefer the Irish Green color slightly more than the Shin-ryoku although it’s close enough that I might pick Shin-ryoku on some days, depending on my mood.

Cleaning was easy and problem free.

While not really water resistant, I could still read what I wrote after the water test although I wouldn’t want to rely on it.

Photo comparing irish Green and Racing Green
Irish Green on top, Racing Green on bottom

Pens Used

The TWSBI Vac 700 is the only pen I’ve used this ink with so far, but with 5 different nibs – EF to 1.1mm stub. (I did ink my Huron Grande this week but haven’t used it enough to comment yet.) I used the extra fine nib as my writer for a day and didn’t have any hard starts or skipping in writing about 10 pages, The other nibs were just used for the samples below but didn’t have any issues.


Ink Notes: Montblanc Bordeaux

Photo of a bottle of Montblanc Bordeaux ink
Montblanc Bordeaux Ink

Montblanc Bordeaux has been a long time favorite of mine. Part of this may be that it was one of the first non-blue or black inks that I tried and really liked. Unfortunately it’s no longer made. Fortunately I still have 2 1/2 bottles.

I’ve never had any flow problems with the ink. Although, in a few pens it’s been dry. Not dry enough to cause skipping or other problems, but it seemed to struggle to keep up. It’s got OK saturation but isn’t a bright ink and it tends to fade a bit over time.

I can’t really compare it to other inks. It was my first bordeaux and I didn’t bother looking at similar inks. I did stop using it for awhile. No particular reason, it just stopped finding its way into my pens. But I pulled out the bottle a couple months ago and have been using it since.

The major drawback to the ink is that it fades over time. In some cases it gives the writing a nice antique look. But if I pull out some of my older writings they are outright faded.

Overall, I still like the ink and I’m glad I re-discovered it.