Ink Notes: Private Reserve Invincible Black

Fountain Pen Revolution Dilli filled with PR IB

[Updated Pens Used on Oct. 16, 2013]

Private Reserve Invincible Black has a deep black color, is quick drying and it’s waterproof. These are all properties I like. Even so, I may never use PR Invincible Black again.

I bought the bottle of IB back in March 2012 but the bottle has been unopened until now.  I mention this because I’ve seen widely differing comments about this ink and it may matter. The ink bottle is taller than my earlier PR ink bottles and holds 2 oz of ink.

The ink clings to everything. Opening the bottle reveals a bubble across the opening more often than not, as seen in the picture above The inside of the bottle cap is solid ink, despite being right-side up for days, if not weeks or months. The Vac 700 Demonstrator was solid black, even after emptying the ink.

The TWSBI nibs were solid black, even after trying to wipe the ink off with the bottle. My usual ink cloth also left plenty behind, I ended up having to use an absorbent tissue which was messy on my fingers and still left some ink on the nib. There’s no doubt how far the section went into the ink as there was a solid film of ink on it.

This is the first time I washed my hands during the sampling, after every nib change. It washes off skin quit easily but is slow drying and kind of sticky and I found it impossible to clean the excess off the nib without getting the ink on me. Not that I mind, I usually get ink on my fingers during the nib changes, but in this case it was slow drying and remained tacky on my fingers for several minutes. I had to wash my hands to avoid leaving smudges on the paper from my hands. The ink dries fast on paper, slower on skin and cloth.

I was really hating this ink before I ever put nib to paper. But then I wrote with it and things began to change. It flows well, it’s well saturated and wetter than most inks I use. I did have some problems with ink dripping off the nib when I reached for something with my pen hand when the TWSBI had the broad nib. I was amazed when the ink dried so quickly since it seems so wet going onto the paper. It’s not such a bright black when it dries and larger areas of the ink (such as the black blocks in the samples or an ink swab) appear slightly chalky once dry.

It’s a dark saturated ink so there’s significant show through on many papers. More so than many of the other inks I use. On Rhodia it took some thick nibs for show through, but it happened on Doane writing pad with fine nibs. In a Doane Jotter (not as white as the writing pad) the show through is minor and not enough to prevent using both sides of the paper. There wasn’t any bleed through on any paper.

There was some faint feathering on cheaper copy paper, with the wider nibs, but not on any other papers.

I used the FPR Dilli (fine nib) as a daily writer for a couple days, writing about 10 pages. There weren’t any problems with the ink.

As the name suggests, it’s waterproof. It also supposed to be bleach-proof and otherwise tamper proof but I didn’t test that.

Cleaning was easier than I expected. Between the ink clinging to everything and being a fast drier I expected problems. But it wasn’t all that hard to clean. For the TWSBI I removed the nib, washed off the excess and threw them in the ultrasonic cleaner. But this is my typical process when cleaning all the Vac 700 nibs at once. The ink did wash out of the Vac 700 body with a few more flushes than typical but it was ink free.

I cleaned the Dilli (a piston filler) without having to take it apart, just a lot of filling and emptying. It’s a demonstrator so I could tell it was ink free.

Pens Used

The TWSBI Vac 700 with extra fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm nibs was used for the testing and samples. No problems but just a short session with each nib. The ink was wetter than most in this pen. Cleaning the ink off the nib was tough. I’d typically leave some ink streaks near the slot in the nib and up where the nib meets the section.

Fountain Pen Revolution Dilli with a fine nib was used as a daily writer for a couple days. There weren’t any hard starts or skipping. This was the first ink in this pen so I can’t compare it to anything. This nib actually seemed easier to clean off the excess ink than the TWSBI nibs, maybe simply because its smaller. There’s no signs of nib creep or excess ink near the slot in the nib. Filling was less messy with the Dilli than with the Vac 700.

[Oct. 16, 2013] Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Pocket with a Needlepoint nib. An absolute disaster. There was a large quantity of ink in the cap after a couple days. It took considerable scrubbing, pen flush and time in the ultrasonic cleaner to get the ink out.  Never again with this pen.

Wrapping Up

The ink has begun to win me over. It’s still messy. I’d only use it in a demontrator. Not because I could tell the ink level. I can’t, because the ink coats the pen so it always looks full. But least with a demonstrator I could be sure all the ink is out.

I think this would be one of the few inks I’d dedicate to a specific pen. Cleaning it is a bit more tedious than most inks. Plus filling it is a messy task. The ink clings to the nib and section and wiping it off is a messy affair. It was easier to deal with this ink in the Dilli than in the Vac 700 although the actual writing experience was about the same.

I like Private Reserve Invincible Black, I just hate having to get it into the pen.

Additional Reading

There seems to be difference experiences among users of this ink. This FPN thread has some of them.

Writing Samples

Ink Notes: Private Reserve Gray Flannel

Photo of PR Gray Flannel and TWSBI Vac 700

I bought this bottle of Private Reserve Gray Flannel back in May 2004. The ink seems to have aged well but take its age into account for this review.

Blues aren’t my favorite inks, but I tend to like grays and Gray Flannel is a blueish-gray. But there are reasons I used less than 1/3 bottle in 9 years. It’s a middle of the road ink, nothing really bad about it, nothing truly great. The color is darker than other grays and there’s some shading and line variation but I think it’s unexciting. I prefer thin nibs on the dry side and this isn’t a ink for them. It may have better shading with wider, wetter nibs.

Even though the ink dried in 5 or 6 seconds with an extra fine nib it’s a slow drier, taking considerably longer with wider nibs. While being used as a daily writer with my medium nib I had to be careful to avoid accidental smudges. The ink appears dry when it goes on the paper, but it’s not, and the line size is true to the nib.

The ink is well behaved, no noticeable feathering with my typical Rhodia and Doane papers. There was some minor feathering with the 1.1 mm stub on cheap copy paper. I didn’t have any flow problems, skipping or hard starts with the ink. I could leave the Faber-Castell medium nib uncapped and unused for about two minutes before having problems with it writing. While not waterproof, the ink has good water resistance, at least I can read what was written.

The ink was easy to clean. Once flush with the bulb syringe and all traces were removed. I also didn’t have any problems cleaning the Vac 700 where inks can sometimes find a crevice that takes some time to clean out.

Pens Used

I used my Faber-Castell E-motion with a medium nib as my primary writer for a couple of days. This is one of the smoother nibs I have. There weren’t any issues with the ink. The line seemed thinner than other, wetter inks, much closer to the size of the nib. It felt like a dry writer, but as I mentioned drying was longer than other inks. It never came close to skipping. The pen could stay uncapped and unused for about 2 minutes before the ink evaporated off the nib.

I tested with my range of TWSBI Vac 700 nibs – extra fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm stub. The writing samples are in the gallery. The wider nibs resulted in a darker line, closer to black, especially on the whiter Rhodia paper.


Ink Notes: Private Reserve Ebony Brown

I decided to pick up the pace of my ink notes and do more of a review this time around. In the past I’d just use the ink normally and collect my impressions once I’ve run it through a couple pens. I’ll be looking at Private Reseve Ebony Brown in this ink note.

I pulled out a Lamy Safari along with extra fine, medium and broad nibs for it. I’ll use my Edison Pearl for the fine nib sample since it’s already loaded up with the ink. I picked the Lamy nibs because I can ink up one pen and swap nibs for testing. Once I had everything in order I poured some bourbon and set out to do some writing.

Pictures of the samples on Rhodia paper are in the pictures, click them for the full size images.

My impressions of Private Reserve Ebony Brown

  • A basic, dark brown. Can look almost black at times, in the right (or wrong?) light.
  • Long drying time, at least to the point of not smudging. It took 11 seconds for the extra-fine line to dry and 23 seconds for the fine line, on Rhodia paper.
  • No noticeable feathering on any paper I used. This included Rhodia, Doane, and Staples 20lb multi-purpose paper. If I looked closely I could see some feathering with the broad nib on the Staples paper, but I really had to look hard.
  • I used the ink extensively in my Edison Pearl with an extra fine nib. It never experienced any hard starts or skips.
  • The ink would be suitable as a daily writer for me.

Bottom Line

A well behaved ink that I could use as a daily writer. In my opinion the color is ok but it doesn’t rise to the “must have” level for me. I’ll keep looking at brown inks although I wouldn’t rule out returning to Private Reserve Ebony Brown at a future date.

Pens I Used

The Edison Pearl LEE with an extra fine nib was the pen I used the ink in for my day-to-day testing. There was good flow without any skipping or false starts, I didn’t have any problem reading the thin line. There wasn’t any shading.

Additional Reading

Sandy1 has a review on FPN. They had significantly shorter drying times than I experienced.