Ink Notes: Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa bottle

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa is one of two R & K iron gall inks, the other being Salix. Scabiosa is a family of flowering plants that often has purple flowers so it’s no surprise this is a purple ink. These modern iron gall inks are a lot milder than iron gall inks in the age of vintage pens, with a lower acid content.
Generally speaking, iron gall can corrode nibs and other metals, steel quicker than gold. Despite being milder I’ve read that R&K still recommends flushing the ink weekly. I tend to give the ink two weeks in a pen before flushing it as long as the pen is used regularly during that period and doesn’t sit unused. While it’s true to say I haven’t had any corrosion or other problems I haven’t used the ink very long in any one pen and it’s not like the nibs would dissolve on contact. In days of olde, iron gall inks were used regularly and had a higher acid content so I’m not too concerned. I am paranoid about forgetting and letting the ink sit in the unused pen for a couple of months so I do add a calendar item to flush the pen after two weeks.
Iron gall inks are considered archival since the ink bonds with the paper and is waterproof which is what has me looking at them. Although in theory the iron gall could eat away the paper after a few centuries, so nothing is forever. Iron gall inks tend to darken over time as the ink oxidizes and Scabiosa is no different.
Scabiosa goes onto the paper as a nice shade of purple and darkens over time. There is quit a bit of darkening as the ink first dries. I didn’t get any shading to speak of with thin nibs. With wider nibs there was some nice shading as the ink went onto the paper but it became less pronounced as the ink dried and darkened.
Other reviewers have said drying time is pretty good and quicker than Salix. I found the Salix drying time is comparable to Scabiosa and slower with some nibs/paper. As for the speed, I had annoying smudging problems with this ink on a consistent basis and had to be careful. The drying time isn’t all that long with my typical thin nibs but I still had the smudging problems. It seemed the ink went from wet to dry in a second, but it spent the previous 7 seconds figuring out how to dry and stayed very wet during that time. This was especially true on Rhodia paper.
Dry times on Doane paper were actually slower that Rhodia, but I had fewer smudging problems. It may have taken 10 to 12 seconds to dry on Doane paper, but in less than half that time it was mostly dry. For example, after 7 seconds on Rhodia a careless smudge would make a word unreadable. On Doane I could try and smudge the ink after 5 seconds and it would streak and I’d get a little on my finger, but the word would be completely readable.
I didn’t experience any bleed-through, even on cheap copy paper. There was some show-through with thick nibs on the cheap copy paper once the ink dried and darkened, but not on any other paper I used. Feathering wasn’t noticeable on any paper except the cheap copy paper, again with a think wet nib.
As expected the ink is waterproof. Some of the dye has smeared but there’s no problem at all reading the what was written.
I really like this ink and it will be a regular. I enjoy the bright purple that goes onto the paper as I write and yet it darkens to a business appropriate color. Plus it’s permanent and will survive my spilled coffee.

Additional Reading

Reviewed on the FPGeeks forum
Reviewed on
Reviewed on FPN

This Week’s Favorite

Sheaffer Custom Legacy and R&K Salix ink

It was time to flush out the Sheaffer Custom Legacy with R&K Salix today. The pen went dry just as I hit the two week limit I have for Iron Gall inks. This is the pen I kept reaching for this past week and it was a clear favorite.

The ink is a little slow to dry so I had a couple smudges in my work notes, but nothing too bad. Once dry the iron gall based ink is water proof.

The extra fine nib does resemble a nail but it is smooth and problem free. It puts down a consistent line with a light touch. The inlaid nib retains ink so it’s slow to evaporate, allowing longer pauses while writing. A trait I value when taking notes at work.

The pen has an aerometric (squeeze) converter which held enough ink for a week of light use and a second week of heavier use.

As I look to thin my accumulation I’m evaluating each pen I use to determine if it’s a keeper or not. This is a clear keeper based on both looks and performance.

Writing sample of the pen and ink
Writing Sample

Ink Notes: Rohrer & Klingner Leipziger Schwarz

Photo of a 1945 Parker Duofold Senior
Parker 1945 Duofold Senior with a fine nib and R&K Leipziger Schwarz

I’ve liked all the Rohrer & Klingner inks I’ve used so far so I decided to give their darkest ink a try. According to Google translate “Leipziger Schwarz” translates to Leipzig Black in english so that wasn’t really any indication of what to expect.

Brian Goulet called the color blue-black in his review. Brian knows more about ink than I do (or probably ever will) so I can’t say he’s wrong, but I didn’t think blue-black until I read his review. With thin nibs it looks like a dark black, not black hole dark, but dark. It does look a little lighter with swabs and the variation is more noticeable with wide nibs.

There’s no visible feathering on all but the cheapest paper. On cheap printer paper I noticed some feathering when I looked really hard but it was certainly usable.

My biggest complaint is the rather long drying time, I prefer a quicker dry time with my daily writers and for me black is a daily writer.

The ink didn’t completely wash off the paper in my test, but it came close. It washed off so quickly I get the impression the ink would run or smudge on a humid day. That’s probably an exaggeration but it doesn’t take much moisture to smudge the ink, even after drying for a week.

The lack of water resistance probably contributes to the ease of cleaning it out of pens. It was one of the easiest inks to clean from my pens.

I like the dark, saturated black of R & K Leipziger Schwarz. It’s not completely black so there’s some line variation giving the ink a little character.

Pens Used

For testing, I ran the ink through my Lamy Safari and swapped nibs, The extra fine, fine, medium and broad nibs all performed well.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 25 with a .9mm stub was my favorite with the ink, The stub provides a little line variation while writing.

The final pen was my 1945 Parker Striped Duofold with a fine nib. I used it as a daily writer and didn’t have any issues. No skipping or hard starts and the ink had a consistent flow.

As mentioned earlier, all the pens were easy to clean, even the Parker vacuum filler.

Additional Reading

Review at Ink Nouveau (Brian Goulet)

Handwritten review on FPN – this seems lighter than my samples, at least on my screens.

Writing Samples

November 2012 Ink Drop

I did my swabs and writing samples for the Goulet Pens November ink drop this past weekend. It took awhile to get to it since none of the inks grabbed my attention when I opened the envelope, except for one I already had. They’re nice enough, but I don’t think they’ll make it into a pen anytime soon The five November inks are:

  • Diamine Ochre – This brown ink is easily my favorite among the bunch since it’s one I  already have a sample. I added it when ordered some brown inks to try. Looks like it will have good saturation and shading. I do like brown inks.
  • Noodler’s Tiananmen – This is a nice dark red with a purple tint in my swab. My second choice among these five inks.
  • Noodler’s Cayenne – My ink swab and writing sample doesn’t look as orange as I expected. The swab does have an orange shade to it, but the writing sample (written with a glass dip pen) looks like a dark red.
  • Rohrer & Kilingner Morinda – I’ve read that this is an easy tio clean red ink. If so it may be more than the common red it appears to be.
  • De Atramentis Ghandi – A thin yellow ink that doesn’t appeal to me at all. Maybe useful as a highlighter or for drawing, neither is something I do.

The R&K Morinde will probably get put in a pen pretty quickly thanks to it’s reputation as an easy to clean red. But other than than, no inks jump to the top of my “must try” list, but a couple I’ll use eventually and will probably like.

Additional Reading:

Goulet Pens Ink Drop Reveal and Contest

Ink Notes: Rohrer & Klingner Limited Edition Blau-Schwarz

Photo of a Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz bottle
A bottle of Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz

The Rohrer & Klingner Schreibtinte Limited Edition Blau-Schwarz is a blue-black released, as the name implies, in a limited edition. One thousand numbered bottles were distributed. To be honest, I have no idea if 1,000 bottle is a small, medium or large batch. The numbering of the bottles seems to be unique for inks. I have #132 and #140. While the box is “special” for the ink it’s interesting, but nothing special. I’ve read the the design actually damaged some of the bottle labels during shipping but mine were fine.

So far I’ve only run the ink through three pens, although only two got extensive use. Two Franklin-Christoph pens saw the extensive use – a Model 29 with a fine nib and a Model 66 with an extra fine nib. The third pen is the Bexley 2007 Owner’s Club with a stub nib. Pen specific notes are listed below.

The ink is great and I suspect it will always be available in at least one of my pens until my supply runs out. What I like:

  • A nice dark blue-back with good saturation, Not too much, what I would consider perfect.
  • Flow has bee great in the pens. It does not evaporate quickly off the nib. I can lay the uncapped pen by the pad for several minutes and it’s ready to write when I pick it up.
  • Easy to clean. So far all any pen has needed is a couple flushes with the ear syringe and all traces of the ink are gone. Unlike so other inks which take multiple flushes to remove any trace of the ink.
  • No feathering or bleed-through on most of the papers I’ve tried (Doane, Rhodia, generic copy paper). A little bleed through using the stub nib on a Field Notes Memo Book.
  • The ink could be mistaken for a black. Considering I like black inks, but not blues, I consider this a benefit.

What I don’t like:

  • It’s expensive. I couldn’t say whether the added cost is justified to amortize the cost of making the ink over just 1,000 bottles or if the price is inflated. It cost a 66% premium over the typical R&K ink price ($20 compared to $12). Still, I wouldn’t return it if I could and wouldn’t sell the second bottle for twice the amount. Blue-black inks run the gamut, but for me this would be the perfect blue-black ink.

Pens Used

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Desk pen w/extra-fine nib: No skipping, no false starts. I left the pen uncapped 5 minutes and it wrote immediately when I picked it up. The ink drys in about 2 seconds.

[Updated: March 1, 2014] I converted the Model 66 to an eyedrop filler in November 2012. The R&K Blau-Schwarz LE has been in the inkl from that time until February 27, 2014 when it went empty and I decided to clean it out rather than refill. The pen was used consistently during that time, maybe sitting unused for two weeks at most, but usually used several times a week. I simply refilled it when needed.

There was never a problem writing, no hard starts or skipping. When it cam time to clean the pen after more than a year of constant inking it cleaned easily, with no signs of staining. (Although I must admit, due to the color any stains deep inside the barrel might be hard to see.)

A very well behaved ink I wish was not a limited edition.

Franklin-Christoph Model 29 w/fine nib: No skipping, no false starts. I left the pen uncapped and it wrote immediately. The ink drys in about 2 seconds.

Bexley 2007 Owner’s Club w/stub nib: Numerous false starts but this may be the pen since the ink flows well with the fine nibs. The ink takes 20 – 25 seconds to dry enough to avoid smudges.

Additional Reading

Ink Review on the FPN