Ink review: P.W. Akkerman Shocking Blue

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A rim like this on your ink bottle neck surely looks promising! P.W. Akkerman’s #5 ink, Shocking Blue, is the most loved and best known of the Akkerman inks. A deep, bright blue you just cannot go wrong with. Before we take a look at the writing samples, let me tell you about the name of this ink. Perhaps you are already aware of this fact, or it is new to you, but P.W. Akkerman is one of Holland’s oldest fountain pen stores, located in The Hague in one of Holland’s very first “malls”. Akkerman uses names for their inks that are all associated with the town’s phenomena. The Hague was Holland’s birth ground of quite a number of blues bands in the 60s. The Golden Earring for example, who you may know from their song Radar Love, Brainbox who covered Summertime in a bluesy-funky way and Shocking Blue, who had a hit in 1968 with Venus. Some of you may know the Bananarama cover version of that song. I used a couple of lines in my writing samples. Enough of that, on to the ink!

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Shocking Blue is a classic, intensely deep royal blue with its renowned red sheen. As you can see above, it almost pops of the page! The ink behaved decently in all nibs sizes and has relatively quick drying time, especially in finer nibs. My husband is a lefty overwriter and always has his TWSBI Eco inked up with Shocking Blue. Another reason he loves this ink is a matter of ritual. The Akkerman inks all come in that very distinctive marble-in-the-bottleneck ink bottle. You tip the capped bottle upside down so that some ink gathers in the top part of the bottle from where you fill your pen. This was the ink his parents used many years ago, so refilling the pen from the bottle brings back memories for him.

Let’s look at the writing up close to find that illustrious sheen!

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Yes, a wonderful deep deep blue ink, really vibrant with a lovely red sheen and outline. It pops up in every nib, especially on more absorbing paper. I made a rim stamp in my Leuchtturm journal to show the ink’s sheening capacity.

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Oh yes, here we see that the ink is so intense that it leans towards a purple. The sheen is nice and thick, almost oily. The chromatography shows the purple aspects in the lavender hue in the base. The ink trail develops into a bright blue and ends in a dark blue outer line where the pigments are deposited.

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This ink is usable in most situations -apart from those where you want your ink to be waterproof, it isn’t- school, university, the office, personal use, correspondence that doesn’t require bulletproofness. It is a crowd pleaser! And I can see why. It is blue without being run-of-the-mill.

How about you, do you have a deep royal blue with a red sheen of choice? Let me know, so I can do a side-by-side at some point.

Thank you as ever for reading and until the next post!

All pictures taken in natural light, no filters used.

Disclaimer: I bought this ink wit my own money for my own use. No affiliate links.

Tools used:

  • Leuchtturm A5 blank notebook;
  • Akkerman Shocking Blue ink;
  • Platinum Preppies EF, F, M;
  • Lamy Vista B, 1.1, 1.5, 1,9;
  • Kaweco Classic Sport BB architect grind;
  • a strip of paper kitchen towel;
  • Samsung S7 phone camera.

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Franklin-Christoph broad steel nibs with grinds compared

Ever since I received the Model 65 Antique Glass recently, I knew I would be doing this blog post and so I held out on flooding my Instagram feed with photos. I think I managed to keep it to one picture. And then of course the one to announce this blog post. Having three different grinds on broad steel Franklin-Christoph nibs, a comparison is in order. Let’s start with the largest pen and the biggest nib. These writing were done in a Rhodia lined soft cover A5 notebook.

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Solid Ice, broad nib with a cursive italic grind by Mike Masuyama (BCI)

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First, the Franklin-Christoph steel nibs are made of a company specific alloy called HPS, which stands for High Performance Steel. It is said to give a gold nib-like writing experience. The nibs are very beautifully polished with a laser engraved Franklin-Christoph logo and stamped (I presume) scroll-work. You will find the original nib size at the base of the nib where it meets the section.

The nib on the quite large Model 66 is a #6 steel nib, ground by nib meister Mike Masuyama into a broad cursive italic. When you order a pen from the Franklin-Christoph website, having a Masuyama grind is an option that is offered in the drop down nib choosing menu. The nib grinds are priced pretty decently, but there is no conferring up front on your writing preferences such as wetness or writing angle, so the grind comes as it is. Masuyama is a master at nibmeistering, so you can be assured that the italic is going to be super crisp and the stub is an actual smooth stub. The crispness is clear from the fact that there is no tipping material left on the tip of the nib after this grind.

The ink line that this broad cursive italic puts down is a really crisp italic. This means practicing to get your angle of writing so that you do not get the edges of the nib caught on/in the paper. I prefer holding stubs and italics in an angle (almost as if writing with an architect nib, but at a slight angle of 70-60 degrees instead of a full 90 degrees. I find I have to write with a very light hand with this nib so as not to get caught in the paper. It gives a very crisp and delicate thin stroke combined with a much broader thick stroke. Beautiful, but this is not a nib for daily note taking for me. I use it for letter writing, card messages or anything I want to write down with a certain flair. The nib is not scratchy, the pen stroke actually feels like writing with a freshly sharpened pencil that will not wear. Even when you have small handwriting, you can use this broad nib and remain legible.

Franklin-Christoph Model 65 Antique Glass, broad nib with a Stub.Italic.Gradient (S.I.G.) grind

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The Model 65 is quite a bit smaller than the 65 and has an elegant #5 nib. For my Antique Glass FC (aka Coke Bottle) I opted for a broad stub-italic gradient, largely because I wanted to try that grind. And I am not disappointed. This is a great grind if you are used to stubs and want to venture into italic territory. It has the user-friendliness of a stub with just a dash of crispness to lure you into italic writing. The crispy touch of this nib fits this print writing style nicely. It will also work great for cursive writing. This nib and the nib that is up next, the stub, are fighting over which is my favorite broad FC nib so far… So, up next, the stub.

Franklin-Christoph Model 45 (XLV) Italian Ice, broad nib with a stub grind by Mike Masuyama

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This is the most democratic of the grinds compared in this post. This stub has a boxy grind as you can tell from the picture above, which is just the way I like it. It is very forgiving and I use it daily. It has a smooth line with a hint of interesting line variation caused by the stub grind. As you can see, for a Western broad nib all broads nibs here are more like Asian nib sizes, so all are pretty nicely usable on paper that is not very fountain pen friendly. Although I would use fountain pen friendly paper for the broad cursive italic, or you might find yourself shredding copy paper while learning to wield that nib. These are broad nibs that are suitable for smaller handwriting, if you want to get the most shading out of your ink without your handwriting becoming illegible.

Let’s look at the ink lines side by side:

fullsizeoutput_43a.jpegThe line variation is clearly most pronounced in the broad cursive italic. The S.I.G. is italic on the upside of the nib and a stubbish bottom nib where there is a tiny bit of tipping left. The stub has tipping material left on the upside of the nib and on the bottom. The uttermost tip of all broads is pretty flat to account for the line variation. All pretty interesting nibs and I am happy I chose them. The BCI gets its use on special occasion writing and the S.I.G. and stub are pretty much daily writers.

Do you want to know what other nib options and nib grinds Franklin-Christoph offers? Check their site in this link. (Not affiliated, just an FC fan)

Have you used a specific grind by either Franklin-Christoph or from other nib misters? Be sure to leave me a comment.

As ever, thank you for reading!

Blackstone ink samples

Ever since I got around to color labeling a full rack of ink samples, I have been wanting to do writing samples of the Blackstone samples I had ordered from Appelboom Pennen quite some time ago. I will do full reviews on what I have left of the samples, but for now a nice quick overview of a handful of alphabet scribbles. I must say, I’m quite smitten with them…

The Blackstone ink line consists of two waterproof inks: the Barrister Black and Blue, as well as six inks which are highly saturated new takes on regular colors, black, blue, turquoise, red, green and yellow. The only ink from the Blackstone line that is missing in this overview is the yellow, Golden Wattle, which I traded in an ink swap. I will add that ink to this post once I get another sample. Without further ado: Blackstone inks! All writing samples are done with a Kaweco Classic Sport BB, which I ground into an architect shape, to show thicker and thinner lines in the writing samples.

Barrister Black

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A black ink just as I like them: opaque and no shading. An intense black black. Since it is waterproof, it should be nice for layering in mixed-media art and adding detail to watercolor or other ink art. Mind you: when I rubbed it with a wet finger, it gave off a gray wash, but the words remained legible. So be aware of that when using with other materials. Perhaps adding detail when the other layers have been applied and are dry. Unless you are after the washed out effect, of course.

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The ink is so opaque that the sheen is silvery, as you can see above. The smell is an intense inky smell, the smell of the desks at my elementary school in Delft, which still had ink bottle cubby holes.

Black Stump

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Black Stump is actually a quite interesting black ink. It has a heavy brown-red hue when used in a very wet and broad nib. The Kaweco does not show that as well as my Esterbrook 2284 does. The term Black Stump is said to mean an imaginary landscape marker beyond which uncivilized territory lies. But since the origin of the term is much discussed, please don’t hold me accountable for this explanation.

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Because the reddish hue shows better in a broader nib, I’m keeping the ink for use in a broad gusher. If you are after a nice “warm” black ink that does not have to be waterproof, this is a good one.

Uluru red

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This is a very intense red. Only a smudge of shading. A much bluer red than the earthy red color of its name sake, Uluru – or Ayers Rock. I love a dark red like this, but it is an accent or lettering color for me. It is too heavy to use as a daily writer ink for me, because a pageful would be quite harsh to read. A stunning red though.

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A red like a classic lipstick. If you want to write a couple of seductive words but still in the best possible taste, this is your ink.

Barrister Blue

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The most sensible of the Blackstone inks, if you ask me. A classic waterproof blue, nudging toward blue-black so that it has an almost purplish hue. A nice bit of shading to make it interesting enough. It writes the driest of the Blackstone inks, so suitable for crappy office paper, if you have to suffer through that kind of ordeal. Plus the waterproofness makes it a suitable signature ink.

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I could live with this ink as a workplace ink. It also has that typical inky-ink smell. So if you are bothered by your colleague’s peanut butter sandwich, just take a quick sniff o’ the nib.

Sydney Harbour Blue

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This ink is fiercely competing with the next for being my favorite of the Blackstone colors. From above, -it appears to be just a very dark tealish blue-black with a heavy red sheen and outline. But mind you, it’s not an ink for the faint of heart. This ink is so saturated and flows so thick, there is hardly any shading but who cares! Look at that sheen!

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Each letter is set apart by a very distinct red outline. If you have to write on ink-sucking paper, don’t waste this beauty on that. You’ll be through your converter within a single page. This is nice paper – special letter – journaling ink. Now which one do I like best, this one or…

Barrier Reef Blue

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This is a slightly darker than regular turquoise ink, bordering on intense sky blue. Some shading, a heavy shining blue ink, like its darker brother. This ink does not only make me very happy to look at, it works slightly hypnotic even.

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Isn’t that a looker! If I use this, I can’t help but taking a sideways glance at it. An immediate picker-upper. I have had both this and the Sydney Harbour blue in the architect Sailor 1911 and I cannot decide which I like best. Might have to get both bottles when my samples have been squeezed dry of their final drops.

Daintree Green

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This is a green ink for people who think they do not like green inks. It is cheerful and bright, but not blinding or sickening. It has a very lovely red sheen, but not so much that it makes you dizzy. It is named after the Daintree Rainforest and if you still do not like green inks, at least look up the pictures of this rainforest online. Those are instant stress relievers.

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This ink would make a very nice daily writer, as well as a great accent ink for journaling. If you love green inks, this is a great addition to your green stash. It’s the next to go into my mint Kaweco when I’ve finished the current load of Akkerman Groenmarkt Smaragd.

Have you tried Blackstone inks or any of the other Australian ink brands currently on the market? I’d love to hear what you think if them.

Quick disclaimer: I bought these samples myself, for my own use, pleasure and testing. I am not affiliated with Blackstone or Appelboom.

Thank you as ever for reading and until the next post!

My first Sailor

Or, a careful step towards a Sailor Specialty Nib…

Oh, those Sailor specialty nibs… every now and again I will go through SBRE Brown’s Sailor nibs writing sample YouTube videos, or window shop in an online store, pretend-deciding which nib I would buy, if I could spend as much on a nib as on a bike…

But first things first. Let’s start with a short look at the brand. I’ve always wondered why Sailor is named “Sailor” and only took the trouble of looking that up when I did some research for this blogpost. The Sailor Japan website tells us that in 1911, a respected engineer by the name of Mr. Kyungoro Sakata, met with a British sailor who introduced him to the concept of the fountain pen. Mr. Sakata was so impressed with this tool, that he vowed to produce them in Japan with the best engineering and design possible. He started a fountain pen company in Hiroshima. This is still the company’s home town today.

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Sailor offers a wide range of pens, from simple plastic bodies with steel nibs for school use or to get acquainted with fountain pens, up to collector’s items with artful Maki-E and Urushi lacquers. The nib range for most pens is quite versatile, from EF through Broad, Music and the enormous Zoom nib. But there is more… the Sailor company employs Master Nib Designer Nobuyoshi Nagahara, who has been with the company for over 60 years. He re-introduced the Naginata – Togi nib (“long sword”) and began combining multiple tipping points to arrive at nibs that have crossing ink slits to put down an impressive ink line. Stunning nibs that are great for hand-letterers and (Eastern) calligraphy artists. Not your everyday note taking nibs. But then again, why not? More about the nibs on the UK Sailor Pen page.

So now for the disappointing bit… I do not own or can show you the use of any of the specialty nibs. Believe me, I wish I could. I have had the immense fortune and pleasure to try some of a pen friends’s impressive Sailor collection during a pen meet – for which I am still grateful! Should you be reading this, Marco, many thanks for trusting those beauties to my trembling hands. What I came away with that nib tasting session that although I always thought a Cross Point would be at the top of my wishlist, but it got knocked off by a Cross Music nib. The even more narrow nib stroke of the Cross Music makes it more usable for everyday writing in my hand.

Anyhow, back to my first Sailor. After having ogled the SBRE Brown Sailor nib videos many many times and traipsing around the internet for good places to hunt for decently priced Sailors, I came across a video on YouTube of John Mottishaw, grinding a very different nib on a very different pen – a stub on a Pelican I believe – and took a look at the nibs.com site. I was happy to find decently priced Sailors with the possibility of an in-house nib grind and decided to go for a Sailor 1911 Standard Transparent with the zoom nib (check the tab Service Price List on the Nibs.com site, if you want to know more about their services), to be reground into an architect or Hebrew nib shape. The pen arrived about two weeks after placing the order and I was very impressed with that relatively short processing and shipping time.

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The Sailor 1911 Standard is a relatively small pen, with a total capped length of 134 mm, a section width of 9 mm and the broadest part being the cap band with 14 mm. The pen is made of PMMA with gold-plated metal trimmings (which sort of clash with the steel of the converter, if you care about these matters) and weighs a mere 19.8 grams capped. The 14k nib comes in sizes EF, F, M, B, Music and Zoom. The Zoom was the basis for this regrind.

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The pictures above give an impression of the regrind shape. The nib stroke gives you a thin down stroke and a wider side stroke, depending on how high or low you hold the section. A couple of writing samples, because those tell more than a thousand words (so I’m trying to keep this blog under 900 words, haha):

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This nib will be a joy if you like achieving different ink lines and seeing some versatility in your writing. This pen is nearly always in my daily carry, it is a wonderful pen for note taking as well as writing a special message with a bit of expression, even on paper that tends to feather. Then you just hold the pen a bit more towards the nib to get a thinner ink line.

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One of my all time favorite writers and the inspiration to try my hand at grinding a couple of my easily replaceable steel nibs into architects, something I love trying my hand at every now and again. as you will no doubt have noticed if you follow me on Instagram.

As ever, thank you for reading and if you have any questions regarding the above or other writing matters, please like, comment or send me a message.

Freshly inked and first impressions

It’s a lovely sunny, activity-filled Sunday, so a quick post of some freshly inked pens and a couple of first thoughts of pens that came in over the last couple of weeks.

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From top to bottom:

  • Pen: Aurora Optima Burgundy, medium nib. Ink: Aurora Black. I love this pen-and-ink combination, I have started using it as my bujo pen and ink, because I find that the simple bujo style in black suits me best. More on that next Sunday when I’ll update you on my bujo experiences.
  • Pen: Bexley Gaston’s Angels, stub nib. Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Gray. I needed a bulletproof ink in one of my pens, but I will not hang on to this combination. The Lexington Gray is just too wet in the Bexley, even for my taste. Might try it in the much dryer-writing black Kaweco later.
  • Pen: Montegrappa Fortuna Mosaico Marrakech, medium nib. Ink: Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue. I really like this pen and ink combination, the ink complements the blue hues in the lovely material of the Marrakech. The ink tends to run dry in the nib pretty quickly, so it needs to be used regularly.
  • Pen: Kaweco Skyline Sport Black, medium nib. Ink: Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green. I bought this pen because I wanted to try the medium Kaweco nib. I was not happy at all with how it wrote out of the box. Dry, scratchy and more like a fine. So I rinsed the pen, flossed the tines and feed with a brass sheet. Didn’t help. Then I stubbed the nib and the ink line has slightly improved. Next ink in is the Noodler’s Lexington Gray, to see if that will give a better ink flow.
  • Pen: Sailor 1911 Standard, Zoom nib, ground to an architect by John Mottishaw. Ink: Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue. Another great shading and sheening Blackstone ink in this pen after the Sydney Harbour Blue I had in it before. I only have samples of both inks, so now I’m contemplating which to get as a full bottle…
  • Pen: TWSBI Eco Clear 1.1 stubby italic nib. Ink: Robert Oster Signature Forest Green. A lovely combination, I think. The ink sloshes around like a lovely jewel in the piston filler and the flow is excellent. Nice calm green, good shading but not much sheen on this paper (G. Lalo Verge de France).
  • Pen: Pilot Prera Vivid Pink, fine nib. Ink: KWZ Ink Raspberry. This is my now favorite modern fine steel nib. It feels just right, this is definitely a fine nib that suits people with largish handwriting like I have when writing in this style. Great pen for office use on not so great paper. The pink of the body is very hard to capture in photos, so if you are one for hot pink pens, this is one for you. I love the combination with the bright yet still eye-friendly pink Raspberry ink.
  • Pen: Pelikan Twist Jungle, medium nib (comes in only this nib size) which I ground into a fine-medium architect. Ink: J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune. The soft violet ink combined with the light taupe of the pen is a combination that speaks to me. The Pelikan writes very well for an 8-9 Euros pen. I liked it so much, I ordered the final pen in this list not long after…
  • Pen: Pelikan Twist Bronze, medium nib. Ink: Kaweco Caramel Brown. I have not worked on this nib, because I like it as it is. And you cannot grind all your nibs into architects. That would not be sane… right…? Anyway, this nib has a slightly stubby feel to it so there is some very slight line variation. I love the Kaweco ink in this pen. The cola-colored ink suits the bronze Pelikan very nicely. It’s a nice pen if you are looking for an ergonomic grip but you are not after a kiddy-colored pen. Even though those are darn cute as well! This grip suits both right- and left-handed writers, by the way.

Would you like to know more about these or other pens or inks on my blog, be sure to send me a comment. Have  great week and thank you as ever for reading! As always much appreciated! OK, one more pic…

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Montblanc JFK Navy Blue Ink

Rumor has it that amongst fountain pen lovers there are those who are able to maintain a respectable office position. Kudos to you if you are one of them! And if you have a decent job, you will need at least one decent ink. An ink that will confirm your office appropriateness. Montblanc JFK Navy Blue is just such an ink. But even if you cannot or do not use fountain pens at your place of work, this is a great ink to have in your collection/hoard/walk-in ink closet. This is not a boring blue-black or navy blue ink. Plenty of shading and sheen going on here. And depending on your nib width of choice, Montblanc JFK shows a nice range of blues. Let’s have a look.

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Depending on the nib width and the dry- or wetness of your pen, JFK shows quite a lovely range of cool dark blues. I would even classify this as a new-pair-of-denims blue. Dark enough where the ink pools and lighter at the edges and frays. The ink shows a nice sheen in particularly wet nibs, as the line in my vintage Pelikan 140 OBB (yes, I did the eclectic thing and put a Montblanc ink in a Peli…)

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This gusher of a nib puts down a near black ink line, very nice! So this ink gives you a range of colors from near black via dark royal blue to a light indigo.

Even office appropriate inks can have hidden aspects. It’s a good guy with a bad boy edge. Is that why it was named after JFK?

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The ink is a special edition Montblanc ink and has been re-launched (we’re speaking end of 2016 – early 2017) at a number of pen sellers. In the Netherlands, it is currently sold at Akkerman and in the USA I have seen it on the Anderson site. Not affiliated, just to let you know should you want to go after this ink. On auction sites it goes for triple or quadruple its store price, so be aware of that. It is sold in the special edition 30 ml bottles, which isn’t much for an ink of this color, I think. It is so multi-purpose, you will finish the bottle in no time.

I do love the look of these elegant ribbed special edition bottles, I think it suits the elegance of the ink color itself very well. Although I have yet to experience what it is like to get the last drops out. But you can always transfer it to an ink miser or sample vial for those final drops. The box is very stylish, a clear white box with the Montblanc mount and logo in gray, JFK in navy black blue with a gray outline, John F. Kennedy below that and navy blue in small caps at the bottom. On the sides the capitals JFK are repeated in a glossy finish, a lovely detail.

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I always keep my inks boxed to protect the color from sunlight and moist. I am sorry this particular box is slightly dented and have to convince myself that is not a valid reason to get another bottle of this ink. For practical reasons, yes, because I always have one pen inked up with a color that I can use for all occasions, as this ink absolutely is. It is also reasonably waterproof by the way; holding a written piece under running water somewhat diluted the ink but the writing was still legible.

Let’s finish this review with a look at the chromatography. As expected with a blue, the largest part of the pigments is blue as it is a primary color. fullsizeoutput_419.jpeg

The blue pigment has been darkened with pigment that looks to be an oily greenish gray, a color that reminds me of Noodler’s El Lawrence or Diamine Salamander, to obtain the blue-black/navy blue hue. It stayed pretty low in the chromatography while the blue pigments all shot upwards with the water absorption.

So, a work appropriate ink with a nice dark edge, interesting shading and sheen. A classic if you ask me and I would very much like to see this become a regular Montblanc ink.

Do you have a limited edition ink (of any brand) that you would like to be a regular?

 

Robert Oster Signature Fire & Ice

Now that I have “invested” in an extra-fine, fine and medium Platinum Preppy and tweaked my Lamy steel broad to actually write like a broad nib, I feel sort of kitted out to do an ink review. By the way, before I continue with the ink: the step up from the fine to the medium Preppy is quite a substantial one. Have you experienced that as well? Anyhow, back to the ink. I thought it would be nice to do a genuine “it” ink, an ink of the moment: Robert Oster Signature Fire & Ice (we’re talking February-March 2017, if you are reading this blog in future years). The first runs were sold out in no time and I have seen new batches ready for shipment to dealers. So if you are waiting for yours, hang on just a little bit longer. It’s on its way!

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Above is a full page view of Robert Oster Signature Fire & Ice in a Leuchtturm A5 blank journal. At first glance this is a very becoming, dark side of light blue ink, if you catch my drift. It does not have enough green in it to be a true turquoise and it is a lot more more grayish than a royal blue. It has beautiful shading qualities as well as a red sheen and outline. When used in a wet nib and on the right paper, I must add. I tried the ink in the same nibs on different paper qualities, to see how it behaved.

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Above the various paper qualities next to each other. Clockwise from top left: cheap copy paper, Leuchtturm A5 blank, Rhodia 90gsm dot grid, Tomoe River white loose sheet A4. By the by, bottom right are writing samples of Robert Oster’s Blue Denim and Bondi Blue.

Let’s have a closer look.

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Oh my! This paper does not do the ink justice. Not even that much shading, to be honest. Well, I’d suggest not using this lovely ink for your office notes, unless you absolutely cannot do without this color. The extra-fine nib, which seems slightly wetter than the fine (I have another fine nib on the way, don’t worry) already shows quite (un)impressive feathering. I write in a slightly large hand but as soon as I write in this broad, it becomes nearly illegible.Flipping the page showed substantial bleed-through. Next!

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This is the Leuchtturm journal paper. I’m a lot happier with this! Hardly any feathering, very nice shading and some fiery red outline with wet and broad nibs. Some bleed-through though. But I expected that from Leuchtturm paper, so I am not surprised about that.

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The Jinhao Fude nib shows the fire best, although you really don’t need a paint brush nib like this fude to bring out the sheen. Take a look at the extra-fine Platinum Preppy on the Tomoe River:

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There is definitely a fiery outline on this extra fine ink line. Even a very slight outline on the fine. Very subtle, but it’s there.

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What about the ink on Rhodia paper? Loads of nice shading (yes, I wrote “Fir” with the medium… blame a slow eye-brain connection), no feathering, no bleed-through. Slight outline and sheen on the very wet pooling bits. Definitely an ink that deserves an decent base. Not a standard work horse ink, unless you bring a Hobonichi with Tomoe River paper or a Rhodia journal to the office. So, just to top that off, a Tomoe River overview of nib lines:

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A nice and calm ink when viewed from above, with a surprise fiery edge when viewed from aside. I’d say: a great ink for art journaling and art work, where you can really bring out that sheen by generously applying it to good paper. A great ink for letter writing, because a pageful is quite pleasant and calm to the eye, but with that lovely sheen as a bonus. A great ink for making special entries in your journal or diary, or on fountain pen friendly greeting cards. Just use a waterproof ink to address the envelope, because this ink is not waterproof.

Talking about waterproofness, let’s take a look at the chromatography.

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All blues, with the concentrated pigment on the edge of the tissue forming the illustrious outline. The bottom shows the more grayish aspects while at the top the bright bright blue almost leaps off the tissue. No greens or yellows peeping out at the top, so just blue pigment, making for the outline and sheen where it concentrates on the paper. It cleans out pretty easily.

All in all, a well behaved ink for special-occasion-writing on old quality paper. I have said on Instagram before that Robert Oster has revamped and de-dulled blue inks and I stand by that. Not only this Fire & Ice, also the bright and happy Bondi Blue, the new take on a shading blue-black with Blue Denim, the sunny Australian Sky. All blue colors to make you fall in love with blue inks all over again.

Have you used any of his inks? Please let me know if you would like to seen another Robert Oster Signature reviewed.

 

Six reasons to love and use fountain pens

We all know why we read or write blogs like these. We fountain pen people all suffer from penvangelism; the compulsive need to get everyone around us to know about the joys of fountain pen writing. And we all want to acknowledge the quirks that come with using fountain pens as “normal behavior”. Apart from the quirks, there are quite a number of legitimate reasons for using fountain pens. I kept it to six in this post, but more reasons will no doubt follow.

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Feeling connected with what you are doing

The connection many of us have with our fountain pen(s), is a very intimate one. Whether you use your pen at school, at work or at home, the minute you put that nib on the paper, it is your brain, your hand and the pen working together. Capturing the essence of a lecture, of your plans or thoughts is so much more intense with that pen forcing you to slow down and be connected to what you are doing there and then. It is almost like meditating while being productive in school or at the office or contemplative while journaling or writing a journal, a letter, a note or even a shopping list.

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Individuality – treasuring what makes you you

A fountain pen is an ideal tool to express your individuality. You choose your instrument, your nib size, the ink. Your handwriting makes your pen a completely individual instrument. Whether your write in print, stick and ball, cursive or calligraphy, the ink line you put down there and then will never be repeated anywhere else at any time. Even if you work in a conservative environment, you can choose which shade of chic blue black you ink up your pen with. Using an ink that cost more than your boss’s socks can be somehow gratifying. Why not dazzle those colleagues with the brightest and heaviest sheen in an otherwise very respectable blue or express your closet alternative streak with the darkest of black inks. It’s all up to you. As a teacher you might want to shake up grading papers with a purple or orange instead of a red. Or just use the bloodiest of reds there is…

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Treasuring the craftsmanship

Fountain pen design and production still involves a large human component. The process for designing a new pen, whether high end or mass production, requires a team of people deciding the pen’s purpose, audience, characteristics. As long as there are fountain pens, there will be people who know all about nibs and feeds, tuning, ink filling systems, cebloplasts, celluloids, precious resins, wood, precious metals. Even when the first fountain pens are churned out by a 3D printer, there is still a person determining how the pen will look and function. The craftsmanship may shift to new and digital processes, the principles of how a fountain pen works will remain largely the same. It is all about controlling that ink leak into a beautiful line on paper.

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Supporting small makers

Even as we sadly see fountain brands disappear, the number of small makers appears to be growing. There are quite a few independent pen turners out there either making a viable business for themselves or earn a few pennies through an out-of-control hobby. I don’t know about you, but I am all for supporting small businesses and mom-and-pop enterprises. The great thing about the internet is that you don’t necessarily have to stick to local makers, you can order your pen from anywhere in the world. Now if only import duties would be a little more considerate of small makers… Nevertheless, I really enjoy using an instrument that was lovingly crafted by an enthusiast who turned a pastime into a means of living and who will turn our money into new ideas or development of their product.

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There is something for everybody

There is a pen to suit all tastes, life styles, budgets, purposes. You could be a student, refilling your Preppy until the nib has worn down to a stub, or an artist using the finest of nibs to cross-hatch your shadows, or a business person signing that all important deal with a Montblanc 149, or a new mom keeping a journal with a Hello Kitty fountain pen, or vice versa… it is all good! You could be all about the minimal and never be parted with your Lamy 2000 or be all about the steampunk and write with a pen that looks like a prop from Lemony Snicket’s. That pen is your pen and it helps you to achieve your goals.

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You can make it your own

You can make that pen your own, not just by choosing the brand, material, nib size or ink color. You can have the nib tuned by a nibmeister into the tool that brings out the best in your handwriting. Or, if you are a bit of a tinkerer like myself, you can venture your own tinkering. I suggest starting out with pens like the V-pen in the picture above or getting a Noodler’s fountain pen, which where designed with the pen tinkerer in mind. Ruining a nib that will only cost you a couple of bucks to replace is actually a lot of fun. You can try your hand at making your nib write wetter or drier, grinding it into an italic or architect nib shape (more about that in a future post).You do not need to be an engineer to go about tinkering, and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there with every day users sharing their experiences with fountain pen tuning. All at your own risk though. Just promise me you will send that precious pen/nib to a legit nibmeister to get it done. Although a lot of them started out right here. With putting that V-pen to the Dremel…

What are your reasons for using fountain pens?

Page of Shame February 26, 2017

What is a Page of Shame… it is a page filled with pens currently inked. 32… yes, a sizable number. These are all pens I have in rotation at the moment, especially with InCoWriMo2017 going on. I must be honest and tell you that there are four fude pens inked, which I have not included on this page. Purely for aesthetics.

So, 32 pens inked… let’s got to it!

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Top to bottom:

  1. Esterbrook Grey “J” nib no. 2284, Blackstone Black Stump
  2. Kaweco Classic Sport Demonstrator, double broad architect nib, J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey
  3. Jinhao 159 Germany iridium point italic grind, Rober Oster Signature Purple Rock
  4. Bexley Jim Gaston Holiday 2002 stub nib, Robert Oster Signature Melon Tea
  5. Jinhao 159 original nib, Noodler’s Lexington Gray (bulletproof)
  6. Pelikan Pelikano medium, Kaweco Caramel Brown
  7. Mabie Todd Swan 3250 oblique medium/broad, Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
  8. Montblanc Meisterstuck Chopin oblique double broad nib, Rober Oster Signature Copper
  9. TWSBI Eco White 1.1 stub nib, Rober Oster Signature Ng Special ’16
  10. Pelikan 400 oblique broad nib, Diamine Autumn Oak
  11. TWSBI Diamond 580 broad (crisp grind) nib, Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
  12. ASA Pens Nauka Translucent 1.1 stub, Diamine Coral
  13. Montblanc 264 oblique double broad, Diamine Sunset
  14. Sheaffer Quasi Imperial italic stub nib, Diamine Crimson
  15. Franklin-Christoph m45 Cherry Ice IPO S.I.G. medium, Kyo-iro Cherry Blossom of Keage
  16. Kaweco Skyline Sport Pink double broad architect nib, Noodler’s Cactus Fruit Eel
  17. Online medium architect nib, Organics Studio Emily Dickinson
  18. Franklin-Christoph m45 Italian Ice Organics Studio Jane Austen
  19. Sailor 199 Standard demonstrator zoom architect nib, Blackstone Sydney Harbour Blue
  20. Pelikan 140 oblique double broad nib, Akkerman Deep Duinwater Blauw
  21. Montbland 254 oblique medium nib, Sailor Jentle Yama Dori
  22. ASA Pens Porus Jumbo White Acrylic flex nib, Rober Oster Signature Blue Denim
  23. Franklin-Christoph m66 Stabilis Solid Ice broad cursive italic nib, Rober Oster Signature Fire & Ice
  24. Bexley Gaston’s Angels stub nib, L’Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Olifants
  25. TWSBI Eco Clear 1.1 stub nib, Rober Oster Signature Bondi Blue
  26. Sheaffer Quasi Imperial oblique italic stub nib, KWZ ink Menthol Green
  27. Italix Parson’s Essential oblique italic broad nib, Organics Studio L. Frank Baum
  28. Inoxcrom Agatha Ruiz de la Prada fine architect nib, Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green plus a blob of green ink left over in the feed
  29. Kaweco Skyline Sport Mint double broad architect nib, Ackerman Groenmarkt Smaragd
  30. Jinhao 159 Noodler’s flex nib, Diamine Shimmertastic Green Oasis
  31. Lamy 2000, medium (crisp grind) nib, Rohrer & Klingner Alt Gold-Gruen
  32. Franklin-Christoph m40 fine cursive italic nib, Kyo-iro Koke-iro.

What is your number of inked pens?

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Montblanc 254 oblique medium

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There are fountain pens that seem to do nothing for you when you first see them. Some of those pens grow on you and some may even become a slight obsession. The Montblanc 25X is one of those pens, for me. It’s because of that nib. The Montblanc 25X wing, with its broad shoulders, or rather, chiseled chin, above a neck that wraps around the feed, is very distinctive. When I first saw one, I thought I didn’t like it. Or perhaps I just had to get used tot the idea of the wing nib, because it was intriguing. And like looking at a picture that is slightly scary, I had to look it up again. And again. By then, I had already bought a 50s Montblanc 264 OBB and a naughties Montblanc Meisterstuck Chopin OBB. The 264 was quite good, the Chopin had horrible baby’s bottom (a term of frustrated endearment, when the tipping has been polished to such an extend, that the tines have become rounded like a tooshy and the ink line doesn’t always reach the paper, making for hard starts and skipping). So I was very curious to know if the 254 would be a better nib.

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The 25X series was produced by Montblanc in Germany in the late 1950s, alongside their Meisterstuck line, to offer more affordable pen models. The materials used however, are the same black resin as used in the Meisterstuck range. The trims are gold plated, with a single band between section and body, a band and clip on the cap and two cap lip bands, the lower broad and the upper thin. The pen is a piston filler with the nib size and model number engraved on the piston turning knob. Under the gold band on the section where the pen body begins, there is a clear blue ink window. The pen is torpedo shaped, but the cap dome is less pronounced than that of the Meisterstuck. The cap does have the snow dome, a little off-white in color. The wing nib is of 14ct gold and rests on an ebonite, rounded feed. The feed slopes towards the tines as a flat surface between the typical ribbed feed sides.

Anyhow, I ran across a 254 oblique medium in an auction and was surprised by the low bidding. Checking out the item description I found out that was because the cap had the logo of the German electrical goods company AEG on the cap. The 25X and other 2XX and 3XX series were often used as corporate gifts, so there will be more AEG Montblancs out there. Next to this cap engraving, the turning knob, which is engraved with the nib size, read “f”. So this was a doctored pen, with either a changed turning knob or a changed nib. Anyhow, these facts kept the price well under three digits, so I decided to take the leap.

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As you can see above, the G of AEG has almost worn off. This pen was well-used before it reached me – and I won’t bore you with the story of why it took a month to get to me, only that the seller was very helpful at retrieving it from a lost items warehouse somewhere in Germany – and in reasonably good condition. A thing with these pens is, because the caps are slip-on caps, they are prone to cracking. This cap may be engraved, it is not cracked, so I was very pleased with that. This is also something to look into should you be looking for a 25X online: make sure the cap has not cracked.

On the other side of the cap, there is a nice Montblanc engraving, with the snow dome between “Mont” and “blanc”. The cap also has the famous white snow cap on a slightly rounded cap end. It is not as pointy as the Meisterstuck finials, which makes the pen rather soft in appearance when capped.

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As soon as I could lay my hands on the pen and ink it up, I was enthralled by how smoothly it wrote and how good it looks IRL. It looks like a little “Incredibles” face above the section, with its broad jawline. It really writes like a little superhero! The nib is so springy, it boarders on flexy (don’t full flex it, though, that’ll ruin the tines). It writes all the time. No hard starts, no skips. The feed makes for a very steady ink flow and the tipping is just shaped enough for an interesting ink line. Nothing too freaky, nothing too boring. A nice office pen. Because it is not pristine, I have no problem taking it with me to the office or any place else I might need to write in a not too crazy ink line.

It’s a smallish pen, as you can see in the top picture’s dimensions, and perfect for me for writing long sessions. The girth as not too thin, otherwise it would be too small for me and I have small hands. If you are looking into this model and you have larger hands, you might want to consider the larger brother, the 256. Just let me know when you find an OB(B) or B(B) and you want another nib size, because I’m after one of those!

All in all, if you are looking for a vintage Montblanc with a fantastic nib, I can heartily recommend the 25X series. Just mind the cap.

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