Posts Tagged ‘ink’

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor (plus giveaway!)

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

First, I want to say a huge thanks to JetPens, Goulet Pens and Rhodia Drive for all coming through for me and getting me this much-coveted ink. They are all responsible for allowing me to review this product and give some goodies away. Now, on the the review and giveaway details!

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been waiting to ink this ink in my hands and, by now, you and I have seen dozens of other reviews of this ink. So, there’s probably not a lot I could say that hasn’t already been said. But bear with me…

Maybe I could tell you that before the name was settled upon, Emerald of Chivor was called “Emeraude des Ardes v.2”? This tidbit of information came from the sample bottle that Rhodia sent to me. Pretty cool, huh?


J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

Before I shook up the inks, you can see the gold flecks floating at the bottom. Such a beautiful sea blue-green!

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

Sadly, when I photographed my full writing page, you don’t see much of the sparkle. The flash flattens out all the color. At the same time, in my TWSBI 580 in green with a fine nib, not much of the sparkle showed in the writing anyway. These types of twinkly inks definitely benefit from a stub, broad or italic nib in order to show them in their full glory.

However, the color is amazing! With or without the sparkles.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink comparison

When compared with my ever-growing collection of teal blue inks, there is a vibrancy to the Emerald of Chivor that is lacking in the other contenders in this color category. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are all beautiful colors. The Emerald of Chivor is definitely more bluish than Ku-Jaku or Yama Dori. The Callifolio Olifants is a tad more blue than the Chivor. So if you’re looking for ink in a similar color family but sparkle-free, any of these others are good options with Callifolio Olifants and Noodler’s Air Corps Blue Black being the most wallet friendly.

I’ve left the EoC in my 580 for over a week, gave it a little twirl to mix in the gold fleck and started writing with no issues. I’ve heard there’s some challenges cleaning it out but so far I’m not having any clogging issues so I am really happy with this ink.

So what can I do to wow you with the new Emerald of Chivor?  I can giveaway a whole bottle of Emerald of Chivor (thanks to JetPens for this bottle!) and the runner-up will get the super, rare sample bottle of Emerald of Chivor BEFORE the name was settled upon (thanks to Rhodia for this!). While to color is identical, its a cool little bit of ink history.

Leave a comment below and tell me what sparkly color you think J. Herbin should do next to be entered to win. I’ll draw two winners: the first will get a full bottle of J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor and the second will get the preliminary sample bottle.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winners will be announced on Thursday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US residents only please.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens, JetPens and Rhodia for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman #22 Hopjesbraun

Akkerman Hopjesbraun Ink

I don’t tend to purchase much brown ink. When I first got into fountain pens, all I wanted was the perfect, vintage sepia ink but I bought a few bottles early on that I didn’t like and swayed away from browns for a long time. This P.W. Akkerman #22 Hopjesbraun is making me rethink my stance on brown inks. Its got TONS of shading and is a warm, dusty reddish/golden brown that reminds me of the Southwest and cowboys and Albuquerque sunsets. How a Dutch ink company can generate a color that reminds me of New Mexico? Quite the impressive feat.

Akkerman Hopjesbraun Ink

There is a wonderful, dark halo around the letters when writing with my stub nib Esterbrook. Its just such fun to watch the ink darken around the edges of the letterforms as the ink dries. But that’s the catch.

Hopjesbraun dries slowly. I even smudged a bit in my painting at the top of the page because it dried quite a bit slower than the Zuiderpark I tested last week. I suspect in a finer pen or on slightly more absorbent paper, it wouldn’t be quite as big a deal but as a messy left, the dry time was a bit long. For letter writing where I could pause here and there to let the ink dry before I stuck my arm in it, it would not be a problem but as a daily use ink… well, for this lefty I’ll have to save it for special occasions. But it is one of the prettiest browns I’ve ever used.

Akkerman Hopjesbraun Ink

So if you’re a tidy righty, grab a bottle ASAP. And my fellow messy lefties, you’ve been warned to proceed with caution.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

The Pelikan Wanderbox #4

Looked what wandered into KC? #pelikan #wanderbox

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on

A couple weeks ago, I received an ENORMOUS blue crate that I had to lug back from the post office because I thought it would be a good day to walk over to the PO and get me mail. Foolish me. Luckily, despite its epic size, the contents are not too weighty. It is the Pelikan Wanderbox #4 which is a project from the fine folks at Pelikan to let the ink wander the world and amass letters written by pen enthusiasts.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

Inside the foam-packed crate is a beautiful hat box with a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink and handwritten letters from previous Wanderboxers. It was fun to read through each of the letters and add my own to the pile. Not to mention having an opportunity to try out the Edelstein Amethyst ink firsthand. I filled my one Pelikan M200 with the ink and set to writing my own letter.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

The color is a little more reddish than other purple-y inks I’ve tried lately but not in a garish sort of way. Its actually quite regal.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

I swabbed the color to add to my collection and there is a distinctly gold halo in the ink color adding to that royal look. I’m thinking I’ll be buying a full bottle of my own soon.

Pelikan Wanderbox Amethyst Ink

Of the inks currently in my stash, Amethyst most closely resemble J. Herbin Poussière de Lune but the Edelstein Amethyst is a more well-behaved ink. While I love the colors of the J. Herbin standard inks, I often find them too runny for most pens.

Here’s hoping a Wanderbox comes your way soon. This one is off to Arizona on Monday. From there, who knows?

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Bluaw-Groen

Akkerman Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Greon is another in a long line of blue-black inks to pass across The Desk. It could be because I seek out the blue-blacks in particular but, this time fate intervened and this lovely ink arrived thanks to Lisa at Vanness.

Akkerman Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Ink

There is definitely more of a greenish undertone to Zuiderpark that makes it less a true blue-black and more of a teal-black. At first thought, I anticipated that Zuiderpark might be very similar in color to de Atramentis Petrol but Zuiderpark is much darker. I included a swab of Diamine Twilight which I consider to be a true blue-black as a contrast so that the greenishness of Zuiderpark might be more noticeable.

Zuiderpark dries in a reasonable amount of time, even on Rhodia paper in the humidity of a Midwest August. In my water test, it had a some stay-ability too. I actually scrubbed a wet paintbrush across the sample a couple times after I dropped water on it to see if the ink would move. It leaves a stain on the paper which means Zuiderpark could handle a drop or two of water without losing all your hard work. If you like to paint with ink, it won’t move as completely as other colors. You can decide if that’s a plus or a minus.

Akkerman Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Ink Comparison

The advantage of this sort of color is that it looks quite unique but maintains an air of “respectability” since it still runs in the blue family. If you want a work-appropriate ink with a little something extra, Zuiderpark would be a good option. And it goes without saying that Akkerman makes the coolest looking ink bottles.

This is a case where I definitely wish I had a whole bottle of this ink. So, I’ll be investing in one soon. Or you folks in DC can pick up a bottle for me!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Montblanc Midnight Hour

MontBlanc Blue Hour Ink

I must confess right away that the new Montblanc Meisterstück Blue Hour Twilight Blue ($17 for a 30ml bottle), despite its lengthy name, is an ink color that is totally in my wheelhouse. Initially I was thinking it was a blue black but its actually more of a dark teal/black, if that makes sense. It reminds me more of a dark stormy sea blue than a midnight sky blue.

MontBlanc Blue Hour Ink

Blue Hour looks more like a blue black when wet and then dries to a more greenish deep teal blue. The ink dries pretty quickly. I managed to not have any smudges while writing this sample page so that’s saying something. I really like the square, ripple glass bottles that Montblanc has been using for their inks this year. The JFK and Pink Ink also came in these bottles.

MontBlanc Blue Hour Ink

I had lots of similar ink colors. Similar, but not the same as Blue Hour. In the swab sample, there’s a little reddish halo to the Blue Hour sample which reminds me of Sailor Jentle Yama Dori and Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (both of which are favorite inks of mine) but the Blue Hour ink is more greenish than Ku-Jaku and a bit lighter overall than the Yama Dori. So, do you need Blue Hour if you have any of these ink colors? Logically no, but since when are pen addicts logical?

All-in-all, Blue Hour fills a sliver of a gap in my teal-y blue/black ink collection that I’m glad to have filled. This ink seems to be selling out quickly so if you’re interested in acquiring a bottle, I recommend that you act fast. I couldn’t find any specific info whether Blue Hour would be a limited edition color but as an ink hoarder, I’m not taking any chances.

MontBlanc Blue Hour Ink

Oops! I always forget to go back and add water to me test page. In this case, I photographed everything before realizing I didn’t do the water test. With a few stroked of a wet paint brush, the ink definitely lifted and moved quickly. Plus side, it should be pretty easy to clean out of your pens. Minus side, this ink is not recommended for documents that require permanent ink. It might make for interesting drawings as the ink can be blended nicely like a watercolor.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Boutique for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: KWZ Gummiberry

KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry

KWZ Inks is a one-man ink operation from Poland started by Konrad Żurawski in 2012, a chemistry PhD student that clearly combines his tow loves: chemistry and fountain pens. Just this year, his inks are starting to get a wider distribution and, thanks to Vanness Pens, I had the opportunity to try the KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry ($14 for 60ml bottle). Iron gall inks are both loved and reviled because of its permanent nature. Iron gall inks can be used to sign important documents because the inks will bond to the paper fibers making it near impossible to remove. At the same time, if iron gall inks are left indefinitely in a fountain pen, it can stain the ink reservoir and possibly corrode stainless steel nibs. Also, iron gall inks darken over time.

I don’t have a lot of experience with iron gall inks but the KWZ provides some advice on his web site about how to properly clean and protect your pens from any possible issues that might be caused by using an iron gall ink. That said, for testing purposes, I used my Shawn Netwon dip pen with an Esterbrook #2442 nib and cleaned it out as soon as I had finished my writing samples and did not have any issues getting the ink out of the nib by just rinsing it with water.

KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry

The KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry is notable first for its fabulous name. Who doesn’t love gummi bears? And second, for its amazing jeweled purple color. Honestly, after all the purple inks I tested this year, the color of Gummiberry is just gorgeous and is moving up my ink color charts fast. The fact that the rich jewel tone darkens as it dries and settles into an almost purple-black when dry makes it fun to write with and still looks sophisticated.

The ink dries a little bit slower than many of my standard inks on the Rhodia paper I use for testing but I am also in the midst of humidity wave here in the Midwest so I cannot be sure if the slowness is the result of the ink or the heat and humidity.

When tested with water after several hours (not 10 minutes as labelled because I went to lunch and forgot to do the water test) a little bit of color ran but not much. I suspect after drying for a week or two, there is likely to be even less movement of the color as it bonds with the paper fibers.

The color is so rich that I’m willing to experiment with this ink in one of my everyday pens. Maybe its a good excuse to purchase a TWSBI Eco as an iron gall test pen? Then I would have an excuse to try a variety of colors!

KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry Ink Comparison

Compared with some of the many purple inks in my stash, even the other purple iron gall Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa, Gummiberry is clearly a rich, deep hue. I will check back with the swab and the writing samples in a few weeks to see if the color darkens significantly but as of writing this, several days after doing the swab and writing sample, the color looks indistinguishable from the photos.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my experience with KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry and am very interested in trying some of the other colors available. The prices are more than reasonable for such a substantial sized bottle too. Yep, definitely going to be purchasing a pen specifically for iron gall inks.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Bung Box Tears of a Clown

Bung Box Tears of a Clown

Bung Box is a small shop in Japan that works with Sailor to create small batches of custom inks. The inks have become so popular that Vanness Pens has starting importing these unusual inks to the US.

Bung Box Tears of a Clown is a particularly unusual color but the first sample I wanted to try as a die-hard English Beat fan. How could I not love something called Tears of a Clown? It turns out to be a deep, terra cotta red with green-gold undertones. Odd. The more I look at it, the more I think of cherry chocolate. Its a color I just can’t seem to categorize.

Bung Box Tears of a Clown

In a brush, the shading and color depth was very apparent but in my writing sample, the color settled down to a deep reddish brown suitable for letter writing, poetry or journaling. Subtle but unique.

The ink dries a bit darker than it appears wet. It dried at a reasonable speed being that I tested it on Rhodia paper in the heat and humidity of a midwestern summer. I think it would dry pretty quickly in more conducive settings.

The ink is activated with water and not water resistant or waterproof. When wetted, the pinkish undertones of the color become visible which would make for interesting drawings or to accent your writing or calligraphy.

Bung Box Tears of a Clown ink comparison

Finding an adequate color comparison was a challenge but that’s part of the reason Bung Box inks are so coveted… there’s nothing else like some of the colors. I compared the Tears of a Clown to reds, burgundies and browns and it clearly fills a unique hole I didn’t know I had in my ink collection.

I love the shape and size of the Bung Box full bottles so I suspect I’ll be making a full purchase in the near future. The labels on the bottles are a little odd and feel like an afterthought but its the contents of the bottle that is the most desirable part anyway so I can overlook the less-than-aethetic labels.

Bung Box inks sell for $35.65 per 50ml bottle or $3.50 for a generous 5ml sample through Vanness Pens. Each ink color is produced in limited quantities so some colors may not be available right now. Check back or contact Vanness and let them know what color you’re interested in purchasing.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

And now for something completely different….

Ink: Papier Plume Inks


My fine friend Father Kyle, sent me an assortment of inks to try out including three Papier Plume colors. Papier Plume is a New Orleans-based pen shop with a small collection of their own inks. I had the pleasure of trying out the Midnight Blue, Violet and Forget-Me-Not Blue. Papier Plume offers their inks in three bottle sizes: 15ml ($5), 30ml ($8) and 50ml bottles ($12).


I tested the inks with an Esterbrook 2442 nib in a Shawn Newton nib holder on Rhodia paper as well as did swabs with a watercolor paintbrush on the left hand side. On the right hand side, I waited for the inks to dry and then went over the swabs with water to see how much the inks bled.

The Violet was dried to a lovely chalky hue. It was a very mellow violet and pretty. The Violet was the least The Midnight Blue looked almost black when its wet and but dried lighter like a denim-y blue. What was so surprising to me is how much I liked the Forget-Me-Not Blue. I normally think of a true blue as blah but this blue is lip-smackingly beautiful. The only comparison I could make was to describe it as Cornflower blue. Its lovely.

All the colors dried fairly quickly, even in the stub nib and wielded by a messy left-handed writer. I’m inclined to recommend placing an order for either the Violet or the Forget-Me-Not Blue right now.  I would also love to try their Moss Green if its ever restocked. It looks fabulous!

Ink Review: Noodler’s Purple Wampum

Noodler's Purple Wampum

The last ink my “hunt for the perfect purple” is Noodler’s Purple Wampum. While its not the last possible purple ink I could try, I needed to limit my search or I would go broke. Noodler’s fills their bottles to the absolute top so be sure to open them carefully. Alternately, it means that when you buy Noodler’s ink, you definitely get your money’s worth. The bottle hold 3 oz. which is about 88ml for $12.50. Quite the bargain when compared with other inks.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

One of the first bottled inks I ever bought was Noodler’s Purple which I found too bright and a little garish. Purple Wampum, however, is a deeper, more complex alternative and more of what I had in mind. Its definitely a purple standing firmly between a reddish hue and a bluish hue making it a true purple rather than a blue violet or reddish purple.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

Purple Wampum is probably the closest to the color I was envisioning in my head when I said I was looking for “the perfect purple”. Because the color is a bit wet and dark, there’s not a lot of shading in the writing sample but I was dipping my pen so the color results might be more consistent with the results of a finer nib than the fine italic I was using. It certainly looks lighter in the last few lines with a bit more shading so I think that’s more consistent with the results I suspect I would get with a traditionally filled italic pen.

Noodlers Purple Wampum Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

In my swab sample, there’s a little sheen but in my water tests, there was no hint of other colors in the ink. Its one of the darkest purples I tried but not as dark as the Private Reserve Ebony Purple. Purple Wampum is actually more reddish in comparison to Ebony Purple.

In the end, I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite among the four purple inks I’ve tried over the last couple weeks. Purple Wampum reminds me of grape juice, Private Reserve Ebony Purple has the most bluish cast and is the darkest, Diamine Damson is the duskiest, and Montblanc Lavender Purple leans furtherest into a reddish purple. So, in the end, the best purple ink is entirely a personal preference. Even I like all of these ink for their subtle variations and will probably discover over time which I like using most in daily writing but they are all great options.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goldspot Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is a purple ink I wanted to try in my hunt for the “perfect purple” and this  was available in a diminutive 30ml mini-bottle for $7.

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is  the smokiest of the purple inks I’ve tried and probably closest to some of the colors I already had in my collection. It is quite similar to the P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet and Kaweco Summer Purple. Damson is similar in hue to these but a little bit lighter. Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa is also quite similar but a little more grey.

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson

Because Damson is a relatively dark color there’s not a ton of shading and there isn’t any sheen I could discern.  The ink dries quickly even though its not specifically quick-dry. Its not water resistant but it I wasn’t expecting it to be. The color has a dusty matte quality when dry.

I’m inclined to like Diamine Damson though its quite similar to other colors in my collection. If you’re in the market for this sort of dusky violet, the fact that Diamine Damson can be purchased in mini bottle makes it a good candidate for trying before investing in a larger bottle.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goldspot Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

I’ve had good experience with every Private Reserve ink I’ve used up to this point so I had no concerns about the quality of the ink. My goal was to find a purple that I loved and Ebony Purple was recommended to me buy the fine folks at Goldspot Pens as a color I might just love. I got the 50ml bottle of Diamine Ebony Purple for $10. While its not the prettiest bottle in the world, its easy to use with a simple, cylindrical shape and a wide mouth that makes it easy to refill pens.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Ebony Purple definitely lies on the the darkest end of the spectrum and more violet than purple. Because the color is so dark there’s not a lot of shading. In my waterproof tests you can see the blue and the red undertones in the ink. The ink is definitely not waterproof but makes it easy to clean out of the pen.

I’m not a huge fan of plain black inks so Ebony Purple is a good alternative for a dark ink that’s respectably blackish but with some personality. I like it for this quality but my search for the “perfect purple” continues.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple Swab Comparison

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goldpost Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple

After my Fashionable Friday: Purple Rainy Day, I’ve been itching to add more purple inks to my stash. I started hoarding various shades of purple and taking recommendations from friends and shop keepers. The first color that was brought to my attention was Montblanc Lavender Purple (60ml bottle for $19) thanks to Matt over at The Pen Habit.

I don’t usually dwell on the bottle designs of inks but I’m finding as I accumulate more inks, I’m becoming more opinionated about bottle shapes, sizes and graphics. Lavender Purple is one of the “standard” Montblanc inks and comes in one of the most useful and interesting bottles in my collection. Its a long oblong glass bottle with a divot on the bottom of the bottle just behind the cap. This creates a divided chamber in the bottle. By tipping the bottle forward, ink in the back chamber can fill the front chamber making it easier to refill a pen as the ink volume is depleted. Ingenious! And except for the slightly too-modern label on the top of the bottle, its a really aesthetically-appealing bottle overall. Its such a nice bottle that I could see buying an empty Montblanc bottle and transfer some of my inks in difficult-to-dip-my-pens bottles into this little gem.


Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple is not really lavender nor purple, at least not to my eyes. Its reminds me a bit of Grape Kool-Aid. Its a warm, purplish-black with a bit more red in the color than any of the other purples I tried in my hunt for the “perfect purple.” I like purples and violets that have a duller, deeper tone rather than garish, bright jewel tones. Its not to say that a vibrant purple isn’t beautiful, I just find that I don’t reach for such “showy colors” on a regular basis.

The color has a little shading and depending on how wet the nib or feed is, the color can look almost purple-black or a softer, muted black cherry. I had no issues with drying times though I’m not very scientific about dry times. If the ink dries before I get my hand over it, then it dries fast enough. On the Rhodia paper, drying is slower than most and I had no issues.

Montblanc Lavender Purple ink swab comparison

When I put the swab swatch next to some of the other purples in my collection, its easy to see how much rosier Montblanc Lavender Purple is to the other colors in my stash. I’ve had a couple days to admire it and the more I look at it, the more I like it. This is definitely a color that will be moved into my regular ink rotation.

Ink Review: Diamine 150th Silver Fox

Diamine Silver Fox

I’m sorry it took me so long to post the review for Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox ink. I wrote the review but forgot to photograph the results. In the meantime, its been dark and rainy here for two weeks making it almost impossible to take good photos of the results, especially the neutral grey-on-white combination of this ink.

Then my darling cats decided they should help and caused me splotch ink, then walked around on the test sheet with wet feet. Sheesh. I’d think this ink review was cursed if the color wasn’t so lovely and the ink so well-behaved. So its not the ink that’s cursed this week — just me.


Silver Fox is as neutral a grey ink as I’ve ever seen. Its not a cool grey with bluish tones and its not a warm grey with reddish hues. Its in that sweet spot, a true neutral grey. To be honest, Silver Fox is quite similar in color as the J. Herbin Stormy Grey, just without the divisive gold flecks. It also reminds me of pencil graphite so this could be THE ink for pencil lovers.

The dry time is reasonable for this ink and there’s some fun shading. Since the color is so neutral, there was not any sort of sheen. The ink dries a bit lighter than it looks when wet which is preferable to inks that start light and darken like the J. Herbin Gris Nuage which is practically invisible when wet and much too hard to write with in my opinion.

Diamine Silver Fox ink comparison

In comparing ink samples, Diamine Graphite is a bit of a greenish cool grey and DeAtramentis Silver Grey is a bit bluish in comparison. I think the Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey is similar in hue but a little bit darker grey.

Diamine 150 Years Silver Fox is available for $18.50 from Jet Pens in a 40ml pie-shaped bottle. This ink is part of a special collection so if this is a color you think you might want to try, better purchase it soon.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat is the second ink I purchased from this line produced by L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio and sold in the US through Vanness Pens in Little Rock.

Callifolio ink bottles

I’ve had the worst time trying to describe this color. Grenat is a warm, reddish brown that leans a little to a wine color — like “red wine stain” almost. Its not a vivid bright, eye-watering red but a subtle color that could potentially be a daily user because its not so garish as to be off-putting.

Callifolio Grenat

Grenat shades a little bit and there appears to be a greenish blue halo around heavier strokes. The color dried quickly, even on the Rhodia stock so that I could comfortably write without worrying that I’d stick my hand into wet ink as I went. Not a scientific number but I never hit a point where I was unconsciously smearing so I figure that’s good enough for me.

Callifolio Grenat ink comparison

Honestly, I had no other color in my stash that was even remotely similar to Callifolio Grenat. Its reddish but not bright or vivid so comparing it to red inks seemed too far from the mark. Instead I put it next to purply J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and Kaweco Caramel Brown so you could see the color is neither purple nor brown.

At $11 per bottle, its totally worth investing in a bottle of Callifolio ink, whether you decide to experiment with Grenat or one of the many other colors. I’ve been pleased with both the Grenat and the Oliphants ink and I’m willing to try other colors in the near future.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Following the success and enthusiasm over the gold fleck-filled Stormy Grey and Rouge Hematite, J. Herbin reformulated the 1670 Bleu Ocean to include gold flecks as well. I was really excited about this change because who doesn’t like sparkles?

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

I love the shape and look of the 1670 series bottle. Its a square glass bottle with a wax seal label and “wax sealed cap”. The cap is not actually wax sealed, its a traditional threaded twist cap but the cap is covered with a faux wax material so it looks like wax. I think the bottles are gorgeous and I love the details that have been added to make them look special. I have not tried to get ink out of the bottom of the bottle yet but I imagine it will not be easy. I suspect that to completely use all the ink i the bottle, I’ll have to use a syringe or transfer the ink into another container to access the ink as the opening will not be convenient to dipping a pen after multiple uses. That said, its really pretty.

As with the other versions of the 1670 ink, the gold flecks will settle to the bottom of the bottle and will require some stirring, shaking or rolling to redistribute the gold in the ink. I’ve heard folks mention that if they fill a pen with any of these 1670 inks, they will often roll their pen on a table to keep the gold flecks from settling in the reservoir.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

The ink color is actually a darker blue than most of the “true blues” in my collection and the addition of the gold flecks makes it even more appealing. The gold was quite noticeable in my swab sample, more so than with either the Rouge Hematite or Stormy Grey.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

When I painted the title, I got really excited about this ink. It sparkled, there were lots of color variation and I really liked the color. All this enthusiasm took a nose dive when I dipped my Esterbrook 9314M Medium Stub into the ink and the ink softened around the edges as I wrote. It didn’t bleed or feather per se, but it smooshed all my writing together making the line edges indistinct and filled in the counters of my letter. I dipped my pen in the ink and then wiped the nib of excess just once but the ink continued to display as runny and soft to the end of the page. I can’t imagine how much this would bleed or feather on lower quality paper instead of the Rhodia stock I used!

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Does this photo sum up my  feelings about the new formulation of Bleu Ocean? Yes it does.

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet

Akkerman Voorhout

I was so excited to be able to choose a bottle of P.W. Akkerman ink at the Vanness table at the Atlanta Pen Show. For the past year, Akkerman has been “the ink” to acquire. And Vanness is the only place to get the ink in the US. So being able to peruse the quickly depleting stock at the pen show and seeing the ink sample swabs in person was a dream come true. I only purchased one bottle because (1) its pricey stuff ($30/bottle), (2) many of the colors had already sold out before I found the Vanness table and (3) I couldn’t make a sound decision to save my life. I really need to make a spreadsheet of all the inks and colors I have so I know what colors I have.

One of the most striking features of Akkerman is the extremely unique bottle. Its a very tall bottle with a long slender neck. Inside the neck is a ball that allows it to block the flow of ink back into the larger bottle reservoir. So, to ink up a pen, you tip the bottle slowly upside down and then right it so that the neck area fills with ink. This should be a very effective way to get the most mileage out of the bottle without a lot of trouble. And it looks really cool!

I’ve been on a bit of a purple/black kick recently so I picked up a bottle of the Akkerman#15 Voorhout Violet.

Akkerman Voorhout

Voorhout Violet is definitely a purple/black color. In my swashy brush testing, there’s a nice array of dusty purply tones and a distinctly warm undertone. When writing however, the ink appears almost black and then lightens a little as it dries for that more of the purple tones show through, particularly with a wider nib. There’s a bit of shading but because the ink is so dark, its pretty subtle.

The ink behaved well and dried in a reasonable amount of time. I write my samples at a standard writing pace to test “real world” usage and I use Rhodia paper which can slow drying time a bit. But overall the performance was very good.

Oh, I forgot to mention the noticeable “lacquer” odor when I opened the bottle. It wasn’t a noxious smell but it was notable in that there was a smell. Most of my inks don’t have a noticeable smell, the exception being Noodler’s inks which have a similar odor to the Akkerman. Once I dipped my pen and closed the bottle, I no longer noticed the odor but I wanted to note it.

Akkerman Voorhout ink comparison

When compared with my growing arsenal of purple/black inks, the Akkerman is not notably distinct to the other colors I have. Private Reserve Ebony Purple is very similar. In writing, I’m not sure I’d be able to distinguish one from the other. Kaweco Summer Purple is also quite similar in color. And both the Kaweco and Private Reserve inks are considerably cheaper.

I’ll continue to use this ink and try it in an assortment of different pens and under more diverse writing conditions so I may feel differently about this ink in a few months. Right now though, I’m sort of “hmmm” about this color.

That said, I think the Akkerman inks are a good array of colors and worth the investment for the unique bottle alone. I will be trying more Akkerman inks in some of the more popular colors like #5 Shocking Blue and #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen. I’m also itching to try the wildly yellow-green #28 Hofkwartier Green. I could always use more green ink, right?

Check out Ed Jelley’s review of Voorhout Violet for a different perspective.

Ink Review: Callifolio Oliphants

Callifolio ink bottles

One of most unusual items that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show was to bottles of Callifolio ink in Olifants and Grenat from the fine folks at Vanness Pen Shop. Actually, the official product name is French, L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio. But can we agree to just call them Callifolio inks?

The bottles for the Callifolio inks are absolutely identical to the bottles that Diamine is using for the 150th Anniversary inks — the pie slice wedges. The labels on the bottle are simple white labels with black printing. It’s not the most interesting packaging but I’m not going to judge this particular book by its cover.

Callifolio offers over  30 different colors in either the 40ml wedge-shaped bottles or in 50ml foil refill pouches. The refill pouches can be used to refill an existing bottle of Callifolio inks or poured into any ink container (like a TWSBI ink bottle or a vintage inkwell). One of the most appealing thing about the Callifolio inks are the price — just $11 per bottle or $8 per foil pouch. I could buy FOUR foil pouches for the cost of one bottle of Akkerman ink.

Callifolio Oliphants

I picked the Olifants color because I just love the teal-y blue/blue-black inks so I wanted to try a Callifolio ink in a color I’d use regularly. There was some nice shading to the color and a bit of a halo.

Callifolio Oliphants

Olifants dried quickly and with my fine stub testing nib, there was no feathering or line softening. I did test the ink on Rhodia paper so there may be some different results on lower quality or lighter weight paper but my initial reaction is that Callifolio is making good inks at great prices.

I did not test for waterproofness but I will do a little follow-up in a few days with more of my experience with the Callifolio inks but for general performance, I’ m quite pleased with this ink.

Callifolio Oliphant ink comparison

The Olifants color is a bit more green than Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo and a bit bluer than Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. But with the wide price difference, Callifolio inks are a reasonable substitute for the more expensive Japanese inks.

I’m really pleased with my purchase so far and I can’t wait to review the Grenat color which is not a color I normally buy.

Ink Review: Kaweco Paradise Blue

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue is a pretty good match for my TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas Green. The pen body is a little more green than the ink color but not too bad a match.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

Kaweco Paradise Blue ($17.50 for a 30ml bottle) is a turquoise ink that leans a bit more green than most turquoise inks. It’s my second favorite Kaweco ink after Summer Purple because the hue is so unusual for a company that only makes a handful of colors. The label color is a little misleading as it shows a more bluish color.

Paradise Blue dries quickly and is not as watery as the closest color match I could find, De Atramentis Petrol which would make Paradise Blue a better option for wider nibbed pens.

Kaweco Paradise Blue ink

In my hunt for comparison inks, I didn’t find too many colors that were similar. In terms of darkness, Paradise Blue fell between two offerings from De Atramentis: Petrol, which is a little bit darker and Mint Turquoise, which is a little lighter color overall. Most inks that aspire for a turquoise hue are much bluer. Paradise Blue walks that fine line between the slightly greenier hues that I found as a comparison and the much bluer turquoise inks like Lamy Turquoise or Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise.

Overall, Kaweco Paradise Blue is a good, solid ink in a pleasing color at a reasonable price.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ask The Desk: TARDIS Blue Ink?


This message popped up in my Twitter this morning, which I found was very timely after my outrage at the lack of pop culture-themed inks.

@JetPens asked:

@wellapptdesk Just last week, @DQuartermane asked us what fountain pen ink is closest to TARDIS blue 😛 We said Sargasso Sea. Thoughts??

I hate to be too picky here but, over the years, the actual shade of blue for the TARDIS has changed so there will be room for disagreement as to what the “one true blue” should be.


I think Diamine Sargasso Sea is an excellent option — more Matt Smith-era TARDIS than David Tennant. And Diamine Majestic Blue might be a great Eccelston-era blue.


J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean would be a good option as well for a more Tennant-era TARDIS. Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-Goa would be my choice for a Capaldi-era TARDIS blue and my favorite choice (but I love Peter Capaldi so I’m biased). And I did not delve into blues that might match earlier generations of the Doctor either. Please… discuss!


(Just to establish my geek-cred, this was my Con TARDIS costume from last year)

(All ink photos from Jet Pens)

Ink Review: Diamine 150 Years 1864 Blue Black

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

The Diamine 150 years inks were on my inky radar as soon as I heard about them. Rare, historical or limited edition inks always set my fingers alight on the keyboard over the “buy it now” button.

There are eight colors in this collection, each bottle is a pie-shaped wedge that holds 40ml of ink and sells for $17.50 per bottle. I find the pie shaped wedge bottle a little odd and they have to be packed into the square boxes with padding so the bottles don’t shift around. When one or more bottles are put next to each other, they fit together. If all eight bottles are together, they form a full circle.

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

I knew immediately that I would want to try the 1864 Blue Black since I love blue black inks.Its a deep, dark blue-black so it doesn’t show a lot of shading even with my Lamy Studio with its 1.1mm stub nib.

Like most Diamine inks,the 1864 Blue Black is well-behaved and pretty quick-drying.

daimine 1864 blue-black ink

In the swab, I notice a bit of a reddish halo in the 1864 Blue Black that reminds me a bit of the Pilot IroshizukuTsuki-Yo though Tsuki-Yo is a bit more teal and the halo is a bit more reddish-purple. But the 1864 Blue Black is almost have the price of a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku which is a consideration. Compared tot he Kaweco Midnight Blue, the Diamine 1864 Blue Black is a little more indigo, ever-so-slightly to violet. Isn’t it amazing the little differences between ink shades? I love that there are little variations in ink colors.

I’m glad to add this color to my library.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Kaweco Royal Blue

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

When you live in Kansas City, Royal Blue has a very distinct connotation. Very baseball. But lucky for Kaweco, their Royal Blue ink is really spot-on for the local interpretation for the color. Kaweco Royal Blue, in writing, reminds me of a lot of those vintage “washable blue” inks like the old Sheaffer Skrip ink. If you like blue inks or something that looks like your grandfather might have penned letters to your grandma while stationed overseas, this is a good candidate.

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

There’s some shading and its overall a well-behaved ink. Kaweco Royal Blue is everything you’d want or expect from a classic “true blue” ink. I’m not always inclined to gravitate towards blue-blue inks, this one is not a bad option. Its classic, old-world blue.

Kaweco Royal Blue ink

When compared to a few other true blues, its easy to see the violet undertones in the Kaweco Royal Blue ($17.50) — giving it the “royal treatment”, so to speak. Its brighter than the Parker Quink Blue Black ($8.75) I have and darker than the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-Kusa ($28). Price wise, Kaweco Royal Blue falls between these two inks as well — not a budget ink but not premium-priced either.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

It certainly took me long enough to write a review of this equally coveted and disdained ink. The new(-ish) J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey ($27) “stormed” onto the market last year with raves and jeers. It took me an age to finally acquire a bottle as every place was selling out of it faster than I could place an order. Then finally, I got on Jet Pens’ email notification list and snagged a bottle of my very own.

This is a “made for me” sort of ink. I love grey inks, anything with historical implications and, hey, sparkles are a bonus! Of course, there are some warnings and downsides with the gold fleck inclusions in this ink but c’mon, who doesn’t love a fancy gold sheen?

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

When first using this ink, be sure to shake the gold flecks off the bottom of the bottle as they tend to settle. I suspect that if you leave the ink in your pen for any length of time, you may want to roll or shake the pen to redistribute the gold as well.

The warning that comes with the ink says the ink will stain so if you have a rare, vintage or super collectible pen, you may not want to use this ink with it or leave Stormy Grey in the pen for any extended length of time.

Now that I’ve finished with the “Don’t try this at home, kids” PSA, I had no noticeable flow issues in my Lamy Studio with 1.1mm stub nib, The ink flowed nicely, the grey color is dark and legible and I could discern some gold sparkle as the ink was drying. The gold flecks were less noticeable once dry in standard writing but the ink does have nice shading which more than made up for it.

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

In large swatches, the gold flecks are quite noticeable so this ink would show its best form with a flex nib, music nib or other ink-drenched application. I actually quite liked drawing with it with my paint brush.

J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey

Compared with other grey inks in my library, Stormy Grey is a bit bluer and darker than my others. De Atramentis Silver Grey was probably closest in hue but not as dark and the Mont Blanc Meisterstück 90 year Permanent Grey is a little more greenish but about as dark.

Bottom line: J. Herbin Stormy Grey is an ink collector’s ink. If you need a good workhorse grey that is not going to clog your pen or cost as much as a decent dinner-for-two, then this is not the ink for you. But if you like having a bottle of something “a little different, a little special” then grab a bottle of this when you see it available.

Ink Review: Kaweco Ruby Red

Kaweco Ruby Red Ink

Kaweco inks are not coveted, collectible inks, they are workhorse inks in standard, appealing colors. Ruby Red is no different.  Kaweco Ruby Red ink is a warm, slightly-pinky-hued red ink. I think it would be perfect for penning love notes, Valentines or scribing red-letter ideas. It performs well with no splining or feathering on most papers and it dries relatively quickly, even on premium Rhodia stock. The ink shades a bit that adds some character to the ink which is pleasant.

Kaweco Ruby Red Ink

I carried my TWSBI Mini loaded with Kaweco Ruby Red all week and it did not have any hard starts or issues with the ink performance. The color though is just not a favorite of mine. But to be fair, I don’t tend to lean towards red inks in general so its not anything about this particular red. I’m just not a “red ink girl.”

Kaweco Ruby Red Ink

Compared with other red inks in my library, Ruby Red is not as pinky as J. Herbin Rouge Opera which was recommended to me as a “great red” by a red ink lover.  Both Diamine Red Dragon and Noodler’s Rattler Red Eel are more of a true red-leaning-towards-orange than either the Kaweco Ruby Red or the J. Herbin Rouge Opera. In writing, I don’t think any of this inks would be misconstrued as pink rather than red so it would come down to a personal preference regarding ink costs and overall performance requirements. Noodler’s Rattler Red Eel is a lubricated ink which may have extended dry times but might perform better in EF nibs. J. Herbin standard ink like Rouge Opera tend to be a bit more watery than other ink brands. I think the closest competitor to the Kaweco Ruby Red would be the Diamine Red Dragon in terms of general dry times and ink performance and the Diamine is a bit deeper red that could look considerably darker in a fine line than the Ruby Red.

So… in the end, Ruby Red is a good option if you’re looking for a consistent performing red ink. (Kaweco Inks can be purchased from your favorite online retailer for about $15/bottle)

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

More J. Herbin Mini Bottles

J. Herbin Mini Ink Bottles

I love the look and miniature size of the J. Herbin mini ink bottles which has lead me to purchase a few colors every time I place an order at Jet Pens. Its just enough ink to enjoy without having an excess. A lot of J. Herbin’s inks are light, bright and floral-y so a little bottle for letter writing or a special occasion is just right. And I’m not stuck with a vat of it if its not a favorite.

The latest four colors I picked up make a case on both sides of this. The Violette Pensee and the Larmes de Cassis are colors I think I could use. The bright, vivid color of the Violette Pensee will be a fun summer color and the Larmes de Cassis is a dusty, reddish purple that is a color I am always attracted to — a tertiary, complex hue. So, I feel like these were good investments. The Gris Nuage and Boutan d’Antan were a true waste of fund. Gris Nuage is so light when wet as to be practically invisible. Boutan d’Antan was not much better though both dry darker but it doesn’t help much if you can’t see what you’re writing. So, those two were ink fails as far as I’m concerned.

J. Herbin Mini Bottles are $4.75 each and all standard J.Herbin inks are available in the mini bottles so there are 30 colors to choose from.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Kaweco Summer Purple

Kaweco Summer Purple Ink

Kaweco Summer Purple is one of my absolute favorite ink colors. It’s a dark, muted, complex, plum-y purple. More eggplant purple really. When watered down, it reminds me of lilac blossoms. At full-strength, its a subtle, sophisticated purple-black. The closest color comparison I could make is the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa. However, with the Kaweco Summer Purple, there’s no concern about the iron gall and potential damage to your pens.

Summer Purple doesn’t have a ton of shading but with wider nibs, you get a little color variation. You may decide this is a good thing or not. When writing notes and project planning, I’m less inclined to want a lot of shading as it can affect overall readability. But a little bit of shading can be nice. I think Summer Purple hits a pleasing balance between feeling too flat and being too shading-y for everyday use.

Kaweco Summer Purple is a color that is not too fussy but still adds a little pizazz to your writing. If you’re just dipping inky toes into colors beyond blue, black or blue-black, Summer Purple is a good option.

Kaweco Summer Purple Comparison

I think the closest comparable inks are Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Private Reserve Ebony Purple. J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune, Noodler’s Purple Heart and Diamine Grape are all a little bit more reddish purple — less violet, more true purples. If you like your purples with more red, than I recommend these instead.

Isn’t it amazing how much variation exists in ink colors? From subtle to shocking differences at every hue in the rainbow. This is why I love inks!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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