Ink Review: Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Ink Review: Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve ($17 for 50ml bottle) is one of my favorite, and most recommended ink colors. When people as me for “something different” I recommend either Opal Mauve or Caffe Crema (I still need to do a review of this ink too!). These are two of the non-blue Robert Oster inks that prove Oster knows color. They are unique, complex and have layers of depth that make them appealing beyond just a cool-looking swatch. That said, it swatches fabulously!

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

The ink ranges in color from plum to violet to indigo and even hints at pink.

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

I wouldn’t say that it sheens necessarily but look at the variety of shading!

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Even writing with a Fine Firm #9556 nib, there is a range of shading and the color is fully legible.

I often use this ink in my Carolina Pen Company pen which is a soft matte pink color as it coordinates nicely. (See? Nice combo, right?)

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Comparison wise, Opal Mauve is a good alternative to PR Arabian Rose if you are a little skeptical of the stability of Private Reserve inks (though I’ve heard they have been improving their inks of that which I’m happy to hear). Opal Mauve has way more color variety than Einstein Ring and Alt. Bordeaux and those were the only colors I could find that were even close colorwise. All the other inks in my collection were either more violet or more magenta.

Opal Mauve is definitely a highly saturated color so it may be a bit dry for some pens but the color is worth the effort.


DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided free of charge by for the purpose of review.

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Ask The Desk: Sheaffer Skripserts & A5 Journal Covers

We are weeding through the pile of Ask The Desk questions (and boy, do we ever have a stack!) to try to get on top of things. So, let’s get started!

Steve goes right to my heart with the first question:

I know you’re a fan of the Lady Sheaffer (Skripserts). I recently purchased one and when I opened it up and saw the section and feeder tube I was a bit surprised. What’s your recommendation for a converter that works on these pens?

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert instructions

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert instructions

I’ve got some good news and some bad news with the vintage Lady Sheaffer Skripserts. The good news is that they will accept modern Sheaffer cartridges available from any reputable pen retailer (Anderson Pens, Vanness Pens, Appelboom, etc) . That was really what they were designed to do. The somewhat sexist ad campaigns touted how the cartridges wouldn’t mar ladies’ manicures and lovely hands like refilling pens from an ink bottle. Though at some point, Sheaffer did actually make a button-filler slim converter that fit into the Skripserts because someone did wise up to the fact that the convenient cartridges were also more expensive than conventional bottled ink. The slim converters, of course, are now as rare as hen’s teeth. But you can still find them, it’ll just cost you a pretty penny. I found one from a vendor at the Chicago Pen Show for about $30 and the other was in one of the Skripserts I purchased and then I had it restored with a new sac by Jeff Powers at Powers Pen Co.

Lady Sheaffer Skripsert

So, a short-term solution would be to use cartridges and then refill them with a syringe until you can acquire a slim converter. I can reuse cartridges several times before the seal gets loose.

Liz asks:

I’ve seen lots of different journal covers around, but I’m having a hard time choosing. I’d like to be able to use a variety of different (truly) A5 size journals, STM, Dingbats, Life, etc. and carry some pens and business cards, maybe a few other small odds and ends. Can you suggest something?

The team put it’s collective heads together to give you a list of our favorite “true A5” covers. There are a few factors to consider with a cover.

Many of the best A5 notebook/journal covers are leather but there are also some non-leather options as well. The other factor to consider with a journal/notebook cover is the number of notebooks you want to carry with you at any one time. Some covers are designed to allow you to carry one notebook while others make it easier to carry multiple notebooks.

Curnow Leather Notebook Cover
Curnow Bookbinding A5 teal leather travveler’s style cover

For a traveler’s style cover that is true A5, we recommend either getting one from Curnow Bookbinding or Chic Sparrow. Curnow offers an array of leather colors with four elastics and two secretary pockets for $45 through their Facebook page. Just send them a message and they will respond back. ChicSparrow has a variety of different leather finishes and pocket configurations (pen loops, credit card pockets, no pockets, etc) so the prices range up to $119 for an A5.

The new ATELEIA A5 Leather Journal Covers ($165) come in four leather finishes are the poshest option we found. They were the luxury item we want so we included for lust value. They are designed to hold one notebook compared to the Traveler’s style covers but it looks amazing.

A5 Journal Covers
Clockwise from top left: Ateleia Leather cover, NockCo A5 Seed Case, Hobonichi A5 Cover and ChicSparrow Deluxe Creme Black Beauty

For a non-leather option, the NockCo A5 Seed case ($70) is a great option, especially if you carry one notebook. I always love the Hobonichi Cousin covers even though I’ve never quite learned to embrace the Hobnichi as a planning system. The Hobonoichi covers are great single book A5 covers as well and have lots of pockets inside for business cards inside. It’s late in the planner season but there are still a few 2018 covers available on their site and you are in the prime position to prepare for the 2019 Hobonichi launch for new A5 covers.

The Team here at The Desk own at least one of each of these (except the Ateleia) and recommend all of these journal covers wholeheartedly but each one satisfies different journal/notebook needs.



Link Love: With Hugs and SIGs

This week brings the first batch of reviews of Season 4 of Colorverse inks and more peeks at the new Karas Starliner and Galaxie pens. The Stifflexible notebooks have been revamped and improved and Bob at My Pen Needs Ink takes the new edition through its paces.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

Ink Review: Nagasawa Kobe Sannomiya

Review by Tina Koyama

I had never heard of Nagasawa, a stationery store in Kobe, Japan, but when I saw the bottle design for the Nagasawa Pen Style Inks on JetPens, I instantly thought, “Sailor.” Sure enough, the inks were developed by Sailor (one of Japan’s “top three” fountain pen manufacturers, along with Pilot and Platinum), and as a devotee of everything Sailor, I had to try some.

Choosing among the Nagasawa line’s 26 colors took lengthy hemming and hawing, but I managed to make relatively objective choices based on what was missing from my Sailor Shikiori collection (formerly called the Jentle line, which came in bottles that look identical to Nagasawa bottles but nothing like the current Shikiori bottles. Got that?).

While we’re talking about bottles, I noticed that the Nagasawa inks do not come with the little basket thingie inside the neck that is supposed to make it easier to fill certain pens. I always syringe-fill my pens and always have, so I don’t miss the basket thingie, which just gets in the way.

Now, on to today’s ink. Sannomiya, which means “panse” (that’s how it’s spelled on the box label, but I assume it’s the flower pansy), is a bright, cheerful violet. The closest hues I found in my collection are Iroshizuku Murasaki-Shikibu (slightly cooler), Sailor Jentle Shigure (much darker and cooler) and Diamine Majestic Purple (warmer). I filled one of my broadest-nibbed pens with Sannomiya, and I love the rich hue.

One reason I favor Sailor inks is that they are fast-drying (essential for this lefty), and the Nagasawa inks follow suit. I didn’t test for specific drying times, but writing relatively carefully, I didn’t smudge the page written on Tomoe River paper. (Mind you, I was writing this sample more slowly than I normally do, but I’ve also been writing with it in my Leuchtturm 1917 journal at my normal pace, and I’ve smudged only a couple of times – not bad at all, for me.)

Unlike most fountain pen users, who probably prefer their inks to be more waterproof than water-soluble, I look for inks that make an interesting smear when washed lightly with water because I enjoy sketching with fountain pens, too, and using the wash for shading. This is another reason I favor Sailor’s formula – the washes are often surprising and complex. I see hints of both pink and blue in Sannomiya – the wash is not just a diluted version of the full-strength ink. (However, you’ll see in another ink I review later that not all Kobe inks are as complex.)

Sannomiya is a lovely purple that I enjoy both writing and sketching with.


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

In memory: Jim Rouse

In memory: Jim Rouse

When I started collecting fountain pens and attending pen shows, people told me it would be the community that would keep me coming back to the hobby and the events again and again. I’ve met many people online through the hobby that have changed my life in their own way but what has been the most amazing discovery is  the vast array of people I’ve met at pen shows.

What no one warned me about was how many people I would also have to say good-bye to.

Yesterday, the pen community lost one of its favorite diamonds-in-the-rough, Jim Rouse.

While I cannot accurately recount his full professional history in the pen community, I know he worked for decades with Bert Oser before he took on the job as nibmeister at Franklin-Christoph. He once told me his whole pen history, complete with anecdotes about his beloved family, and despite copious amounts of post-pen show food and alcohol, I recall all the details clearly.

Jim was a charmer and a friend to everyone who came up to the Franklin-Christoph table at a pen show, from the youngest child to the oldest pen collector. He was talented, with just the right amount of sass, and he will be missed.

I never thought pens (and pen shows) would teach me to treasure ever moment of life so much. Hug your favorite your nibmeister (or pen repairperson, vintage dealer, Black Pen Society Member, or pen community illuminati, et al)*. You never know when it might be your last chance.

*Remember to ask before touching any pens or people. Its just good pen show etiquette.

Giveaway: MiGoals 2018 Diary

Giveaway: MiGoals 2018 Diary

Earlier this week, I reviewed the amazing MiGoals 2018 Diary and now we have one to giveaway to you. This one. Brand new. Black softcover fabric cover. Still wrapped in plastic waiting for all your brilliance, class schedules, business meetings, coffee meetings or whatever you have planned for the next six months.

Blow. Your. Mind. Or walk your dog. But write it down. Get it done. And say thanks to MiGoals.

TO ENTER: Tell me one goal you would like to accomplish in the remainder of 2018. Big or little. Run a 5K. Clean out that closet. Be nicer to your sister.  Leave you goal in the comments below. On the blog. Nowhere else. Do it once. Use your real email address. Do it by Wednesday night.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. All entries must be submitted in the comments at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner 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 actual 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 7 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 and APO/AFO only, sorry.