Inks


Aurora’s Blue Black ink

Kirit Dal, who I have recently mentioned in the Lamy Horror Picture Show blog post, was kind enough to send me Aurora’s latest ink: Their take on Blue Black.

I have used quite a few blue black inks in the past, actually.. for a few year it was my favourite colour – but I have never used an Aurora ink before. Not only that, I somehow I also never really read up on them, so this ink led me into unchartered territory. If you have already used Aurora inks my discoveries will be nothing new to you, but for me this ink provided a lot of firsts. More about them later.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

Comparison

I compared the Aurora Blue Black to a few other blue black inks: Mont Blanc Midnight Blue (the newer Austrian version), Diamine Blu eBlack and Lamy Blue Black (the older iron gall version).

On Rhodia paper Lamy’s Blue Black was the most grey ink – and the only one that visible darkened after writing, so the assumption is that other inks don’t contain iron gall.

The Diamine was the most turquoise ink, and the worst behaved – meaning it was best at penetrating the paper and having a cheeky look out on the other side.

Mont Blanc’s Midnight Blue was the most purple and also the darkest.

Aurora’s Blue Black was the bluest of the inks and provided the following surprises.

A lid and a plug…

 

Surprise 1: packaging

The first surprise came when I saw that the ink bottle was the best protected against spilling in transport I have seen so far.

Not only was the bottle in the box shrink-wrapped, under the lid there was also a plastic plug. I shouldn’t have tried removing it with my fingers as the air pressure in the bottle was different to the one in my environment and I had a right mess on my fingers and on the paper sheet under the bottle.

 

Surprise 2: a well behaved ink

The second surprise came when I started using the ink.

It was actually a better behaved ink than expected. By that I mean that it prefers to orderly stay on the paper instead of naughtily sucking into the paper and bleeding through. It also seems to dry faster than your average ink ..always a good thing. I do have blotters on my desk at home and in the office, but faster drying inks are just less trouble, plus if you have to use a blotter the bits of the writing where the ink was still wet usually end up looking lighter.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

Even on poor quality photocopying paper it behaved very well, only showing signs of bleed through where the nib left a lot of ink on one spot.

On a Field Notes original/Kraft notebook with Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T #Bright White’, the worst Field Notes paper I know it didn’t bleed though either.

One more thing to notice: this ink has some shading (but it’s certainly not the new shading king) and the dark areas are pretty dark. Depending on how wet your fountain pen writes this ink might look either greyish blue or nearly black.

Surprise 3: half erasable

The third surprise came when I tried to write with this ink on a Royal Mail postcard.

Testing on Royal Mail postcards with a Super5 0.7 in Delhi Orange

Having established that it’s a well behaved ink I thought I test it on a Royal Mail postcard as very few inks will work on this treated surface without spreading out across the paper. The surprise here was that the ink started to lose its blue component, as if the post card acts as an ink eraser. I have made a similar experience with the Thank You cards I got printed after our wedding in 2008. The ink on the Thank you Cards I wrote became invisible after a few weeks.

To test what’s going on with the Aurora Blue Black on this post card I tried an ink eraser on this ink. Immediately the blue component started to disappear1.

Rinse time

To finish it all off I had a look how these inks behaving after enjoying a refreshing rinse under a cold water tap for several seconds.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

The Aurora ink suffered most. Virtually all of the blue seemed to have washed away with only the grey component remaining.

Unsurprisingly the iron gall ink seemed least affected, but it is of course harsher on your writing equipment. Well, not to put your fountain pen written documents under running water shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, though.

Conclusion

The Aurora Blue Black is a great ink. You get some shading, you get well behaved, and you get a nice colour, serious but not too boring.

I hope to have a closer look again after having used this ink for several months.

 


I would like to thank Kirit Dal for sending me this ink. I think he might be the first seller in the UK to stock this ink. I have been told that he is well known at pen shows in the UK, but I haven’t been to any pen shows yet, so haven’t been able to meet him yet in person.

You can find more reviews of this ink at Squishy Ink  and Pen Chalet.

  1. In many countries pupils have to use ‘Royal Blue’ inks which are erasable with chemical ink erasers, originally invented by Pelikan. When I was young they were called in killers and were very common. You usually can’t use normal ink to write over the erased ink. Instead you use a special ink from the other side of the ink eraser. There used to be better ink eraser you can write over with normal ink. These were available around the year 1990, if I remember right, but I haven’t seen any like that in a long time. []

Diamine’s Enchanted Ocean 1

An ink sample I got from Scribble.

Not any blue, but an Enchanted Blue

..but not any Enchanted Blue, this is the Enchanted Ocean.

It combines the seriousness of a blue-black ink and the joyfulness of Hello Kitty merchandising, which means that you will be embarrassed to take it out at work as well as feeling awkward taking it out at a children’s party, too.
Diamine Enchanted Ocean
Photographed against the light to make the sparkles more obvious.

Diamine Enchanted Ocean


Kaweco’s Royal Blue and other blues

When Scribble offered me to send some Kaweco inks for testing I was quite excited.

My wife and I have, between us, a few Kaweco fountain pens and ink cartridges and in 2012 it got even ‘worse’ when Cultpens had an offer where you could get a free Kaweco Twist and Out Cartridge Dispenser, that offer involved buying even more cartridges.

..but  recently I started assuming that the Kaweco inks have some special properties, based this sentence Cultpens had in their description of Kaweco inks:

The colours and character of these inks is very reminiscent of the long-discontinued rotring inks.

..so Scribble’s offer was very much appreciated.

Scribble's sample and my other blues

Scribble’s sample and my other blues

Well, Cultpens has now removed this sentence from their web site, but nevertheless, I was intrigued. What are those colours and characteristics? They’d have to be somehow special to be worth mentioning. I wouldn’t be surprised if neither Rotring nor Kaweco make/made their own inks, so maybe all of these inks are made by a third party, probably a German company, so are these inks maybe even identical?

Luckily I still had some NOS Rotring ink (even unopened) from many years ago. These are pretty hard to come by these days. I only found one on eBay USA and one on eBay in Europe.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Kaweco and Rotring ink, so the whole thing was more exploratory and I didn’t have any hypotheses, mainly because I wasn’t even sure what Rotring’s magic ink properties are supposed to be.

To find out more I thought I compare the Kaweco and the Rotring blue to some other blues. Unfortunately I didn’t have what I would think of as the standard blue, Pelikan’s royal blue, at home. I also didn’t have Lamy’s blue. I guess after writing with these for more than a decade when I was in school I wanted to try some other inks and never stocked up one them again.

For comparison, additional to the Kaweco and Rotring, I picked Diamine’s Blue Velvet (one of the 150 years anniversary ink) and Cartier Blue (or should that be must de Cartier, as written on the ink bottle?).

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

 

Well, I wasn’t disappointed, but as I mentioned, I didn’t have any expectations either. The Kaweco Royal Blue is definitely a different ink than the Rotring Brillant Blue, also called Ultramarine. To be honest, there are so many languages on the box, I am not sure whether Ultramarine is supposed to be the English name for this ink or the ink in another language, but I have seen people call this ink Ultramarine on the web, so it might help identifying this ink.

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

The Kaweco Blue is stronger and less red than the Rotring Brillant Blue. Have a look.

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

The Rotring is the least blue and most red ink in this comparison. It is however still a proper blue ink.

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

The Diamine Blue Velvet is strong and dark and certainly happier and less serious than the Kaweco (oh my, this is getting very subjective now).

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

The Cartier Blue is probably the most reserved and modest of the bunch.

Well – I am still not clear about these properties of the Rotring and the Kaweco that Cultpens hinted at without going into any details.

Maybe some water can help to solve the mystery?

Blue ink comparison Kaweco Rotring Diamine Cartier

No. I’m still not any closer to finding out what these properties are. Well, it doesn’t matter though. They are all nice blues. I wonder which one I should try next in a fountain pen…

By the way, I used a dip pen with a Brause No 361 nib (Shangching calls this nib the blue pumpkin), to make it easier to control ink cross contamination. This results in much more ink being out on the paper than with your average fountain pen.


New arrivals

This morning I got the order I placed yesterday with The Pen Company. Diamine’s shimmer ink and the Lamy Safari in Neon Lime (the stationery part of my birthday gift).

 

lamysafari-neonlime-diamineshimmer

 

Looking forward to trying these out.


A weekend in Shropshire 7

To celebrate my 40th birthday we spend the weekend in Shropshire …and of course I couldn’t resist buying more stationery.

 

A dower house form the 1820s, between Weston-under-Redcastle and Hodnet

A dower house from the 1820s, between Weston-under-Redcastle and Hodnet

Independent stationery shops

What a nice weekend it was – and I found an independent stationery shop in Shrewsbury – what a nice surprise. I hardly ever come across independent pen shops these days. The one where I live closed down and one in the town where I’m from closed down, too1. I’d like to visit the Pen Company one day, but it’s several hours away. What’s left nearby is either focusing on art supplies or is part of a chain, which usually means that staff are not really excited about pens.

After buying some souvenir stationery in Shrewsbury Abbey I discovered Write Here. First: stocking up on Koh-I-Noor 1500 pencils – and then a fitting eraser from Koh-I-Noor as well.

Sheep in the country side

Sheep in the countryside

Koh-I-Noor

In the 18th century Jospeh Hardtmuth started the pencil factory in Austria that would become Koh-I-Noor. Koh-I Noor is the name of a famous diamond. I seem to remember reading somewhere, probably in Petroski’s book, there were several pencils named after diamonds because diamonds and graphite both consist of carbon. In the 19th century manufacturing then moved to Bohemia, to Budweis in what is now the Czech Republic.

The Koh-I-Noor 1500, the pencil I bought,  started being produced in 18892. After WWII the factory, in what was then Czechoslovakia, was nationalised and Joseph Hardtmuth’s descendants started manufacturing in Austria again. A few years ago the Austrian ‘branch’ of the company went bankrupt and was taken over by Cretacolor, but the Czech ‘branch’ of the company does still exist under the Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth name.

I have previously bought new old stock Koh-I-Noor 1500s in Shanghai and in my home town, but these are one of my few new ones. Too bad Write Here didn’t have HB and F (yes, you can get the 1500 in F), so I went for the B and H, which I’ve been using all of this week so far.

The shop window of Write Here

The shop window of Write Here

Write Here

Later that day I went back to Write Here, asking whether they have any fountain pens with flexible nibs. I’ve been looking for a nice fountain pen with a flexible nib for a long time now. My Lamy 2000 with an M nib and some of my Pelikan M200 nibs in F are quite flexible, but the line at its thinnest is too wide for me. Noodler’s nibs are nice and flexible, but when using any of my different Noodler fountain pens I usually end up having dirty hands because they spill ink after a while.

Pens in the shop

Pens in the shop

After asking for a pen with a flexible nib it took the owner of the shop a second to think about my request before taking a fountain pen out of his jacket and telling me to try it. What a nice, flexible nib that was. It was a fountain pen from Omas. I knew about Omas, but I never tried one before. When I started writing there was some feathering, but when I tried it on another paper the pen wrote smooth while still producing crisp lines. Unfortunately the pen was far too expensive for me. It turned out that this shop is also the distributor for Omas in the UK and I was told that very soon a cheaper pen with this nib will be released. I say cheaper, but it is still a £300 pen, which would make it more expensive than the most expensive pen I own.

Stationery bought in Shrewsbury

Stationery bought in Shrewsbury

Pen and ink

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury

I then bought the Monteverde Tool fountain pen – more in my price range, and the owner of the shop told me about Sailor’s pigment ink which contains nano pigments, so it doesn’t clog up the fountain pen.

I’m still not sure what to think about the fountain pen. It seems to skip quite a bit (using the cartridge that came with it), I hope that will get better over time. I also wonder why the scales on the pen incluse 1/200 metre and 1/300 metre. I have seen 1/x inch scales, but 1/x metre scales are certainly not very common and don’t seem to make much sense to me. Is this how imperial users imagine the metric system to work?

The ink can behave very well when used on good paper, but when I use it to fill in forms at work it feathers quite a bit. I think time will tell whether I like this ink, but so far I don’t think I’ll buy another bottle.

  1. There still one left in my home town, but it’s more of a post office / news agent / bit of everything shop. []
  2. see Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth’s history. []