Last year one of the UK jewellery chains had a huge discount on some Montblanc items. This included the Montblanc M which could be had for less than 50% of the current recommended retail price. You will understand how difficult it was to resist.
The Montblanc M was designed by Mark Newson and is quite unusual for Montblanc standards. Not everyone is keen on the looks of this pen, but I love it. If you were to classify fountain pens by appearance then the M would be much closer to the Lamy dialog 3 than to your average Montblanc. Its most exotic feature is the cap which is magnetically aligned and held in place.
Unlike many other Montblanc pens which come with a converter the M not only doesn’t come with one, there’s also none available that officially fits. I successfully used the Cross Verve adapter in the past, but my Cross adapter is now back in the Verve.
I am now using what I call a Lamy/Pelikan cartridge. Probably 20 to 25 years ago these no-name cartridges got popular in parts of Europe. You could always get no-name Pelikan/standard cartridges Pelikan has a big share of the market for school fountain pens., but with the popularity of the Lamy Safari being used in schools the ink cartridge manufacturers thought of putting a Pelikan compatible end on a Lamy compatible cartridge. Clever stuff and if you don’t mind refilling your cartridge with a syringe (I don’t mind) then it is just perfect for the Montblanc M’s body with the tapered end.
The only problem is that these cartridges don’t seem to be popular in either the UK, where I live or the USA, where nearly all the Bleistift Blog readers are based – as I wasn’t able to find these in online shops. I hope online shops in the UK and the USA will stock them in the future. In Germany, you can get them under the name “Universalpatrone” on eBay and Amazon for less than 10 cents per cartridge if you buy a bigger pack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 disappear 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 … Continue reading.
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.
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.
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.
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.
..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.
Photographed against the light to make the sparkles more obvious.
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.
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?).
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.
The Kaweco Blue is stronger and less red than the Rotring Brillant Blue. Have a look.
The Rotring is the least blue and most red ink in this comparison. It is however still a proper blue ink.
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).
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?
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.