Monday, August 25, 2014

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris ink review

You voted for it, so the next ink in my ink sample survey is Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris. I tested the sample (in fact I'm still using it as we speak) in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib.

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris shading

Bottle and pricing

A bottle of Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris holds 50ml / 1.7oz and retails for $12. That's $0.24 per milliliter, quite pricy.

Color and saturation

I've barely started this review and I have already arrived at the crux of why I don't like this ink. It's not the only reason, but I dislike the color. While it's considered a blue ink, there's not a lot of blue in it, I'm afraid. It veers more towards green, but the greenish shade of copper oxide, which, in fact, is where the term "verdigris" comes from. Either way, my eyes just can't see any blue in this ink.

To compound the problem, under fluorescent light R & K Verdigris looks like a dirty, dull gray. I've been using it daily at work over the past couple of weeks, under such lighting, and that's how it is.

I've compared it to two of the only inks I've tested which bear a passing resemblance to it: Noodler's Bad Blue Heron and Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher. You can clearly tell which inks are blue and which isn't.

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris vs Noodler's Bad Blue Heron vs Bad Belted Kingfisher

As far as saturation goes, it's pretty high.

Shading

To be fair, Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris redeems itself just a little by showing some decent (but not outstanding) shading. It's best seen in the q-tip samples but also a bit in the writing samples, although the latter suffer from another problem which I'm going to mention shortly.

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris shading


Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

It ghosts a little on cheap paper and the reverse side remains writable, though barely so.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Here's the second (and perhaps biggest) reason why I dislike Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris. Just like it's brand-mate Fernambuk, Verdigris is a dry ink. It flows poorly in the Kaweco, and also inconsistently. You can see that in my writing samples. Some lines are thick and wet, others thin and dry. In my book that's a big no-no.

Drying time

Thanks to its dryness, Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris dries very quickly, even on smooth Clairefontaine paper. Small comfort though.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

This is not a water resistant ink. After 30 seconds under running water most of it has washed off.

Conclusion

There's nothing positive I can say about Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris. There must have been a reason that determined me to buy a sample but I can't think of it for the life of me. Perhaps it looked better in other samples I saw online. In person, the color doesn't appeal to me (though I'm sure plenty of folk will love it) and the dryness and inconsistent flow are deal-breakers. I'd say buy it - only if you dare.

Here are the two writing samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris on photocopy

Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris on Clairefontaine

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fountain pens for sale - Aug 2014

UPDATE:

  • Free shipping (except for the Noodler's Flex)!
  • Buy all 3 pens for $80 shipped!
  • Buy both remaining pens for $50 shipped!

The time has come for me to cull my growing collection of fountain pens. Reviewing my usage patterns has revealed that, despite being excellent pens, there are a few that I simply don't use anymore.

These days, my daily pens consist almost exclusively of the Kaweco Sport Classic eyedropper, and the Pilot Vanishing Point, both with broad nibs. As a result, I've decided to clear up some of the inventory and hopefully finance a future pen or two with the proceedings.


#1 TWSBI Diamond 530 EF + B (piston version 1.5)

I've decided to sell my beloved TWSBI 530 because it's the original design and I really like the new 580AL which I'm hoping to acquire at some point.


My 530 comes with 2 nib units: the original EF (in perfect condition and a very smooth writer) and a B unit which is excellent and I absolutely adore thanks to a little spring in the nib.

HOWEVER - fair warning - the B unit has a cracked section. This is a known issue and design flaw that a lot of 530s have suffered from. The nib works just fine and the cracks are mostly cosmetic but I am not sure how long you'll be able to use it until (and if) the section completely splits open. You might be able to obtain a replacement section piece from TWSBI (who have great customer service). I didn't have time to contact them unfortunately. You could also use the flawless section piece from the EF unit if you wish, as the two are interchangeable. Here's what the cracked section looks like.


My TWSBI 530 comes with all the original stuff: cardboard box, display case, instructions, wrench, silicone grease, and, of course, the B nib unit (the nib unit alone is worth $20).

Asking Price: $45 shipped
Shipping: $5 via USPS
US only, sorry.


#2 Yellow Pilot Prera with M nib - SOLD!

I love the little yellow Prera but it's been (figuratively) gathering dust for a long time. I don't have a lot of medium nibs in daily use and this pen has been sadly neglected. It needs to go.


I'm also including a CON-50 converter, worth about $5. This version of the Prera DOES NOT come standard with a converter.


Otherwise, the pen is in excellent, like-new, condition. It even has the original M sticker on it.

Asking Price: $40 (shipped)
Shipping: $5 via USPS
US only, sorry.


#3 Noodler's Nib Creaper Flex in Lapis Inferno

I have an Ahab which is better in every way than the Nib Creaper so there's no point in holding on to this one. The Nib Creaper is barely used so it's pretty much in like-new condition. It comes with the original cardboard box.


Asking Price: $10
Shipping: $5 via USPS
US only, sorry.


I accept payment through Paypal only.
Pens are sold as-is. I've described them to the best of my ability. I'm not offering any warranty, and once money is exchanged and the package has shipped, no returns either.

If you are interested, please contact me via the email listed on the About/Contact page.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses ink review

With my recent reviews of burgundy inks - Diamine Syrah and Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses - I thought it might be fitting to end this "series" by reviewing the other ink in Noodler's Black Swan family, English Roses.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses (BSER) is a bit of a departure from strict burgundy, but it's close enough that I can put it in this category.

I reviewed this ink in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib, same as its Australian sister. The VP really helps bring out the qualities in the ink.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses shading


Bottle and pricing

I didn't have a whole bottle of BSER, just a sample. But a 3 oz / 90 ml bottle will set you back $12.50, same as most Noodler's inks. That amounts to $0.14 per milliliter. Dirt cheap!

Color and saturation

While Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses is still a shade of burgundy, it's definitely more brown than Australian Roses. The original formula of Australian Roses was redder, while the new formula is apparently purplish. But English Roses leans towards brown. In fact, the first thought that came to my mind when I saw it on paper was that it looks like dried blood.

Saturation is high.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses writing

Initially I didn't like it much, after just having transitioned from Australian Roses, but it quickly grew on me. Now, I'd say it's a wash between the two. It may be that I slightly prefer English Roses over the original formula Australian Roses.

Here's a comparison between English Roses, Australian Roses (original formula), Diamine Syrah, and Sailor Jentle Grenade (discontinued). Notice how brown Enlish Roses looks compared to the others.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses vs Australian Roses vs Diamine Syrah vs Sailor Jentle Grenade

Shading

English Roses is very pleasing shade-wise. The line variation with the Pilot Vanishing Point's broad nib is outstanding, and it confers a lot of personality to the ink. The springiness of the nib helps bring out this character even more.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses shading

Sometimes shading is complemented by sheen, and I'm happy to note that, under the right light, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses shows some interesting golden sheen, almost (but not quite) in the vein of J Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite. Don't get your hopes too high though, because this is hard to spot in written lines, but it can be seen in the q-tip swab.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses sheen

Feathering

There is a little bit of feathering on cheap photocopy paper unfortunately, but it's probably due in part to the high saturation of the ink, as well as the broad nib. It's nothing to worry about, especially since it's a non-issue on better paper.

Bleedthrough

Black Swan in English Roses will produce a little show-through (but not excessively so) on cheap paper, since, I re-iterate, it's a dark and saturated ink, and it was tested with a broad, wet nib. On Clairefontaine that's not an issue.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

I am extremely pleased with how Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses flows in my Pilot Vanishing Point. It is wet and very smooth, just the way I like it. Apart from that, there's nothing else to say, except maybe that it didn't dry once from non-use, despite using the pen briefly once a day. I guess that's also a testament to how good the VP is.

Drying time

Wet, saturated inks will usually have longer drying times and so is the case here. On cheap paper it can take up to 15-20 seconds to dry, with the broad nib, while on Clairefontaine that time can stretch beyond 30 seconds. That is a bit of a problem because one of the things I do with this ink and the Pilot VP is to jot down journal notes in a Clairefontaine 90g notebook. I have to be careful to let it dry thoroughly before I turn the page.

Smearing when dry

Surprisingly, despite the darkness and saturation, English Roses doesn't really smear, even on smooth, glossy Clairefontaine paper, provided enough drying time is allowed. That's in sharp contrast to Diamine Syrah which does smear. In fairness, if I rub it really hard, I can see just a little bit rubbing off but not if I casually touch the text with my skin. I suspect this resistance to smearing is partly due to its water resistance.

Water resistance

The inks in this family are water resistant and so is English Roses. Not completely, as you can see from the sample, but plenty, such that you won't lose valuable notes if you get them wet. A little dye does get washed away though.

Conclusion

I started out being a little "meh" about Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses but as I used it more and more, it quickly grew on me, to the point where I can confidently state that I like it a lot, perhaps even more than Australian Roses. Imagine a saturated, brown-leaning, water resistant burgundy ink with great flow and exquisite shading, and that would be a good description for Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses. If you can load it in an awesome pen like the Pilot Vanishing Point, even better. My recommendation is to buy yourself a bottle (if you like the color) while the current formula is still being made.

Here are the two samples, on photocopy 75g and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses on photocopy

Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses on Clairefontaine

Monday, August 11, 2014

2 things I don't like about Diamine Syrah

In my Diamine Syrah review I waxed poetically about how great this ink is. I will maintain my opinion (kind of), but in the meantime I discovered two things which made me cool down my assessment somewhat. Usually Diamine inks are very well behaved so I was surprised to discover that...

1. It stains plastic. Notice my Kaweco Sport demonstrator after I thoroughly washed it. I had to use copious amounts of rubbing alcohol and q-tips to get it clean again.



2. It smears on good/glossy paper (such as Clairefontaine 90g) even after it has had a week or more to dry. I used the Kaweco's broad nib so you might notice different behavior with a thinner nib.

In conclusion, caveat emptor.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ink Sample GIVEAWAY winner!


The ink sample giveaway has ended and we have a winner!


Congratulations to Anne Petersen (@apete06) who participated via Twitter!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (original formula) ink review

There's been some discussion lately surrounding Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (see here for example). What essentially happened is that one of the components in the original ink was changed subtly by the manufacturer of said component, without informing anyone of the fact, much less Nathan Tardif, the man behind Noodler's ink.

A lot of people were (understandably) up in arms over this incident and many were of the opinion that Nathan should have discontinued the "old" Black Swan in Australian Roses (BSAR) and instead named the new formulation something else. I tend to agree, for the simple fact that as an engineer I like version numbers. If the old one was version 1.0, the new one is version 2.0 and the two, while alike, are not identical.

I don't doubt the new formulation is just as beautiful, as in fact many people have confirmed, but I'm also sure it's not the same as the old. So in my personal opinion I think he should have probably retired the old BSAR and called the new formulation something different.

As luck would have it, I had a sample of the original formula Black Swan in Australian Roses, and despite not getting sufficient votes for it in my ink sample survey, I decided to review it in parallel with my last ink review, Diamine Syrah. Why? Because the two inks are pretty similar. Doing them in parallel allowed me to better see the differences.

Because it's such a special ink, I decided to load Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses in my special fountain pen: the Pilot Vanishing Point with a broad nib.

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses shading

Bottle and pricing

The new formulation of BSAR sells for $12.50 for a 3 oz / 90 ml bottle, or $0.14 per milliliter.

Color and saturation

In a nutshell, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (original formula :) is gorgeous. While initially I thought Diamine Syrah might have the edge, after using both inks in parallel some more, I came to the conclusion that I prefer Australian Roses.

To get a better idea, I compared the two inks with Sailor Jentle Grenade (also discontinued).

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses vs Diamine Syrah vs Sailor Jentle Grenade

All three inks are a dark shade of burgundy red but Australian Roses is redder and slightly lighter. All are also highly saturated. To continue the wine analogy started with Syrah, which resembles dark red wine, Australian Roses is somewhere between that and rose wine. I really love it and it almost makes me drink it. Thankfully it's not scented, or who knows what might happen.

For the record, I've been hearing that the new formulation is more purple than red. Hopefully I'll get the chance to test that one day.

Shading

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses is very playful in the shading department. The color variation is great, and depending how much the ink pools on paper when you write, it can vary from dark pink to deep burgundy. In that sense it beats Syrah. A wet swatch of both inks looks almost the same but as the ink starts to thin, BSAR gets lighter.

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses shading

In addition to shading, there's even some sheen, when viewed at just the right angle, but you would have to use a thicker nib to spot that.

Feathering

If you use cheap paper and a thick nib, and peer really closely, you might notice a little feathering. Otherwise, that's not an issue on good paper.

Bleedthrough

As in most such cases, using a broad nib on cheap paper with a dark, saturated ink, will at the very least produce some ghosting. Such is the case here, though it doesn't happen on Clairefontaine paper.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

There's nothing out of the ordinary to report here. Black Swan in Australian Roses flows well in the Pilot Vanishing Point, regardless of the broad nib. The flow was controlled, perhaps a bit on the wet side. The Pilot VP's broad nib has some spring to it and that certainly helps in getting more ink to flow if you press harder.

Drying time

Dark, saturated inks are a good recipe for long drying times on glossy, high quality paper like the Clairefontaine 90g I uses for one of the samples. It took around 30 seconds to dry on that paper, but less than 10 on absorbent photocopy paper. Even after 30 seconds, I would be careful of touching the written surface because it might still smear.

Smearing when dry

Yes and no. To elaborate, I would let it dry for a very long time before attempting to touch it. But after 24 hours or so it should be all dried out and smearing won't be an issue.

Water resistance

Apparently Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses is partially water resistant and that's exactly what I found. After 1 minute exposure to running water, some of the pink/red dye washes off but most of it remains, leaving the text perfectly legible. That's good enough for me.

Conclusion

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (old formula) marks the end of an icon. This beautiful ink has had a short but glorious life, if I'm to believe the hype surrounding it. That hype is well-founded though, because I found it to be a beautiful and unique burgundy ink, with great shading and good behavior, even offering the additional bonus of mild water resistance. I would recommend for you to go out and buy a bottle but I'm sure it's all been sold out at this point. You could always try the new formulation if you think that you're OK with a more purple ink. Myself, I'm a bit saddened that this ink is no more. I'm going to hold on to my remaining sample in case one day they'll be able to clone it.

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses shading

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses on photocopy

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses on Clairefontaine

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pilot Knight fountain pen review

My new friends at Pen Chalet sent me a very nice fountain pen to review: the Pilot Knight. Like the Metropolitan, this is a newer release from Pilot. Disclaimer: I received the pen free of charge but no other payment or incentive for this review, and all the opinions herein are my own.

For now, the Pilot Knight comes only in brushed silver finish with a medium nib. Pen Chalet has a pretty good deal on the Pilot Knight at the moment, 50% off list price, for only $24. If you use the coupon code PeninkCillin you can get an additional 10% off on your first order.

Packaging

The Pilot Knight comes in a large clamsheel-type case, with a vaguely leather-like texture. The case itself is inside a white card-stock box (not pictured).

Pilot Knight case

The clamshell case is larger than both the Metropolitan and the Vanishing Point I tested recently. In fact, it looks like there's space inside it for 3 pens. I don't understand why this is. It looks to me like a lot of wasted resources for such an inexpensive pen. However, my judgment might be warped by the half price sale. Perhaps this type of case would be more justified at the original $48 price.

Pilot Knight case

Underneath the tray insert Pilot includes a blue ink cartridge, an instruction manual, and a warranty card. Those are very similar to what's included with the Metropolitan and Vanishing Point so there was no point in photographing them again.

Body, construction, and dimensions

The Pilot Knight is a very handsome metal (likely brass) fountain pen, with brushed silver finish. Both the barrel and cap (as well as the clip) are metal, which gives it a hefty, solid weight.

It is, in fact, one of my heaviest pens (that I have weighed so far), heavier even than the metal-bodied Vanishing Point, and exactly 10 grams heavier than the Pilot Metropolitan. Here's a table comparing it with other pens I have weighed:

CappedUncapped
PenWeight (g)Weight (oz)Weight (g)Weight (oz)
Pilot Knight36.41.2821.60.76
Pilot Vanishing Point30.51.08--
Pilot Metropolitan26.40.9317.10.6
TWSBI Diamond 53025.70.91n/an/a
Lamy AL-Star21.80.77n/an/a
Noodler's Ahab18.80.66n/an/a
Pilot Prera16.10.56n/an/a

Lengthwise, the Knight is as follows:
Length capped: 13.5 cm / 5.25 in
Length un-capped: 11.5 cm / 4.5 in
Length posted: 14.5 cm / 5.75 in

Pilot Knight on case

While the weight might scare some folks off, it feels really good to me. It's well balanced but as is often the case, I prefer to use it unposted. With the cap posted I feel that it's too top heavy. I mean, the cap itself weighs almost 15 grams. The way I define "top heavy" is when I feel the pen starts to pivot upwards while resting between the thumb and index finger.

When posted, the cap is held on by friction. The fit is reasonably secure but I would still recommend pressing it hard from the get-go.

Pilot Knight posted

Shape-wise, the Knight resembles the Metropolitan in that it is roughly cigar-shaped (but a lot thinner) and tapers sharply at both ends. Here's where the resemblance ends.

Pilot Knight vs Metropolitan

At the barrel end, the Knight is cut off sharply, and if you look at the end of the butt, there's a round polished chrome insert. The Metropolitan, in comparison, is rounded smooth. I prefer the Knight's barrel end.

Pilot Knight vs Metropolitan barrel end

Moving down the barrel, where it meets the cap there's a thin polished chrome band. Nothing fancy but I think it's classier than the Metropolitan's wide band. But then again, the Metropolitan seems like a more casual pen.

Pilot Knight

One of the most striking features of the Pilot Knight is the cap, or rather the clip. It's spring-loaded and the action is very smooth. It clips nicely to a shirt pocket and holds on tightly. Being very smooth it won't snag or tear the fabric. The clip, as well as the finial, are polished chrome, like the rest of the trim.

Pilot Knight cap

The clip comes up, through, and over the finial, and hinges somewhere inside it. I'm not sure if this description makes sense but I hope the image above will assist you in visualizing it. When activated, you can see how the whole thing pivots. It's pretty cool.

Compared to the Metropolitan, there's a huge difference in the aesthetics of the cap and the clip. While the Metropolitan ends in a smooth rounded dome, with no finial to speak of, the Knight has a very nice asymmetrical conical finial, with the clip forming a point, almost like a spearhead. I guess that's where the "Knight" name comes from.

Pilot Knight vs Metropolitan caps

I neglected to take a photo of the filling system but if you want to see what a pump converter looks like, just check out the Pilot Metropolitan review because the Knight uses the exact same system. I talked about the downsides of this system in the other review so I won't repeat them here. Pilot also includes a blue ink cartridge but I installed the pump converter right away, and filled it with Noodler's Heart of Darkness. The Knight can also take a CON-50 converter and I really wish they had included one. The CON-50 is a far superior solution compared to the pump converter.

Here's a side-by-side shot of the Knight compared to the Metropolitan.

Pilot Knight vs Metropolitan

Notice that, while both pens have a glossy plastic section, the Knight's is shorter in length. The Metropolitan's section is also flared at the nib end, which might prevent fingers from slipping, while the Knight lacks the flare. However, despite being slippery, I haven't run into slip issues with either pen. I guess their weight (especially the Knight's) helps to keep it steady.

Finally, a shot of both Metropolitans (F and M) along with the Knight (M).

Pilot Knight vs Metropolitan

I think it's fair to say the Knight wins hands down in the looks department.

The nib

Not much to say here beyond what was already said in the Metropolitan review, because the Knight uses the exact same nib and feed as other Pilot pens, including the Prera. As such, I would expect it to write perfectly.

Pilot Knight uncapped

But does it write?

Despite all the praise I heaped upon the Pilot Knight so far, I was a bit disappointed to find out that it didn't write quite the same as the Metropolitan, even though both pens have identical feeds and medium nibs. The following sample should give you an idea of the differences.

Pilot Knight writing sample

So what's wrong? Well, if you haven't read the Metropolitan review, I'll just tell you that the medium nib (and the fine one in a smaller measure) impressed me hugely. I declared that medium nib to be the smoothest, with the best flow I've ever tested. The Knight's nib is neither as smooth, nor flows as well. It even had some skipping issues at first, until I used it some more, which perhaps helped to saturate the feed with more ink, and that in turn made it write without skipping. Still, the Knight's line remained thinner and lighter than the Metropolitan's.

My disappointment notwithstanding, the Knight wrote acceptably after "breaking it in", though it never equaled the Metropolitan. One possible explanation for this behavior is that the feed could have been covered in residual manufacturing oils, which can prevent proper flow. I didn't wash the pen before first use so it's a good an explanation as any. On the other hand I didn't wash the Metropolitan either.

Another, more likely explanation is that there will always be variation between these mass produced nibs. To be fair, the Metropolitan's nib is better even than the Prera's, and the latter is a $60 pen. So it boils down to luck of the draw.

The nib bears more testing, of course. I have given the system its first wash and we'll see how it performs afterwards. In the meantime, I did what anyone would do: I swapped the nibs and feeds between the Metropolitan and the Knight. The end result is a gorgeous pen which writes like a dream.

Final words

The Pilot Knight is a really impressive metal-bodied fountain pen with a modern design and clean, sharp looks. I'm sure it can impress in any boardroom or high-end office. For the $24 Pen Chalet is charging, it's frankly hard to beat. At the full price of $48, it becomes harder to recommend, chiefly because of the filling system. I feel that around the $50 mark, a fountain pen should have at least a twist converter. Yeah, I guess we've all been spoiled by pens such as the TWSBI, not to mention $2 Chinese pens which come standard with a converter.

As for the nib issue, I wouldn't sweat it too much. If I'm right about the manufacturing oils, this is a non-issue. Even if not, this isn't a problem specific to the Knight but rather a legacy to mass-produced nibs. As such, some of these nibs will perform outstanding, while others less so.

Personally I think the extra $9 over the Metropolitan is worth it for the superior looks and heavier body. If you are past the stage of a starter pen and would like something more distinguished, as long as you like a silver finish and a medium nib, you can't go wrong with the Pilot Knight.