Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Noodler's Bernanke Blue ink review

This, my friends, will be my last new ink review for a good while. I have reached the last of my ink samples and, after blogging about fountain pens and inks for more than 4 years, I will be taking a break from it all to focus on other, unrelated, projects.

I wish I could say I saved the best ink for last, but alas it's not the case. My opinion of Noodler's Bernanke Blue started out on a very positive note but quickly plummeted as I continued to use it in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Noodler's Bernanke Blue with Pilot VP

Bernanke Blue (leaving aside the attempted political statement) is yet another specialty ink in Noodler's seemingly unending arsenal of "curiosities". This particular ink's strength is the ability to dry extremely quickly on paper. If this ink was conceived as quickly as it dries, I can begin to understand why it is so bad otherwise.

I could just tell you to stop reading at this point and simply skip this ink, but if you're curious to find out why I didn't like it, keep reading.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 90 ml / 3 oz
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

The only positive thing about Noodler's Bernanke Blue (it's all downhill from here) is the gorgeous blue color. It's saturated and vibrating, resembling Baystate Blue to an extent, except a bit subdued. When I first started writing with it I thought "Wow, this is going to be an amazing ink!". Sigh. If only.

Here is Bernanke Blue compared to Noodler's Baystate Blue and Private Reserve Electric DC Blue, two blue inks that are fairly similar in vibrancy and saturation.

Noodler's Bernanke Blue vs Noodler's BSB vs PR Electric DC Blue

Shading

Despite what you might see in the comparo above, Noodler's Bernanke Blue is flat, without shading, when written with a fountain pen.

Feathering

Here's where the problems start. This ink feathers like crazy on cheap paper. It goes, in fact, a little beyond that, because it feels like writing on blotting paper. It just goes right through the paper and spreads evenly in all directions.

Bleedthrough

If you thought feathering was a problem, wait till you see how it bleeds. I've never seen an ink penetrate cellulose as strongly as Bernanke Blue. It feels almost exactly like one of those alcohol-based felt-tip markers (the Pilot VP's broad nib helps).

The sample below was written on Clairefontaine 90g paper, in other words very good, thick, fountain pen-friendly paper, which has withstood everything I threw at it - until now. This ink penetrated not only through what you see, but in places where I pressed harder it went through the next sheet. I did use a broad nib, which partly contributes to this state of affairs, but still...

Noodler's Bernanke Blue bleed

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

While initially Bernanke Blue flowed well and was very smooth, it quickly became apparent that I was having issues with the Pilot Vanishing Point. There were hard starts to be had, as well as a lot of skipping. It got so frustrating that I simply cleaned out the pen despite not being empty, then threw out the remaining ink from the sample vial.

Drying time

The flagship feature of Noodler's Bernanke Blue is its very short drying time. So how did that go? Quite well in fact. On cheap paper it dries virtually immediately, within 1-2 seconds. On Clairefontaine 90g it took about 1 second longer but that's still fairly short. Impressive? Well, it's oh-kay, but unfortunately this one "trick" doesn't make up for all the other drawbacks.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Another disaster. In what is quite atypical of Noodler's inks, Bernanke Blue has zero water resistance. My 1 minute test (under flowing water) was probably overkill but as you can see in the sample at the end of the review, in contact with water it obfuscated, dissipated, and blurred to oblivion.

Conclusion

So should you bother with Noodler's Bernanke Blue? A resolute no. Yes, it is a beautiful shade of blue. Yes, it dries fast. No, everything else. The shortcomings of this ink are disastrous and simply not worth it. There are much better blue inks out there that take an extra 1-2 seconds to dry but are so much more bearable in all other aspects.

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

Noodler's Bernanke Blue on photocopy

Noodler's Bernanke Blue on Clairefontaine

Monday, June 29, 2015

Jinhao 599 fountain pen review

This was a long time in a-coming but here it is: a review of the Jinhao 599 fountain pen I picked up on eBay almost a year ago for $2.75, including shipping from China. If you're looking for a similar bargain you might have to do what I did: watch several auctions at once and place minimum bids on the ones that are closing soon. Eventually you'll win a pen.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen

What is the Jinhao 599?

Apart from the obvious - a fountain pen - the Jinhao 599 is very clearly a Chinese clone of the German Lamy Safari / Vista. My copy is transparent smoke plastic, which puts in it line with the Lamy Vista.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen

The 599 isn't an exact replica, and that is also very obvious. However, plenty of design cues were poached straight from Lamy's classic line of fountain pens. More on this later.

Why would anyone, then, buy such an imitation? Well, the answer that comes to mind is that the Jinhao 599 is very cheap for a fountain pen, rather understated as Chinese pens go, and comes with a international sized piston converter, which can't be said for the Lamy Safari family.

Packaging

I'm afraid I don't recall if the pen came in a box or not. I believe it was inside a rather cheap-feeling cardboard box which I disposed of shortly.

Body, construction, and dimensions

My Jinhao 599 is, as previously mentioned, made out of transparent smoke-colored plastic. There are other variations out there, in a multitude of colors. I was also surprised to find out recently that there's a version made entirely out of metal (brass if I'm not mistaken), but covered in glossy paint, such that it resembles the plastic Lamy Safaris are made of. Those metal 599s look so good in the eBay pictures that I was tempted to buy a whole dozen of them in all the colors.

Here are some dimensions for the Jinhao 599:
Length capped: 137 mm / 5.4 in
Length uncapped: 129 mm / 5.08 in
Length posted: 165 mm / 6.5 in
Cap length: 65 mm / 2.56 in

Here's the weight, compared to other pens I've tested:
Jinhao 599 (with cap) - 17.8g - 0.63oz
Jinhao 599 (without cap) - 10.5g - 0.37oz
Pilot Vanishing Point (with cartridge and blind cap) - 30.5g - 1.08oz
TWSBI 530 (no ink) - 25.7g - 0.91oz
Lamy AL-Star (with converter) - 21.8g - 0.77oz
Noodler's Ahab (no ink) - 18.8g - 0.66oz
Pilot Prera (with converter) - 16.1g - 0.56oz

As you can see, this is among the lightest fountain pens that crossed my path. I don't mind that, it actually feels good to pick up.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Posted

The body construction looks very decent, and there are no blemishes or sharp edges. It feels very well machined. The Chinese have really got this inexpensive manufacturing down to a fine art. Of course, there are controversies regarding this, but let's not go there.

The resemblance to the Lamy Safari/Vista is strong, as mentioned. Unfortunately I don't have my Lamy AL-Star anymore, to compare, but the cross-section of the body is almost a mirror image to the Lamy: a flattened circle. The Jinhao log is embossed at one of the ends, almost in mockery to Lamy's identical design.

To add insult to injury, the Jinhao's section is also triangular, same as the Lamy's trademarked one. Some people don't like the feel of the triangular grip but I like it just fine.

The cap is slightly different, with a shiny flat black and opaque finial holding the clip. If there's one thing that distinguishes the Jinhao 599 from a Lamy, it's the clip. Compared to the Lamy's thick wire clip, the Jinhao's is rather pedestrian, in the form of a flat chromed blade with rounded edges and a slightly curving tip. It's also split along the middle and features a tiny logo which I believe resembles a horse-drawn cart. Like the Lamy, the Jinhao's cap is snap-on.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Uncapped

The cap posts firmly and securely on the end of the barrel.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Posted

Finally, the section is separated from the barrel by a chrome trim ring, again deviating from a Lamy.

The Jinhao 599 one-ups the Lamy family by including an international piston converter (it also accepts international cartridges). It's not the highest quality but it does its job. In contrast, a Lamy converter costs almost twice as much as what I paid for the 599 itself, and is also proprietary, meaning that it only accepts Lamy converters and cartridges. Now that's what I call value!

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Uncapped, Barrel Off

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen component parts

A closer look at the nib

The nib, along with the feed, also differ from those in a Lamy pen. They are, in fact, quite pedestrian, and look like any other nib and feed you've seen before.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Nib & Section

I have no idea what size the nib is. It feels somewhere between a medium and a fine. Let's say Japanese medium or European extra-fine.

The nib is engraved, rather delicately and precisely, with the word "Jinhao" and "18KGP" below that. If the 18KGP is meant to signify a gold nib, that must be a joke because this nib is quite hard and stiff. Besides, the price point invalidates the presence of a gold nib.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Nib & Section

If you're wondering whether the nib and the feed can be pulled out easily, well, the answer lies in the image below. Yes, they can be pulled out with your fingers.

Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen component parts

But does it write?

I wasn't too impressed with the Jinhao X750's performance when I reviewed it the first time or the second time around. This made me a bit wary about the 599. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wrote quite well, considering the price point and how hard the nib is.

The nib is smooth and the tines were well aligned right out of the gate. If the ink is primed correctly, it doesn't skip at all, and writes consistently, although it does seem to prefer better quality paper. I used Noodler's Heart of Darkness in it and I have to admit that, perhaps due to the thinness of the nib, it doesn't come out as dark as I would like. I'm guessing another ink would do it more justice.

Here's a sample written with the Jinhao 599 on Clairefontaine 90g paper.

Jinhao 599 writing sample

Final words

Being 95% satisfied with the Jinhao's 599 performance, I plan to make it my permanent work instrument, replacing the Kaweco Sport Classic that I've been using for so long. I'll probably change the ink with something else, but I'm looking forward to using this pen in an official capacity. It also helps that the design is very understated, as Chinese fountain pens go, since they usually tend to be gaudy and flamboyant.

What more is there to say? The Jinhao 599 was one of my best purchases and I can't recommend it highly enough, especially at this price. If you are patient you too can snag one for less than $3, shipped. It's well worth it. There's always the chance that quality control is spotty and your version might be a dud, but hey, at least you're not spending dozens or even hundreds of dollars on a pen that won't write out of the box.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Diamine China Blue ink review

I bought this sample of Diamine China Blue some time ago because I was attracted by the exotic name. It wasn't too bad looking either, judging from other reviews I'd seen. I tested it in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Diamine China Blue with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

Quick note here. To my dismay, when I was putting this review together, I noticed that Diamine has increased their ink prices across the board, by roughly $2 per bottle. While still relatively inexpensive, I'm a bit saddened that this happened. Here are the new prices then. Notice the price per milliliter jumped by $0.02.

Bottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price: $14.95
Price / ml: $0.19

Color and saturation

Diamine China Blue is a medium saturated blue, quite similar to denim. It looks darker when freshly written and still wet, but it resembles a faded pair of blue jeans when it dries.

In the comparison below, Diamine China Blue is set against Private Reserve Invincible Aqua Blue, and Waterman Florida Blue. These are the closest colors to China Blue that I could find among my previously reviewed inks, especially PR Aqua Blue (which is discontinued). Notice how China Blue is just a little less vibrant than Waterman Blue and perhaps a fraction warmer in tone.

Diamine China Blue vs PR Invincible Aqua Blue vs Waterman Florida Blue

Shading

Diamine China Blue shows a fair amount of shading, even though it might not be apparent at first. Your results may vary, of course, but a thicker nib will bring our the color variance nicely.

Diamine China Blue shading

Feathering

I'm a little on the fence here. Diamine China Blue seems to be causing a tiny bit of feathering on cheap paper with the broad nib but I'd wager that doesn't happen with a medium or thinner nib on the same paper. That's definitely not the case on Clairefontaine.

Bleedthrough

While it doesn't outright show through on cheap paper, China Blue exhibits enough ghosting to be iffy on this type of paper, provided you want to use both sides. I still do though, but it's mostly for jotting down random notes, so it doesn't matter to me.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Diamine China Blue is very smooth in the Kaweco Sport. It is also rather wet, which probably contributes a little to the small amounts of feathering and ghosting. As mentioned before, it looks much darker when it is freshly laid on paper but lightens up as it dries. In general I like that in an ink, because it's almost like it has two personalities.

Drying time

On cheap paper Diamine China Blue dries almost instantly, aided perhaps by the good absorption rate. On Clairefontaine it took close to 1 minute to dry completely, although in fairness that's what usually happens with a combination of broad nib and wet ink.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

This isn't a water resistant ink and it shows. My standard test which exposes the ink to water for 1 minute didn't wipe it out completely, and there are still faint traces of it on paper, but I wouldn't expose it to moisture.

Conclusion

Diamine China Blue is a fairly run-of-the-mill blue ink, well behaved overall, with no single feature standing out but that's just fine because it makes for a reliable ink. The blue color is pleasing, dependent on your tastes of course, and you can definitely use it in an official capacity. Just make sure to use it on higher quality paper because it doesn't play very nice with the cheap stuff. Personally I'm not big on blue inks, especially since I prefer even more personality (read deeper shading and unique tone) but I can still recommend China Blue without any reservations.

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

Diamine China Blue on photocopy

Diamine China Blue on Clairefontaine

Sunday, May 31, 2015

J Herbin Vert Pre ink review

This will probably be my last green ink review for a while, so I present J Herbin Vert Pre, reviewed in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

J Herbin Vert Pre shading with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 30 ml / 1 oz
Price: $11
Price / ml: $0.37

Color and saturation

I'll say this from the get-go: Vert Pre is a type of green very similar to the other J Herbin green ink I reviewed (of which I own a bottle), Vert Olive. The only major difference between them is that Vert Pre is slightly less saturated and lighter than Vert Olive. Otherwise, all features apply to both equally. At this point I could just call it a day and refer you to the Vert Olive review but I'll keep going.

The best way to tell the difference between the two is to imagine Vert Pre as lime green, and Vert Olive as olive green (as the name actually translates).

Below is a better comparison between the two inks, as well as Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun, which is somewhat similar to the two, only darker and avocado-ish.

J Herbin Vert Pre vs J Herbin Vert Olive vs Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun

Whichever variation you prefer, J Herbin Vert Pre remains in good company and is a beautiful ink on its own.

Shading

J Herbin Vert Pre features very nice shading, almost on par with Vert Olive. It's probably less only due to the fact that it's lighter in color. To benefit the most from the shading I would recommend a broader nib, but only on good, fountain pen-friendly paper.

J Herbin Vert Pre text shading with Kaweco

Feathering

Unfortunately I forgot to mention feathering in my copy paper written review, but here it goes. Vert Pre is a wet, watery ink and because of that it feathers a fair amount on cheap paper. It can't be helped, but in this respect it behaves very similarly to Vert Olive, as well as a couple of other J Herbin inks that I didn't particularly enjoy: Diabolo Menthe and Bleu Azur. If you don't use this on cheap paper you'll be fine though, because this is definitely a non-issue on good stuff, such as Clairefontaine or Rhodia.

Bleedthrough

Linked to the above point, being a wet and watery ink, J Herbin Vert Pre will bleed on very cheap paper, especially if both sides are written. In my copy paper review I stated that it only ghosts a little. This is true on the condition that you only use one side of the paper. As soon as you start writing on the reverse, though, things change. The cheap paper acts as a saturated sponge and spreads the ink throughout the fibers, causing it to both feather and bleed significantly.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

J Herbin Vert Pre flows really well - flawlessly in fact - through the Kaweco's broad nib. Apart from that, it bears stressing once again that this ink is pretty wet.

Drying time

Drying happens quickly - almost instantly - on cheap paper. On good paper the situation is reversed, and it usually takes around 30 seconds for it to dry completely, accounting of course for the broad nib.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

As is the case with all the inks in this "series", J Herbin Vert Pre is completely non-water resistant. Keep it far away from any form of moisture.

Conclusion

J Herbin Vert Pre is another hit in J Herbin's "hit & miss series". OK, I made this up but you know what I mean: I didn't enjoy the light blue inks in the family but I adore the greens. It's a gorgeous ink with a unique color and great shading, which flows well and performs nicely on good paper. The only caveat is that I wouldn't recommend it for cheap paper, at least not with a broad nib. Should you buy it? A resolute yes! The only question remains: this or Vert Olive? Personally I'd still pick Vert Olive by a slim margin.

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

J Herbin Vert Pre on photocopy

J Herbin Vert Pre on Clairefontaine

Monday, May 25, 2015

Noodler's X-Feather ink review

I find it fascinating how a small, boutique ink maker like Noodler's can offer not only a vast range of colors, but also a large variety of specialized ink features. But perhaps that's the secret: a 1-man company like Noodler's can be a lot more flexible than a large corporation.

Today's special ink is X-Feather, an ink that is designed specifically to resist feathering on poor quality paper. Feathering is the process by which the ink spreads through the paper via the fibers. Different inks have different spreading "ability". In general it's considered a good thing to control this spreading as much as possible. This is where Noodler's X-Feather comes in. If I'm not mistaken, Nathan Tardiff (Noodler's owner) designed X-Feather with newspaper crossword puzzles in mind. We all know how poor quality newspaper sheet is, and generally we'd like to avoid using fountain pen ink on it.

Noodler's X-Feather with Pilot VP

I tested the sample (that I've been saving for a long time) in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib. The broad nib should make the test even more poignant, as thick nibs put more ink to the paper.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 90 ml / 3 oz
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

Noodler's X-Feather is a dark shade of highly saturated black. It looks a tad darker than Heart of Darkness and about on par with Private Reserve Invincible Black. Check out the comparison below. I included Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia just for kicks, despite not being a black ink.

Noodler's X-Feather vs PR Invincible Black vs Noodler's HOD vs Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia

Shading

You wouldn't expect much shading in a dark black ink, and that is true here, but X-Feather manages to surprise in a different way, by exhibiting a high amount of sheen.

Noodler's X-Feather Sheen

Yes, this is how the q-tip swab looks after it has dried up. Very cool. If I were to take a shot in the dark, I'd guess the sheen is part of the feathering-resist mechanism.

Feathering

Here we are at the crux of the matter. Is X-Feather really resistant to feathering or is it just clever marketing? I'm happy to report that it does, indeed, do a good job at holding the line intact and tightly controlling any ungainly spreading.

I have tested X-Feather on cheap photocopy paper (see the sample at the bottom), on cheap and flimsy notebook paper, as well as on newspaper. In fact here's a close-up of the newspaper sample below.

Noodler's X-Feather on newspaper

Granted, the lines in the latter aren't perfectly sharp but I believe that's more of a paper issue, because the paper itself has an uneven surface. To me it looks like the ink is part of the print. Thus, I declare Noodler's X-Feather worthy of its name.

Bleedthrough

Interestingly, Noodler's X-Feather also does a great job controlling bleed, even on cheap paper. There is a little ghosting because this is, after all, a black ink, but it doesn't bleed. Once again, I believe this is a positive side-effect from the feathering resistance.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Noodler's X-Feather flows very smoothly in the Pilot Vanishing Point. It's rather wet, but also feels thick and dense, almost like soot. If I didn't know better I'd say this is pigment ink.

Drying time

One thing that I don't appreciate as much as all the other features is the drying time. X-Feather takes around 1 minute to fully (more like 99%) dry on Clairefontaine 90g paper, which is pretty long in my book. That time drops down to about 15 seconds on copy paper. I suspect this is due to the fact that most of the ink stays on top of the paper instead of penetrating the fibers deeply. Again, all connected with the feathering resistance and the lack of bleed.

Smearing when dry

Kind of. You see, X-Feather is one of those inks that needs to be left to dry properly before even thinking about touching the paper. Even after it dries, I'd be very careful around shiny and good quality paper. On copy paper, you can still get it to smear a little if you rub it hard but that shouldn't be an issue in normal use.

Water resistance

As an added bonus, X-Feather is also water resistant. As you can see in the sample below, exposure to water for 1 minute left it virtually untouched. While this is not the headline feature, it's always nice to have.

Conclusion

Noodler's Ink has produced another hit with X-Feather. This ink wears its name proudly and does it good justice. It is also a pleasure to write with, being smooth and wet, and even offers excellent water resistance. The only things that keeps it from a perfect 10/10 are the long drying times and the possibility of smearing. However, these won't stop me from highly recommending it, especially if you need the unique feature of feathering resistance which, to my knowledge, no other ink offers as a main selling point. Even as a simple black ink, X-Feather won't disappoint. To top it all off, this special ink is priced the same as most regular inks in Noodler's lineup.

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

Noodler's X-Feather on photocopy

Noodler's X-Feather on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Noodler's Shah's Rose ink review

A review of Noodler's Shah's Rose has been a long time coming. This is one of the first inks I had heard of when the fountain pen craze first struck, around 2011. By now, everyone and their grandma has reviewed Noodler's Shah's Rose. Perhaps because of that, I didn't feel a lot of pressure to review the sample I bought some time ago. Now its time has come.

Noodler's Shah's Rose shading with Kaweco

I reviewed Noodler's Shah's Rose in my Kaweco Sport Classic with eyedropper conversion.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 90 ml / 3 oz
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

Noodler's Shah's Rose is a magenta/rose/pink/red ink. There's a little bit of each of those words in it. It is vibrant and saturated, and strongly reminds me of roses, which makes the name very apt. At the same time, it's also a dark pink, depending how you choose to look at it.

In the photocopy sample (at the bottom of the review) I compared Shah's Rose to two of the red inks I own: Noodler's Nikita and J Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite. I'm kind of comparing apples to oranges here but I just wanted to illustrate how this ink compares to neutral red.

A more apt comparison is the one below, where I'm pitting Shah's Rose against two other pink inks: Diamine Cerise and Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk.

Noodler's Shah's Rose vs Diamine Cerise vs R&K Fernambuk

In this case you'll notice how Shah's Rose is the darkest of the three, while Cerise is brighter, and Fernambuk is the least saturated, as well as duller. Shah's Rose also seems to have better shading than the other two.

Shading

Noodler's Shah's Rose features some decent color variation. While not as pronounced as other inks, it's definitely there so if you want to experience that, you'll be better served by a thicker/broad nib.

Noodler's Shah's Rose shading

Feathering

No.

Bleedthrough

No, but there's a little ghosting on cheap paper due to the high saturation.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Noodler's Shah's Rose flows very smoothly in my Kaweco Sport. It feels just right, falling perhaps a little on the wet side.

Drying time

It dries quickly on cheap paper but on Clairefontaine it takes its sweet time. As you can see from the sample, depending how thick the line is, it can take 30 seconds or so for it to dry completely.

Smearing when dry

No.

Water resistance

Interestingly, Shah's Rose is not meant to be water resistant but it can stand up to water just as well. You'll notice in the sample below that exposing it to 1 minute under running water washed only a little bit away, while most of it remained perfectly legible.

Conclusion

Noodler's Shah's Rose remains the quintessential magenta ink for those who love the color. It is overall a well behaving ink, with no weaknesses that I can discern. It even features a little bonus water resistance. Personally I'm not very fond of magenta/pink inks so I wouldn't buy a bottle but I still think it's a beautiful color, and I highly recommend it.

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

Noodler's Shah's Rose on photocopy

Noodler's Shah's Rose on Clairefontaine

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Private Reserve Invincible Black ink review

Private Reserve Invincible Black is one of those inks that seem to have vanished from the market between the time when I bought the sample and now, when I finally got the chance to review it. It's quite a shame since waterproof inks (which it is) are not in every manufacturer's portfolio. Outside of Noodler's, not many brands seem to care about this segment. Unfortunately it seems that PR has sent its Invincible inks (along with PR Invincible Aqua Blue which I fancied) along the way of the dodo.

Read the review for curiosity or nostalgia sake but I'm not sure where you'd find this ink if you wanted it.

Private Reserve Invincible Black with Pilot VP

I reviewed the sample in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: unknown
Price: unknown
Price / ml: unknown

Color and saturation

Private Reserve Invincible Black is, well, black. A very dark black in fact. Side by side with Noodler's Heart of Darkness it looks even darker.

I also compared it with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia, just for reference, even though the latter isn't technically black.

Private Reserve Invincible Black vs Noodler's HOD vs Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia

Shading

Private Reserve Invincible Black is black as the night and thus pretty much flat.

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

PR Invincible Black bleeds less than I would have expected, even on cheap paper. There's evidently some ghosting but even that comes more from the contrast between the very dark ink and thin white paper than from actual penetration.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Invincible Black flows nicely and smoothly in the Pilot Vanishing Point with the broad nib unit. However, I have noticed that it likes to dry up rather quickly in the pen, within a few hours. This makes for hard starts and it's definitely not a feature I appreciate, especially in my most expensive pen.

Drying time

Here's the rub. Umm, pun not intended, but you'll see... Private Reserve Invincible Black dries reasonably fast on cheap paper and even the shinier and more expensive stuff like the Clairefontaine 90g sample. Keep reading...

Smearing when dry

Following up on the previous section, this ink is quite prone to smudging when rubbed. So even though it is technically dry, it needs a lot more time to become inert, and even then you can still get it to smear a little if you rub it hard.

Water resistance

As advertised, Private Reserve Invincible Black is completely water resistant and immune to the elements (not sure about acid rain though).

Conclusion

This review might have been all for nothing, considering Private Reserve Invincible Black has been discontinued, but it was interesting, nonetheless, to see how it behaves in relation to other waterproof inks. Overall it's a decently performing ink, with two exceptions: the drying up inside the pen and the fact that it likes to stain containers, including the Pilot VP's converter. Since it's extinct, if you are looking for a black water resistant ink my only option is to recommend one of many such variations that Noodler's makes, including Heart of Darkness and another black ink that I will review soon.

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

Private Reserve Invincible Black on photocopy

Private Reserve Invincible Black on Clairefontaine