Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 ink of the year

Have you read my 2011 fountain pen of the year article? In that case, a matching, 2011 ink of the year article was to be expected.

The situation is more complicated with inks because there are so many good ones out there and I have reviewed more inks than pens so you might think it's harder to pick a favorite ink. However, I have made up my mind and it wasn't too hard. Now, please remember that these are purely my personal preferences. Yours will vary (guaranteed).

Without further ado, the winner, and 2011 ink of the year, is... Waterman Havana Brown.

Waterman Havana Brown

This is the only Waterman ink I have tried so far but it was love at second sight. I didn't like it immediately but it grew on me quickly. I love how it flows in my TWSBI Diamond 530 and it has some enchanting shading. It tends a bit toward red rather than black but that gives it character and flavor.

Just look at it on Rhodia 80g paper. I this instance I used it in the Kaweco Sport Classic. I used broad nibs in both the Kaweco and TWSBI but it's a shame to use anything less with this ink.

Waterman Havana Brown Rhodia 80g

Waterman Havana is very well behaved, with no bleedthrough, feathering or smearing after it dries. It also dries fairly quickly.

The only thing that would have made this the perfect ink is the lack of water resistance. Yes, I have a thing for waterproof inks but not everyone feels the same. I would have loved to use it for my personal diary but I made a pledge to only use a water- or bulletproof ink in it so I can't use it there.

For me, Waterman Havana Brown has been the most fun-to-use ink in 2011. It you haven't tried it yet, you owe it to yourself to grab a sample. As for me, I hope to test other Waterman inks in 2012.

There's a second ink that I would like to mention. Once again, I bought a full bottle of it and the bottle itself played no small part in convincing me to spend extra on it, as opposed to buying a much cheaper sample. The ink in question is J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Rouge Hematite.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink bottle

The bottle is a small piece of art and since this ink was supposed to be a limited edition, I thought I would snag one before it disappeared from the market. Despite this, J Herbin 1670 is still being produced, a year later.

Never mind all that. This red ink is exquisite. It has the most amazing shading ever! Imagine dark crimson with shades of gold.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink sample

Sadly, I can't use this ink too often. I'm not an artist but sometimes I like to try my hand at some calligraphy with a flex pen or a Pilot Parallel. For those pens, this ink will work wonders because the line variation will allow the shading to reveal itself.

J Herbin Rouge Hematite is expensive. But it could be worth it to you. Even if not, the beautiful bottle will look amazing on your shelf and it's a great conversation piece.

That's about it for 2011. I have had fun with several interesting inks but for 2012 I have many more inks to test, especially since I won't be buying new fountain pens (hopefully). Here's to the future! What was your favorite ink in 2011?


  1. My favorite inks this year were totally different colors but both by the same manufacturer, Diamine.  They were Denim and Oxblood.

    I am not a huge fan of blacks, blues, or blue-blacks but wanted something for signatures on formal letters and the like.  Denim proved to be it.  The color is a perfect descriptor and I find that I am using it a lot more than I thought.

    Oxblood, again, is a perfect descriptor, reminding me somewhat of Oxblood penny-loafers.  (Boy, am I ever giving away my age. LOL)  When writing a casual letter to friends, I use this ink on ecru or slightly darker beige paper and the result is striking.

    Both inks are well behaved, something I have come to expect from the Diamine inks that I have, and at just under 16¢ per ml, it's not over the top expensive.

    As for the Waterman Havana Brown, I have heard a ton of good things about it and it just may be my next brown to try.

  2. As an alternative to Denim I would also recommend Majestic Blue. Wonderful color with great shading.

    Oxblood sounds interesting and I believe I might have a sample somewhere...

    What annoys me about Diamine is that they don't have many waterproof inks. If only Majestic Blue was waterproof...

  3. Majestic Blue for me is, well, too blue.  I like the jeans color look of Denim.  Inasmuch as I tend to favor extra fine or fine nibs the best of a shading ink, sadly, isn't always realized. 

  4. Gotcha! Denim actually looks very nice, not sure if it has a lot of shading but I'll put it on my list of future inks-to-be-tested.