Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monteverde Brown ink review and GIVEAWAY

As fate would have it, Jetpens were kind enough to send me another ink for review. This time I opted for a brown ink. I can't explain it but I have a weakness for brown inks. Maybe because I love chocolate, brown leather boots and my brown cargo pants. For the first time I'm also reviewing a Monteverde ink. I won't spoil it too much but suffice to say that it's a very good first impression. Read on to find out why Monteverde Brown is a pretty cool ink.

Oh and in the meantime, if you wish, you can subscribe to my Twitter, @Peninkcillin.

Monteverde Brown bottle on box

Jetpens is offering a bottle of Monteverde Brown exclusively to my readers. Head on to their giveaway page for a chance to win. NOTE: you will need to subscribe (or already be a subscriber) to Jetpens' newsletter before you can submit your entry for the giveaway. For existing subscribers, just enter your email and hit "Submit". If you are not already a subscriber there's a handy "Subscribe to our newsletter" box on the bottom right side. The giveaway runs from the time this review is posted until 02/26 11:59PM PST. Good luck!

Monteverde Brown open bottle
Now before I start, a quick side note about Monteverde. The company is pretty much a mystery to me but it seems it is US-based. At least that's what it says on the box, Monteverde USA. On their site they claim that materials used for their pens are sourced from Europe. I've long been interested in their fountain pen line and hopefully one day I'll get to review one.

One more thing about this ink. Monteverde claims their inks have ITF (ink treatment formula), which, I quote:
"- Drastically improves ink-flow quality.
- Extends cap-off time.
- Lubricates and protects the ink-feeding systems from corrosion and clogging.
- Improves ink-drying time on paper."
We shall find out if these claims are supported.

The writing samples in this review were done with my Lamy AL-Star, mainly with the EF nib but also with the 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm italics.

Bottle and pricing
There's nothing special about Monteverde ink bottles, though I am rather partial to the particular shade of green they chose to use for the box and label. The box itself has a window in the shape of the stylized Monteverde logo through which either the bottle can be seen, or a card/label in the color of the ink. I didn't photograph the card because it was ink-stained. Jetpens sells this ink for $12.50. A bottle holds 9ml / 3 oz, which makes it $0.14 per milliliter. That's one of the most inexpensive inks you can buy.

Monteverde Brown box & bottle

Color and saturation
Monteverde Brown is a fairly neutral, well, brown. It does have some red in it but I like it that way because it looks warmer. It is also fairly saturated. To get a better idea of the particular shade of color, I placed this ink next to 3 others that I had samples of. Here's how Monteverde Brown compares to Noodler's Polar Brown, Waterman Havana Brown and Noodler's #41 Brown.

Monteverde Brown 4 ink comparison

As you can see, the two Noodler's inks are similar and darker, tending towards black. Waterman Havana is more reddish but also colder in appearance. It drifts into burgundy territory. Monteverde Brown seems just right: warm and with just the perfect ratio of red to black. In a word, it's chocolaty.

Switching to my Noodler's Ahab flex pen, which I admit wasn't very expertly adjusted, the very wet flow produced almost black text. You can see this in the Clairefontaine sample below.

Monteverde Brown on Clairefontaine

Just for fun I thought I would take a shot of the three q-tips I used to sample Monteverde Brown, Noodler's Polar Brown, and Waterman Havana Brown, after they were laid on tissue paper. It's fascinating to see how the ink sometimes breaks up into its components when it's absorbed into the paper. As you can see, Monteverde is pretty consistent, there isn't much breakup there. Polar Brown, on the other hand, shows a surprising amount of orange, while Waterman Havana is also dark brown but with reddish tints.

Monteverde Brown qtip comparison

I just love me a shading ink, and Monteverde Brown fails to disappoint. Shading + brown = win. As soon as I laid the first stroke after filling my Lamy AL-Star I exclaimed "Wow!". In fact I felt compelled to write that down in my review sample. This ink has very nice shading which can be clearly discerned even with the European-EF nib I had in the Lamy. You may have noticed on the Clairefontaine sample that switching to an italic nib reveals the shading even more. Even the brown-black text written with the Ahab shows a little shading.

Monteverde Brown shading

I didn't notice any feathering, except where the J Herbin glass dip pen was used, but that falls within normal parameters considering the cheap paper.

Bleedthrough is not an issue with Monteverde Brown, however it ghosts a little on cheap paper, but that's only to be expected of a dark ink.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
Two other traits that I highly value in an ink are smoothness and flow. I prefer my inks to flow wet. Monteverde Brown satisfies in no small measure and I would give it a 7/10, perhaps even 8/10 for wetness.

Did I say I also liked smoothness? Oh boy, this ink feels smooth as silk. It really is a pleasure to write with. Even while typing this review I found myself picking up the Lamy and just randomly scribbling something on paper. All this despite the fact that the EF nib in my Lamy is a tiny bit scratchy. Yet, the scratchiness seems to be gone with Monteverde's ink.

Drying time
Drying times in general vary depending on the quality of the paper. There's very little exception here. On photocopy paper Monteverde Brown dries somewhere after the 5-second mark. On Rhodia 80g, however, it takes considerably longer. Because this paper is so glossy, even after 40 seconds it still wasn't completely dry. Of course this is also dependent on how wet your pen writes. For drier nibs this may not be the case, so your mileage may vary.

One additional thing I'd like to mention here is that if you plan to use, say, a flex nib on high quality paper, like I did on Clairefontaine, you will most likely need to let it rest for a very long time before it dries completely, due to the heavy layer of ink that will be deposited.

Smearing when dry
None, but you really gotta let it dry before you try anything, doubly so on very high quality paper. On cheap paper, not so much, it dries fast and it is absorbed quickly by the paper.

Water resistance
Water resistance is not on the list of features for this ink so you can't expect any. As you can see from the sample below, 30 seconds under running water (in fact even less) completely obliterates my testing grid.

It looks like Monteverde nailed it with their brown ink. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this brand, especially since I could swear I hadn't heard of them a few years ago. The ITF (ink treatment formula) claims don't seem 100% supported because the ink's drying time depends a lot on the paper used but I don't find that a big deal, especially considering that it does seem to keep writing even after I've uncapped my pen for about 10 minutes.

Monteverde Brown has quickly become one of my favorite brown inks (perhaps even trumping Waterman Havana Brown) thanks to its combination of beautiful color and shading, incredible smoothness, and great flow. As far as I'm concerned, Monteverde Brown gets as close to brown ink Nirvana as can be. I highly recommend it, and who knows, if you are the lucky one you might just win yourself a bottle of it courtesy of Jetpens.

Monteverde Brown on photocopy

Monteverde Brown on Rhodia


  1. Another excellent review. My current favorite brown is Waterman Havana. I shall have to try the Monteverde for myself as it looks like a winner.

  2. Havana used to be my favorite but this one trumps it. That's not to say that Havana isn't a great ink.

  3. Much to my surprise I am starting to appreciate brown inks. I just got a sample of Diamine Ancient Copper that I am enjoying. It is another red-brown, but it looks like it is lighter than the Monteverde Brown.

  4. That looks like a very interesting color. Copper is a good word for it. It looks orange-reddish but different from everything I've tested so far. Who knows, maybe I'll get a sample of it after I finish going through all the samples I already possess.