Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk ink review

With Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk I'm yet again stepping in unknown territory by reviewing a new ink manufacturer. It's been a while since I reviewed a pink ink and while I realize that perhaps not many folks may be interested in such an ink, this is what I decided to pick for my everyday "red" pen. This is just a Pilot Varsity filled with red (-ish) ink that I keep at work for underlining and making notes. Since this is not my main note-taking pen, it takes a long time to exhaust the reserve, hence the infrequent review of red/pink/magenta inks.

Bottle and pricing
Rohrer & Kingner's bottles are small and dainty and retro-looking. They hold 50ml / 1.7oz and cost $12, which makes the ink rather expensive at $0.24 / ml. Unfortunately I don't have a full bottle to photograph and show you since I'm testing a sample. But you can easily google it.

Color and saturation
Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk is a hot pink ink, very similar to the other hot pink ink I reviewed a while back, Diamine Cerise. You can see a comparison below. While both are highly saturated, Cerise trumps Fernambuk for vibrancy of color. Fernambuk is more subdued, yet I can see how some might appreciate it more.

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk vs Diamine Cerise

You might be forgiven to think that R&K Fernambuk is flat but it actually has some shading, though subtle. It is mostly evident in the q-tip sample but if you squint you might also notice it in the normal writing sample. In all, there's nothing to write home about.

There's no feathering unless you count the glass dip pen which feathers with almost any ink.

Surprisingly for such a light colored ink, it actually ghosts a little on low quality paper, and it can even bleed through if applied liberally on said paper.

Flow, lubrication and smoothness
I love me a wet-flowing ink but this one doesn't seem to be it. Granted, the Pilot Varsity isn't a paragon of wet-flow but it performs consistently with inks that aren't too dry. With R&K Fernambuk it managed to write without skipping but the nib feels dry and I don't get much pleasure when writing. So, it flows without enthusiasm in the Varsity but it is perhaps suited to a thicker nib.

Drying time
Because it's such a dry-feeling ink, it translates into swift drying times on both cheap and more expensive paper, photocopy and Rhodia respectively.

Smearing when dry

Water resistance
Fernambuk isn't a water resistant ink, plain and simple. After 30 seconds of exposure to flowing water most of it washes off.

I'm having a hard time finding anything that I like about Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk. While the color is pretty, I can't get over the dryness of the ink (similar to J Herbin Diabolo Menthe), and this is a deal-breaker for me. Even the color is nothing out of the ordinary. If you prefer something more vibrant you can always go with Diamine Cerise which seems to be a much better (and far cheaper) substitute. While my first introduction to Rohrer & Klingner inks wasn't very successful, I'm not prepared to give up on the brand. There are other inks in the lineup that I am interested in reviewing.

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk on photocopy

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk on Rhodia


  1. R&K inks, in general, are not favorites of mine. I didn't find them particularly well behaved and the colors were nothing special.

  2. Good to know. Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind testing other colors in the range, just to convince myself that this pink one wasn't just an outlier.

  3. Give the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink a try! It's my favorite dark purple, and I love the shading on it.

  4. Isn't iron gall a little tough on pens? I'll definitely consider it but I'll have to go through my remaining samples first. Still got 20 or so left.

  5. It's a modern formulation, so it doesn't need any more care than perhaps you might take with a very saturated ordinary fountain pen ink. The Goulets say that cleaning the pen out once a week is recommended, and that it's not ideal for all pen types, but I've used it so far in a broad nib Vanishing Point, F nib Pelikan M150, a Sheaffer Connaisseur, and my Zait fountain pen and love it, no problems. I think Brad Dowdy uses it also in a stub nib TWSBI with excellent results

  6. I'm not a huge pink person myself, but I think the Diamine sample on the right is prettier. Less pinky pink if you know what I mean, and if it's a dry ink I can totally see why you're not fond of it.