Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet Review

12/06/2014

Last year Caran d’Ache retired their much-loved line of inks in favor of a redesigned bottle and more saturated colors. Elaine at Jet Pens sent Ultra Violet for my first look at the current offering.

The current bottle design and packaging deserve a few remarks. The cap is overly heavy and unwieldy for me. The box top slips off with no way to secure it. Every time I pick it up, the bottom containing the bottle detaches. Luckily the bottle only fell a few inches onto my desk the first time it happened. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. The slanted bottle and opening made it a little awkward to orient the nib in the ink.  While it may be attractive, the packaging is annoying if not impractical.

How does the ink fare? The purple has a slightly red bias and is highly saturated with no subtlety. The color looks slightly different on Rhodia than on Staples Sugarcane paper with the red component stronger on the latter. This doesn’t affect performance, but it is worthy of mention.

Depending on pen flow, some shading is possible though the Platinum #3776 Century SF used for the writing sample shades with most inks. As a Noodler’s and Diamine fan, I like saturated colors, but miss the more delicate shades that some companies have tossed aside. The discontinued CdA Storm was more to my liking. (Let me know if you have a bottle to sell, trade or know where one can be purchased.)

The ink seems a bit more thick than some brands though I have noticed no difference in pen performance. That  characteristic might contribute to its excellent coverage when used with a firm nib. Ultra Violet would be well suited to my Sailor Sapporo F or a Lamy EF. The degree of lubrication should be a treat with either nib.

So here’s what we have:

  • Purple with a slightly red bias
  • Highly saturated
  • Excellent coverage
  • Sightly more thick than some inks
  • Somewhat lubricating
  • Packaging and bottle are disappointing

Want a saturated purple ink? Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet might be the one for you. Just be careful with the packaging so the ink goes in your pen and not somewhere else. Well, unless you are fond of purple splotches where they don’t belong.

Much thanks to Jet Pens for providing this product. More purple ink reviews on the way soon.

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Platinum #3776 Century Nice And Nice Pur Fountain Pens

11/23/2014

Platinum makes excellent pens that easily rank amongst my favorites. Thanks to the generosity of Carol at Luxury Brands LLC, I now have the #3776 Century Nice (rose gold) and Nice Pur (rhodium) to enjoy and review. Note that I placed “enjoy” before “review” which says a lot.

Century Nice pens have an unusual design that reminds me of cut crystal. The resin is not smooth like my Chartres Blue, but has diamond cut stripes along the transparent barrel and cap. The section is smooth and fits comfortably in my hand. The threads line up under my thumb which might be a problem for some users. However, with my light grip, this went unnoticed.

#3776 Century pens are medium sized and do not require posting to be well balanced. They have the “Slip and Seal” mechanism that keeps ink fluid despite long lapses in use. There is a brochure in six languages that explains how it works as well as how to maintain it. Just for the record, the five Century pens I’ve taken for a spin have all worked perfectly right out of the box. None have required special care and all have performed as well as any pen in my collection.

Here is where the two pens differ. The Nice has rose gold trim and a 14kt rose gold nib. The Nice Pur has a 14 kt gold rhodium plated nib with rhodium trim. If you are hooked on matchy-matchy, the converter has stainless bits that suit the Pur, but are slightly at odds with the rose gold Nice. The light reflective nature of the barrel reduces the contrast so that the color difference is minimized.

Note that there is no discoloration of the rose gold nib, but there is a significant reflection in the photo. It really is rose gold as you can see in the other photos. The diamond cut stripes are about the width of a finger nail and very smooth which makes them light-reflective. It’s an attractive effect.

The Nice came with a medium nib, my first on a Platinum pen. It is a bit wider than expected with very good flow and is a real treat on Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper. It offers good control over letter shapes and I found it a fine complement to my natural letter forms. The broad nib on the Nice Pur is quite substantial and very wet. Both nibs work best with a light touch. Digging in too deeply will cause the them to become chatty. With light pressure neither nib produces feedback though with a heavy hand, the medium will give a hint of it. They don’t skate over paper, but do provide orientation.

The Nice filled with the aqua colored Waterman South Sea Blue is a delightful addition to the various tools on my desk, but it is lovely with burgundy, blue and some greens as well. Catching a glimpse of colorful ink gives a lift to any writing task so the Nice adds a little inspiration to my day.

The clear resin body combined with rhodium furnishings makes the Nice Pur a neutral colored pen except for the ink visible in the converter. For those who match ink to pen, this model presents no restrictions. The writing sample is Diamine Emerald though any ink will suit and that’s the ultimate in versatility.

Want a little attention for your refined and discerning taste in pens? Just place a Platinum Century Nice on your desk and watch the reactions. Even in my fountain pen friendly family, these pens earned an unusual measure of comment and admiration. Pretty cool, eh?

(The Platinum #3776 Century Nice is PNB-20000R #5 ROSE and the Platinum #3776 Century Nice Pur is PNB-20000R #4 PUR just in case you want to order one from your favorite retailer.)

 

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Noodler’s Konrad Dixie #10 Methuselah Ebonite Fountain Pen

11/01/2014

When it comes to bang-for-the-buck fountain pens, Noodler’s has a lot to offer. My new Konrad Ebonite Dixie #10 is no exception.

It is a piston filler made of ebonite and biodegradable plastics. The pen is medium sized, but does not need posting for comfortable balance. That’s a big plus for me since it keeps the weight down and the number of hours I can use it up.

The stainless steel fine-medium nib writes smoothly and with good flow. It has a little give but isn’t flexible or even soft though it is a very comfortable writer. I did rinse it well with lukewarm water prior to its first fill to remove any remnants from the manufacturing process. Note that the pen needed not one bit of tweaking to perform perfectly. That might not hold true for every Noodler’s pen, but none of the half dozen I own has worked any less well.

With little effort the nib can be swapped for another Noodler’s like one from the Art Nib Pack. Some modern nibs will fit and even a variety of vintage nibs. There are extensive instructions included both for nib swapping and long term maintenance.

Unlike some pens the inkvue window is large enough to see easily when it is time for a refill. For a quirky twist, my pen is filled with Noodler’s General of the Armies, the green ink that turns blue. The window shows one color while the nib puts down another. It’s good to have a bit of fun while writing.

Some users have objected to the odor of Noodler’s pens. It isn’t present with all models and the pen I received has no scent. Yea!

The style of the Dixie #10 Methuselah reminds me of a wood paneled library so it’s a bit retro and a good contrast to my mostly black arsenal. This is one Noodler’s pen that is going to get a lot of use.

Thank you, Carol and Luxury Brands USA, for sending the Noodler’s pen, nibs and ink. The sturdy pen and all-purpose ink have become my travel companions as well as fixtures on my desk. They haven’t bumped aside the Platinums, but it is the pen that goes with me everywhere while the Plats live the soft life at home. Variety is so sweet or is it spicy? Not that it matters since either way is fine with me.

More: Review of Noodler’s General of the Armies.

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Noodler’s General Of The Armies Ink

10/18/2014

Noodler’s Ink has a new release with a split personality. General of the Armies is dark green when wet, but blue when dry. If your pen has an inkvue window or it is a demonstrator, this ink will confuse your senses. For an audience, it looks like a magic trick so make the most of it. Thank the ink wizard, Nathan Tardif, for the admiration you will receive.

As for other inky qualities, it is well-behaved on a variety of papers. No shading with the Noodler’s Dixie #10 Methuselah Ebonite on absorbent paper, but it did shade nicely on Rhodia.  No feathering, show-through or bleed-through on any paper except to a mild degree on Moleskine. The color is green-blue when dry and not highly saturated. Like many inks from Noodler’s, it does not budge when smeared with water. Frankly, what more could you ask from an ink?

Thank you, Carol, for the ink and pen. Luxury Brands U.S.A. has been a good and supportive friend to this blog. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Graf Von Faber Castell Ink Water Test

10/11/2014

Graf Von Faber Castell Ink performed fairly well on printer paper when saturated with water from a paintbrush. Even hung vertically to dry, there is minimal color run. Some of the inks faded though not the black or the grey. Considering I scrubbed a little with the brush, the performance isn’t bad at all.

Note that back-lighting from a monitor will make faded areas appear more pale than would light on paper. In natural light at my desk, only the brown looks truly faded. The red less so and falls within an acceptable range for many purposes. A spill on a journal page would leave easily read writing. The ink that faded passed through to the reverse side of the paper though almost imperceptibly for the grey. It’s a surprising effect that I might explore in future.

Review of Graf Von Faber Castell ink.

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Graf Von Faber Castell Ink

10/10/2014

Recently, Bert Oser of Bertram’s Inkwell sent samples of Graf Von Faber Castell ink. Unlike many lines, this one is almost thematic with its mellow colors.

The tubes containing the ink are too narrow for my pipettes and test pens so swatches made with swabs will have to do. The colors might be a tad too blue. However, any deviation is miniscule.

Garnet Red is somewhere between the discontinued Mont Blanc Bordeaux and Noodler’s Tiananmen. Hazelnut Brown is similar to Diamine Dark Brown and Moss Green resembles Diamine Woodland Green. Stone Grey is a match for the discontinued Sailor Grey and Cobalt Blue is close to Diamine WES Imperial Blue. Carbon Black looks like J. Herbin Perle Noire though slightly more saturated.

Eventually, Stone Grey and Garnet Red will become replacements for Sailor Grey and Mont Blanc Bordeaux in my collection. Nice to tick that off my To Do List.

What makes this ink line different is the harmonious selection. The lack of purple and orange leaves a hole in the range, but the six offered colors comprise a most useful palette. For many fountain pen fans, this group is all that would be needed to make a complete ink wardrobe.

According to Bertram’s, these are the key points about Graf Von Faber Castell inks:

  1. Permanent for documents
  2. Large size 75ml
  3. Not visible on the back of standard paper
  4. Non-correctable; not removable without traces
  5. UV-resistance: Color still readable after exposure to Ultraviolet light
  6. Fast drying on standard paper
  7. Resistant to certain chemicals and solvents
  8. Water resistant; writing lines still visible after exposure to water.
  9. 6 amazing colors
  10. 2 Light Fast colors Garnet Red and Hazelnut Brown

Retail is $30, but the bottle is attractive and substantial. No accidental tipping over for this design.

Consider Graf Von Faber Castell a premium ink with a commensurate price. For the permanence and resistance to chemicals and solvents as well as the color range, this looks like an excellent ink for business and academic use or anything else for that matter.

Thank you, Bert, for giving me the opportunity to play with these inks. Now I know where to go when I’m ready to purchase a bottle or maybe that will be two. I keep glancing at the grey swatch and thinking it would be just the thing for a certain rhodium trimmed demonstrator that is watching me from its box. Kismet?

My water test of Graf Von Faber Castell ink.

 

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The Stamford Notebook

09/21/2014

The Stamford Notebook Company offered me the opportunity to test the paper used in their handsome notebooks. How could I refuse?

Paul Sloggett, one of the partners, had this to say about their choice of paper:

It is what we use in all our main range featuring around 70 colours and textures of notebook cover, in four different sizes. The paper is a 100 gsm off-white wove. It is so smooth because it is calendered during manufacture.

We also personalise notebooks with an individual’s initials using original letterpress type and bind many different special editions for retailers and visitor attractions.

Despite the blue slant of my photos, the paper has a slight warmth to it that is easy on the eyes and quite neutral under fountain pen ink. The lines are faint and offer a guide, but not a distraction. The surface is smooth posing no obstacle to the flow of ink and nib. Even the finest Japanese nib should glide across it. In my test the paper accommodated a variety of pen widths from extra-fine to medium with aplomb. However, my flex nibs laid down too much ink showing mild feathering and bleed-through. The ink dried well enough with finer nibs, but was slow with the wide and free-flowing ones.  Still it handily puts Moleskine to shame.

So if you like fine or dry-writing nibs, this paper should work well. The notebooks come in a variety of colors with good attention to detail based on images from the website. Free shipping if you live in the U.K. Lucky you!

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