Posts Tagged ‘Esterbrook 9128’


Flex Nibs And Ink Characteristics


When it comes to ink, color grabs us first. Whether the jewel-toned dual colors that have emerged in recent years or the traditional single colored inks that have been around forever, it is the property we prize the most. But what else does fountain pen ink have to offer?

Prior to the introduction of inks that sheen and shimmer, more subtle characteristics like shading and outlining (sometimes called haloing) received the attention and praise of aficionados. They are natural properties of some inks that can lend the written word a very unique look.

Shading happens when ink pools usually at the bottom of a letter. The higher concentration of ink produces a deeper shade than the upper portion. Outlining is a thin, dark line around a letter and is less common than shading. Flex nibs produce it best though wide nibs can do it, too.

Writing examples that illustrate shading and outlining.

Noodler’s Standard Flex and Apache Sunset

Platinum Century FF and Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun

Namiki Falcon SF and Diamine Mediterranean Blue

Noodler’s Standard Flex and Australian Roses

Noodler’s Konrad and Blue Nose Bear

Namiki Falcon SF and Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan

Noodler’s Dostoyevsky

Esterbrook 9128 with Namiki Blue

Platinum Music Nib and Diamine Sepia


Diamine Sepia will outline well, but paper may matter more with it than the other inks.

There are too many inks on the market these days to test them all so my list is rather short. You may find inks you already own will outline when used with a soft or flexible nib. There are a few relatively inexpensive fountain pens that would be up to the task of testing ink, but in that category, I only have experience with Noodler’s Standard Flex Pen. It might be better called a soft nib, but it will, with a little practice, produce enough line variation to tease an outline from an ink that is so inclined.

A thread at FPN offers more suggestions. I have used a few of the inks mentioned but have experienced different results or at least less dramatic results. Diamine Wild Strawberry is a case in point. It is excellent in my Platinum Century Nice medium nib with good performance all around. Though it produces crisp edges, the outlines are so close in color to the ink, that they are only discernable under magnification. Thus it outlines but not in a meaningful way. Some of the other inks mentioned in the FPN thread look promising and several are truly dazzling especially those from Robert Oster and Blackstone.

Does outlining appeal to you? Let me know if you discover an ink that does it well. Not that my ink collection needs to be expanded, but for outlining, I could make an exception or two.



St. Patrick’s Day And The Color Green


Inks and pens pay homage to the color of the month. The shamrock provided inspiration for the range of greens in the swatches, but as usual, J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage and Diamine Emerald fill my pens. The former is a clear green while the latter is muted and very easy on the eyes. Lierre Sauvage is in an Esterbrook Deluxe with a 9128 flex nib and Emerald is in the Parker ’51’ for some very smooth writing on Clairefontaine paper.

Serenaded by the chipper songs of finches and sparrows and the excitement of rambunctious March winds, this should be a very inspired month.


An Esterbrook 9128 Has A Date With Namiki Blue Ink


Namiki Blue ink is the standard ink for more than a few fountain pen users. It even works well at flex writing. But there’s a catch and it will be a deal-breaker for some pens.

Namiki Blue, Esterbrook Deluxe Pen, Miguelrius Notebook

The deep blue color leans slightly blue-black which makes it suitable for almost any business environment. Mild shading and outlining make this ink intriguing to use. It exhibits average show-through on Miguelrius from a fine nib but significant show-through with a wet nib. That performance is comparable to other pens and inks so I wouldn’t mark it down for either. Many inks dry a second or two faster so Namiki Blue might not be a first choice for lefties but I am not a good judge of that.

Esterbrook Deluxe and Parker '51' Aerometric

There is one caveat. My Esterbrook Deluxe SM, the model that closely resembles my navygray Parker ’51’ Aero, now has several Namiki Blue ink stains. Not a pretty sight. So be careful when using it in a pale colored pen.

Namiki Blue on Miguelrius

Last night the 9128 flex nib got properly acquainted with Miguelrius paper. Very nice, indeed. The nib has an extremely sharp tip but the combination of ink and paper tamed its tendency to dig in too much. The ink flow is just right and did its best to prevent any railroad tracks. Not that the nib doesn’t deserve the lion’s share of the credit, but a helpful ink is, well, helpful.

Too bad the staining issue will keep Namiki Blue and the Estie from future dates. It was fun while it lasted.

Namiki Blue Ink


When A Pilot Meets A Falcon


Pilot’s Iroshizuku ink gets tremendous praise for performance as well as beautiful colors and rightfully so. But what preceded this much admired line? Pilot and Pilot Namiki inks and they are deserving of recognition, too.

With certainty I have been guilty of neglect. My bottle of Namiki Blue has had the same amount of ink in it for ages. Pilot ink hasn’t graced a pen here in years. The colors are rather conservative and color is what sways me first when I match ink to pen. So they’ve been passed over to the point of being dumped in a junk drawer. When there are brilliant inks like Iroshizuku ku-jaku, shin-ryoku, and yama-budo, why would black, blue, or blue-black get called out to play? In a word, performance.

To explore the idea that there might be something special about these inks, I took a tip from an FPN discussion and recruited some fine-flex pens for the task. First Pilot Blue-Black went into a Namiki Falcon SF. It took less than a sentence to trigger a eureka moment. Iroshizuku owes a great deal to its progenitor, Pilot ink.

Then I searched high and low for that bottle of Pilot Black that had never been opened. It was not to be found. Maybe it deserted me for lack of use. However, I did locate a box of cartridges and popped one into the other Namiki Falcon SF. Black performed just as good as if not better than Blue-Black.

Namiki Falcon SF, Pilot Black Ink, Apica Paper

Certain I was on to something, I had to find a pen with a similar nib for a three-way comparison. That wasn’t easy but an Esterbrook 9128 took up the challenge with Pilot Namiki Blue.

Pilot and Namiki Inks on Apica Paper

So the writing examples won’t skew the results, note that the nibs are not identical though they are quite similar. The Falcon with black ink is the most fine of the three. The Estie comes in second but it is the most flexible. The Falcon with blue-black ink writes a tad wider than the others and has been the flex pen I have enjoyed the most for daily writing. The nib doesn’t dig into paper quite as much as the other two so it writes faster and with less friction. It’s been a good choice when a versatile pen suits the project at hand.

Paper makes a difference and these inks did well on quality products like Rhodia and the Apica 6A10 used in the sample images. Feathering and fuzzy outlines ruled my Moleskine journal paper. Pilot ink fared better on copy paper showing just a slight fuzziness comparable to that seen with Iroshizuku asa-gao, shin-ryoku, and fuyu-syogun.

Again, this is about performance and characteristics – not color. The flow from all three pens is consistent, smooth, and nicely lubricated. Not exactly the same as Iroshizuku inks but close enough to become staples for fine-flex nibs. The Pilot inks are especially well-suited to practice sessions when color would be a distraction. When conservative colors are necessary, they will also shine.

All three inks dried relatively quickly despite depositing a substantial amount of ink on the down-strokes. In this regard the Pilot inks beat most of the saturated inks as well as some of the less saturated ones that I use the most frequently in my Apica 6A10 journal.

Namiki Falcon Makes Squiggles with Pilot Black Ink

I don’t use black ink often, but when I do, Noodler’s and J. Herbin have been my inks of choice. Pilot Black measures up except that it is not quite as dark. Noodler’s Black is warmer, Perle Noire is cooler and Pilot Black is more neutral. The differences are subtle, but Pilot Black works so well in the Namiki Falcon that the two will remain a pair whenever black is the right color for the occasion.

Black Ink Test

Namiki comes in blue and black. Pilot is available in black, blue, red, and blue-black. The U.S price is $10-12 for a 60ml bottle of Namiki and $16.50 for a 70ml bottle of Pilot. Cartridges are available for both and in a variety of colors.

The only weakness might be the shape of the bottle. The Namiki blue and black inks come in a squat one that is not well-suited to large nibs. A syringe or pipette will be needed to get the last drop. Pilot ink comes in a 30ml size but that’s hard to find in the U.S. The 70ml is a taller bottle and works well with larger nibs.

Iroshizuku is a different ink to be sure but Pilot and Namiki are worth a look. No fancy bottles but just good quality ink, perfect for an inkophile.


Noodler’s Blue Nose Bear Ink – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


Whether or not you are a Noodler’s Ink fan, it’s certain Nathan Tardif comes up with some of the best names in the business. Occasionally provocative, frequently amusing though often not descriptive. With so many color choices, the latter is not surprising. Unfortunately, The Blue Nose Bear has issues that a cute name can’t hide.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear On A Paper Towel

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear On A Paper Towel

The beautiful color is blue-slanted teal with hints of turquoise that shades nicely from the flexible nib for which it was developed. There is even a bit of outlining, a rare treat with an ink this dark. So promising but BNB has a frustrating flaw. It feathers even on Rhodia paper. Bleed-through can be significant though the amount of flow that attends flex writing can make formerly well-behaved inks show through anything but the heaviest paper. BNB performance might be better with a dry-writing fine pen. But if you really want to flex your nib, expect one-sided paper use.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Bleed-Through Sample

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Bleed-Through Sample

Just to round out my impression of other characteristics, flow, lubrication, and drying time are all good. The Esterbrook 9128 handled very well with BNB. A more free-flowing flexible nib might have gushed but the Estie was just right.

Unfortunately, the feathering produced indistinct outlines. That mushy look would not be ideal for correspondence or business use. So that relegates it to use in a journal or for personal notes or practice with a flex nib. My Apica A610 was not amused at the feathering and was insulted that I compared the result to the mess Moleskine makes with some fountain pen inks. I was forgiven as soon as I switched to a Namiki Falcon SB with Stipula Verde Muschiato. Whew!

To avoid preconceptions I do not read opinions before I order an ink that I plan to review. If I had, this one would never have made it into my shopping cart. Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of Nathan. To put things in perspective, I’ve tested in excess of 30 Noodler’s inks and this is only the second one that disappointed due to feathering. (If you must know Pushkin was the other.) Depending on your tolerance, that might be an acceptable failure rate and waste of money. $25 at retail for two bottles of ink isn’t a disaster but two bottles of ink I love would have been a joy.

So skip the leaky diaper effect and find a better fit for your flexible nibs. This is one bear that can stay in the woods.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink on Apica

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink on Apica

If you want a detailed review, Dizzypen did it up right with lots of scans as proof.

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