Posts Tagged ‘habana’


Can Inkophile be 3 years old already?!


It’s that time of year again. The Inkophile blog is now 3 years old as is Inkophile on Twitter. My participation at Fountain Pen Network will reach the five year milestone in a few days. Gosh, that sounds old at least on the Internet. Is there a comparable in dog years?

During this time the number of available ink colors has grown enormously which bodes well for people who love fountain pens. While some companies have retired colors that were peerless, others have come out with ones that are unique. The biggest loser is Montblanc who discontinued Racing Green. The biggest winner is Pilot with its Iroshizuku line. Sailor created the Kobe line but only for market in Japan so that’s a no gain. Platinum has released a line called Mix Free that is aimed at those who want to mix their own colors but it hasn’t reached the U.S. yet though it could arrive early summer. It may not be a game changer but it certainly will thrill those with a creative urge or want a one-of-a-kind color.

Virtually every ink manufacturer has at least a few new colors especially Diamine and Noodler’s. Then there are the recently released Pelikan Edelstein inks. The bottle is very attractive but the ink has yet to win over the pen community though amongst the samples sent by Pear Tree, Topaz and Ruby look promising.

Is the marketplace getting overcrowded? Perhaps. It may take a distinguishing characteristic or marketing campaign to become a standout product in future. Well, unless the ink is a standout on its own. That’s where Pilot made a breakthrough. With a premium ink that delivers in every respect including a beautiful bottle and handsome packaging, Iroshizuku has set the bar high for future luxury products.

There is less news at the economy end. Noodler’s remains the best value for money especially with colors that can tolerate a little dilution. The colorful and often amusing labels make up for the no-frills bottle that helps keep the cost of packaging down. Never at a loss for ink colors or colorful names, Nathan Tardiff continues to add to his line with no end in sight. All to the good for ink lovers.

There are so many new pens on the market you probably know more about them than I do. The only recent additions to my collection are a couple of Noodler’s pens that perform at a level commensurate with their prices. Not new but new to me was a pink Platinum Preppy, a gift from The Pear Tree Pen Company. At the price point, this steel nib is a steal.

Of course there are always new paper products. Rumor has it the revamped Quo Vadis Habana may prove to be the best new item for fountain pen users. The off-white color and narrow line spacing are similar to Moleskine but it has the paper quality necessary to control fountain pen ink. This sounds promising but I haven’t seen it myself.

Despite the economic challenges of the last few years, companies continue to provide pen people with new products. All to the good for a three-year-old inkophile.

A Few Inkophile Favorites

A Few Inkophile Favorites

Pictured are bottles of Rohrer & Klingner Solferino from, J. Herbin Vert Olive, and Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, pads of G. Lalo and Rhodia paper, a 1970’s Montblanc 220 fountain pen with an OB nib, an Ebonite Dipless Dip Pen from, and a pen wrap from

Quo Vadis Habana Ink Test


This one speaks for itself.

Quo Vadis Habana Ink Test

Quo Vadis Habana Ink Test

More at Peaceable Writer and Lady Dandelion.

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Exacompta Journal 21 & Quo Vadis Habana


Karen Doherty of Exaclair, Inc. was kind enough to send an Exacompta Journal 21 and a Quo Vadis Habana lined notebook for review and I must say they both have lovely paper for fountain pens. Neither will disappoint.

The Exacompta Journal 21 has incredibly smooth 72g paper that has absolutely no tooth. None! Not only can it make a mediocre pen write very well it reduces hand stress to zero as the pen glides across the page. The pale color can look gray or green depending on lighting conditions. Despite that it does not alter the ink color and is very pleasing, a good back drop for the written word. Thinly lined in dark blue, there is some show-through in a vintage way but there is no bleeding. For a journal both are acceptable and not distractions. I could write on this all day long!

The 6mm line spacing on the 5.25″ x 8.25″ paper worked best for me with a fine nib pen. Even writing a bit large for the spaces, I could get thirty-five characters per line which is more than enough to note an appointment or other time related entry. The time notations are small and subtle enough to use the Journal 21 as a daily diary without detraction. And the paper is certainly fabulous for that purpose.

The binder looks like leather and is saddle stitched. Since it lays flat, the entire page is useful, not the case with many journals this size. Glad it’s refillable ’cause it’s a keeper.

The second journal Karen sent is the Quo Vadis Habana in the large 6.25″ x 9.25″ size. The cover is blue-red with the logo discreetly placed in the lower right corner. Rounded corners make it very comfortable in the hand and the color coordinated elastic closure make this journal extremely practical as well as comfortable to use. Unlike many competitors Qua Vadis has placed the closure tightly fixed to the back cover so that when not in use it is virtually unnoticeable and does not make a lumpy writing surface. The Habana earns high marks for this subtle feature.

When it comes to most fountain pen folks, it’s the journal’s paper that counts and for any Clairefontaine fan this is a sure winner. Heavy, acid-free, pH neutral and chlorine free, the paper is excellent with every ink tested and with nibs as wide as 1.1mm. Beautiful shading and true colors on the bio-whitened paper are lovely. The line spacing is 8mm and considered wide by some writers. I found my writing expanded nicely into the large space so it isn’t a problem for me. A benefit is that my largest nibs made perfectly sized letters with little show-through with my test inks, Sailor Gray and Namiki Blue. A very dark ink in a very wet nib might be less satisfactory but still acceptable when writing on both sides of the paper.

Less exciting is the low page count at only eighty per book as well as the non-removable cover. This journal is limited and the cover permanent but the paper quality still makes it worth buying. You just can’t write to your heart’s content. However, your pens and inks will perform at peak so for most of us that’s an acceptable trade-off.

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Exaclair Order Arrived!


Happy to report that my Exaclair order arrived though due to circumstances full reviews may have to wait for a few weeks.

Still an update is in order and I have to tell you the Exacompta Sketch Book is very eye-catching despite a simple black cover. Even got agreement from my family on that one. Silver gilt edging really sets this journal apart inspiring both best effort and good work. The narrow orange, red and green striped ribbon marker gives it a continental flair yet because of its mere 5mm width is not intrusive. The 25% cotton off white, pH neutral, 28 lb. laid finish paper should stand up to all sorts of media and abuse. More on that when it has been run through some tests.

Some people like a plain cover and that is often true for me. I don’t want a design or adornment to influence my work. However, the silver palette and brush imprint in the upper third of the cover with the words Sketch Book below serve to reinforce the purpose rather then detract from the experience. So far the only thing I would change would be to reduce the size of the Exacompta imprint on the back though I understand why it is large enough to be read at a distance. Again it is in silver and so more decorative than blatant.

Other items in the order include an Exacompta Journal 21 with a black cover, a large, red Quo Vadis Habana Journal and two bottles of J. Herbin ink, Terre de Feu and Ambre de Birmanie. On inspection the craftsmanship is high quality and the paper sure to be good with fountain pens though that will need to be confirmed with a number of inks and pens before giving them full recommendation. Lucky me, eh?

Note: Links to paper products all resolve to The Daily Planner because I’ve had good experiences with them and they stock all three products. There are many vendors who offer them so check around including your local bookstore. I saw two of them in December at a Bookstar so all three journals should be easy to find.

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