Posts filed under Ink Reviews

Sailor Bung Box Hatsukoi "First Love" Sapphire Ink Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I can't remember where I first saw a photograph of Bung Box Sapphire–Twitter or Instagram or a Web site–but I immediately fell in love with it, apparently a common experience with this ink. The minute I got the email from Vanness Pens that a box had arrived I ordered some. It's a good thing, too, since their entire stock of Sapphire sold out the same day.

A little history about Bung Box Sapphire: apparently, the owner of the Bung Box store fell in love with Parker Penman Sapphire, so she tried to recreate the color. She called it Hatsukoi, which means "first love" (Bung Box Facebook Page), since that is the emotion the color evoked in her. I think most fountain pen lovers can relate to this experience, whether we fall in love with a particular ink color or a specific pen (or several).

An insert included with the ink tells the story of its name

An insert included with the ink tells the story of its name

The Bung Box Sapphire ink bottle is a work of art. Compared to the usual Sailor Jentle ink bottles, these glass bottles are like miniature vases or containers for fancy perfume. I know I won't throw mine away when I've used up all the ink.

One of the best characteristics of Bung Box Sapphire is its excellent shading. As always with inks like this, the shading is most visible with wider nibs. I used my widest nibs (Pilot Parallel 2.4 and 1.5), my Nakaya music nib, an italic, a couple of flex nibs, and one fine nib to write samples.

The shading is fabulous, ranging from deep blue to a lighter, almost turquoise blue. If you look closely, you can even see shading with the fine nib.

Although the ink sparkles, I only detected sheen in my splash samples not in my writing samples. You can see a bit of magenta along the edges.

I compared Bung Box Sapphire with some of my other blue inks. All of them have distinctive characteristics. I would say Sapphire and Asa-Gao are the closest in terms of chromatography. Both have a little bit of magenta in them. But I think Bung Box Sapphire stands out (along with Akkerman Shocking Blue) as the most vivid color.

Bung Box Sapphire is an exquisite ink. It flows well and its dry times are in the normal range, at least with a fine nib on a Rhodia dot pad. With wider nibs, the dry time is longer. The ink is not waterproof.

One thing I've noticed about all my Sailor inks is that they have a distinctive odor. Apparently, they contain the chemical phenol to prevent mold or other contaminants from growing. In his glossary, Richard Binder says, "Phenol is an effective fungicide, acting as a protoplasmic poison, and was used for this purpose in ink until prohibited by law. (It is also toxic to forms of life other than fungi and is regulated as a Class B poison.) Phenol has a sweet, tar-like odor that is readily detected in inks containing it." I need to do more research on this ingredient as it can be rather caustic. I wonder if it can damage vintage pens, especially celluloid ones? Just in case, I'm not planning on using Sailor inks in any of my celluloid pens until I know more.

Sailor Bung Box Hatsukoi Sapphire is a unique, vibrant blue with excellent shading and some sheen. You can purchase this ink at Vanness Pens for $35.65 plus shipping, but only if you're really fast and lucky.

Posted on June 26, 2015 and filed under Bung Box, Ink Reviews, Sailor.

Diamine Autumn Oak Ink Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

It's June in Texas, so I feel rather strange writing about an autumn-colored ink. But, today it's also overcast and rainy thanks to a tropical storm, so it seems fallish out there, despite the temperatures. Let's all pretend it's October!

Diamine Autumn Oak is aptly named. The color looks like the leaves at Lost Maples State Park, a place we visit every November.

The ink is a beautiful orange with stunning shading properties, ranging from a dark orange with hints of brown to a light orange, just like leaves.

I compared Autumn Oak with my other two orange inks, Pelikan Edelstein Amber and Iroshizuku Yu-Yake.

Amber also exhibits good shading, but it is more yellow in tone than Autumn Oak and doesn't have the range of colors. Yu-Yake is a flat orange and exhibits hardly any shading (I always crave an orange lollipop when I use Yu-Yake).

Chromatography indicates that Yu-Yake contains yellow, orange, and a slight amount of pink. Amber contains primarily yellow. Autumn Oak contains orange, yellow, and a good amount of pink (which is probably what gives it the gorgeous brown tones).

Autumn Oak, like other Diamine inks, has no odor. It flows well in all the pens I used. It shows little water resistance, and dry times depend on the size and wetness of your nib.

One concern I have about Autumn Oak is that it seems to darken after a day or two in a pen. Perhaps this is due to cross contamination between inks (i.e. my pen had some old ink in the feed and it mixed with the Autumn Oak) or maybe the ink darkens when it sits in a pen for a while.

In this photo, Autumn Oak looks much more brown than orange after a day or two in my pen

In this photo, Autumn Oak looks much more brown than orange after a day or two in my pen

After I experienced the color shift the first time, I thoroughly cleaned out my pens (water, pen flush, more water) and refilled with Autumn Oak. Even after the cleaning, I noted a slight amount of darkening. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this with Diamine Autumn Oak?

But in this photo the darkening is less noticeable

But in this photo the darkening is less noticeable

Regardless, this ink is a keeper. The shading alone makes it one of my favorite inks. Now I must have a Pilot Vanishing Point in orange just for this ink. I love it when an ink color requires a pen purchase, don't you?

I'm not the only one impressed by this ink (many reviews are available). I shipped a pen to Canada and used Autumn Oak to address the package. The recipient was happy to receive her new pen, but she wrote to me just to ask, "What was that ink you used?" If ink on an address label impresses someone, you know you have a winner!

Posted on June 19, 2015 and filed under Diamine, Ink Reviews.

Montblanc Toffee Brown Ink Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Montblanc Toffee Brown is a gorgeous brown ink with lots of character. It comes in a hefty Montblanc bottle with the MB star on the cap.

Some describe the bottle as a shoe shape. I honestly don't see a shoe–if it is a shoe, it's a clunky one. I just assumed that the shape was practical: you have a smaller reservoir when the ink runs low. But that will take a while. This bottle holds 60ml of ink.

The ink flows well, has no detectable odor, and no negative qualities that I could find. When compared with my two other brown inks (Iroshizuku Yama-guri and Tsukushi), Toffee had shades of green and pink in it. Yama-guri is more of a black-brown, and Tsukushi is a reddish-brown. Toffee is what I would call a golden-brown, though it does have pink/red tones.

Montblanc Toffee is now the standard ink for my M800 Tortoise with its triple broad oblique nib. Oh. My. Gosh. Just look at that shading! It has gradations from dark brown to toffee (thus the name).

The ink is not waterproof. Its dry times depend on the width of your nib, but the ink seems to be pretty wet. With this kind of shading, though, I don't mind waiting for the ink to dry.

I never thought I'd be a "brown ink person" (I gravitate towards blues). But I also tend to be a little OCD about inks matching my pens and vice versa. So, for my brown pens, I use brown inks. Toffee Brown has replaced the Iroshizukus at least for my broad nib. The color and shading are simply outstanding. But for my finer nibs, I still like Yama-guri and Tsukushi. I guess I just need to buy more brown pens!

Posted on June 5, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Montblanc.

Callifolio Baikal Ink Review

One of the benefits of attending a pen show is seeing new products in person for the first time. I had never heard of Callifolio ink prior to seeing Lisa Vanness from Vanness Pens at the Atlanta show. She came up to me with two sheets of ink swabs and said "pick one!" I must have stared at those sheets for about 10 minutes - talk about an impossible task!

Callifolio ink comes from L'Artisan Pastellier and chemist Didier Boinnard, who specializes in using natural pigments in creating their lineup of products. And what a lineup it is.

When Lisa laid out the swab samples in front of me two things stood out: One, there were no eye-searing bright colors, and two, there were an enormous number of blues. Since blues are kind of my thing I went that route with the sample bottle that Lisa gave me. After much hemming and hawing, Baikal came home with me, and I must say it was an excellent choice.

Named, assumedly, for Lake Baikal in Russia, the blue in this ink is hard to pin a description on. I wanted to call it a dusty blue at first, but it's a little darker than what I consider dusty. Denim is likely a better term, but hints of purple peek through from time to time. What stuck with me the most is the mix ink I call Scabix (seen in this review), which is a 1:1 mix of Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Salix. Scabix is more purple, but the feel of the color is right, and very complimentary.

Mixing inks is worth mentioning here because Callifolio inks are able to be mixed at will. These non-toxic and non-corrosive inks are made to be tame and work with all types of pens. They aren't waterproof or permanent because of this, but that makes them easy to use and clean.

Callifolio is available to be purchase in either 40 ml triangular bottle (same as Diamine 150th) for $11 or in 50 ml pouches for $8 that you can use to refill your own ink bottle. And by your own ink bottle, I mean like the fancy Nock Co. logo bottle that Lisa made for me and Jeff, seen below. These prices make testing out Callifolio a no-brainer, and a worthwhile addition to your ink stash.

My thanks to Lisa and Vanness Pens for providing these goods at no charge for review purposes.

Posted on May 26, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Callifolio.