Over the weekend I received a delightful package from the folks at The Goulet Pen Company. The packages contained an assortment of 14 fountain pen ink samples (to add to my collection of 18 other fountain pen inks I already had), a business card and book marker -- a really nice book marker (one is included free with every order, and that's quite appreciated by those of us who are also bibliophiles), 2 ink syringes... and a grape-flavored tootsie pop miniature (in a blue that appears identical to that on the company's logo).
I am beginning a new series of articles reviewing some of the inks that have been made specifically for use in fountain pens -- mostly modern day inks, but occasionally a bottle or two of vintage ink that I've come across during my travels and adventure. Each article will focus on inks of a specific color from several different manufacturers, will evaluate the selected inks' specific color/hue, intensity, shading, flow, drying time, water resistance, propensity for staining and creeping, and light fastness*.
For the drying time test I drew a chart with a series of lines for each ink. The ink lines were then checked to see if they would smear at intervals of 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, 45, and 60 seconds. Pelikan Turquoise and Sheaffer Peacock Blue had the shortest drying times at under 10 seconds (very useful for left-handed writers, like my wife and son, who want to reduce the likelihood of smudging) while the J. Herbin ink had the longest drying time at just over 30 seconds. Four of the inks (Parker, Sheaffer, De Atramentis, and Levenger) shared drying times of just over 20 seconds, while three (Waterman, Campo Marzio, and Pelikan Blue) were just over 10 seconds.
On the reverse side of the separation test chart it could be readily observed that red dye had separated from the blue and soaked into the paper from the Parker and Campo Marzio Roma. And, while there had been no bleed-through during the initial inking, the Pelikan Turquoise, J. Herbin, De Atramentis, and Levenger all soaked through after the re-wetting.
In conclusion, Levenger's Cobalt Blue was the hands-down winner for sheer concentration of dye in their formula. (In fact, Levenger users could very likely increase the color intensity of this ink by expeditiously experimenting with the addition of small quantities of distilled water to increase the ink's transparency.) The J. Herbin, Pelikan Turquoise, and vintage Sheaffer Peacock Blue tied for color saturation and intensity straight out of the bottle. The De Atramentis offers fantastic shading -- from a brilliant try blue when applied thin to near-black when thick (a great candidate for wet nibs and signature pens). And the old classics (Waterman, Parker, Sheaffer Blue, and Pelikan Blue) offer flawless/skipless service and reliability for fountain pen lovers looking for a more traditional (maybe slightly "quieter") blue.
The J. Herbin appeared to be slightly more viscous in the sampler bottle/pen than the others. But none of the inks in this test batch gave any indication that they would be a staining or cleaning problem (think Baystate Blue maybe) for pen owners.
I thought I'd close with another piece of retro technology (watch closely and you can see the drive mechanism at work on the right)