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Private Reserve Invincible Black


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9 replies to this topic

#1 tonybelding

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 02:31

I got a bottle of Private Reserve Invincible Black not too long ago, almost as soon as it became available, and I was excited by the prospect of a direct competitor to one of my all-time favorite inks: Noodler's "bulletproof" Black! So. . . How does PRIB stack up?

Bottle: I have to mention this because this is the first Private Reserve ink I've bought that came in a taller 3-ounce bottle. The glass is tinted cobalt blue, for some reason. It's not a particularly convenient bottle to fill pens from, but then neither are Noodler's bottles. It was not filled to the point of spilling, thankfully.

Color: It's very dark black. It's a pretty neutral black with a slightly "warm" tone, much like Noodler's Black if not a smidge warmer. It really reminds me of my old bottle of Private Reserve Velvet Black, but I no longer have that on hand for a side-by-side comparison. It's not the darkest black I've ever tested, as I think Heart of Darkness still holds that title.

Feathering: It's pretty good but not superb. On Mead Cambridge "heavyweight bond" paper, which is actually mediocre in quality, it exhibited some moderate feathering and bleeding -- practically the same as Heart of Darkness. Noodler's Black showed no feathering and less strike-through on the same paper.

Permanence: As I had expected, both water and bleach had minimal-to-no effect on PRIB.

Staining: It washes off skin pretty easily using soap and water and a bit of scrubbing, which is a trait it shares with both Noodler's Black and HoD.

Flow: It's dry and less free-flowing than the average ink. In some of my drier-writing pens I experienced a bit of skipping or hard starting which I had not experienced with Noodler's. In a medium-to-wet pen it worked well.

Lubrication: Nothing to brag about. If anything it seems a bit less slick than most inks.

Drying Time: This was the biggest disappointment. Using a Parker 45 with a M nib on National Xtreme White paper, it took about 30 seconds for PRIB to dry almost smudge-free. By way of comparison, both Noodler's Black and HoD dried completely smudge-free in 20 seconds. Invincible Black is a very slow-drying ink.

My conclusion: Invincible Black inferior to Noodler's in several ways, with drying time as my biggest complaint. At the same time, it's nice to have competition. If Noodler's disappeared from the Earth tomorrow (heaven forbid!), I could use this stuff. Likewise, if Noodler's hadn't already set the standard so high, and I had never seen a cellulose-reactive security ink before, I'd probably hail Invincible Black as a wonder ink. Also, we should remember this is Invincible Black v1.00. It's Private Reserve's first stab at this product category (unless you count Invincible Aqua, which I am hesitant to do!), and one must assume they can and should continue to refine the formula over time.

So. . . It does not unseat my old favorites. However, if you have trouble getting Noodler's Black or HoD where you live -- or if you wish to avoid them, for any reason -- then Invincible Black is a serviceable substitute that is very black and very permanent.

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#2 atypical

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 14:48

Thank you for the very informative and concise review.

You have saved me from spending 14.95 € on a bottle of ink that in all likelihood I would not have liked at all.

#3 TWRDO

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 22:45

I've had a quite different experience with Invincible Black.

As far as being the "blackest black" goes, I haven't tried any of the Noodler's blacks so I must withhold judgement there. Compared with Aurora Black, on the other hand, it depends on what particular paper you're writing on. On more absorbent (e.g. cheap notebook) paper, the Aurora appears darker, though somewhat warmer. On less absorbent paper, such as Rhodia, the Invincible Black is appears significantly darker. This may be partly due to the fact that on this type of paper Aurora dries with a slightly glossy sheen, whereas the IB dries matte; it looks like it sucks the light into the page. On either kind of paper, the Aurora is definitely a warmer black.

Noodler's Black seems to be the undisputed champion of no-feathering. IB does feather a bit on cheaper paper, though not nearly as much as Aurora, and not at all on Rhodia.

Flow and Lubrication is where I have to completely disagree with this review. Everyone's personal mileage varies with a particular ink, of course, so please don't take this as an attack on the OP. In every pen I've ever tried Aurora Black in, I've had excellent flow and wonderful lubrication, maybe even a bit too much with a couple of wetter pens. For me, Invincible Black at least matches and maybe even exceeds Aurora in flow and lubrication.

I didn't notice anything odd about IB's drying time either. On absorbent paper, drying is nearly instant, and on Rhodia, it's quicker than any of the Noodler's inks I have.

I find it interesting that so many people are having such different experiences with IB. Maybe Private Reserve is having problems with consistency between batches?

As far as I go, when my bottle of Aurora Black runs out, I'll most likely be replacing it with Invincible Black.
Music, verily, is the mediator between intellectual and sensuous life, the one incorporeal entrance into the high world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend. -Ludwig van Beethoven

#4 Basset

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 02:12

I also have to disagree with the OP in some respects. I particularly disagree about drying time and lubrication. I also disagree a bit on darkness to the extent the OP isn't emphasizing how incredibly black this ink is.

Darkness
I don't have Heart of Darkness (not clear the OP still does). But the Goulet Pens swabs posted of it next to Invincible Black show it far more washed out. I believe IB is even darker than my Aurora Black on most papers.

Here's a post with writing samples of IB, Aurora Black, and Noodler's (bulletproof) Black.

It would be nice to see more side-by-side writing samples of Heart of Darkness or Bulletproof Black. The Goulet Pens swabs / samples also show IB is appreciably darker than both, but more comparisons would be helpful.

I would also love to see a comparison next to carbon / nano black inks as well...

Flow/Lubrication/Glide

For me, IB has great flow and lubrication, exceeding Aurora just a smidge in my pens. Wonder what are the "most inks" the OP thinks flow better. Maybe I need to try those, too! Someone should try a blindfold test with Noodler's Eel ink... I think IB might win a few times, at least against Eel Blue, which I have inked next to me.

Drying Time

Not slow drying for me. Not even in my second tier of slowpokes. The link above shows a basic drying time test, and IB dried more quickly than Aurora or Noodler's Black. Again, more comparisons would be helpful.

So yeah.... no offense to the OP, but I just wanted to share with other users how very different my experience has been, so they can decide whether to check it out for themselves.

Fortunately, folks can pick up a sample online and give it a test drive.

#5 tonybelding

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 03:33

I didn't notice anything odd about IB's drying time either. On absorbent paper, drying is nearly instant, and on Rhodia, it's quicker than any of the Noodler's inks I have.


Many of the other points are hard to quantify, but drying time is one thing I tested carefully using the same pen, same sheet of paper, same methodology. I've always considered Noodler's Black a fairly slow-drying ink, and I was quite surprised when I found that Invincible Black took time-and-a-half to dry.

#6 lovemy51

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 03:38

i pretty much agree with tony on everything except, that i think it does have good lubrication.

as far as goulet swab goes, i don't think it's that accurate.

this is not the darkest black and i do emphazise that: NOT THE BLACKEST!

#7 lovemy51

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 03:40

there i go again being rude!!!!

thx, tony, for the review!

#8 mstone

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 14:56

Here's a post with writing samples of IB, Aurora Black, and Noodler's (bulletproof) Black.

It would be nice to see more side-by-side writing samples of Heart of Darkness or Bulletproof Black. The Goulet Pens swabs / samples also show IB is appreciably darker than both, but more comparisons would be helpful.

Unless you're writing with a q-tip, the swabs aren't directly applicable. What mostly strikes me about the written comparisons (and this isn't a new phenomenon) is that the Noodler's black spreads and feathers less than the others. That means that the wdith of the line is less, and your eye will always perceive a wide black line as darker than a narrower black line. (Some of the samples also have Noodler's shading to a very light color, which makes me wonder if there was something odd going on there, because I don't see that kind of shading from that ink. The third sample was, I think, the most representative of my experience--if you look at the closeups the "blackness" is pretty much the same, only the width is really different.)

#9 tonybelding

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 00:39

Unless you're writing with a q-tip, the swabs aren't directly applicable. What mostly strikes me about the written comparisons (and this isn't a new phenomenon) is that the Noodler's black spreads and feathers less than the others. That means that the wdith of the line is less, and your eye will always perceive a wide black line as darker than a narrower black line.


In my experience you cannot use cotton swabs (i.e. Q-tips) when comparing cellulose-reactive inks. The cotton is virtually pure cellulose, and much of the dye will bond with it before it ever reaches the paper! I remember once sending a letter to a friend and trying to use a swab to show him how dark HoD was, and it came out looking laughably weak. Later I tried using a knife blade to smear a droplet on the paper and I got that super-dark splotch that I'd been looking for. (If it were any more dense, I think matter would collapse into it.) I've been using a knife for all such comparisons since then. A swab with a synthetic material like polyester instead of cotton ought to work well too, if you could find any.

And yes, I also noticed that Invincible Black and Heart of Darkness both made a noticeably wider line on my paper than Noodler's Black!

#10 GouletPens

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 19:20

I'll be the first to say that swabs are simply a 'better than nothing' representation of color. My swabs are meant to be more or less general representations, and will become less useful when you're try to compare very specific differences in color, shine, etc. It's going to be like that for anything though....there are so many factors at play for the color of your ink including the wetness of your pen, the size of your nib, the pressure you use when you write, the color of the paper, the sizing on the paper, the humidity in the air (that affects the absorbency of the paper), the thickness of your paper, the lighting in which you're viewing your ink, the length of time it's been since you wrote on the page (fresh vs. dried for several days), etc etc etc. And that's for viewing the real thing! If you're viewing a swab online, you have the factor of the lighten when the picture/scan was done, the adjustments that were made, the color profile of the browser you're using, the color accuracy of your computer monitor, the lighting in your room, etc etc etc.

Long story short, the best way to make a judgement is to use the ink yourself on your favorite paper in your favorite pen and determine if it works for you. :thumbup: It's like any other artistic hobby, the 'science' will only get you so far, there is an art to writing that will be different for everyone, even with the same materials. I could get the exact same paint and canvas as Bob Ross, but I can guarantee you I can't do the same 'happy little trees' that he does! :blink:






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