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Diamine Registrar's Ink


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34 replies to this topic

#1 carpedavid

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 11:43

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In addition to writing ink reviews, I love to cook. Over the years, I’ve compiled all of my favorite recipes into a Moleskine journal so that I have my very own recipe book. For a long while, I used a Sharpie pen, which has a high degree of water resistance. After my switch to fountain pens about a year ago, though, I recorded recipes in whatever fountain pen ink I had in a pen at the time – which, as I found out the hard way last week, generally have a very low degree of water resistance.

I was cooking with my book on the counter, when I dropped some water. Then, I looked down to find that my recipe for fresh salsa was now a delightfully fuzzy blob of Café des Isles. I may have discovered a new career painting abstract watercolors, but was a bit dismayed by the resulting illegibility of my recipes. Thus, I began a quest to try out waterproof inks.

Noodler’s Ink has a number of bulletproof inks, including the fantastic Kung Te-Cheng, but I was curious about the more traditional blue-black inks, so I started my search with Diamine Registrar’s Ink. It is a modern version of iron gall ink, which was the most common form of ink used in Europe from the 12th through the 19th centuries. When used on vellum or paper, it cannot be removed by rubbing or washing – only be scraping away a layer of the writing surface.

Traditional iron gall ink has one very specific caveat. It is produced by combining iron salts with tannic acid extracted from various vegetable sources (traditionally from oak galls, which are hard, brown spheres that grow on oak trees and house wasp larvae – for real – nature is weird), which means that it is not pH neutral. Over time, the acidic nature of the ink will gradually eat away at vellum and paper, and, more concerning, can contribute to the corrosion of any steel components on a fountain pen.

Diamine’s modern formula contains fairly low concentrations of the iron gall compounds, so it is safe for both paper and pen, though practicing appropriate pen hygiene – cleaning it thoroughly between fillings and emptying it before storing it for extended periods of time – is always a good idea.

The first thing I noticed is that when Registrar’s ink hits the paper, it is a lovely, light blue-grey with very low saturation - it's light enough that I was confused at first - it's more akin to a wash than an ink. The second thing I noticed, though, was an amazing transformation – as the ink dries, it turns a dark blue-grey and exhibits a phenomenal degree of shading. Then, a third surprise – over the next day as the iron in the ink oxidizes, it darkens even more to a true blue-black. On the bright white paper of Rhodia, the fully oxidized ink has the character of the sea at midnight – mysterious and deep. On off-white paper, like Moleskine, the blue tones are disguised and the ink appears almost completely black.

I noticed very little feathering on any of the papers I tested this with, from the feather-resistant Rhodia to cheap copy paper. Additionally, it is definitely waterproof, as advertised. Running it under water for over a minute resulted in no movement of the ink at all – not even a little feathering. Rubbing it while underwater resulted in very slightly tinted water, but I noticed no diminishing of the lines on the paper. I’m quite impressed.

This is a dry ink that does a good job of taming my very wet-writing Lamy Studio. This pen is normally a gusher, but I noticed very little show-through and no bleed-through even on the thin paper of a Moleskine cahier. It has a thin feel, though, and provides no lubrication, so the EF nib was a bit scratchier than I am used to. Drying time was fairly standard: 20 seconds on Rhodia and Moleskine, and 8 seconds on standard copy paper.

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Diamine Registrar’s Ink is sold in 30ml glass bottles and 100ml plastic refills. The glass bottle is functional and not much more. It has a simple label with the Diamine diamond logo on the front and a nice, secure lid. It’s the kind of bottle that one shoves in the drawer when one is finished with it.

I’m happy that I decided to investigate blue-black inks. Diamine Registrar’s ink has a magical character, and has a wide range of applications. As a permanent ink, it’s definitely business appropriate, and would make a good signature ink. It’s also interesting and well-behaved enough to use for daily writing and journaling. The only drawback is that it is more expensive than many standard inks – but for those who value permanence in their fountain pen ink, it’s a premium worth paying for.

Review notes: for the wide strokes, I used a Lamy 1.9mm steel calligraphy nib on a Lamy Joy pen. For the narrow strokes, I used a Lamy Studio with an EF gold nib. The paper is Rhodia 80gr bright, white paper.

Read all of my ink reviews at seize the dave.
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#2 GreenVelvet

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 12:14

Excellent review, thanks.

#3 tawanda

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 12:15

Thanks Dave,

That's a great review. I also have my favourite family recipes in a Moleskine. I did it a couple of years ago when I was first diagnosed with cancer, as neither my husband or son can/will cook! So I figured I'd better leave them with instructions. As it turned out they haven't needed to look in it yet, so that's great news. But I used non-waterproof inks too and am now concerned wether my instructions would stand the test of time.

Maybe I'll get another Mole, some Registrar's and start again...
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#4 Possum Hill

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 13:32

Thanks for the review. Diamine Registrar's ink has been at the top of my must try list for months. Now I finally have a bottle sitting on my desk waiting for the weekend pen shuffle.
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#5 Richard

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 14:13

One point of clarification. It's not so much the essential acidic content of iron gall ink that eats at paper and pens. It's the amount of excess soluble iron salts that are present. Since nature, as the OP points out, is a bit unpredictable, and since accurate measure wasn't considered all that important back in the day, old iron gall inks often had horrific amounts of excess iron salts in them. This happens especially when the person making the ink uses pure ferrous sulfate instead of the hydrated iron sulfate that's called for, thinking perhaps that if a little iron is good, more is better. Salts are ionic compounds; they dissociate in water, and all that nonessential SO4– – floating around plays hell with things in general.

When iron gall ink is made more scientifically, by the mixing of accurately measured amounts of gallotannic acid and iron sulfate, the result is much better. And Diamine registrar's ink is IMHO the best of the best. Diamine has been making the stuff since the 1860s, longer than any other modern ink maker has ben in business, and they're very good at it. I have a bottle of RI in my desk, and I use it.

Strongly recommended for those wanting to use an iron gall ink!
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#6 Lloyd

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 14:28

... Diamine has been making the stuff since the 1860s, longer than any other modern ink maker has ben in business, ...


Ummm, what about J. Herbin?
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#7 bigstick

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 14:35

... Diamine has been making the stuff since the 1860s, longer than any other modern ink maker has ben in business, ...


Ummm, what about J. Herbin?


They are not 'modern', J. Herbin is 'ancient' and honourable. Another class altogether.

Richard, how does Registrar do in BHR pens with gold nibs? Mine is a Waterman 12.
Pelikan 120 : Lamy 2000 : Sheaffer PFM III : Parker DuoFold Jr : Hero 239 : Pilot Vanishing Point : Danitrio Cum Laude : Esterbrook LJ : Waterman's 12 and an unknown lever-filler : Lambert Drop-fill : Conway Stewart 388

MB Racing Green : Diamine Sapphire Blue , Registrar's : J. Herbin violet pensée , café des îles : Noodler's Baystate Blue : Waterman Purple, Florida Blue

#8 Richard

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 15:35

Richard, how does Registrar do in BHR pens with gold nibs? Mine is a Waterman 12.

Should have no problems. Do practice good pen hygiene, but that's really applicable to any ink, yes? :)
Click to send email: richard@richardspens.com
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#9 Raiche58

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 19:12

Just ordered a bottle. I can always count on FPN to find a shopping fix--I mean suggestion.
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#10 dizzypen

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 19:40

Anyone have a pen recommendation for this ink? I have a bottle and am having a heck of a time getting the stuff to flow in my pens.

I put it in a broad nibbed Dollar 717i (one of the wettest, flow-y pens I've got) and it clogged the pen up almost immediately.

:unsure:

ETA: I do have a rather substantial amount of sediment at the bottom of my bottle. Is this "normal"?

Edited by dizzypen, 03 September 2010 - 19:47.

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#11 lapis

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 21:02

Richard is right, and everybody else here is right, too.
Diamine's RI is IMO certainly well behaved. I have as yet not seen any problems with it in any pen, except that I find it very dry.
But it's still not my favourite iron gall BB because it doesn't end up dark enough for my tastes (independent of the pen and nib and paper).

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#12 smeden

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 21:28

Anyone have a pen recommendation for this ink? I have a bottle and am having a heck of a time getting the stuff to flow in my pens.

I put it in a broad nibbed Dollar 717i (one of the wettest, flow-y pens I've got) and it clogged the pen up almost immediately.

:unsure:

ETA: I do have a rather substantial amount of sediment at the bottom of my bottle. Is this "normal"?


Could you be more specific about what you mean with "broad nibbed Dollar 717i". As far as I know these are only available with what the manufacturer calls a fine nib but what in reality is a fine-medium nib.

#13 wykeite

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 21:32

Diamine Registrars is my favorite ink. It does behave differently in most of my pens, in my Cross Century and a Parker 45 both with M nibs it does exactly what I want. It goes down reasonably wet, gives excellent shading and produces that lovely "retro" classic look. In my Dollar demonstrator that is not only wet but actually dumps great blobs of Diamine Midnight on the paper it writes acceptably but would have more character if it was wetter. I'm going to give it a go in a few more pens.

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#14 777

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 20:05

Very good review of an ink I have yet to look into. I'm not really into this specific color choice though... It looks a little... understated, that's all. I love your calligraphy though!

Regards,
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#15 carpedavid

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 20:17

Very good review of an ink I have yet to look into. I'm not really into this specific color choice though... It looks a little... understated, that's all. I love your calligraphy though!

Regards,
777


Thanks! Stay tuned for some reviews of Diamine inks that definitely aren't understated.
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#16 phr4nkr4wk5

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 20:47

What can I say, great review once again. All important characteristics presented in an attractive way.
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#17 777

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 21:18

Very good review of an ink I have yet to look into. I'm not really into this specific color choice though... It looks a little... understated, that's all. I love your calligraphy though!

Regards,
777


Thanks! Stay tuned for some reviews of Diamine inks that definitely aren't understated.


I sure will be looking for them!



Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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#18 dizzypen

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 01:13

Anyone have a pen recommendation for this ink? I have a bottle and am having a heck of a time getting the stuff to flow in my pens.

I put it in a broad nibbed Dollar 717i (one of the wettest, flow-y pens I've got) and it clogged the pen up almost immediately.

:unsure:

ETA: I do have a rather substantial amount of sediment at the bottom of my bottle. Is this "normal"?


Could you be more specific about what you mean with "broad nibbed Dollar 717i". As far as I know these are only available with what the manufacturer calls a fine nib but what in reality is a fine-medium nib.


It's the one I bought from you. I pulled the nib and it has a "B" on it. I assume that means broad... which reminds me, I'm supposed to send you an email. :doh:
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#19 smeden

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 10:37

Could you be more specific about what you mean with "broad nibbed Dollar 717i". As far as I know these are only available with what the manufacturer calls a fine nib but what in reality is a fine-medium nib.


It's the one I bought from you. I pulled the nib and it has a "B" on it. I assume that means broad... which reminds me, I'm supposed to send you an email. :doh:


I am not sure what that "B" really means. But they really are wet writers and this makes them write broader or at least it looks like that.

The Dollar studentPen (this is how the factory spells it) has a broader nib - a medium. It is also a very wet writer.

#20 Lloyd

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 15:59

... Diamine has been making the stuff since the 1860s, longer than any other modern ink maker has ben in business, ...


Ummm, what about J. Herbin?


They are not 'modern', J. Herbin is 'ancient' and honourable. Another class altogether.

Richard, how does Registrar do in BHR pens with gold nibs? Mine is a Waterman 12.

Did archaeologists unearth a bottle of Orange Indien in a dig in Mesopotamia?
Herbin is modern; I can go into a store and buy a new bottle of it.
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