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Vintage Pen: Are My Inks Safe To Use?

noodlers de atramentis diamine iroshizuku sheaffer sheaffer balance vintage ink

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17 replies to this topic

#1 Prolix

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:15

A beautiful 1930's plunger vacuum-fill Sheaffer Balance has just come into my possession. Woo! It is my first vintage pen, and I want to take proper care of it. I'm trying to decide what ink to put in it. I have:

 

De Atramentis Aubergine

Diamine Oxblood

Noodler's Black Swan In Australian Roses

Noodler's Green Marine

Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku

 

What do you think of the safety of these inks in this pen? Should I avoid the Noodler's? Do I need to get different ink altogether?



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#2 RobbW

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:22

I've used both of those Noodler's and they wash right out.  Most Noodler's are pH neutral so they are gentle that way (the Baystate series are alkaline, that's why they cause interaction issues with other inks).

 

The only ink in your list that stands out to me is the Ku-Jaku.  Iroshizuku inks are mostly alkaline, while most other brands are acidic.  Use good pen hygene and you should be fine.



#3 Pentulant

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:25

While at the LA Pen Show last month, I went to a talk given by Susan Wirth. She doesn't like any of the "boutique" inks for vintage pens (saying that they make inks that look pretty, but may not work the greatest in your pen). She does, however, like Pilot Iroshizuku because it is made by a company that also makes pens.

 

I don't know if I'm totally into what she's saying and I have definitely filled my vintage pens with Diamine, De Atramentis, Private Reserve, Noodler's and others with no trouble, but there you go :)


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#4 ac12

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:29

The safest way is to use pen maker inks:

  • Sheaffer Skrip, for a Sheaffer pen
  • Parker Quink
  • Waterman
  • Pelikan
  • Pilot

The other thing to keep in mind is certain types of pens (including some vacs) are difficult to clean, so you would want to use an easy to clean ink.

I would avoid heavily saturated inks, because they are sometimes more difficult to clean.

I think your pen may have a semi-transparent barrel.  If so you should avoid any ink that might stain the barrel material.  This usually includes red inks, or inks with red as a component of the ink.


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#5 Paddler

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:33

I have a pen like that and Noodler's Green Marine. The two work fine together. I have no experience with your other inks. If you try any of those inks and the pen doesn't like them, you can flush them out with water with no problem.


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#6 MusterMark

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 20:41

I have a Sheaffer Balance as well. The section on mine is black, and the barrel has some ambering. So, I'm less worried about ink stains. I am careful, though, to use only easy to clean inks in that pen just because of the quirky filling mechanism. I like Waterman Serenity Blue. Haven't tried any of the inks you mention in the OP, though I'm generally a little more careful with red and purple inks as they seem to stain more than other inks. 



#7 Moose22

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 21:48

While at the LA Pen Show last month, I went to a talk given by Susan Wirth. She doesn't like any of the "boutique" inks for vintage pens (saying that they make inks that look pretty, but may not work the greatest in your pen). She does, however, like Pilot Iroshizuku because it is made by a company that also makes pens.

 

This is a ridiculous argument. She may be right or wrong, I am not making that judgement, but "Because they make pens" tells you NOTHING at all.

 

If she had a comment about ink chemistry, about staining, about pigments, or something, I'd be more willing to take her point. But Noodler's, for only ONE example, has a wide variety of ink recipes.

 

BSB is the notorious bad boy and I would not recommend that for anything but a standard CC pen as the Bay State line's chemistry is so different, but it is absolutely not reprentative of even Noodler's lineup, much less all of the newer brands. For instance, Noodler's also makes some cellulose reactive inks, some pretty run of the mill inks, some weird inks like Whaleman's Sepia, and some that will never come off of anything like Kung te Cheng. You treat each ink separately, taking Nathan's advice to not put Kung te Cheng in anything nice and not worrying at all with the more normal formula inks.

 

Anyway, in light of that rant, I don't think BSIAR is a pen destroyer. I've used it and continue to keep it in an esterbrook. It takes longer to clean than some other inks, but no biggie. I have used three Iroshizuku inks in vintage pens and don't think twice about them. I actually didn't know they were alkaline, so this thread has taught me something. A normal flush should be just fine when changing to a different ink from iroshizuku, regardless.

 

I don't have personal experience with DeAtrementis, but the Diamine samples I've used have come clean just fine.

 

Red inks are generally harder to get out of a pen than others. I had a J Herbin red in an old Watermans, flushed, flushed, flushed, and finally got it to run clear. But then I put in some Sailor blue and got blurple. A really COOL blurple, but it didn't run true to the Sailor blue until the second fill of the pen a week later. I guess there was STILL some red in the nooks of the feed, but the pen isn't harmed in any way. That pen has no ink window, though, so I don't know if the interior is stained.



#8 Pentulant

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 21:52

Let me backtrack (sorta) for a moment.  That "because they make pens" comment did not come out of her mouth.  What she said, more accurately, was that boutique ink shops (such as Noodler's and others) have the job of making the inks look good. Pen makers have the job of making the pens look good - and to make the pen look good, they make ink that will work well specifically in their pens.  

 

The point I was trying (and perhaps failing) to make is that some people think it's not wise to use modern boutique inks in vintage pens.  I do it all of the time - I'm going to keep doing it.


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#9 WirsPlm

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 23:18

I use all kinds of inks in all kinds of pens and have no problems (I'm not a fanatic about cleaning either, I left Noodler's black inks in a pen for several months without cleaning), and I've never had any problems caused by the inks. The troublesome ink from Noodler's are the Baystate inks which are openly weird (unique ink chemistry) and are definitely a risk in pens, so long as you avoid those you should be fine, sometimes thicker inks take longer to wash out (KTC and La Reine Mauve, both are gorgeous but hard to deal with) but I've never had them do bad things to my pens. I think a lot of the hype about various inks is just hype, several cases I've seen where people started out blaming the ink turned out to have different causes (BSB has definitely done bad things to pens, but since it's not on your list you don't need to worry about that :) ).

#10 haziz

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 01:08

You are probably safe with your Pilot Iroshizuku.

Stick with Waterman, Sheaffer Skrip, Parker Quink or Pelikan ink and you will be fine. I suspect you would be fine with Pilot inks as well.



#11 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 03:14

Right now I have Diamine Steel Blue in my Esterbrook J and Diamine Sherwood Green in my late 1960's Parker 45 Flighter. Haven't had problems with either.

 

That being said after experimenting with some of my other inks, I don't like Noodler's 54th Massachusetts in the Esterbrook. Tried a sample of Bad Green Gator and while the color was cool as it was similar to the pen (green) I didn't like the amount of nib creep I saw. Pelikan Blue Black and my Diamine inks work nicely in it though. (have Classic Red, Steel Blue, Sherwood Green and Blue Black)


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#12 Moose22

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 03:51

 

 

The point I was trying (and perhaps failing) to make is that some people think it's not wise to use modern boutique inks in vintage pens.  I do it all of the time - I'm going to keep doing it.

 

 

That's fine, and makes sense as an emotional argument. My counter point is that I won't believe them unless they provide a valid argument based on some area of expertise.

 

For example, have they seen problems, personally? Do they have a reason they would expect to see problems due to chemistry or composition? Etc.

 

Think about this example. Sailor makes pens, Sailor makes inks. I'm a fan of their inks and own several, but the difference between the performance of Sailor Blue and the Sailor made Hakodate Twilight is remarkable in terms of flow, hard starting, lubrication, etc. The former flows freely and is lubricated, the latter will be slow in the nib if you lift the pen for 20 seconds, or after leaving it capped for a couple of hours. Then, Sailor Blue is a basic durable ink, HT is a heavy shading ink with crazy sheen, so the inks are extremely different even though both are put out by a major pen manufacturer.

 

But, then, that's the good thing about this place. I can say "Rouge Hematite was hard to wash out, but I was able to get the pen clean" or "Kung te Cheng stained a pen and is hard starting, so I only use it in ONE pen to limit damage" and people can draw the conclusion they will without having to view an entire brand based on one of their oddball products. I suspect anyone who doesn't realize Tanzanite is impossible to wash out easily or that Scabiosa is tends to run dry just lacks some google-foo here.



#13 amberleadavis

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 21:21

Let's not forget that the Parker Penman line of inks though beautiful, were the ones that destroyed Parker Pens.  (Ask Frank C about that story).  

 

 

 I suspect anyone who doesn't realize Tanzanite is impossible to wash out easily or that Scabiosa is tends to run dry just lacks some google-foo here.

 

Or experience.  I had to try it to believe it.

 

Any ink left in the pen will do bad stuff.  

 

Overall, I would say that you can use your inks, but don't leave them undisturbed and flush them out between ink changes.


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#14 Prolix

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 21:48

Thanks for all the feedback! Since none of the inks seem to have a reputation as vile pen-melters, I guess I'll just do some trials and see which inks the pen likes. The section is black, so I'm not overly worried about staining ... not that I would put BSB, Imperial Purple, or something of that sort in it anyway.

 

Some eye-candy of pen in question:

 

photo.jpg



#15 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 21:58

I was about to make a comment about staining and not leaving anything red in the pen too long (Oxblood being the trigger), but I like to read to the end of a thread before I make a noise.  It looks like you're maxed out on staining, if you're not seeing the ink level in alternating stripes in the barrel.  If the section is all black, and it's not a notably early model of Balance, which the clip says it's not, then you should have a see-through barrel.  If you don't then you've little left to worry about, bar the aforementioned Bay State number.


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#16 dgturner

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 22:24

I agree with Ernest, it seems that you already have an issue with transparency, so choose your colors with gusto. Having said that, and being one to use nearly any ink (save the aforementioned bad boys) in any pen, I will offer a cautionary tale. I recently had three sacs melt, one with Noodler's (color forgotten, but not one i expected problems from), one with Sailor Jently Blue-Black, and one with Sheaffer's Blue-Black... The sac's were all new and from different vendors. I have a nasty feeling that my inks may have become a wee bit concentrated over time [I'm not saying that I have a problem, but i may have more ink than I can readily use...]. 

The point is that even a well-behaved ink might become roguish if allowed to concentrate (though it should not be a problem for a vacuum filler -- I love those!!!!!!!).

 

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#17 Lou Erickson

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 22:52

Opaque or not, that's a very handsome pen.  I usually see the brown or blue.  The red is quite striking.


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#18 amberleadavis

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 23:34

Wow that is eye-candy, thank you for sharing.


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