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In Praise Of Boring Inks.


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124 replies to this topic

#1 bayindirh

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 15:19

Note: This post has popped into my mind during refilling my pen. I just want to share my thoughts with you and maybe discuss on it a little bit. I'm not sure this post appropriate here so, if not, please feel free to delete/lock/do-the-required.

 

I'm using fountain pens for a long time. I have quite a few pens and inks. My best pen is probably an entry-level pen for others and, while I have a lot of inks in very nice and exotic colors, no shimmering or so-called extreme inks are present in my collections.

 

I've given some thought to it. I've looked through my ink choices. They are in the hall of fame of most boring inks. Lamy, Parker, maybe some Kawecos. The most interesting ink in my rotation is Noodler's bulletproof black since it's cellulose reactive and it's unremovable from paper (nice for journals and archives).

 

Then I concluded that boring inks are boring because of their properties. Color aside, these so-called boring inks are low maintenance and well-behaving inks, and that's a good thing in my book.

 

I like eye-searing blue of Baystate or the blackhole-like darkness of Aurora black. Other vivid inks or pigmented blacks are very enticing but, they're not practical inks most of the time. They need care. The pens that drink these inks need care and lastly, care needs time.

 

I don't have the time to clean a pen thoroughly sometimes. I cannot keep that ink flowing to prevent clogging or feeder damage sometimes. Hence I need practical inks. Inks that write without protest, clean without any resistance. Inks that are patient which, do not take revenge for not using them enough by eating pen feeds.

 

Boring inks are not only practical but, indeed perfect inks. They are under-appreciated, unloved heroes which look after our pens, sometimes better than us. They are the inks whose problems are solved and all rough edges are smoothed out.

 

Maybe we should find a new adjective for them. Boring is too cruel, cold. Standard is a better term, but standards vary. Maybe we can say neutral, who knows.

 

Don't push these inks aside but, love them and use them. They are no lesser than their shinier siblings. They are just a bit shy and introverted but, looking around for some love.



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#2 bizhe

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 15:28

Great topic. Pilot blue-black.

#3 txomsy

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 16:15

Great post!

 

Very well thought out and very well written. And you are most certainly right, we often overlook and forget to praise the little things that have the most importance.



#4 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 16:40

Hmmmm....neither neutral nor standard but WORKHORSES. And I love them.

#5 thudthwacker

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 17:11

Great topic. Pilot blue-black.

My first thought as well.  I love this ink.  Hilariously inexpensive, water-resistant, reliable, easy to clean out of a pen, and (on appropriate paper) with a nicely subdued sheen.  If Pilot ever adds a green with equivalent properties to its standard lineup, I shall spend a weekend figuring out how to mix my perfect teal, and use the results for pretty much everything, forever.



#6 Maccabeus

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 18:19

Boring inks are not only practical but, indeed perfect inks. They are under-appreciated, unloved heroes which look after our pens, sometimes better than us. They are the inks whose problems are solved and all rough edges are smoothed out.

 

Maybe we should find a new adjective for them. Boring is too cruel, cold. Standard is a better term, but standards vary. Maybe we can say neutral, who knows.

 

I'm OK with boring and practical. Boring = predictable = reliable. Practical = useful. 


Lux in Obscuro Sumus

 


#7 Aysedasi

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 18:30

Herbin Eclat de Saphir for me.  I always have loads of it and after I'm lured away by the lurid and unusual, I always go back to it.  Beats spending $100 in the Classifieds on a bottle of Penman Sapphire  ;)



#8 Bibliophage

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 18:55

I've been using Mont Blanc ink that's so old that the bottle says "Made in W. Germany" (Black), reconstituted Sheaffer washable Black (which is an interesting dark grey with green tinges), Camlin blue, 5280 purple, and modern Parker washable blue Quink.

 

I don't think I have _any_ exciting inks at all, other than Baystate Concord Grape, which hasn't misbehaved on me so far. 

 

I think the reason that the boring inks don't get any real mention is because they are boring.   Remember, bad reputation spreads faster than good reputation.  People complain faster than they compliment.

 

BW



#9 bayindirh

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 18:55

Thanks everyone for their support and favorite ink additions :) . I didn't expect this support TBH and I'm pleasantly surprised and happy.

 

I have a strange addiction to Parker's and Lamy's blue black inks. Noodler's bulletproof black is constantly surprising me too. I'm glad that I got the 4.5 oz version. :D



#10 sansenri

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 22:50

I must agree with you. I usually define them as "safe" inks.

 

There are also good reasons for "boring" inks to be "safe".

Usually they are the original formulas developed in the early/modern days of fountain pens (without going back to irongall made with real ok galls...).

The original formulations of Pelikan Royal blue, Parker Quink, Aurora blue, Waterman Florida, Lamy blue, etc. are most likely very similar in ingredients and concentration, and they contain very few additives. Same can be said for the blacks, and blue blacks probably.

As inks have developed, and producers have striven to find new formulas to make ink more vivid, fade less, shade more, flow better, look darker, produce sheen, and so on, formulations have become more complex.

Certainly some results are striking, but often the new characteristics come with some drawbacks (clogging, creeping, slow drying, etc.). The more additives you add the less ink behaves like a pure fluid...

 

Boring inks can be nice.

I would never give up Florida blue for example (Serenity). It's my reference blue.

Nor Pelikan royal blue, it's my testing ink. And often my starting base for ink mixing...

I like how they behave.

I do like more saturated inks, like Diamine Sargasso or Majestic and similar others, but they are slightly more troublesome in everyday use.

 

admittedly, curiosity does push you to also try other inks though...



#11 tinta

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 23:26

A blue/black ink with a grayish cast, Pelikan's 4001 Blue/Black would fit the moniker of "boring" . Its colour is less than exciting for a blue/black, yet I have used it for years in almost every pen rotation. 

I find dry Pelikan b/b ink valuable for taming "fire-hose" pens.


*Sailor 1911S, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *1911S blue "Colours", 14c. H-B "M" BLS (PB) *2 Sailor 1911-M Burgundy/gold pens: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Spec. Ed. "Fire",14c. (factory) "H-B" *2 Kaweco SPECIAL fountain pens: 14c."M" "B",-0.5 mm & 0.7 mm stubs (PB) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "B" -0.6 mm. stub (PB) *Montblanc 254, 14c. "BB" (1.1 mm?) flügelfeder factory stub

#12 minddance

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:44

for me, an ink has to be LEGIBLE and flow well enough in my Sailor ef and Plat ef and Pilot ef nibs.

if not, I will have to use them in broader nibs on absorbent papers.

#13 tonybelding

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:16

I hope you'll forgive me for being in a slightly cranky and disputant mood this morning.  It's not that I think you are wrong, as such, but I do feel like you are overstating your case.  And you do so rather eloquently, but I'm not going to balk at that.  So here goes…

 

I like eye-searing blue of Baystate or the blackhole-like darkness of Aurora black. Other vivid inks or pigmented blacks are very enticing but, they're not practical inks most of the time. They need care.
 
There.  That's what I mean.  "They're not practical inks most of the time."  That's overstatement.  If they really weren't practical inks most of the time, most of us wouldn't be using them most of the time.
 
The pens that drink these inks need care and lastly, care needs time.

Most of us here are fountain pen nerds, and spending a little time fiddling with our pens is not something we view like a trip to the dentist.

 

I don't have the time to clean a pen thoroughly sometimes. I cannot keep that ink flowing to prevent clogging or feeder damage sometimes.

 

Really?  Refreshing the ink in your pen every couple of days would kill your soul?

 

The demand for pens that require close to absolute zero in care or maintenance is a perfectly natural human impulse, and we know where it leads.  It leads to disposable ballpoints.  This is why they conquered the world.

 

Boring inks are not only practical but, indeed perfect inks.

 

I just feel like if they were truly "indeed perfect inks", then we wouldn't have the incredible scene in the ink market that we see today, and shopping for ink would be a lot more like it was when I started this hobby.  It would be pretty much Sheaffer Skrip, Parker Quink, Pelikan 4001 and Waterman.

 

There is a place for these old standby inks, and they continue to have many fans, and it's entirely proper that they do.  To appreciate them is fine.  However, it almost sounds like you regret the last thirty years of ink developments.  I definitely don't.  If it weren't for Parker Penman and Noodler's, I'm not sure I would even have become a fountain pen user.  The only fountain pen ink I knew in my younger old days was blue Skrip, and it wasn't doing much for me.



#14 migo984

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:50

There aren’t any boring inks, just personal preferences.

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#15 bayindirh

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 13:40

 

I hope you'll forgive me for being in a slightly cranky and disputant mood this morning.

 

Of course! We are all humans. We have moods and, that's perfectly OK. Even if you've written this answer while you were feeling perfectly positive, nothing would change on my part. We're just chatting and exchanging ideas here.

 

 

It's not that I think you are wrong, as such, but I do feel like you are overstating your case.  And you do so rather eloquently, but I'm not going to balk at that.  So here goes…

 

Thanks. I may be overstating, but it's not intentional.

 

 

There.  That's what I mean.  "They're not practical inks most of the time."  That's overstatement.  If they really weren't practical inks most of the time, most of us wouldn't be using them most of the time.

Most of us here are fountain pen nerds, and spending a little time fiddling with our pens is not something we view like a trip to the dentist.

 

Personally, I can see your point here and agree. Most of us are fountain pen nerds and, while I don't classify myself devoted as a nerd, fountain pens are my first choice while writing. I'm not dreading fiddling with my fountain pens. Actually I love that ritual. Filling, flushing, changing inks, understanding characteristics of a pen and ink combination is a long ritual I enjoy immensely while writing.

 

 

Really?  Refreshing the ink in your pen every couple of days would kill your soul?

 

No, on the contrary. It's not that I don't want to take care of my pens. I love fiddling and taking care of my pens. The reality is my life is a bit busy and unpredictable. Sometimes I fly away for a week or so for business reasons. Often I work till late even if I'm home (loving research is definitely a curse, let me tell you :)). When you're trying to finish something on time and you're working with a dragon breathing your neck, these duties inevitably slip. This is why I cannot risk using high maintenance inks. Damaging a pen or letting a full piston ink dry on my pen and go to waste is soul crushing for me.

 

Another reason is the paper that I have at hand. Not all paper I have is fountain friendly. Especially at work. So I have to use more modern and conventional writing tools. Because of this, fountain pens are a home-desk endeavor for me for some time.

 

 

I just feel like if they were truly "indeed perfect inks", then we wouldn't have the incredible scene in the ink market that we see today, and shopping for ink would be a lot more like it was when I started this hobby.  It would be pretty much Sheaffer Skrip, Parker Quink, Pelikan 4001 and Waterman.

 

Inks can be analogous to cars, I think. Some of the inks are supercars. They have needs and uses. You may have the funds and love for the endeavor but, if you don't have the time to drive your supercar, how you can enjoy it? It's same for me. I can buy a gallon of Baystate or any exquisite iron gall and use it as intended. However, when I don't have the time, this joy becomes a burden. It's wasteful to get something and not use it with its full potential if you ask me.

 

New inks are modern marvels and they're wonderful. Even some chemistries are better than the older inks possibly. I would like to buy a saturated Diamine or Noodler's and use it till my hands bleed but as I said, I would like to properly use it if I'm gonna do it. I'm really happy that we have more ink colors than a high-end flat panel can display.

 

 

However, it almost sounds like you regret the last thirty years of ink developments.  I definitely don't.  If it weren't for Parker Penman and Noodler's, I'm not sure I would even have become a fountain pen user.  The only fountain pen ink I knew in my younger old days was blue Skrip, and it wasn't doing much for me.

 

No, not a bit. As I aforementioned, on the contrary I'm thankful. The new colors may be drawing many in. I also love the new colors, especially dark greens and browns. Oldest formulas were not the safest either, to be honest. Not all people liked the old inks' colors or characteristics. I've grown with Mont Blanc standard blue (My father's choice) and 4001 washable blue (because, kids).

 

The point I was trying to make is "while there are super-inks and super-colors, some of the inks that we label as boring are some of the best-behaving inks even if you don't like its colors, let's not forget that". I was not trying to bash the newer producers, colors, chemistries even if some of them needs higher maintenance. If the post read as a "bashing to the newer inks", than I totally missed my point, and I'm sorry for that.



#16 Tom Kellie

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 14:47

The point I was trying to make is "while there are super-inks and super-colors, some of the inks that we label as boring are some of the best-behaving inks even if you don't like its colors, let's not forget that". I was not trying to bash the newer producers, colors, chemistries even if some of them needs higher maintenance. If the post read as a "bashing to the newer inks", than I totally missed my point, and I'm sorry for that.

 

 

~ bayindirh:

 

This thread has interested me as it discusses something which I'd never considered.

 

That there were inks which might be considered boring is new to me.

 

Reading the comments by others has been helpful.

 

*****************************************

 

May I please take the liberty of expressing my admiration for your writing style?

 

The gracious tone of your comments enhances the discussion.

 

I'd gladly read any comment you posted in any thread, even were the topic of limited interest, because of my respect for your warmth and courtesy.

 

Thank you for setting a high standard in your posts. It's an inspiration for me.

 

With Appreciation,

 

Tom K.



#17 hushmi

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 15:01

Favorite "Boring": Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue, Pilot Blue

Favorite "Well-behaved": Waterman Serenity Blue

Favorite "blues-that-I-am-going-to-get-frustrated-don't-flush-out-as-easily-as-Serenity-Blue": Iroshizuku Asa Gao and Kon Peki

 

Lately, Serenity Blue has been getting the most use out of any of my inks. 



#18 tonybelding

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 16:08

It seems we have less genuine difference of opinion than a mere difference of perspective and emphasis.  And that's fine.  So, let me pick up something you mentioned in passing:

 

Another reason is the paper that I have at hand. Not all paper I have is fountain friendly. Especially at work. So I have to use more modern and conventional writing tools. Because of this, fountain pens are a home-desk endeavor for me for some time.

Here you've hit on a subject of particular interest to me.  I would like to carry a fountain pen on my person, and I do sometimes have to fill out a form that was printed on cheap copy paper.  Sometimes I have to write on both sides, even.  I've been actively researching inks that could perform well in such situations.

 

For a long time Noodler's Black was my standby for this, and I really don't consider it a dangerous ink at all.  There's some question about Noodler's in general possibly being hard on rubber sacs, but I don't need to carry a pen with a rubber sac.  Noodler's Black is not pigment-based.  It is highly saturated, but really…  It should be fine if you don't let it dry out in your pen, and, properly speaking, you shouldn't let any ink dry out in your pen.  That's just a general no-no with fountain pens.

 

Despite my defense of Noodler's, I have moved away from that brand lately.  The last few bottles that I opened have become more and more inconsistent, so I began looking for alternatives.  I also began testing various inks for performance on cheap, absorbent paper.  This led to a few surprises.

 

Many of the old standby inks that you've mentioned turned out to be "not bad" in this respect.  Pilot Blue and Aurora Blue and Waterman Mysterious Blue worked a bit better than your average ink.  Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black was pretty good.  Iron Gall based inks, like Salix and Montblanc Midnight Blue, were even better, but those IG-based permanent inks are also higher-maintenance.

 

Then I discovered Diamine Eclipse, an almost-black ink that is non-permanent but outperformed even iron gall inks at not soaking through the page.  I've also been pointed toward Diamine in general by at least one pen repairman as a "safe" ink brand that should be compatible with latex rubber.  Well, Diamine have been in business for 150 years.  They should know a few things.



#19 A Smug Dill

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 16:18

Other vivid inks or pigmented blacks are very enticing but, they're not practical inks most of the time. They need care. The pens that drink these inks need care and lastly, care needs time.

 

I don't have the time to clean a pen thoroughly sometimes. I cannot keep that ink flowing to prevent clogging or feeder damage sometimes. Hence I need practical inks. Inks that write without protest, clean without any resistance. Inks that are patient which, do not take revenge for not using them enough by eating pen feeds.

 

 

I kept my most prized Pilot 'Hannya Shingyo' inked with (a single fill of) Platinum Carbon Black for at least six months last year. It hasn't been a problem at all, didn't clog the feed, didn't discolour the nib, didn't even wreck the 'consumable' CON-70 converter or stay stuck in it that my normal routine for cleaning CON-70 converters couldn't remove.

 

I kept my Aurora 88 Minerali piston-filled demonstrator filled with J.Herbin Améthyste de l'Oural shimmer ink for seven months straight. Again, it wasn't a problem to clean out.

 

My Pelikan M200 Smoky Quartz is "permanently" and continuously inked with Platinum Classic Ink Khaki Black iron-gall ink, even early on when it still had the original steel nib fitted. (I swapped it out several months later, late last year, only because I thought the steel nib on it is a better nib than the gold nib on my new M400 White-Tortoiseshell, and the prettier pen deserved the better nib.) Again, no damage and no problems observed.

 

If I'm "too busy" to make time to clean my pens, there's tomorrow. Or next week. I don't think I've ever wrecked a pen just by failing to get around to cleaning it two weeks earlier.

 

So I really don't understand other people's concern in this regard. The supposed risk of using pigment and shimmer inks seems awfully exaggerated to me.

 

 

But I do dislike cleaning CON-70 converters because flushing inside the hollow rod with a syringe fitted with a 22-gauge (or finer) needle is necessary, irrespective of how boring and/or well-behaved the ink in it may be.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#20 Bibliophage

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 18:36

I would say that most of my writing outside of my notebook is done on cheap copy paper and cheap notebooks - and the lined yellow tablets.   There's almost NOTHING that can write well on a yellow tablet anymore.   (The original ones were made when fountain pens were still around.  Now they're basically yellow toilet paper)

 

I've found that most of my inks write well on them, and I use a medium nib.   Fine nibs aren't my thing. 

 

The inks that don't write on copy paper well?   (or sketch paper) - it turns out that it's as much the pen as the ink. 

 

Anyway - Camlin Royal Blue writes fine on copy paper without making it impossible to write on the other side (unless you leave the nib sitting).   The 5280/Thornton's inks do the same.   (I believe they're the same as the Sheaffer inks - made in Slovenia)  I only have one bottle of Noodlers, Waterman, and Monteverde - I haven't opened them as of yet.   No Diamine.

 

I usually write with green, purple, black, and blue.  That's it.   I use boring colours from boring brands :)








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