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  1. Vicarious geographic exploration is one of the underestimated joys of fountain pens. Fill a pen with Diamine Sunshine Yellow and you're not that far away from Liverpool, where the Beatles got started and Diamine still makes ink. Intrigued by the economic development of Germany after reunification? Use a pen by Cleo Skribent, made in Bad Wilsnack, a village northwest of Berlin, in the former DDR. A new ink brand, Robert Oster Signature, transports us to Naracoorte, just north of the Great Australian Bight, or open bay, midway between Melbourne and Adelaide. The name Naracoorte is apparently derived from Aboriginal words for place of running water, or waterhole, which is appropriate. Of the more than 40 inks offered by Oster, half are blues and greens. At least 20 shades of blue-green would be needed just to document the bay. Photograph of Great Australian Bight at Nullarbor Plain, by Flickr contributor Michael Middleton, used under Creative Commons license A sample of Oster aqua was given to me by Amberlea Davis, a prolific ink reviewer and moderator on the Fountain Pen Network. This appears to be the first review of aqua on FPN, though fellow FPN ink reviewer Cyber6 has reviewed two dozen Oster inks, and Visvamitra has reviewed more than a dozen. Color and Shading Aqua is what I would call a green-heavy version of teal, a color that I truly enjoy. It shades beautifully, and creates dark halos around a slightly lighter inner core. It's dark enough for many professional environments. Range In addition to blue and green, Oster offers other colors derived from Australian iconography, including Bondi Blue and Barossa Grape. The Coonawarra wine-growing region is nearby, home to Penfolds, Yalumba, and Wynns wineries. Performance The ink performs well with a Nemosine Singularity 1.1 mm italic. It flows adequately, is fairly well lubricated, and exhibits no signs of feather or show-through on Strathmore 24-pound, 25 percent cotton ivory paper. It dries in less than 10 seconds, which is probably influenced by the paper absorbency. I'm not detecting sheen, but the halo effect is gorgeous, and sheen may be obtainable on less absorbent papers. Presentation Oster inks are available in a 50 ml PET bottle. A plastic resin, PET is recyclable and commonly used in food and drink bottles and jars. The bottle is somewhat tall and narrow, and though the opening is wide enough for nibs, the bottle is a little tall for its diameter, which makes it fairly easy to tip over. Unlike glass, however, PET is lightweight, which is relevant to shipping costs from Australia. Price and Availability Oster ink sells for about US $7.50 for a 50-milliliter bottle, which is more than reasonable. Unfortunately, shipping from Australia to the USA is double that. Several bottles could probably be combined for a single shipping charge, however. The inks are currently sold on eBay, though the Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery in Belgium carries them, and I suspect that Oster is exploring other distribution options. In the United States, two other Australian inks Blackstone and Toucan are offered by Anderson Pens and Vanness Pens. Conclusions Robert Oster aqua is a lovely teal color, lighter than the English Diamine teal and the Dutch Akkerman No. 24 Zuiderpark blauw-groen, and greener than the American Noodlers Navajo turquoise. It is ever-so-slightly bluer than Black Swan in Icelandic minty bathwater, a mix of Noodlers inks created by FPN contributor Masque. But certainly close enough for highway work. Since this ink comes all the way from Naracoorte, we'll call it the Riddoch Highway, and we'll dream about a drive through vineyards, farmland, ranches, and timber, on our way to the great, blue-green bay of Australia. https://goo.gl/maps/SY5rGqJmh6q





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