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Permanent Ink For Vintage Pens?



ColdDeadHand

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I have a bit of a hangup for permanent inks, and this is often at odds with my passion for vintage pens. Do you think I'm going to take apart a Parker Vacumatic, clean it, replace the diaphragm, admire the clarity of the barrel that has survived for 70 or 80 years, and then fill it with Heart of Darkness? No. That is not happening. I love HoD, but that goes into modern pens that I don't really give a darn about.

 

Inks with no water resistance are uninteresting to me. Yes, I have a bottle of Waterman Serenity Blue. It's used for dip tests after I refurbish a pen, but there is no way I would write in my journal with it, the audience for my journal is my family, but a hundred years from now. Dr. Murphy would assert that it's basically impossible for a journal to survive a hundred years without being subjected to some spillage of liquid, and the likelihood of spillage is probably higher around me, considering the amount of coffee I consume daily.

 

So...

First, I'd like to know your opinions on the 2 inks that I do use: Platinum Blue Black (the regular ole' dye-based version, not the pigment-based version) and Platinum Forest Black (good old iron gall, which I assume was used a good bit on any older pen before I got to it). Is there any sound reasoning or scientific evidence that would tell us not to trust these two inks in my vintage pens?

 

Next, I'm looking for a black. As stated, I have Heart of Darkness, but I just couldn't put that into an old Vac. I have a bottle of Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black that came included in an eBay auction, and I probably will never open it, not in all my life, because it's not permanent at all. What if the ancient Egyptians had used such junk to write on their papyrus? What if the ancient scribes had used impermanent ink to copy the Torah? Imagine all the culture we would have lost to the eons.

 

My current options for black inks are:

"GRAF VON FABER-CASTELL CARBON BLACK

DE ATRAMENTIS ARCHIVE INK

DE ATRAMENTIS DOCUMENT INK - BLACK"

 

To be clear, I'm open to hearing about any permanent inks that will not kill the rubber internals or celluloid walls of old pens. When I say "permanent," I don't mean "eternal and unmoving," but it would be nice to know that if it falls into a river and I fish it out, that what is left when I dry the paper will still be legible.

 

Your suggestions?

I can stop any time.

-Me

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First, I would not be using any pigmented ink in a pen I wasn't prepared to disassemble to clean. That includes any carbon ink, Sailor Sei-Boku Blue Black and Platinum pigment Blue and Black.

 

I would also avoid any iron-gall ink, as they work by precipitating out black iron oxide particles when oxygen gets at the ink.

 

Other than that, any of the less saturated dye-based permanent inks like Koh-i-noor Document Blue and Black, and Pilot Blue, Black and Blue-Black would be suitable for a vintage pen.

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Inks with no water resistance are uninteresting to me. Yes, I have a bottle of Waterman Serenity Blue. It's used for dip tests after I refurbish a pen, but there is no way I would write in my journal with it, the audience for my journal is my family, but a hundred years from now. Dr. Murphy would assert that it's basically impossible for a journal to survive a hundred years without being subjected to some spillage of liquid, and the likelihood of spillage is probably higher around me, considering the amount of coffee I consume daily.

 

 

I'm in the same boat as you...I want my journals to have ink that will last as long as they do. I also think vintage flex is the greatest writing experience in the universe. Sadly, I think we're kind of limited with our options. I believe your best bet is Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black. It's extremely water resistant, cleans out of my vintage pens fine, and is just a fantastic all-around ink. For a black ink, in addition to Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black, Herbin Perle Noire is definitely vintage pen safe and many attest to its water resistance. I've found that if the paper is absorbent enough (which ironically is usually cheap paper), some inks like Pelikan and Pilot Blue-Black can be pretty close to waterproof.

 

The DA Document inks have stained the converters on my modern pens, so I'd hate to think of what they could do in a vintage pen that cannot be disassembled regularly.

 

Can anyone share experiences about using Platinum Blue-Black (the standard one with a little IG content) in vintage pens. It cleans out so easily from every pen I've put it in and totally lacks the sediment I get with IG inks like ESSRI, so I wonder if it's okay for vintage pens so long as you don't let it dry out inside.

Edited by TruthPil

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My limited standards include --

 

1) PERMANENT: I write with it. I can still read it, the next time I look. The time duration is usually five or six years. Thereafter, it is misplaced or discarded.

2) WATERPROOF: After thirty seconds of drying, on my everyday paper, I drip water on the image.

After ten seconds, I blot with a dry paper. The writing must remain readable, with negligible ink transfer to the blotting paper.

 

Most of my usual inks qualify. In my vintage pens, I try to limit the ink to inks available during the retail life of the vintage pen. Generally, Pelikan 4001 , Parker Quink, and Sheaffer Script.

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön !

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As suggested above I would go with one of the traditional permanent blue-black inks (eg. Pelikan 4001 BB, Pilot BB, or Platinum BB). They may not be waterproof but they are very water resistant and much easier to clean out. These inks, particularly, Pelikan BB, are pretty resistant to smearing, bleeding, or feathering.

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Thanks to all of you for a very informative thread.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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Thanks for all your input, folks.

 

I thought 4001 had a rep for not being light-fast, or was that a colour other than BB?

 

I also see a bit in various places that the DA Doc series stains pens too much, but I really want to be told they're safe! Does anyone have any positive experience of DA Doc inks in vintage pens?

Hi, I'm Mat


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Thanks for all your input, folks.

 

I thought 4001 had a rep for not being light-fast, or was that a colour other than BB?

 

I also see a bit in various places that the DA Doc series stains pens too much, but I really want to be told they're safe! Does anyone have any positive experience of DA Doc inks in vintage pens?

I'm looking at my light fast tests right now and both Black and Blue-black show significant fading after a couple months in the window. The black turned brown but is fully legible. The blue-black turned gray and is mostly legible.

 

As for the DA document inks, I've only tried red and turquoise. The red stained both converters I put it in (to be fair, it was in them for weeks) and the turquoise stained my TWSBI demonstrator section after a mere day in the pen and required major scrubbing to remove. I wouldn't put those inks even near any sac pen or pen that can't be completely taken apart for cleaning.

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Thanks! I have several black Osmiroid 65s with a variety of nibs I change around and wash each time, so I'm probably safe using DA Docs in them then. It's not like the ink is going to melt them, I'll be keeping them moving, and they're not irreplaceable. And one time use in BCHR flex, followed by washing them out each time is probably OK, too, then right?

Hi, I'm Mat


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Thanks! I have several black Osmiroid 65s with a variety of nibs I change around and wash each time, so I'm probably safe using DA Docs in them then. It's not like the ink is going to melt them, I'll be keeping them moving, and they're not irreplaceable. And one time use in BCHR flex, followed by washing them out each time is probably OK, too, then right?

 

As long as there's no ink window or anything you're worried about staining (which would be odd - don't see ink windows often on HR pens), yeah! Hard rubber is an incredibly chemically resilient material. You won't hurt it with any ink you can find. Nathan Tardiff (owner of Noodler's and InkNeedLastForever on YouTube) recently put out a video testing ebonite in various harsh solvents - all *much* harsher than anything in fountain pen ink. Check it out!

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As long as there's no ink window or anything you're worried about staining (which would be odd - don't see ink windows often on HR pens), yeah! Hard rubber is an incredibly chemically resilient material. You won't hurt it with any ink you can find. Nathan Tardiff (owner of Noodler's and InkNeedLastForever on YouTube) recently put out a video testing ebonite in various harsh solvents - all *much* harsher than anything in fountain pen ink. Check it out!

Yeah, the DA Doc inks won't harm the pen's material, but I personally wouldn't leave them in a vintage pen for more than a day or two due to their tendency to want to leave a part of themselves behind which could clog your pen if left for too long. Also the staining wouldn't matter in a sac pen because you don't see the sac.

 

One issue other than safety with these inks would be writability. DA Doc inks are usually very wet and prone to feathering and bleed through and vintage pens are usually wet writers. The combination would probably create a firehose writing experience.

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I would NOT put carbon black in a vintage pen, especially if it was expensive or isn't easy to clean. As this category of ink didn't exist back then, so there is no way they could have tested those pens with this sort of ink. That being said, I did use Platinum Carbon with an Esterbrook once, but it was not trivial to clean.

 

If I were you, I would go for some classic iron gall ink, like ESSRI. That will definitely be permanent, and iron gall was a thing back then so all vintage pens are probably designed to work with it.

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As long as there's no ink window or anything you're worried about staining (which would be odd - don't see ink windows often on HR pens), yeah! Hard rubber is an incredibly chemically resilient material. You won't hurt it with any ink you can find. Nathan Tardiff (owner of Noodler's and InkNeedLastForever on YouTube) recently put out a video testing ebonite in various harsh solvents - all *much* harsher than anything in fountain pen ink. Check it out!

 

Cheers for the vid recommendation, sounds good. I've always thought my BHR seemed far more durable than a lot of the plastics.

Osmiroids, however, are injection-moulded plastics of some kind and have a reputation for serious warping in most of the colours other than black (which is one reason apart from price that I mostly stick to trusty black), especially in the older round-tops. I think there are one or two models older than the 65 (which came out around 1950?) which may be BHR, but I don't know, and they don't fit the screw tips.

 

The 75 have ink windows, but they're usually stained anyway or maybe started out in a strange dirty brown-ish colour, so I'm not worried about staining with those either.

 

Yeah, the DA Doc inks won't harm the pen's material, but I personally wouldn't leave them in a vintage pen for more than a day or two due to their tendency to want to leave a part of themselves behind which could clog your pen if left for too long. Also the staining wouldn't matter in a sac pen because you don't see the sac.

 

One issue other than safety with these inks would be writability. DA Doc inks are usually very wet and prone to feathering and bleed through and vintage pens are usually wet writers. The combination would probably create a firehose writing experience.

 

Ahh, now that's extremely helpful! Osmiroid are pretty dry writers I find, so it may be a good combination. I've rarely had feathering problems with them either, but maybe that's mostly down to the dryness. May be time to buy a couple and see.

 

I would NOT put carbon black in a vintage pen, especially if it was expensive or isn't easy to clean. As this category of ink didn't exist back then, so there is no way they could have tested those pens with this sort of ink. That being said, I did use Platinum Carbon with an Esterbrook once, but it was not trivial to clean.

 

If I were you, I would go for some classic iron gall ink, like ESSRI. That will definitely be permanent, and iron gall was a thing back then so all vintage pens are probably designed to work with it.

 

I didn't know DA Docs were classed as carbon inks, so thanks for that.

 

I thought, however, IG inks are too acidic to leave in contact with metals in old or vintage pens...? Their pedigree is from quills and wooden pens back to medieval times, IIRC, so their development is nothing to do with the development of fountain pens.

Hi, I'm Mat


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If your Osmiroids are anything like my dry writing Sheaffer NoNonsense pens, then they will love the DA Doc inks. My Sheaffer with a 1.0mm nib writes amazingly with DA Doc red.

 

The DA Inks aren't carbon inks, but I do believe they contain pigment particles like Sailor and Platinum permanent inks do. The pigment is not nearly as clogging prone as I found the Platinum pigments to be.

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I didn't know DA Docs were classed as carbon inks, so thanks for that.

 

I wasn't talking about De Atramentis, I was talking about the carbon ink you mentioned: Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black. Not sure if this is actually carbon ink, or just a name though, but I felt it necessary to mention the warning about carbon inks.

 

 

I thought, however, IG inks are too acidic to leave in contact with metals in old or vintage pens...? Their pedigree is from quills and wooden pens back to medieval times, IIRC, so their development is nothing to do with the development of fountain pens.

 

AFAIK, IG inks were in wider use back then, so fountain pen manufacturers ensured they are usable. IG inks should NOT be corrosive to a fountain pen with a gold or stainless steel nib. In fact IG is the reason they used gold nibs before stainless steel was invented, as it corrodes non-stainless steel.

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If your Osmiroids are anything like my dry writing Sheaffer NoNonsense pens, then they will love the DA Doc inks. My Sheaffer with a 1.0mm nib writes amazingly with DA Doc red.

 

The DA Inks aren't carbon inks, but I do believe they contain pigment particles like Sailor and Platinum permanent inks do. The pigment is not nearly as clogging prone as I found the Platinum pigments to be.

 

Osmiroid italic nibs are about the same as NNs, even a little drier (certainly at the 1.9 mm NN B size). I generally use Osmiroid when I want a finer, sharper feel. I do love the NN F size though... so definitely up for a foray into DA Doc. One last question (maybe?!): have you tried the DA Doc white and if so, how does it perform? Is it opaque enough to use on dark papers? And does that perform significantly worse in a fountain pen (I imagine it's thicker)?

 

 

I wasn't talking about De Atramentis, I was talking about the carbon ink you mentioned: Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black. Not sure if this is actually carbon ink, or just a name though, but I felt it necessary to mention the warning about carbon inks.

 

 

AFAIK, IG inks were in wider use back then, so fountain pen manufacturers ensured they are usable. IG inks should NOT be corrosive to a fountain pen with a gold or stainless steel nib. In fact IG is the reason they used gold nibs before stainless steel was invented, as it corrodes non-stainless steel.

 

Ah, that wasn't me, that was the OP, ColdDeadHand. I would also assume an ink called 'carbon' something was a carbon ink!

 

As for IG, just had a quick ferret around again, and most sources concur that standard (old) IGs would very quickly corrode the non-gold and non-iridium metals in a pen, including stainless steel. Modern variations, which contain a lot less of the active iron gall component and are also less acidic, tend to behave much better, with paper too, as does modern stainless steel apparently. The older ones tend to be thicker too, and will clog fountain pens. In short, best avoided in any vintage pens, especially those with other metals.

Hi, I'm Mat


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Osmiroid italic nibs are about the same as NNs, even a little drier (certainly at the 1.9 mm NN B size). I generally use Osmiroid when I want a finer, sharper feel. I do love the NN F size though... so definitely up for a foray into DA Doc. One last question (maybe?!): have you tried the DA Doc white and if so, how does it perform? Is it opaque enough to use on dark papers? And does that perform significantly worse in a fountain pen (I imagine it's thicker)?

 

 

Sorry, I haven't tried the Da Doc white. I found out that DA Doc yellow is another stainer. I've been using it half diluted with water in an eye-droppered Preppy highlighter pen for a few weeks. Cleaned out the pen today and the entire inside of the barrel was stained yellow. That's three for three staining DA Doc inks for me, so I'd be really careful about putting them in a pen that you can't thoroughly clean.

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