Jump to content

Robert Oster Signature - Charcoal


Recommended Posts

Robert Oster Signature - Charcoal


Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. On his website, he describes our shared love quite eloquently: “Robert Oster Signature originates from one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world, the Coonawarra district of South Australia, an idyllic setting with great influence on the senses. There is my inspiration. It’s a joy to share it with you.” Well, we are certainly fortunate to have inspiring ink makers like Robert Oster to satiate our thirst for glorious inks.




In this review, the center stage is taken by Charcoal. Catherine from Sakura provided me with a sample of this ink to play around with – much appreciated! This particular incarnation of a Robert Oster ink is a purple-leaning grey. The ink provides good contrast with the paper, which is good. On the other hand, I found it to be quite dry in smaller nib sizes, which is not good (this with my Lamy Safari, which is itself on the dry side). Only with broader nibs did I achieve a pleasing writing experience. I liked the writing experience a lot when paired with a B-nib.




Charcoal shows some heavy shading, with quite a bit of contrast between the light and darker parts. I prefer my shading to be more subtle though – for me personally, heavy shaders are less aesthetically pleasing. The ink itself is a complex mixture, with multiple undertones. When used for drawing, you can bring these blue, red and green undertones to the surface in washes.
To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range.
Like most Robert Oster inks, Charcoal has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. This is evident from the chromatography – the ink detaches easily from the paper, as can be seen in the bottom part of the chroma. Smudge resistance is quite good though.

I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On every small band of paper I show you:
  • An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip
  • 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
  • An ink scribble made with an M-nib fountain pen
  • The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
  • A small text sample, written with an M-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Charcoal behaved perfectly on all paper types, with no visible feathering – not even on Moleskine paper, which is quite a feat. On the other hand, the ink shows some unusual chemistry on Moleskine paper, resulting in a sickly greenish colour. Really strange, and something I also observed with Purple Rock, which is also an ink with purple components. Could it be something with the chemistry of Robert’s purple dyes that clashes with the Moleskine paper ??? The same occurred – to a lesser degree – with Tomoe River paper. Charcoal manages to look quite ugly on Tomoe River. Overall, the ink dries quickly near the 5-second range, with makes it a suitable ink for lefties.
I also show the back-side of the different paper types at the end of the review. No troubles there, except with the Moleskine paper, which shows a bit of bleed-through. All in all, a very well-behaving ink.




Robert Oster Charcoal is a purple-grey ink, that is at its best in broader nibs, where it truly shows off its colour range and heavy shading. Unfortunately, the ink has no water resistance – the briefest touch of water completely obliterates your writing. The ink also has trouble with some types of paper – it looks horribly green on Moleskine paper, and looks rather sickly on Tomoe River. All things considered, I’m personally not impressed by this particular Robert Oster creation as a writing ink. For drawing, this ink has some potential, due to the complex undertones that easily surface in washes.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Back-side of writing samples on different paper types
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 7
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • namrehsnoom


  • lgsoltek


  • ENewton


  • titevm


Purple Rock is a similar color and not notably dry, but unfortunately it also turns green on certain papers, either initially (on holiday gift tags) or over time (on Tomoe River).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Purple Rock is a similar color and not notably dry, but unfortunately it also turns green on certain papers, either initially (on holiday gift tags) or over time (on Tomoe River).

Indeed. Purple Rock is a wetter (and also more daringly purple) ink in comparison to Charcoal, which makes it a superior ink in my book. But also that strange greenish effect on some papers, probably due to some of the same dyes used in both inks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Most Contributions

    1. amberleadavis
    2. PAKMAN
    3. Ghost Plane
      Ghost Plane
    4. inkstainedruth
    5. jar
  • Upcoming Events

  • Blog Comments

    • Shanghai Knife Dude
      I have the Sailor Naginata and some fancy blade nibs coming after 2022 by a number of new workshop from China.  With all my respect, IMHO, they are all (bleep) in doing chinese characters.  Go use a bush, or at least a bush pen. 
    • A Smug Dill
      It is the reason why I'm so keen on the idea of a personal library — of pens, nibs, inks, paper products, etc. — and spent so much money, as well as time and effort, to “build” it for myself (because I can't simply remember everything, especially as I'm getting older fast) and my wife, so that we can “know”; and, instead of just disposing of what displeased us, or even just not good enough to be “given the time of day” against competition from >500 other pens and >500 other inks for our at
    • adamselene
      Agreed.  And I think it’s good to be aware of this early on and think about at the point of buying rather than rationalizing a purchase..
    • A Smug Dill
      Alas, one cannot know “good” without some idea of “bad” against which to contrast; and, as one of my former bosses (back when I was in my twenties) used to say, “on the scale of good to bad…”, it's a spectrum, not a dichotomy. Whereas subjectively acceptable (or tolerable) and unacceptable may well be a dichotomy to someone, and finding whether the threshold or cusp between them lies takes experiencing many degrees of less-than-ideal, especially if the decision is somehow influenced by factors o
    • adamselene
      I got my first real fountain pen on my 60th birthday and many hundreds of pens later I’ve often thought of what I should’ve known in the beginning. I have many pens, the majority of which have some objectionable feature. If they are too delicate, or can’t be posted, or they are too precious to face losing , still they are users, but only in very limited environments..  I have a big disliking for pens that have the cap jump into the air and fly off. I object to Pens that dry out, or leave blobs o
  • Chatbox

    You don't have permission to chat.
    Load More
  • Files

  • Create New...