I gathered numerous fountain pens (own ones and those from friends) and measured their ink capacities. I also took a couple of converters – proprietary ones such as for Lamy or Sailor as well as standard international ones (SI). This list cannot be representative since it does not contain any eyedroper pen …
The measurements were performed quite simply: With the respective pen or converter, I sucked up water from a little container and spilled it into a little bottle with a scale (the little blue thingy in the title picture filled with blue substitute). I spilled out as much as possible (by turning the twisting turning knob of the pens and converters several times), but of course, a little bit of ink was always left in the feed. Anyway, the measurements give you quite precise impression of how much ink can be hold by each fountain pen or converter. Therefore, the measurements are sort of the minimum one can expect (I would guess anyway that the feed can hold max. 0,1ml, depending on its size – but this is only a guess, nothing more).
It is not a surprise that the converters have quite low ink capacities (around 0,6-0,8ml), but it is actually a surprise that the big and girthy pens do not hold enormous ink amounts, either. Eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 149ers or the Pelikan M1000 – as these two are the flag ship pens of the respective pen brands. In turn, some of the smallest and thinnest pens hold quite much ink, eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 14 from the sixties as well as the MB 24. Both hold 1,6ml and 1.5ml, respectively. Also the rather small Pelikan M200/400 hold 1.3ml/1.4 ink which is comparable with the significantly bigger pens M600 and M800 from the same brand (both 1,3ml).
Very low ink capacities are shown in the Heritage Rouge-et-Noir-Series by Montblanc. I had two of them for measurement and both hold not more than 0,6ml of ink … even a Montblanc converter or an unbranded one (standard international which fits into old Montblanc Noblesses or Slim Lines or even into modern Graf von Faber-Castell converter-pens) hold substantially more ink (0,8-0,9ml). That is a bit dissapointing. Similarly behaving the converters from Sailor and Platinum (0,6ml). The Kaweco converter holds least ink of all the converters checked here, but this one has to fit into a very small Kaweco Sport – a very small pen … What do we learn from this? Size doesn’t matter …
ink capacity [ml]
Kaweco Converter (for KW Sport)
Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral
Montblanc Heritage R&N Tropic Brown
Platinum President Converter
Sailor 1911 Large Converter
Lamy Converter (Al-Star, Lx, Safari)
Cleo Skribent Ebonite
Montblanc 3-44 G
Pelikan Converter (threads)
No Name Converter (“SI”)
MB Converter (looks “SI”, for Slim Line and Noblesse)
Since may be 2-3 years shimmer inks became more visible in the fountain pen and ink “scene”, I would say. I never had a huge like for these inks but I tested one exemplar. It was the J. Herbin ink 1670 Bleu Ocean, ca. two years ago. Actually, I was not satisfied at all with this ink. Neither it shew (and still shows) a well behavior on the technical side (it bleeds through) nor has it a well shimmer effect. I was disapointed. But may be I got a bottle from an extremely bad production day – I don’t know. Lateley, I got aware of Diamine Shimmer Inks. I was sceptical in the beginning, but from that what I saw in the web I was very excited. Well, that happens quite often. I see all the well prepared ink tests, showing copper plate tests or writing samples with very nice and adorable exceuted hand writing – very, very nice, indeed but in practice … well.
I bought 2 bottles and since I was quite happy, I got 4 more bottles, afterwards.
Today, I want to show you 6 shimmer inks from Diamine and the above mentioned J.Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean ink:
Diamine Sparkling Shadows (grey ink, with golden flakes)
Diamine Golden Oasis (green ink with golden flakes)
Diamine Blue Flame (dark blue ink with golden flakes)
Diamine Blue lighning (turquoise ink with silver flakes)
Diamine Shimmering Seas (blue-black ink with golden flakes)
Diamine Golden Sands (light-brown ink with golden flakes) – my absolute favorite
J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean (very dark blue with little golden shimmer)
All in all, none of the Diamine inks are disapointing (to me). Quite the opposite, they have very good properties in terms of show through and bleed through, but I checked only on Rhodia White, 80g/m2 which is a quite well performing paper and suitable for fountain pen inks. However, the J.Herbin ink is actually bleeding through. The darker inks do show through quite visible but for me it is no big deal. My favorite ink is in any case the Golden Sands ink followed by the Golden Oasis.
Apart from the esthetical perspective, I didn’t run into problems with the ink flow or with congested feeds, at all! This is a good sign. The Golden Sand ink contains very much of the glitter (accordong to my feeling). I filled one of my pens with it over one month and it has shown no issues in this period. Also, after one week of not using it. Hence, I trust these inks in this respect. What I anyway not dare to do is filling such an ink into a Montblanc whose guaranty (2 years) has not yet expired, because the people from MB are so picky in this respect. I heard if one encounters feed-related issues the guaranty is no longer valid for these parts of the pen. It is obvious, that it is easier to find remnants from shimmer inks than from regular inks in a feed and MB does not produce shimmer inks (per September 2017). But ok, this is for many people a no-brainer, anyway.
I can summarize actually here all pros and cons because at least the Diamine inks show the same behavior. All inks are quite wet (for me it is a plus), the darker inks are highly saturated, no bleed through, a level of show through in accordance to their brightness (quite normal, I would say), a strong shimmerimg effect – here it turned out, the brighter the ink, the stronger the effect. Also, all inks show a good to phantastic shading – the brighter/lower saturated, the stronger. Everything else is a matter of taste, so enjoy the photographs and scans (individual issues worth to be reported you will find in the figure captures.
I find, shimmer inks adding a graet value to the handwriting if used for letters or birthday cards and stuff like this – may be not to a signature under an employment contract or a peace treaty … but hey, its peace, man …
Hi folks. When I last week uploaded the report about orange inks, I was already sure, that I have missed at least one orange ink. After a while it was clear, which ink it was: Diamine Blaze Orange. Verdammt, god verdomde, fy fæn, dammit – those were the words which came straight to my mind in order to compensate my own stupidness. Because it came even worse, actually! Oh yes! I have forgotten also the more yellowish Rohrer & Klingner Schreibtinte Helianthus. The last one I found when I searched for the Diamine ink which is filled in one of the typical unpretentious 30ml-mini-plastic-bottles, which are easily to oversee in the cave I call my treasure chest of ink (or the other way round).
Well, I decided not to stuff the report from last week with the two new inks but writing an addendum. Since it was appropriate, I compared both inks (remember: orange and yellow) with its most fitting “counterparts” from the last report – just see the images. By the way, in the writing samples, I call the Diamine Blaze Orange wrongly “Blazing” Orange, I apologize for this mistake.
Diamine Blaze Orange
wet but not very wet
going to be saturated
no bleed through on Rhodia paper and Oxford (I did not checked Ikea)
good properties in terms of show through on same paper mentioned above. But of course, the ink is higher saturated so you really see something on the reas side oft he paper.
Cheap! I had hope this ink would be very similar to the expensive Montblanc ink Lucky orange (remember: Diamine Amber does not differ so much from MB Golden Yellow), but my hopes were destroyed, both inks look different (not on the photographs I uploaded here).
Again, the narrow opening of the little bottle. It allows only converters or slimmer piston pens to slip into it. But bigger glass-bottles from Diamine do not show this kind of flaws (than again, these ones do not allow to incline (as Pelikan-4001-ink bottles do) to let pens get refilled more easily.
The ink itself is quite proper, I don’t see any issue. But I expect the same draw backs on cheap papers as for the other orange inks.
very wet (yes, for people who like it on the dry side oft he spectrum, this is a con)
although not very fancy, I like the design oft he bottle and the label
quite cheap ink
nothing very particular, but the ink dries out at the bottle (threads) so that an orange powder remains (see image). I recognized the same behavior at the Montblanc Golden yellow ink (without mention it in the last report). This is actually not an issue, but the powder may fall down on your clothes, so take care! I had no issues so far with congested feeds or so, but I use to clean the pens quite often. Thus, in case you get the ink dry out in your pen you might run into problems. I am not willing to test that out.
OK, I admit it, I like orange and yellowish inks! They give me the feeling of summer and the sun, which I miss so much here up north where I use to live. Seriously! However, I don’t use those inks very often, anyway … Why? Because I have seen it enough after a while. And because there are also other beautiful ink colors such as blue shades, red shades or brown shades (one can argue, the latter ones are just darker orange tones – that’s right … but then again, not entirely true: a cup of coffee, even if diluted with milk, has nothing in common with orange juice. OK, both are drinks).
I had a look on the following inks:
Montblanc Lucky Orange
Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
Montblanc Golden Yellow
and a roller ball pen from Mitsubishi (uni-ball orange with a fine tip)
Well, ok, this is my first ink review. And it will be very subjective. I don’t have the possibilities to test the ink with 5 different papers in five different pens (filled each ink, that is), or performing a chromatography, although it would be very exciting, but I don’t have, and will not get chromatography-paper here in Norway, either. Therefore, I will perform a “test” on the papers or notebooks I use to write on most of the time. These are paperblanks journals/note books, Rhodia paper (in white and ivory, i.e. 80g/m2 and 90g/m2) and Oxford or Clairefontaine. Ooops, that’s already five … Ok, but I won’t test 10 papers, basta!
I found it anyway interesting to see how these inks behave on cheap paper such as from IKEA. And since my interest has awaken, I also tried Leuchtturm paper as well as an Oxford office book which was laying around open a couple of weeks and caught moisture (I can tell you it behaves completeley different compared to “fresh” paper). Therefore, an ink-review is always also a paper review, at least partly.
First I tried to scan the writing sample rather than shoot a still of it, because the white balance is tricky to keep constant over several test episodes. But it turned out the scanner resembles the color, and shading of the inks very badly. Thus, I came back to still fotography – even though the white balance is going to hell … But then again, your screens, my honoured readers, will most likely be not calibrated, anyway.
I found some criteria to be important: shading, wetness, show through, bleed through as well as the subtle changes of the line width caused by different absorbency of the papers (I will show you examples).
Since I really investigated the behavior in depth I will devote a separate blogpost to this, afterwards (Part II). However, in order to keep the heads up of the readers so far (you are falling asleep, don’t you?), I come to the point right below.
In the order of my best liking.
very good shading
low saturation (I like this feature, people who don’t, may put this into the cons-section)
quite wet (which I also like)
no bleed through and show through (strong decline for papers not suitable for fountain pens, though. But that is valid for other inks, too – that’s why these papers are not fountain pen ink friendly).
nothing, unless one loves dry inks or higher saturated fluids
ok, there is one more thing: the small 30ml plastic bottle does not allow thicker fountain pens to slip in.
Montblanc Golden Yellow
very good shading
no bleed through and show through (see the remark above)
limited availablity – makes the prices on ebay even higher, when the inks are sold out in most shops – the good thing: Diamine Amber looks similar and is a cheap alternative.
ink bottle less proper to fill pens than the regular standard bottles (shoe-shape)
Montblanc Lucky Orange
quite good shading but far less pronounced than in the yellow inks
very “blazing” orange shade
wet (drying time is long, though)
behaves good to very good in terms of show through and bleed through on suitbale papers
limited availablity – makes the prices on ebay even higher, when the inks are sold out in most shops
LE-ink bottles are less proper to fill pens than the regular standard bottles
the luminance fades a bit away right after drying
Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
shading (diminishes very much on less suitable paper)
quite wet for an Edelstein ink (my experience is that the Edelstein inks are on the dryer side of the spectrum)
behaves good to very good in terms of show through and bleed through on suitable papers
standard ink (no limited availability)
not cheap but not extraordinary expensive, either
no particular cons, it does simply not flash me as much as the other inks do
ok, one con more: the ink bottle ist bad for refilling pens when the ink level is low. But the bottle itself looks very stylish
shading on most papers
nothing very special here, it does its job
ink bottle contains blotting paper (if this ink is available in bottles – I use cartidges of this ink, only)
it really lacks shading and luminance (compared to the other fountain pen inks)
it s a bit dry to my taste, but some people will regard this as an advantage
surprisingly low eligibility on cheap papers or on those which are not made for fountain pen ink (eg. Paperblanks dayplanner). May be this is due to the fact of the fine tip, a broader tip would not cut out paper fibres so quickly.
The bottom line
The Diamine Amber is very similar to the Montblanc (MB) Golden Yellow in terms of color and shading – on all tested papers. It turns out that the Diamine Amber has the nicest shading (i.e. the most pronounced) of all tested inks. Also technically, in terms of show through or bleed trough it shows the best behavior, followed by the yellow ink from Montblanc. This is most likely the effect of the brightness (it is obvious, the brighter the ink the less it will shine through the paper). All inks loose their “capabilities” on “bad” paper such as the paper from IKEA but also expensive ones used in the paperblanks dayplanner. This paper is thinner and a bit more smooth compared to the remaining journals from this manufacturer – thus, even though the paper used in the dayplanner might be qualitatively very good it is simply unsuitable for the use of fountain pens, though. I did not check it out, but it might be much more useful for ball pens.
Whereas the Diamine ink plays out its best properties on the suitabe paper types, behaves the MB Golden Yellow best of all inks on the less suitbale papers. Anyway, serious fountain pen users won’t pay too much attention to unsuitable papers, don’t they?
The Edelstein Mandarine ink behaves more averaged, comparable to the MB Lucky Orange which is a bit more saturated and more “flashy” due to its intense brightness. On less suitable paper both inks loose their nice properties (shading and brightness).
Lamy Orange is somewhat the weakest ink in the list without beeing bad at all. Just to my taste it has no fresh looks and technically it is more prone to show through or even slightly bleed through some papers. The shading of the Lamy is quite well and not worse than Lucky Orange or Edelstein Mandarine, but is outcompeted by the more yellowish inks on the list (Diamne Amber and MB Golden Yellow).
One aspect I found out is, that “aged” paper, that lie about on a desk for a couple of weeks and might had caught moisture (not rain!), looses dramatically in quality so that the aging kills somewhat the performance of the ink (or the paper …).
For the sake of fun I also checked out a Japanese ball pen, the Mitsubishi uni-ball Orange. Well its ink is quite boring (e.g. no shading at all) but without claiming to be fancy, of course. Well it does its job quite ok, but is surprisingly prone to show through and bleed through on both types of papers, the suitable ones and the less suitable ones for fountain pens.
The writing samples
Here, still shots and scans are shown. Note that scans do not resemble the luminousity and the shading of the inks properly. Photographs suffer from unsteady white balance, though. I only give here some examples of the numerous papers I checked out).
Here, I want to introduce a kind of special fountain pen to you. This one seems not to be very common (although I found out that several color variations are sold out in most shops, eg. the green and the blue variant). I purchased the brown version form Ludwig Blankenhorn (mypens.de).
Ok, what is so special? The material of the barrel, the section, the endcap and the cap is from ebonite. As I understood it, barrel and section are cut from one piece. But may be I am wrong here, and actually at least the pen shown here seem to be of two-three pieces (see images below)
The Material is very light and so is the entire pen. But the ebonite feels a bit more warm than for example the “precious resin” of the pens with the star or the resin of Pelikan pens etc.
The company Cleo Schreibgeräte GmbH (Cleo wirting instruments) was founded in 1945 right after WWII in Bad Wilsnack (Prignitz/Brandenburg). So we are dealing with a german pen. The company delivered the whole eastern block with writing instruments until the end of the nineties of the last century. In the seventies almost 1million pens were produced every year. The company became privatized and delivered parts for other german pen producers. Since the end of the nineties they also procuce the Skribent-Series (eg. Classic or Ebonite which is shown here). The paragraph is taken and translated from a wikipedia entry.
Size and Look
Well it is a sort of normal sized pen compared to other common pens, such as the Lamy Safari or the MB 146. In detail, the Cleo is a bit longer than the MB-pens, but the biggest difference is the slimmer (and by the way very nice) concave shaped section.
Very stylish are actually three design elements: (a) the ring (silver colored trim) at the end of the section (b) the facetted barrel (11 faces), which are also represented by the cap. The cap has an oval cross section, by the way, the barrel is round. (C) I have to mention the very beuatiful clip. To my opinion one of the most pretty clips in the fountain pen world. Its functionality is also given: it is springy enough.
Also quite lovely is the transition from the section to the barrel: the threads look not only like usual thraeds but like very nice turnery. This impresion is supported by only two existing threads (rather than 5 or more other fountain pens feature).
The Material is of ebonite, as mentioned above and as it is the namegiving feature, of course. Well, the coloring reminds after wood. The surface is not matte but also not entirely shiny – something in between. The material offers not the same depth as some resins do, for example in the stripes of a Pelikan Souverän (see picture below).
Anyway, in the sunlight the brown color unfolds its warmness. So, there is no doubt, that this guy looks good 🙂
All trims are in silver color and rhodium coated. The ring on the cap says: “made in Germany CLEO” The finnial of the cap shows the Cleo-logo, which looks to me as a mixture of a modern style and a style form the twenties of the last century as well (but that’s just me).
The pen has no ink window!
The pen has a sort of piston filling mechanism. A bit inconvenient is the need to remove the endcap. It looks a bit like the mechanism known from some Delta pens.
After removing the endcap you find the twisting turning knob. From this point, the filling mechanism works like in any other piston-filled pen.
When holding the en in hand and shaking it (strongly), the I feel a sort of wobbling. So I assume, there is built in a converter or at least something separately. No big deal. However, the official webpage claims a piston filling mechanism.
The nib is a 14 k gold nib coated with Rhodium. It shows the Ceo-logo, the comapny name, the imprint of the nib grade (here a B nib) and a sort of ornamental “band”. The latter and the logo are in golden color. Looks very sober to me.
For me the shape of the nib, its size as well as the feed shows strong similarities to the same items in a Pelikan M800. The nib shoulder of the Cleo is a bit more rounded whereas the nib of the Pelikan is a bit more flat.
But how does the nib perform? Well, it is a very, very smooth nib. I would say, already a bit too smooth, since it skips or has hard starts on very smooth paper such as the Rhodia ivory (90g/sqm). Quicker strokes (or backward strokes) are prone to skip. On a slightly rougher paper (e.g. the white paper from Rhodia with 80g/sqm) the nib behaves much “better” in this respect.
What I really love is the grinding of the broad nib which is slightly stubbish (see image above). This gives the handwriting a bit more character. I like such things. What you not should expect ist flex by any means. The nib is quite stiff and allows not much line variation under pressure. The stiffness is comparable to other modern nibs from various brands (MB 146 or Pelikan M800). Other available nib grades are F and M (no obliques or italics).
Well, for a couple of hundred bucks you could expect something serious! And I must say, you get something serious. The nib is well tuned, not too wet. It is slightly stubbish – don’t expect this on a medium nib from this company! Technically, I have no complains, the only thing I would have liked better is the filling mechanism. The endcap which needs to be removeed is just inconvenient. Designwise I have no complain neither, but this is in the eye of the beholder. Take in mind, the section is on the slimmer side of the spectrum.