This is what happened when I opened my new bottle of Montblanc Lavender Purple:

You could be forgiven for thinking that’s just dried ink inside the cap, but look at around 8 o’clock and you can see a big fuzzy growth, as well as some stringy stuff in the middle which could be slime or it could just be ink precipitates.

I went for a refund rather than replacement since the stock was all from the same batch (Dec 2020) and replacements could easily be contaminated and/or undertreated with biocide.

There are a few examples of mouldy Montblanc inks on t’internet (more Lavender Purple, and Yellow) although the name usually associated with bottle slime is J. Herbin who had issues in 2010 — caused by challenges of using ingredients that were safer for operators but harder to mix with water, so their treat of biocide wasn’t consistent across all batches (letter here).

This is a bit of fun using the straw technique as used by Ian Hedley on his ink reviews e.g. Diamine Red Dragon. I was cleaning out four pens:

  • Lamy Safari with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Purple
  • Parker 51 with Diamine Graphite
  • Noodler’s Ahab with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Orange
  • Another Ahab with Diamine Evergreen

All I did was blob the remaining ink onto the paper and push the blobs around with a drinking straw. Anyway, pictures:

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forest detail

graphite splash

the forest

bush

sheen

corner full image

Full image

Photos were taken with both natural and artificial light (with a Panasonic Lumix and a fixed-focus lens) and some of them are a bit yellow. Still, I like the way the sheen comes out in some of the pictures.

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The FP community has been asking Lamy to make a purple Safari for ages. The Safari knock-off Hero 359 came in purple, but the Safari special editions have all been unpleasant neon colours. But in 2016 the Dark Lilac Safari arrived:

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The Safari is cheap and the nibs are easily swapped, and they have a really useful clip. The sections are a bit marmite. I own several but the one that’s always inked is my charcoal Safari with an EF nib because unlike every other Safari and Al-Star it’s textured ABS and feels much better in the hand. Lamy has made textured Safaris in the past (like this brown bear version) but they’re usually limited editions.

But good news! The Dark Lilac is textured.

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I noticed that the new pens are rougher than my charcoal, but that’s probably because I’ve handled that pen frequently. The colour is very similar to the Diamine / Cult Pens “Deep Dark Purple” I inked it with (and I guess Lamy’s own special edition ink will be similar).

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(look at the fantastic gold-green sheen on that puddle of Deep Dark Purple)

Bottom line: if you like the Safari and especially the charcoal, the limited edition will make a really good cheap beater fountain pen. We bought two, and I might get a third as a contingency because I think this one will get a lot of use.

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Whoops! I missed day 7. So belatedly let’s look at All Rolled Up’s dry erase cards:

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They come in two sizes.

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This Staedtler Lumocolor correctable marker was the one they recommended — it comes off with a bit of elbow grease, meaning it won’t just be wiped off by mistake, and I could prepare tiles in advance.

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Two packs of cards and a marker cost me a little over a fiver — great value.

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The cool thing about Waterman’s ink is the fact you can tip the bottles on their side:

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This makes getting the last of the ink from the bottle fairly easy. South Seas Blue (now “Inspired Blue” after the EU made them reformulate without phenol) is the only bottle I have on the go at the moment. It’s a really nice shade of turquoise that gets very exciting with a flex nib.

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Even better, if you lay it on very thick you get a fantastic red sheen at the edges:

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It’s pretty but not something I would write with often. And I found that it had flow issues in an Ahab.

Waterman inks are good, cheap and generally safe. Richard Binder recommends them for vintage pens (along with Diamine). If you like their limited range of colours they’re a safe bet. But that bottle design is just great, which is why I’m hanging on to my empties.

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This is a pretty useless pen, but a lot of fun and a quick and easy way to get into calligraphy. Pilot Parallel pens are so called because they have two parallel plates that feed ink between them (rather than a nib or dip pen) and they work really really well. They come with a handy little booklet of different styles, and they also come in four sizes:

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I recommend getting a big one to start with, just because it’s easier to use. But then of course you’ll go through a lot of paper… anyway, in a few short sessions you can realise just how easy gothic black letter is:

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OK, I’m sure someone who’s actually good at calligraphy would find fault but… for the rest of us, it’s a start.

The parallel pens come with specific cartridges and no converter. I used a couple and then filled all four of my pens eyedropper style (take some silicon grease to the threads and just fill the body up; I didn’t bother with an o ring). Ink is Diamine Graphite, that never really grabbed me as much as I wanted it to until I put it in these pens.

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Some day I’ll finish the alphabet for my Sabriel game…

anyway

I’m a big fan of Kaweco, and I really like the Kaweco Sport.

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The “classic” sport is made of ABS plastic, not glamorous but tough. It’s pocket sized and lozenge shaped:

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Once you post them, they’re a decent size.

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They come in lots of different colours and formats — I have a black “guilloche” with an EF nib, and a burgundy one with an ink roller tip.

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The nibs are great. They also come in different materials like acrylic and aluminium and carbon fibre and now brass. The only downside is the section and nib are both short so you’re either going to hold the pen close to the tip, or hold it around the section threads. That’s actually more comfy with the cheapo plastic pen than the (much) pricer Aluminium, so for everyday use I’d go with the cheap ones. You can still get decent replacement nibs.

Cartridge only, though. I’m using the nice-but-boring Royal Blue that came with the pen, and a Visconti red cartridge (because I wanted the fancy Bakelite cartridge case).

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Apparently the little coin on the case was for displaying a corporate logo when the cases were given out as gifts.

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I really recommend a Noodler’s Ahab. They’re not the easiest to get hold of in the UK (but not impossible) but they’re cheap, you can completely disassemble them for cleaning, and you can flex them:

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Which means you get some great line variation.

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It also means you lay down a lot of ink, which will affect the colour of the strokes and in some inks (like this “Deep Dark Purple” from Cult Pens) you get sheen.

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Not the best pictures, but you can see that the sheen is a really nice shade of dark green on top of the purple (don’t tell the Drazi).

The only issue with flexing is it takes so much ink at once that sometimes the feed can’t keep up. But also some Ahabs just don’t like some inks — it may have something to do with the ebonite feed, rather than a plastic one. Here it runs dry on heavy flexing.

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Of course I was really pushing the flex on that one — normally when I write the result is more like the middle line. It still lays ink pretty wet, but that can work with e.g. laid writing papers. Gives a lot of character to the writing, even if you don’t know how to do copperplate.

It’s National Stationery Week!

Last year I found some Herbin Bouquet D’Antan which according to the website is

Bouquet d’antan: il s’agit des bouquets que l’on peut trouver chez des personnes agées. Cette couleur évoque la nostalgie du temps qui passe.

Or “It represents a bouquet that can be found at an elderly’s house.”

The cartridges I have are NOS as Herbin discontinued them a while back, so these have been sitting in a drawer, and losing water:

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Seems to write OK, though, despite being more concentrated.

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The pen is a Kaweco Dia2, which is very nice indeed. Great nibs that are cheap to replace, and take international cartridges so this is my main travelling pen.

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