P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink Review

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

Every buy ink just for the bottle?  I can now say that I have. P.W. Akkerman’s bottle is both beautiful and highly functional. The small reservoir at the top of the bottle is narrow and deep allowing even large nibs to utilize a near empty bottle.  There is a glass marble inside the reservoir that when turned on its side allows ink to flow into the neck of the bottle.  This is without a doubt the best ink bottle design I have seen.  The Montblanc shoe and the old American-made Sheaffer Skrip bottles are good but the Akkerman bottle is great.

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

The most interesting color out of the 30 different Akkerman inks is #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen which is a nice dark blue green ink with good shading and flow.  My first thought was that it looks a lot like Private Reserve Ebony Blue, which in my opinion is one of the best looking inks around.

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

The ink isn’t waterproof but it did resist the water better than many other non-waterproof inks and that makes me a little bit concerned about leaving this ink in a pen beyond a couple of weeks; that said, I was able to clean this ink out of my Aurora Optima without problem.

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

#24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen (excluding VAT) costs 12.4 EURO or about $16.35 USD which is a reasonable price for this great 60ml bottle of ink BUT the shipping is quiet expensive.  20 EURO or about $26 USD shipped to the United States.  Because of the high shipping cost I ended up buying three bottles.  Is it worth the price?  I think that depends on how much trouble you have filling your pens with large nibs.  For me not having to buy two bottles of the same sink so that I can top off one with the other is valuable. P.W. Akkerman #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen Fountain Pen Ink

 

Comparison of 73 Bottled Fountain Pen Inks

I don’t consider myself an ink person…I like ink but I like pens much more.   Boring old Waterman Serenity Blue (FKA Florida Blue) has been my go-to ink for vintage pens for a good while now but I have been finding that with dryer and finer nibbed pens it isn’t the best match.  I had to find a safe blue ink with good lubrication and Diamine (with all inks in a pH range of 6-8) was the brand that came to mind.

I ordered 14 Diamine samples from the Goulet Pen Company (no affiliation) and to narrow it down I put the samples on Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book cards as I had first seen on The Pen Addict (again no affiliation)…well one thing led to another and I decided put all of my bottled inks on the Word Book cards and here is the result:

Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The blues:

Blue Fountain Pen Ink Samples Blue Fountain Pen Ink Samples

Blue Fountain Pen Ink Samples

Blue Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The greens:

Green Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The purples:

Purple Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The grays and blacks:

Black and gray Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The browns and reds:

brown Fountain Pen Ink Samples

The orange and pinks:

Orange and red Fountain Pen Ink Samples

I haven’t picked a new blue yet but Diamine Majestic Blue and Diamine Asa blue are the ones catching my eye.

Fountain pen ink samples

Lamy Turquoise Fountain Pen Ink Review

Lamy Turquoise Fountain Pen Ink

I have always been a fan of turquoise ink, it’s a fun and playful ink color that I enjoy using.  Lamy Turquoise is a true turquoise that’s not too green and not too blue.

Lamy Turquoise Fountain Pen Ink

My go to turquoise has been Diamine Turquoise but this Lamy ink looks near as nice and behaves much better.  No significant issues with bleeding and feathering as I experience with the Diamine.  I find that the Lamy Turquoise has an average flow and saturation with good shading.  Overall it’s a very well behaved ink that has become my new favorite Turquoise.

Lamy Turquoise Fountain Pen Ink

The Lamy ink bottle is very well designed.  The glass vessel is shaped like a top and the plastic base is a ink blotting paper for cleaning your pen after filling.

Lamy Turquoise Fountain Pen Ink

 

Please note: this product was provided to me at no charge by JetPens for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of Lamy Turquoise Ink:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Ink of Me Fondly – Lamy Turquoise Bottle Ink

Flotsam Not Jetsam – Lamy Turquoise Review 

The Pencil Case Blog – Inktastic: LAMY turquoise ink

Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter A5 Organizer Review

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I found out about this product back in December while listening to the Pen Addict podcast (thank you Myke Hurley).

If you don’t speak German, Roterfaden is the manufacturer and Taschenbegleiter is German for, “bag companion”.  This is without doubt the coolest organizer I have ever had the pleasure of owning.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.
Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.

The Taschenbegleiter is a custom made-to-order organizer that utilizes a unique clip system that allows you to clip in all sorts of notebooks and loose paper.

Tachenbegleiter clips
Taschenbegleiter clips

The Taschenbegleiter comes in three standardized formats: A4, A5, and A6.  For the outer cover you have two material choices (in multiple colors): dance floor and leather.  Dance floor is a synthetic material that was originally used for (you guessed it) dance floors.  I opted for the black leather option.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

The black leather has a suede-like finish that is very soft to the touch.  The Taschenbegleiter has a wonderful organic hand-made quality to it.  Depending on the colors and options you choose it can be more casual look or more professional looking.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter
Few scuffs on the back from taking the Taschenbegleiter in and out of my bag.

For the inside material you again get two options for materials, suede and wool felt.  I chose the blue wool felt and I also chose to have my name embroidered into the felt in a light blue thread and Interstate font.  You can actually send them a picture and they will embroider it on the organizer!

Empty Tachenbegleiter with all the clips open
Empty Taschenbegleiter with all the clips open

There are various pocket configurations that include an option designed specifically for an iPad mini.  Instead of pockets on the back cover you get 4 elastics that hold the iPad Minis corners.  I chose the large pocket (which also fits an iPad) because it serves a dual purpose as a pocket for smaller notebooks like Field Notes and work as an iPad holder when I travel.  The downside of course is that you have to pull out the iPad every time you want to use it.

iPad Mini in the back pocket.
iPad Mini in the back pocket.

There are more options still.  You can have all the pen loops you want.  You can have them on the bottom the top or the side (as I have on mine).  If you like to use really fat pens you can specify the size of the pen you want to use and they will make the loops bigger.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

You can also specify the number clips.  The standard is three but you can have none, one, two or four if you request it.  This is an important consideration because it will determine how much stuff you can put in your Tachenbegleiter and how fat it will be.  Mine is about 1.5″ wide with the three clips in use…but you can make it even fatter if you really stuff it.

Roterfaden makes various refills and inserts for the Tachenbegleiter.  They all look beautiful and are of excellent quality. Let me show you how I normally have mine loaded up:

I always fill from the back forward.  This is the notepad.  It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.
I always fill from the back forward. This is the notepad. It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.  The pages are perforated so they tear off easily.
Notepad cover
notepad cover
Next is the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Next is the middle clip which I use to hold the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Last up is the calendar.  The clips work beautifully as book marks.
Last up is the calendar. The clips work beautifully as bookmarks.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover.  Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover. Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.

Here are some more pictures of the unusual diary refill which has a stave on one side and a dot grid on the other.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.
Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.  Also notice all the lovely signatures!
This is right in the middle of the notebook.  Notice how flat it lies.
This is right in the middle of the notebook. It lies ultra flat.

I love the red stitching in particular.  The different booklets have different papers.  The calendar has 70g paper that does show some bleed through with fountain pens.  The 80g paper in the diary booklet holds up well to fountain pen ink.  If you write with a fat juicy nib you might get some light bleeding but nothing serious.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

 

There is some minor show through and some pretty minimal bleed.
There is some minor show through and some bleed from the juicy OMAS nib.

I have not yet had the chance to sample the 120g drawing paper booklets.  Most of the larger booklets have an optional cardboard cover and while they are not necessary they are nice to have as the booklets are otherwise protected by paper only.

Because the Taschenbegleiter comes in standard A series sizes you can put pretty much any A5 notebook in the organizer.  I have also been able to put a standard Field Notes in one of the clips (top or bottom only).  The new larger Field Notes Arts and Sciences notebooks work beautifully.

Field Notes Sciences
Field Notes Sciences Notebook

 

A5 Kyokuto Notebook
A5 Kyokuto Notebook

I have been using mine everyday for the last five months and there are some downsides.  The main one being that it’s a pretty big organizer and its weight wont go unnoticed in you bag.  For personal travel I tend to take my smaller Midori Travelers Notebook with me (maybe I need to get an A6 Taschenbegleiter).

The clips are also great for loose piece of paper and receipts.  A folded A4 piece of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.
The clips are also great for loose pieces of paper and receipts. A folded A4 sheet of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.

The other downside is the price.  It’s expensive, especially if you start adding options like a leather cover and embroidery.  The basic A5 size runs 89€ or $120 USD (this includes VAT which is not applicable outside of Europe).  With options mine came to $182 USD but with VAT removed (because I live in the USA) the organizer cost about $150 USD.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

While expensive, I do believe you will have a hard time finding a better quality organizer for double or even triple the price.  I have looked and I haven’t found anything close.  The Taschenbegleiter is completely hand-made in Germany.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I love my Taschenbegleiter.  It is a wonderful product and I recommend it to anyone in the market for a high-quality and highly adaptable organizer.

All clips closed.
All clips closed

 

Montblanc Meisterstuck 90 Years Permanent Grey Fountain Pen Ink Review

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

 

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Meisterstück, Montblanc has released a limited edition Meisterstück 149 fountain pen and a permanent grey ink.  The ink comes in a retro bottle that reads: “This ink fulfils all the demands made on it by durable, good-working, Fountain Pen”.

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

 

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

I have never been a fan of grey inks in the past but when I saw the bottle in the store I had to try it.  The salesman was kind enough to let me dip the new 90th Years 149 fountain pen into a bottle of the Permanent Grey.  The ink looked great so I bought a bottle.

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

The 90 Years Permanent Grey is a beautifully saturated almost black ink.  The flow is excellent, especially for a permanent ink.  Good saturation and shading.  The big downside I see to this ink is the dry time…it’s long….very long.  In my tests on Rhodia 80gsm paper it took approximately 75 seconds to fully dry.

The 90 Years Permanent Grey is a beautifully saturated almost black ink.  The flow is excellent, especially for a permanent ink.  Good saturation and shading.  The big downside I see to this ink is the dry time...it's long....very long.  In my tests on Rhodia 80gsm paper it took approximately 75 seconds to fully dry. 

(click the picture to enlarge)

To test the ink’s permanence I let the ink dry over night and with a few drops of water the ink remained well intact.  I believe most of Montblanc’s permanent inks have an ISO certification but I don’t see any mention of that on the packaging of the 90 Years Permanent Grey.

Montblanc 90 Years Permanent Grey Ink

If you like grey inks, this one is a must have.  The price is on the expensive side at $20 for 35ml but I think it’s worth it.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad and Cover B7 Review

 

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

In recent years LIFE has become one of the most coveted brands of Japanese paper.  It is generally more difficult to track down than my favorites Midori and Maruman.  The prices of LIFE products in the US seem to be uncontrolled as they vary quite a bit and tend to be overpriced.

The product I will be reviewing is the B7 size LIFE Noble Memo Section pad and leatherette cover that I picked up on my recent trip to Japan.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

The Memo pad features 100 cream colored sheets with a faint 5mm graph.  The graph is printed on one side only; the back of the page is blank.  The orange cover has a great vintage look to it with the black scrollwork boarder and raised gold and black “LIFE” letters.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

This memo pad oozes quality.  Everything on it is tight and the taped binding is one of the best I have seen.  You can open up to the middle of the book and it will lay flat and then you can close it and you would have no idea that this book as ever been open.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

The cream colored pages are very high quality.  If you look at the blank side of the paper you will see that is ribbed.  I tested the paper against Rhodia’s 80 GSM paper and found the dry time to be about equal.  The LIFE paper is a bit thicker and is more resistant to bleeding.  It took multiple strokes with my fat music nib to see any bleed. The grid lines seem to resist ink and while that doesn’t bother me it may bother some.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

LIFE Noble Memo Pad
No bleed to speak of and minimal ghosting. If you look closely you can see the ribbing.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

The cover is a brown leatherette that looks sorta like leather but definitely doesn’t feel like leather, that is to say anyone who touches it wont likely be fooled.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

Pressed into the leatherette is “LIFE” and the same scroll work we saw on the paper cover.  The fit and finish like the notepad is immaculate with beautifully aligned stitching.  I have found that in addition to protecting the notepad the cover also helps keep the pad open when you are at the beginning of the pad.  I really wish they did this thing in leather.

LIFE Noble Memo Pad

So what about the price?  The notepad with notebook cover retails for 1,000 YEN which is just under $10 USD.  In the US, unfortunately, the prices are considerably higher.  I found the cover (no pad included) for $20 and I found the pad for $8.  To me even with the unusual high quality, $28 is too much money for a little notepad with a leatherette cover.  At $10 it’s still expensive but much easier to justify.

The best prices I have seen for LIFE products in the US are at:

Nanami Paper

I have no affiliation and no purchase experience with this store but their prices seem to be more in line with Japanese retail.

 

 

Word Notebooks 2014 Standard Memorandum Review

Word Notebooks The Standard Memorandum

While I know we are already in 2014, it is not too late to buy a 2014 diary.  The Standard Memorandum Notebook produced by Word. Notebooks is a bit of a curiosity.  Designed by illustrator, Jon Contino, to resemble pocket journals form the early 1900’s, The Standard Memorandum Notebook only gives you a few lines per day.  When I received the notebook in the mail I was surprised by how tiny it is; at 2.35″ wide x 5.25″ long it will easily fit into your pocket.

Word Notebooks The Standard Memorandum

Word Notebooks The Standard Memorandum

The black cover features gold lettering with an interesting Jon Contino drawn script that reads “THE STANDARD MEMORANDUM 2014”.  The rest of the notebook features Columbia Titling typeface.

Word Notebooks The Standard MemorandumThe notebook contains 64 pages and is bound with two staples.  This notebook does not lie flat nor does it close well.  Because the pages are skinny there is not enough weight to close the book so it stays open at a 45 degree angle in the middle of the book. Each page contains 7 days, such that you get 14 days on a 2 page spread.

Word Notebooks The Standard Memorandum

Up front you get a place for your personal details ( can't say I have seen a diary with a place for sizing and transportation info before).
Up front you get a place for your personal details (can’t say I have seen a diary with a place for sizing and transportation info before).
Also up front is an index with a cell for each day of the year so that you can mark important events.
Also up front is an index with a cell for each day of the year so that you can mark important events.
Some feathering
Some feathering

The paper is smooth but not fountain pen friendly.  I found a good amount of bleed and feathering with fountain pen ink.

Bleed-through
Bleed-through
I love seeing all of the manufacturing details listed.  Glad that this is becoming a more common practice.
I love seeing all of the manufacturing details listed. Glad that this is becoming a more common practice.

I have been using the notebook for a week now and at the end of each day I write down the day’s highlights.  Trying to get your whole day into 3 or 4 lines is surprising fun; it forces you to cut out the unimportant details. While I still use a regular full size journal, I am finding that the The Standard Memorandum is easier to keep up with every day and in that sense it’s pretty valuable.

The Standard Memorandum Notebook can be purchased for $11.00 here. 

You can also purchase a leather cover for $45 which can be monogrammed.

Please note: this product was provided to me at no charge by Word. Notebooks for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of the The Standard Memorandum Notebook:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Ink on Hand – Word Notebooks 2014 Standard Memorandum

Pen Paper Ink Letter – 2014 Standard Memorandum by Word. Notebooks

Inktronics – The Standard Memorandum. Does It Compare to the Real Thing?

Diamine Ancient Copper Fountain Pen Ink Review

Writing sample on Maruman Smooth To Write loose leaf paper.
Writing sample on Maruman Smooth To Write loose leaf paper

I have improved my review format for the writing sample to make it more informative.  I am now including a rating system for four key areas; the ratings are from one to five (five being the best).  Please let me know what you think.

I love red/orange brown inks and Diamine Ancient Copper is my new favorite.  My two other (now former) favorites in this category are Montblanc Red Chalk and Noodler’s Antietam.  Unlike Noodler’s Antietam, there are no issues with feathering and long dry times (on the papers I have tested) and unlike Montblanc Red Chalk, the flow is generous.  Ancient Copper shows excellent shading; it doesn’t get much better.   Dry time on this ink is on the faster side and it is not waterproof.

This ink changes quite a bit with different nib sizes; if you look at the writing sample you will see that with the Italix (1.3mm nib) the color is lighter and more orange, then compare to the Pilot (M nib) it looks darker and more red.

Overall, Ancient Copper is a beautiful, well behaved ink.  I highly recommend it.

Please note: this product was provided to me at no charge by JetPens for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of Diamine Ancient Copper:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Pens! Paper! Pencils! – Diamine Ancient Copper Ink Review

Inkdependence – Diamine Ancient Copper

Vertical Paper – Ink Review: Diamine Ancient Copper

Write Notepads & Co. Large Notebook Review

Write Notepads & Co. Notebook

The Baltimore-based Write Notepads & Co. produces American-made notebooks featuring high quality letterpress chipboard covers.  At $16 for the Large Notebook, you get 120 5.5″ x 8.5″ pages of lined or blank paper with a brass spiral binding.  Each notebook comes with a thick rubber band that can be used to keep the notebook closed.  When you buy a notebook from Write Notepads & Co. they donate one to a public school, so the $16 for the large notebook actually buys two.

I quite like the rustic look of these notebooks.  The thick chipboard covers go well with the brass spiral.   I also like the letterpress logo featuring a fountain pen.

Write Notepads & Co. Notebook
The inside front cover features a place for your name, address, phone number and email, all done in letter press.

The notebook is dubbed “fountain pen friendly” and while smooth and thick, the recycled paper doesn’t handle fountain pen ink all that well.

Write Notepads & Co. Notebook

I found that the paper tends to bleed with fountain pens, roller ball pens and porous tip pens.  Most of the gel pens and all of the traditional ballpoints I tested, behaved well on this paper.

Write Notepads & Co. Notebook
Bleed-through seems to be more of an issue than ghosting.

Interestingly, the lines on the page do not seem to be perfectly printed, some are thin, others are fat and I notice that in the middle of most pages there are some breaks in the lines.  I think this adds to the character and charm of the notebook but others may find it distracting.

Write Notepads & Co. Notebook

The pages are perforated but don’t always produce the cleanest of tears.

Overall, I like this notebook because its design and materials have a lot of character.

Is it right for fountain pen users?  I wouldn’t call it “fountain pen friendly” but I have no problem using it with most of my fountain pens; some bleed through doesn’t bother me and one advantage of an absorbent paper is faster dry times.

Please note: this product was provided to me at no charge by Write Notepads & Co.  for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of the Write Notepads & Co. Notebook:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Inkdependence – Write Notepads & Co

Ed Jelley – Write Notepads & Co. Large Notebook – Review

Waterman Serenity Blue (FKA Florida Blue) Fountain Pen Ink Review

Waterman Serenity Blue

If I was only allowed one ink, Waterman Serenity Blue would be it.  While the color is not particularly special, I have had more bottles of Florida Blue (now called Serenity Blue) than any other ink.  I love Serenity Blue because it is so well behaved.  If I buy a vintage pen this is my initial go to ink because it is very easy to clean out of my pens.  I have had no issues with this ink the 12 years I have been using it.  No clogging, no staining, no nothing.

The color is a soft blue, not a lot of saturation but there is good shading.  I haven’t had any issues with feathering and it is not prone to bleeding.  Serenity Blue is not lubricated and the flow is average to dry.  The ink isn’t waterproof  and is easily washed off the page.  The dry time is about average.

Waterman Serenity Blue is a staple that all fountain pen users should own.

Here are some great reviews of Waterman Serenity Blue (FKA Florida Blue):

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Pen Paper Ink Letter – Quick Handwritten Ink Review: Waterman Serenity Blue

Coffee, Ink, & Serenity – Fountain Pen Ink Review: Waterman’s “Serenity Blue”

Tyler Dahl Pens – Ink Review – Waterman Florida Blue