Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sheaffer Taranis Ferrari Pen Review

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love Ferrari cars, always have. When I saw Ferrari fountain pens, I had to get some. This pen is quite interesting in its own right but I think the Ferrari edition adds that extra something here.

Sheaffer is an old pen company and is considered one of the big 4 original pen manufacturers. Through the years, Sheaffer has made some very interesting pens like the snorkel filler which is quite an engineering accomplishment. The Taranis is also an interesting pen.

The Sheaffer Taranis is named after the Celtic God of Thunder. This pen has a cigar like shape with a taper at each end but the taper morphs into a square shape whereas the barrel is round.

What really sets the Taranis apart is the nib. The nib is semi hooded which is loosely related to say the Lamy 2000 or the smaller nib feel in a Pilot Vanishing Point. It is made of steel here and the Ferrari edition has a broad nib offering where the standard Taranis is only F or M.

The grip section seems to be a turn off for many from what I have heard. The standard Taranis has the word Sheaffer embossed into the chrome accent in a good sized font. The Ferrari edition says Scuderia Ferrari on it rather than Sheaffer. Either way, I like it with the lettering. I have not run across a section like this before and I admire the sleekness of it, personally.

The pen writes smoothly with a touch of feedback but the overall writing experience is pleasant. The pen weight is nice as the body is metal and I am not a big fan of lighter pens. It does write a bit on the drier side but still puts out a nice line, it just is not a very wet writer.

I really like this pen. It is a cartridge/converter based pen and the cartridges/converter are proprietary. The converter does come with the pen and fits snugly. I recommend the Taranis to anyone and the Ferrari edition to the Ferrari fans at heart.

This review is based off of my own opinions and experiences. I do not represent Ferrari or Sheaffer and am not being compensated in any way.

Monday, June 27, 2016

How Many Black Inks Do I Need?

Black ink is important and every ink manufacturer has a black ink offering. Black is a universal standard for business use. How many black inks do you need? It reminds me of This is Spinal Tap, where they are asking how black the album cover is and they determine none really, it doesn’t get more black.

Noodler’s Ink has 11 black inks, yes 11. Why so many and what is the difference? I do get asked this quite a bit and I even asked that question before when I was new to this world of inky goodness. Nathan Tardif, the genius behind Noodler’s Ink, can do magic with ink and each instance here is mainly similar with differing properties. Let’s take a peek.

Noodler’s Black

This is considered a favorite black ink of many people. This is a dark, saturated black that is permanent in water resistance, archival, UV resistant, bleach resistant and forgery resistant. It is a well behaved black as far as bleed through and feathering and is a great overall black ink.

Bad Black Moccasin

This ink is part of the Noodler’s Warden Series of ink. What sets this apart from plain black is that it is laser proof…yup, laser proof. Nathan held a contest where he offered $1,000 to anyone who could remove the ink from the page without damaging the paper. One guy was successful by using a laser to remove the ink. Bam! Laser proof ink. So this ink is Noodler’s Black but laser resistant.

Black Eel

This is basically Noodler’s Black but lubricated so this is a wet ink that will be more prone to feathering and bleed through as well as prolonging dry times. The lubrication is present mainly for the lubrication of piston filling pens where they cannot be easily disassembled to manually apply lubricant on the piston. The other perk is this is a quick cure for dry writing pens.

Polar Black

Noodler’s Black Eel with freeze resistance. I have never seen an ink series that was freeze resistant but here it is. This is an ink designed to not freeze under really cold conditions so if you live in the Midwest, Canada, Alaska, Siberia etc, this is the ink for you.


This is a thicker version of Noodler’s Black that is feather resistant. This is a beneficial property for people without access to fountain pen friendly paper. I have tried X-Feather and it took some really crappy paper to get this to feather on, it does what it claims to do.

Bernanke Black
Here is the fast drying version of black. Mainly intended for left-handed writers so they do not smear the ink as they write. What this means ink-wise is that it is very wet and very aggressive. Fast drying inks attack the paper quickly and is known to be wet and prone to bleed and feathering.

These all have somewhat practical properties and were designed for a specific use. The next black inks are more themed and somewhat out of the normal.

Borealis Black

This is a reformulation of Aurora black. Nathan is very well versed in reverse engineering ink to make modern versions that truly emulate the original “muse” if you will.

Dark Matter

This is another reformulation of the ink used during the 1950’s and more specifically The Manhattan Project. I have a bottle of this and I do really enjoy it. When it dries, it does look like a vintage ink.

Heart of Darkness

This is my go to black ink. Heart of Darkness is based off of the book with the same title. It is about the journey to the dark parts of the Congo. This is the blackest black ink that ever blacked, in my opinion.

Black Erase

Fountain pen ink designed for the whiteboard in highlighter based pens. What? Yup, it is true and this exists. I can’t believe it is entirely popular and is not to be used with dry erase methods. This writes wet and is erased off the board with a wet cloth.

El Lawrence

This is debatable on whether it is a black or more of a really dark brown. I put it more in the black category as it looks like oil. It is based off of Lawrence of Arabia so it fits…loosely. It is an oil colored ink and is a pain in the butt to clean out of pens. This is not a favorite.

So there they are. So many black inks to choose from. I really like having the choices available so that a person can choose an ink based off of their needs.

I am not representing Noodler’s Ink in any fashion nor am I being compensated in any way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Ink Colors: Is That Possible?

After being in fountain pens for a while now, I have amassed a very large collection of ink which pales in comparison to some. I have many different blues and a few reds. Blacks, greys, browns, greens and an orange even. I have finally gotten to the point where I'm wondering where this can go from here.

Here is what I mean, Diamine has over 100 colors available and Noodler's also has over 100 colors. DeAtramentis has a ton of colors while Pilot Iroshizuku has around 24. Visconti, Omas, Monteverde, Lamy, Faber Castell and on and on. All of these inks but yet what really sets them apart for the future?

I was browsing inks recently online and that is when I realized that I have all of the colors I would use and what could possibly happen to make an ink unique anymore? I think that is truly the key now, what will make an ink unique and different than say every other purple on the market. 

J. Herbin started the shimmering ink phenomenon with their 1670 line of inks with a new color coming out this year which is a coffee/chocolate type color. What makes it unique is the gold glitter specks in the ink itself and can be seen at the bottom of the bottle after it sits for a few minutes. Glittery ink and it has been a huge success especially with Emerald of Chivor last year. 

Diamine followed suit but instead of 5 glittery inks, there is 12 or so. They are called shimmertastic inks. I have not used any of these glittery, sparkle inks as I don't see the purpose other than making it a pain to clean the feed afterwards. That is why there are so many inks, there is something for everyone.

I recently purchased some of the KWZ inks from Poland and the ones I ended up getting I really like. Three of them are unique and I like them tremendously as I have not seen them before. Rotten Green, Grey Lux and Grey Plum are the ones I am referencing. Why? Well, they are doing something slightly new. A greyish green, purple and brownish color. They look nice and a touch intriguing. 

But now what? What could possibly happen ink-wise that would be different or unique? How many blues are too many? Noodler's has 13 blacks and I have 4 of them. Are glitter stripper inks the future? Fountain pens are wonderful and the myriad of inks are fun until you have all of the colors and are wanting something new but honestly, where can it possibly go from here? Anyone? 

I may be going a bit crazy here and please let me know if I am off base please. What colors have we not seen from a myriad of manufacturers and what could really set them apart from the herd? Is the ink landscape bleak on the horizon? I sure hope not. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Private Reserve - Ebony Inks

I am a big fan of rich, dark colors. Vibrancy is nice but my favorite inks tend to be more of the saturated, dark and rich side. Then I found a 4 ink set of Ebony inks made by Private Reserve and I had to get them. Here is what I think.

Ok, I am really enjoying these colors especially the green, purple and brown. Other manufacturers sometime have an issue with these 3 colors for whatever reason. 

Ebony Green

I have found a few green colored inks I like that don't looked washed out such as Private Reserve Avocado, KWZ Hunter Green, Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine but not as nice as this Ebony Green, in my opinion. It has a richness to it and I believe the added black helps define some depth in the color itself.

Ebony Purple

Purple is another ink I have had issue with. I am not a big fan of purple as it reminds me of the evil Lakers in basketball. I have used various purple inks, mainly in samples and they were either too light, too bright or washed out. This looks like an authentic purple with some nice dark undertones. A true purple.

Ebony Brown

I have a few brown inks that I enjoy but this one has become my favorite. I have Noodler's Brown and it is too light. I have Faber Castell Hazelnut Brown and it is lighter but shades very well. Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Guri was my favorite for the longest time due to its shading, flow and darker shade. Ebony Brown by Private Reserve is my new go to brown ink and I have 3 pens loaded with it at the moment.

Ebony Blue

This ebony based offering is my least favorite of the 4 inks. A blue-black ink is more common to find by other manufacturers and I feel this one is a bit to teal-ish. It seems to have green in it. My favorite blue-black is Noodler's Air-Corp Blue Black. That is a rich dark blue that really keeps the integrity of the blue throughout. This color was disappointing. 

3 out of 4 is not too bad. I believe the 3 colors that are successful here are because they are somewhat unique and not really found elsewhere whereas this blue black is all to common. It is still a nice blue but there are better offerings out there in the same vein.

I like Private Reserve inks for the most part and I have a few of them. These 4 inks are a good idea and I like it when ink companies make these subset inks. Noodler's has several with their Warden Series, Polar Series, VMail Series, Eel and Baystate series. I may have to do some more of these sets, and not just the Noodler's ones.

This review is based off of my opinion and experiences. I do not represent Private Reserve in any way nor am I being compensated.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fountain Pens Lore: What happened?

I was wondering what I should post for this evening and I was stuck. I was then reminded of a question I ask a lot to myself, why are most fountain pens made in other countries when they were invented here in the US by Waterman in 1884? Good question. Why? To clarify, I am discussing the fountain pen with a tipped nib, an ink reservoir and a sturdy pen body material.

I often refer to the "Big 4" when discussing fountain pen history. Those companies are Waterman, Parker, Shaeffer and Conklin. Conklin used to be housed in Ohio but now is Italian. Parker was in Wisconsin and now is in the UK. Shaeffer actually has roots in Iowa but is now German and I am not quite sure where Waterman began but they are made in France now.

As far as US made fountain pen companies go, I can think of The Edison Pen Co in Ohio, Noodler's Ink in Boston MA, Karas Kustoms in Az and Monteverde in California. There may be others, and if so, please let me know which they are.

Fountain pens used to be huge here in the US, especially the Parker 51 which is the most sold fountain pen model I know of. Now fountain pens are widely used in Asia and Europe namely. What happened?

As fountain pen models were becoming vastly popular, other countries started getting into the game like The Pelikan Co. in Germany, by acquiring patents from different sources. During this time, other companies emerged such as Wahl Eversharp, Esterbrook, and other large brands like MontBlanc. A battle began to stand out and many different filling mechanisms began to emerge as well, anything to stand out and be unique. We saw the piston filler, crescent filler, the vacuum filler and even that goofy yet wonder of engineering, the snorkel.

Hard rubber was the material of choice here on these early pens which is better known as ebonite. Celluloid materials slowly became introduced as an alternative to ebonite and offered more colors and designs. It all fueled the fire to make the better, sleaker pen while maintaining craftsmanship and quality.

Enter the ballpoint pen to the scene. The ballpoint started out very expensive but ultimately became a very cheap alternative to fountains and were much easier to use as well as maintain. The US really grabbed on to this idea and ran with it as we get further away from quality to save a buck or two. The US was not the only country to embrace the ballpoint but we saw all of our American based pen manufacturers move to other markets for survivability.

This phenomenon also made the luxury fountain pens a thing as fancier materials could be used to make very unique pens for those who still admire a fine writing instrument. Companies like Visconti, Omas, MontBlanc and others now make some of the most luxurious pens around.

There is still a thriving fountain pen community here in the US and it is slowly growing. I see it with the number of pen dealers and their increasing popularity such as the Goulet Pen Co., Anderson Pens, Vanness Pens, Pen Chalet, and pen users like the Pen Habit, NibSmith, Fountain Pen Day and of course, Gourmet Pens and SBRE Brown in the Netherlands but they are popular here.

We love fountain pens, ink and good paper, at least that is the goal with this blog. I have managed to convert my mother and 3 co-workers to the world of fountain pens. It is so fun to see, experience and hopefully, we can take back our history one pen user at a time.