Don’t expect anything scholarly on the subject. It’s not so long ago that I thought blue and blue/black was enough for anyone. I have gradually been convinced otherwise and I have a long, deep shelf of ink, ancient and modern. For a time I had a hankering for vintage ink. It all turned out to be good and useful except an old bottle of Diamine Blue/Black which had faded. Of course I have acquired many colours from the houses of Diamine, Sheaffer and Noodlers.

Ink has a great love of escaping and going where it shouldn’t. I’m fully aware of this and I know I should get gloved up before opening an ink bottle but I rarely do, even when it’s Baystate Blue which is reluctant to come off the stained fingers.

I thought it would be easy to decide which inks I would keep if I was only allowed to have three: Diamine Blue/Black, Aurora Blue and Noodlers Black Swan in Australian Roses. That would be quite enough to cover every eventuality, wouldn’t it? But then I think how much I like Baystate Blue. And shouldn’t I have a green, a strong green like Diamine’s Forest Green but definitely not that pale-anaemic Kelly Green! And then there’s Parker Super Quink, a very fine blue. Oh well. That’s okay. Nobody has passed the law about only having three inks yet, anyway.

I’m very, very careful now about not getting more ink. I have enough to float a battleship, if I had a battleship. There’s no need for more, despite those large, cheap bottles of Pelikan ink and the rather beautiful eclat de sapphir that someone recommended to me the other day.


No need at all…


10 thoughts on “Ink

  1. Battleship, eh? I can only float a rubber duck 🙂
    I was wondering, if you care to comment on Noodler’s inks. Do you use them in your vintage pens? And also have you noticed any damaged feeds or sacs by people who have used such inks?

    1. Yeah, but if it’s a rubber duck 860 feet long, weighing 48000 tons… Because of what has been said about them, I only use Noodler’s inks in pens I can afford to throw away. So far, no problems. I don’t fill vintage pens with Noodler’s. I don’t do repairs for other people so I’m unlikely to see that kind of damage. It certainly has been reported by people I respect. That said, I love the couple of Noodler’s inks I have, BSiAR especially – very beautiful, reliable in my experience and inexpensive.

      1. Thanks. When I tried the Black Swan series, I preferred the English roses 🙂 But then again, I have had always a sweet spot for them…..

  2. My ability to repair or restore a (vintage or contemporary) fountain pen is inexistent. That’s why I tend to avoid any kind of presumptive risk when using vintage pens, including in the area of ink. I got spooked after reading the ominous “pH values table” on the site of Richard Binder as well as FPN posts warning about the mortal dangers of red inks etc., and gradually started wondering whether anything else than Parker washable blue would ruin my prized possessions. So this post comes as a relief. Apparently a leading lady of the vintage pen world has no qualms about using *Noodlers Inks* in fountain pens. Talk about living dangerously. I don’t think that I’ll have the nerve to follow your footsteps there (I have no back-up plan). But I am quite pleased to read that Aurora Blue (of which I recently purchased a bottle) is on your list of favourites. I’ll now open that bottle and “enjoy responsibly” (after thoroughly flushing the Swan in question).


    1. Dear Hans,
      I don’t think I made myself clear! I use Noodler’s inks but only in cheap cartridge pens. I wouldn’t put those inks – or many of the boutique inks I see offered – in a vintage pen. I’ve used Aurora Blue a lot without any problems. I really like it. Also, I do put red inks in sac-filler pens. Yes, they may shorten the life of a sac but I can always fit another one. I think of all those teachers with their fountain pens filled with red ink!

    2. I’m using Sailor ink in Gehas and Swans. The blue is a good middle ground blue and the flow is as good as any (not that many) I’ve tried.

  3. Thanks for the tips re: Noodler’s and Aurora Blue, the latter of which I used for years and years in vintage Esterbrooks. In fact, it was my go-to for all fountain pens.

    I stopped using it when I discovered that leaving it in a pen way too long — my fault entirely — started to eat or massivly clog tdhe feed channels in several modern pens. Maybe I was just using too-old ink, which happens if you don’t write a lot from a given bottle. In any case, I’ve switched to a homebrew Pilot blue-black, which is is Pilot’s standard blue-black + about 15% Pilot black (understand this is wholly eyeballing it), just to push it all bit darker and grayer.

    So far that’s working well. But given the ad hoc way i mixed it, the next batch won’t likely match. (Shrug.)

    As for Noodler’s inks I found that American Blue (I think — I poured it down the sink) badly clogged a couple vintage 1970s pens very quickly, probably because those inks are heavily laden with pigment to achieve the desired color saturation. So perhaps unfairly I’ve banned all Noodler inks — but I understand that they work for some people who must be far more diligent than I in flushing them out and reloading.

    My hesitatation over Aurora Blue makes me reluctant to attempt their Blue-Black. Maybe i need a pen that is easier to flush and clean….

    Thanks again!

    1. Thank you for that comprehensive comment, Robert. I haven’t run into that problem with Aurora Blue but then I mostly get through a fill of a pen quite quickly and then I flush it out and exchange it for a different pen. I’m careful about what I put in vintage pens and Noodler’s only goes in cheap Chinese pens that I could throw away if there was a problem. So far they have been fine. I understand that problems arise when Noodler’s is mixed with other inks, even the tiny quantity that might remain in a flushed pen. I’m not really an advocate for Noodler’s – I just enjoy two of that company’s colours.

      Perhaps it is best for you to avoid Aurora’s blue/black. There’s a world of other choices; I use Diamine’s variety without problems.

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