Saturday, November 28, 2009

Noodler’s Rattler Red

Noodler’s Ink seems to enjoy favor among many pen and ink enthusiasts in the US. A large number of blogs, as well as posts on the Fountain Pen Network offer reviews, comments or opinions about this American made ink. True, not all reviews and comments are one hundred percent complimentary, but enough of them are to make this one of the more popular inks among American enthusiasts. Some might jump on this statement as not completely accurate, but I can only base my assumptions on what I read, which admittedly is a moderate amount considering the number of pen and ink blogs out there.
My personal experience with Noodler’s has been limited to only two colors: Cayenne and Rattler Red, the red being the subject of this review. Tokyo is a very big city, one with a good number of pen shops, large stationery stores, and other stores that specialize in ink. Despite that, I have found Noodler’s Ink in only one store in metropolitan Tokyo, Shosaikan in the Aoyama district. I first bought a bottle of the Cayenne, but didn’t get much chance to use the ink, because for reasons unknown, the ink became corrupted within two or three weeks of sitting on my ink shelves. The original gorgeous dark and spicy orange turned to a horrible gray orange. My next try was one from the American Eel series, Rattler Red. For those unfamiliar with American Eel, it is a lubricating ink that Noodler’s began producing in 2005. I was especially taken with the color, which impressed me as an unusual red in a world where red inks are if nothing else, bountiful. Not counting the Noodler’s, I have thirteen other red inks on the shelves behind me, so a striking or unusual red will catch my eye. And that was the case with the Rattler Red.

It has not proven itself to be a completely satisfactory ink in my experience. The flow is not what I like, and the richness does not hold from the start of a line to the end. It also has a long drying time, a problem if you don’t like smears. I have filled out a review form and put it here, and overall my comments are not altogether favorable. It’s a pretty color, but…

Turning away from ink and Noodler’s for a few lines, I got something from an old friend in my hometown today, an article announcing the closing after 76 years of a somewhat famous stationery store downtown. Wonderful article, I thought, and so decided to tack it on to today’s post. Like me, I believe many others will have some understanding of what the writer is saying.

Store stood for a long tradition

Every Monday, members of the Press Club of Baton Rouge gather at a downtown meeting hall to hear some newsmaker discuss affairs of the day. But two doors down, at Latil Stationery Co., a quieter piece of news has slowly been unfolding: After 76 years, the store that loyal customers know as Latil’s is closing on Dec. 31.

That might not seem like big news in the scheme of things; every day, across the world, businesses close their doors. But Latil’s exit also seems to diminish, by one more degree, the older and more genteel form of expression that its pens and paper came to represent.

I first came to know Latil’s as a young reporter, when my newspaper office was a few blocks over from Latil’s longtime Third Street location. For much of the day, hunched over a newsroom keyboard, I filed stories for a daily audience of readers. But during occasional lunch hours at Latil’s, I’d find what I needed for more intimate writing — the blank journal for the odd thought, a box of stationery for handwritten letters, a nice, new pen to scribble what I wished.

The journals I bought at Latil’s and filled each year now rest on a shelf, and no lock is needed to protect the private musings inside. My handwriting is so bad that no one else could fathom the passages, anyway.

Some of what I scrawled ended up as essays or stories for newspapers, magazines, or a book. But in crossing from the personal to the public, I was always aware of a line being crossed, and the boundary was easy to see. The division between my public writing life and my private writing life was as clear as the blocks that separated my office from the stationery shop.

But in typing those three words just now, “private writing life,” I’m reminded of just how quaint the concept has become. When my teenage daughter reveals what’s on her mind, it’s not in a letter or a diary, but on a Facebook page intended for multiple readers.

And in this age of blogs and Twitter, what might have once gone into a personal journal is typically a post for the world to see.

Everyone in our family, uses e-mail, of course, and I couldn’t think of doing without it. But e-mails, even those exchanged between close friends, don’t have the same aura of intimacy as a handwritten note; that “forward” button on the computer encourages disclosure, not discretion. A handwritten note can be passed around too, but postal mail carries a strong tradition of restraint, a powerful promise of secrecy.

Yet in an age when people sell their private lives to reality shows, and the Internet routinely makes publicity from the personal, whether anyone really wants secrecy anymore is an open question.

What I’m trying to describe, I suppose, is a code of conduct, a tradition, that has always made a box of stationery or a journal a little bit more than a piece of merchandise on a shelf.

Latil’s was a part of that tradition, and I’m sorry to see it go.

From The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana • November 27

by Advocate staff writer Danny Heitman

1 comment:

  1. Sam at Future, Nostalgic had a post about the American Eel lubricating inks. One of his pens was acting up, and the AE really did the trick. Perhaps your Sailor isn't in need of any help; had it actually been made in 1911, that might be another story.

    And thanks for the link to Shosaikan. There's a Sailor pen on the first page that I really like and will have to look for here. I have a feeling it might not be available, but time will tell. :)


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America