Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Fairy Tale Ink

Poking aimlessly around my ink shelves, no real purpose in mind, I came upon an old bottle of De Atramentis Hans Christian Andersen ink. “Oh, great color… excellent ink!” I thought. At the time I wasn’t thinking about what I might put in this blog, but the Hans Christian Andersen gave me an idea. This is an ink I have long enjoyed using, one I have given as a birthday gift on a couple of occasions, and something I have recommended many times. So, it occurred to me that a review of this old ‘fairy tale ink’ might make an interesting topic for some.

Now, several hours later I find myself in the unexpected position of having to write with reservation about an ink I never doubted before today. Saying that, let me be quick to add that I blame the paper and the fountain pen chosen for this testing and review. I still have a good opinion of this De Atramentis ink, but unfortunately there is neither the time nor space to justify that opinion with different samples.

I started out using a Sailor Profit (Naginata) fountain pen with a medium 21k gold nib on a creamy high quality paper taken from an old unfilled journal. What paper? Thick, expensive, smooth and Japanese is about all I can tell you. But the point is, the Hans Christian Andersen ink worked very well on this paper, with this pen. Hopefully, the upper photo will give you a good look at both the ink’s unusual color and strong performance. At that point in my test I was optimistic that my remarks would all be positive.

Next, I printed out an ink review form on plain, inexpensive white copy paper. In less than a minute I found myself in trouble with both paper and fountain pen, not to mention ink. The first page I wrote out was an ugly mess. The De Atramentis ink clearly didn’t like that paper, and was doing everything possible to tell me so. In a nutshell, every aspect we like to examine was off. There was a lot of feathering and bleed through, and very poor shading and saturation. Honestly, nothing about it was beyond what anyone would call a poor performance.

I tossed that cheap copy paper and put the Sailor pen to bed. Next, I tried it with a Montblanc Meisterstuck 146 that has a fine 14k gold nib. The new paper was also white copy paper, but a much more expensive grade and weight. The results of that test are shown in the second photograph, however please discount the color in this scan. It is nothing at all like the true shade of blue-green you can see in the top photo. I think the scanning killed the beautiful and special quality of the Hans Christian Andersen color. (The top photo is not scanned.)

Despite the less than praiseworthy comments I have made about the ink on the review form, and despite the problems I had with the ink today, I continue to like this ink and still consider it a worthy member of the De Atramentis family of writer-named inks. If you choose a fountain pen and paper that are agreeable to the ink, I can promise you will enjoy using it, and will especially enjoy the distinctive shade of blue green.

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About Me

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