The first in this batch of ink reviews is for Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts. I can’t say that I’m a great fan of blue/black inks, and considering their common use they rank quite low for me. However, I had seen so many positive reviews of this ink I had to give it a try. The story of the 54th Massachusetts is fascinating and huge, especially for people like me from outside the US, so I won’t even try to summarise it here.
This ink was an Ebay purchase from the US, so with shipping it worked out to be moderately priced. The 3oz bottle came in the usual black and white box. The bottle was full to the brim (again). The label depicts the 54th Massachusetts in battle.
I originally planned to use the Pilot Vanishing Point Matt Black (M) for this review, but almost as soon as I had filled the pen I realised the combination was just too wet, leaving a very broad line, so to try to make comparisons more fair I switched to a Pilot 78G on the basis that it should be comparable to my favourite test pen – a Pilot MR – I’m not sure this review really bears that out though. All my Pilot MRs/Metropolitans were already full with other inks which formed part of this batch of tests.
A writing sample was not affected by running water or droplets. Despite this the pen was easy to clean, although I had a CON 20 converter in the pen so I could not see if there was any staining.
Drying time was around 15 seconds, which I would consider to be quite quick.
Rhodia Dot Pad No 16
Although I was pleased with the writing experience I am a little surprised that the ink dried to a slightly washed out appearance – more of a greyish blue than a blue/black. Looking at the ink again it almost has a hint of teal – another that is not normally one of my favourite colours, but it is okay here.
Ryman Memo Block 9cm x 9cm
Field Notes – Pitch Black
It spread, it feathered, it bled and looked more washed out than on other papers. The pen even burped a little (see the drop), although I’m not convinced the ink was responsible – I don’t think I’ll be using a Pilot 78G for ink tests again.
Mnemosyne Word Card
I’ve not been especially satisfied with my scans of Word Cards before, so I have decided to photograph them instead. In this case the ink dried to a much more saturated deep blue black than in any of the writing samples (much closer to the colour I would prefer).
The variation between the writing samples and the Word Card suggest to me that the Pilot 78G isn’t the right pen for this ink (not just for ink reviews in general). I am okay with the colour in the writing samples, but would like to achieve something more like the Word Card. I have also tried it in a Lamy Studio with a fine nib which showed more shading and in the areas of heavier ink flow the colour was more like the Word Card. Overall this ink does seem to be more sensitive to the pen than any that I have tested previously, which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I think some more experimentation will be worth the effort.
One useful side effect of this review is that I can now type “Massachusetts” without having to obsess on how it’s spelt. I’m not sure how useful that will prove to be in practice though.