Friday, December 30, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: Monteverde Prima Green Swirl

In my years of accumulating, collecting, and using fountain pens, I've tried many brands, and found several favorites to keep. There are still some that I want to try, pen brands that I want to know more about. One of these is Monteverde, an American pen brand distributed by YAFA Pen Company. I've always wanted to try Monteverde pens — the demonstrator Artista Crystal, the carbon fiber Invincia, and the acrylic Prima.

A few weeks ago, Pen Chalet owner Ron Manwaring kindly sent me this lovely Monteverde Prima fountain pen in Green Swirl with a wonderful No. 6 stub nib to review. I don't have many green pens, and this Prima in Green Swirl is just beautiful! It's a perfect green pen for the year, to match Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery.

The Prima series is available in five colors: Green Swirl, Tiger Eye Swirl, Turquoise Swirl, Purple Swirl, and Black Swirl. Monteverde also offers them either as ballpoint, or rollerball. These pens' caps and barrels are made from European grade glossy acrylic resin, accented with black and chrome.

The Prima measures 5.30 inches long and weighs 27 grams when capped. Without the cap, it is only 4.92 inches and 17 grams. When the 10 gram cap is posted, the Prima is longer at 6.10 inches, and heavier at 27 grams. This is why I (and other fountain pen users) do not usually post my pens. Posting their caps make them uncomfortably long and heavy.

Cap and barrel of Monteverde Prima. The translucent glossy acrylic resin with black swirl is just beautiful.
In different lighting, it has an attractive sheen and shimmer.

It's useful that the Prima can be fully taken apart. The threaded Monteverde converter can be easily disassembled, too. 

The barrel tapers off toward the black finial at the bottom, separated from the body by a chrome ring. When the fountain pen is uncapped, and the barrel is separated from the section, one is left with the converter and the nib and feed assembly (holder, feed, and nib). Using a rubber grip, I was able to take out the screw-type nib and feed assembly from the metal section. I pulled out the nib and feed from their holder, for a complete disassembly. It wasn't an easy process, and one I won't recommend to newbies and inexperienced hands to avoid breaking the feed or its holder. 

I usually disassemble pens for thorough cleaning and even drying. Cleaning pens for reinking or storage is always a must for me. 

Monteverde Prima parts (from top): cap, barrel, section, piston driver, converter, piston rod/shaft, converter ring, nib and feed holder, feed, and nib.

The Prima's metal clip is quite stiff, but holds the pen securely in place. The chrome cap rings with black inset has two imprints: 'Monteverde' on the clip side, and 'PRIMA' on the back side.

The Prima can be filled with ink using a standard international cartridge or converter, both included in the box. The threaded Monteverde converter screws onto the section for a secure fit, preventing ink spills if the converter is accidentally pulled out. The Prima's metal section adds to the durability and stability of this pen.

Monteverde offers the Prima fountain pen series with a fine, medium, broad, and stub (1.1) stainless steel nib. The Prima's nib contains several markings. Monteverde's logo of jagged mountain is imprinted across the nib, cutting across the breather hole. At the base, the logo and 'Monteverde USA' are imprinted. On the left tine's shoulder, 'Monteverde' is again imprinted, while the nib width (this pen has a 1.1 stub) is on the shoulder of the right tine.

The underside of the Prima's feed bears the number 6, indicating the pen's nib size.

The Prima's nib (center) with other No. 6 nibs (left to right): Edison, Bexley, Nemosine, and Jinhao.

Size comparison with smaller and bigger pens. From top: Kaweco Ice Sport, Prima, Kaweco Student, Lamy Al-Star, and TWSBI 540. The Prima is a full-sized pen designed to be ergonomically balanced for comfortable writing.

The Prima's 1.1 stub stainless steel nib is an expressive writer. The line variation it produced, together with ink shading is lovely. It's a hard starting nib, though, and definitely not a wet writer. When I was writing the text below, I had to pause several times to push some ink in the converter into the feed and nib. I'm thinking that this problem may be due to poor ink flow in the feed, a common Monteverde concern that I knew about prior to this review. But that can be remedied by widening the ink channel, and using a wet ink to avoid flow issues.

Despite the flow issue (which I have fixed), I am happy with the Prima and will recommend it to those who want to explore and know the brand. It's a great pen, and I will consider getting another one in the future. The Tiger Eye and Turquoise Swirl pens look good! Get one for your collection.

The Monteverde Prima in this review is provided by Pen Chalet where it retails for US$75. For more details on purchasing pens from Pen Chalet, visit their website at

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fountain Pen Inks Review: Robert Oster Signature Ink Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue

I came upon Robert Oster Signature Inks one morning, at breakfast. I saw an ink swab of Bondi Blue, and thought it's a beautiful blue ink. I realized Robert Oster has a lot of blue ink, and I fell in love with Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue. A lively chat with Robert Oster followed, and a week later, I found myself at the post office, picking up seven (seven!!!) bottles of inky awesomeness from Down Under.

Blue inks overload!

In the past, I have used fountain pen inks from China, India, and Japan, but I have not tried inks from Australia until I saw Robert Oster's Signature line.

Signature Inks are made in Australia, reflecting the country’s natural color palette. Robert Oster is proud that his inks originate from the Coonawarra district of South Australia, one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world. His ink palette has the colors of the sun, sky, sea, earth, vines, and wines.

Blue, blue-green, and green inks from Australia! I got the sky, the sea, and the vine!

Robert is kind to send me Bondi Blue, Australian Sky Blue, School Blue, Torquay, Tranquility, Green Diamond, and Marine. I realized that he sent me the sky, the sea, and the vines of Coonawarra.

Signature inks are sold in tall, leak-proof, Australian-made 50ml plastic bottles that are sturdy enough to survive the sometimes bumpy ride from Australia to the rest of the world. 100ml bottles are also available in selected sellers of Robert Oster Signature Ink worldwide.

Robert Oster Signature Inks come in tall 50ml bottles with gold labels bearing the Signature branding.

Label on the other side of the bottle says that Robert Oster Signature Inks are 'known for their unique colors',
and have a 'certain something.'

Each bottle of Signature Inks has a leak-proof cap which also carries the sticker indicating the ink name/color. 
Just be careful not to mix bottles and caps when you have several ink bottles open.

Signature Ink bottles have wider openings that can accommodate large pens.
I can't fit that TWSBI in a 30ml Diamine bottle, or in the 1670 J. Herbin glass bottles.

I chose two from the seven inks that I received. I tried Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue first, and used pens with wide nibs to see the lovely shading and the impressive halo that I saw in Robert Oster's sample ink swabs. Bondi Blue went to my Pelikan M205 with BB nib, and the Australian Sky Blue went into a TWSBI with B nib.

Bondi Blue (top two paragraphs) and Australian Sky Blue (bottom paragraphs) on Tomoe River paper.

Here are my observations, followed by sample photos of the two inks. 

Both inks are wet, and flowed smoothly onto paper. Australian Sky Blue is wetter than Bondi Blue, which explains why it dried longer. Both have excellent shading and halo, but Bondi Blue's is darker, wider, and more visible. Like most fountain pen inks, these two have low water resistance. I have not used them long enough to test their color fastness, but both colors look like they will last, as long as they are not exposed to extreme heat or moisture.

Bondi Blue is dark blue while wet, but turns lighter when it dries. On paper, it looks similar to Waterman South Sea Blue, or Sheaffer Turquoise. Australian Sky Blue doesn't change much when it dries, and it's more similar to J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche and Lamy Turquoise.

Robert Oster Signature Ink Bondi Blue. Bondi ian Aboriginal word which means 'water breaking over rocks,
or noise of water breaking over rocks.'  Perhaps Bondi Beach is the inspiration for this ink color.

I love how Bondi Blue goes light to dark from a single pass to triple passes.

See the shading? And the sheen/halo? This ink has too much sheen! It's visible on the single pass swab (top), which is still very light, but dark and heavy on the swab with three passes (bottom).

Bondi Blue's sheen in my writing sample. This is the reason why I chose to use a pen with BB nib.
The sheen won't be visible in a pen with fine or medium nib. 

Wet ink + BB nib = long drying time.

Robert Oster Signature Ink Australian Sky Blue. Inspired by the bright blue of a cloudless Australian sky.

Australian Sky Blue is a turquoise ink with lovely shading that can go from light to dark, depending on the pen and paper used.

The swabs with double and triple passes show the lovely sheen/halo of Australian Sky Blue.

Shading! Sheen! What's not to like and love about this ink?

Wetter ink + B nib = longer drying time.

I had fun trying and reviewing these Robert Oster Signature Inks. I now have four pens filled with different Robert Oster inks, and I'm looking forward to more fun in my next review.

Writing sample of Bondi Blue on Midori MD Paper.

Are you looking for turquoise inks to add into your collection? Get one from Robert Oster Signature Ink palette. Bondi Blue and Australian Sky Blue are great choices, but there are more turquoise inks there! Torquay and Tranquility are also excellent ink colors, so why not get them, too! Watch out for these two in my future ink reviews.

Robert Oster Signature Inks are available in a number of authorized global resellers. To look for a reseller near you, check Robert Oster's list of global resellers. In the Philippines, these inks are available at

For more information about the Signature inks, visit the Robert Oster website. For updates and news of new Signature inks, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fountain Pen Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink Caroube de Chypre

When I chose to use fountain pens full time, I became enamored with fountain pen inks while most of them were unavailable in the Philippines, including the French brand J. Herbin. I like J. Herbin inks because of the variety of colors they offer. My favorites are Rouge Opera, Orange Indien, and Poussière de Lune. In 2010, J. Herbin introduced the limited edition 1670 Anniversary Rouge Hematite ink to commemorate their 340th founding anniversary. Rouge Hematite became so popular, that J. Herbin added four more inks into the selection.

My favorite J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink has always been Rouge Hematite. Even after three more inks were added to the collection, and though I thought that the non-sparkling Bleu Ocean is a beautiful blue, I always go back to Rouge Hematite. Stormy Grey and Emerald of Chivor are equally beautiful inks, only not as charming as Rouge Hematite to my eyes.

Caroube de Chypre, the fifth addition to the Anniversary Ink collection, was introduced this year. I did not get a bottle until last month, and I have to say that I was smitten. The rich, deep, brown color of this ink, with vivid red sheen and green halo, and the shimmering gold effect has bewitched me beyond Rouge Hematite.

Caroube de Chypre, or Cyprus Carob, got its name from the dried carob pods in Cyprus that were said to be a favorite snack food of the sailor J. Herbin during his voyages. In ancient Europe, carob pods were known as the "black gold of Cyprus."

The new Anniversary ink is presented like the four previous 1670 inks. The collector's edition box design represents the life of J. Herbin as a French sailor. The 1670 50ml bottle, despite the narrow opening that makes ink refilling difficult, is lovely. The gold cord, wax seal, and waxed cap are beautiful and make the 1670 bottle a true collector's item.

Caroube de Chypre's deep color takes me back as a young child in my grandmother's backyard, when on hot summer afternoons, my cousins and I would play hide and seek, careful not to rustle the dry leaves and reveal ourselves.

Caroube de Chypre brings me to Christmas breakfasts from the past, where my grandfather serves the family’s specialties: suman (glutinous rice cake) and thick, sweet, frothy dark tsokolate (chocolate) whisked expertly with the family's batidor (molinillo).

Caroube de Chypre reminds me of the big, colorful, shiny beetles that my young brothers and their friends collected in the mango and tamarind trees in our backyard.

Ah, Caroube de Chypre is full of nostalgia and reminiscences. A glimpse of its swatch on paper brings a rush of fleeting and hurried memories: a cup of steaming, hot, strong coffee shared with a friend; freshly baked chocolate chip cookies; aged wood; worn leather. Deep, rich, vibrant, and intense — memories or ink, these I will surely hold on to.

The gold flecks of Caroube de Chypre settles faster than the gold flecks of earlier Anniversary inks.

Caroube de Chypre writing sample on Tomoe River paper.

There are just two things that I do not like about Caroube de Chypre: it takes longer to dry (~8-10 seconds more than the regular Herbin inks, depending on the nib and paper), and it's not water resistant, but, hey, who would want to mess up this beautiful ink on paper? Caroube de Chypre is not as saturated as the original formulation of Rouge Hematite or Bleu Ocean, and the Edison Colier that I filled with it wrote smoothly. (And by the way, I don't care if I need to wait longer for it to dry up.) Despite being a saturated ink, Caroube de Chypre has good flow and does not have clogging issues. Contrary to other reviews, cleaning fountain pens that were inked with Caroube de Chypre was not difficult at all.

Double passes of Caroube de Chypre show this ink's depth, exceptional shimmer, and halo.

I tried some ink swabs to see the beautiful mix of dark red/brown, gold, and green. A single pass (top) shows lovely dark reddish-brown, and a moderate amount of gold flecks. Double and triple passes (middle and bottom) reveal a darker brown color with lots of gold flecks, and that incredible green halo around the swab.

I used three types of paper for this ink: Tomoe river Paper (ivory), Canson sketchpad (white), and a Korean brand sketchpad I received from a friend recently. Shading, shimmer, and halo are all present in both Tomoe River paper and Canson sketchpad. The sketchpad from Korea, however, absorbed all of the ink, and I did not see any shading and halo, but only a bit of the gold flecks and a lot of feathering.

There are a lot of gold flecks in this writing sample of Caroube de Chypre in Tomoe River paper. 
Despite the thick lines, it did not feather or smear at all.

Caroube de Chypre has a green halo!

More of this ink's beautiful shading, green halo, and gold shimmer.

This writing sample is written on white Canson sketchpad. Caroube de Chypre is such
a versatile ink that it goes from reddish brown to dark cocoa brown, to golden brown,
and greenish brown depending on the nib, paper, or light exposure.

The single pass ink swab is beautiful, but the double pass swab is incredible!

Caroube de Chypre feathered in this Korean brand sketchpad. I could still see some gold flecks, though.

The Q-tips I used for the ink swabs show the range of colors of Caroube de Chypre:
deep red, dark brown, gold, and green.

All five J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary inks (from top): Rouge Hematite, Bleu Ocean, Stormy Grey,
Emeraude de Chivor, and Caroube de Chypre
Perfect pairing: Caroube de Chypre and Edison Colier with stub nib.

If you use fountain pens on a daily basis, I recommend getting a bottle of Caroube de Chypre. It's a versatile ink with beautiful shading, shimmer, and halo. Get one in your collection now!

The bottle of 1670 J. Herbin Anniversary ink and Tomoe River paper in this review are from Scribe Writing Essentials, the leading distributor of fine writing instruments and accessories in the Philippines. A bottle of Caroube de Chypre retails for PhP1,195 at Scribe.

To get J. Herbin products, visit any of Scribe's stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. Scribe also has stores SM City and Ayala Center in Cebu. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.
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