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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fountain Pen Review: Nemosine Singularity Blueberry

I came across the brand Nemosine a few years ago through a fellow member of Fountain Pen Network Philippines. His pen, Nemosine Singularity, was a modest demonstrator with chrome trims, but what caught my eye was its #6 nib. More colors were produced since then, but it wasn't available in the Philippines, so the chance of getting one in my collection was slim. Until I got an offer to review one.

Goldspot Pens, seller of brand name luxury and fine writing fountain, rollerball, and ballpoint pens based in New Jersey, USA, has kindly sent me a Nemosine Singularity fountain pen in Blueberry with a 0.6mm stub nib to review here.

Nemosine, a pen company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been around for a couple of years. Their writing instruments, offered only as fountain pens are: Singularity, Neutrino, and Fission. The Singularity, their flagship fountain pen, is available in three finishes: Traditional, Demonstrator, and Acrylic. For a fountain pen in the $20 price range, the Singularity has a wide range of colors and nib widths to choose from. The Blueberry fountain pen in this review is one of the 13 colors of the Traditional Singularity, with seven other colors in the Demonstrator and Acrylic lines.

Nemosine fountain pens are packaged in simple white laminated cardboard boxes that bear the Nemosine logo on one side. The other side has details about the pen such as color, nib width, warranty, and the origins of the pen's parts. Interestingly, every Nemosine Singularity pen box is marked with the Schwarzschild radius equation.

Inside the box are: Singularity fountain pen, converter, six short international ink cartridges, and a fountain pen filling and cleaning instruction leaflet.

The Singularity's parts are manufactured from different places, as the box indicates. The pen bodies (cap, barrel) are from Taiwan, while the nibs come from Germany (either Jowo or Bock). The pens are then inspected and packaged in the USA. Nemosine offers a three-year 'perfection warranty' for their pens.

When I tried the Singularity Blueberry for the first time, I noticed that it's a very light fountain pen, even with a full converter. It's just as light as a Lamy Safari, but the difference in their plastic material is noticeable. While I am confident that the Safari will survive a fall, I cannot say the same for the Singularity. The Singularity, however, has an impressive gloss.

The Singularity weighs ~17 grams (capped), and measures ~5.4 inches long while capped, ~4.9 inches without the cap, and ~5.8 inches when the cap is posted.

Parts of the Singularity: cap, barrel, converter, section, feed, and nib.

The barrel and cap of the Singularity have the same tapered shape, where they are widest at the center of the pen, and narrows slightly towards the ends. The Singularity pen's barrel is shaped from a single piece of plastic which is excellent for eyedropper conversion. The cap is screw-on type, which is a nice feature for an inexpensive pen.

The Singularity's wide cap band is set above the cap lip, giving it a nice look together with the barrel's thin chrome band when the pen is capped. The Nemosine logo is handsomely inscribed into the cap band.

The Singularity clip and clip band are in the same chrome finish as the barrel and cap bands. The folded-metal clip is springy and holds the pen securely in place.

The conical endpoints (top cap, barrel end) of the Nemosine Singularity fountain pen.

The Singularity's #6 nibs have a unique and distinctive design. The design suggests butterfly wings, but I also see flower petals and bird feathers. The imprint includes "Made in Germany" at the base, nib width (0.6) above it, and the letter N (for Nemosine) just below the breather hole.

There are six nib widths available for the Singularity: extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, 0.6mm, and 0.8mm. The 0.6mm nib is untipped and quite sharp, and may not be suited for writers who rotate their pens, but the sharp italic creates impressive line variations.

Traditional Singularity fountain pens have the same black plastic section. It has a nice hourglass shape without any grip guides that is comfortable to hold.

In other pens, the threads used in screwing the cap to the barrel is placed in the barrel. With the Singularity, the threads are placed in the section and not in the barrel, so that at times, my fingers are resting on the threads above the section. It does not bother me at all, nor does it make writing uncomfortable.

The Singularity's (center) nib with other #6 nibs: Jinhao (left) and Edison (right).

I am including the Nemosine Singularity (5.4 inches) in the full size pen category, together with the TWSBI 540 (5.6 inches), Lamy Safari (5.5 inches), and Noodler's Ahab (5.4 inches). Its length is just right for comfortable writing.

I love matching ink colors with my fountain pens. Diamine Sapphire Blue seemed the perfect match for the Blueberry Singularity. The untipped 0.6mm stub nib was not smooth throughout the writing sample I included here, but I am happy and impressed with the line variation it produced.

Perfect together: Diamine Sapphire Blue and Singularity Blueberry
The Nemosine 0.6mm stub nib makes writing very expressive.

While I have a few minor reservations about the Singularity, I would still recommend this $20 fountain pen not only to beginners, but to long-time fountain pen users, as well. Its material may be a downside, but the #6 nib is probably worth $15-$20 on its own. It's a lightweight pen, and comfortable enough to use for longer periods of writing. If you are looking for a beginner fountain pen, or for one to add into your collection, head over to Goldspot Pens and get one (or two)!

The Singularity and other Nemosine fountain pens are widely available in many reputable sellers worldwide. If you want to look at other Singularity pens, visit Goldspot Pens.

I received the Nemosine Singularity fountain pen in this review free of charge from GOldspot Pens. For more details, visit their website.
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