Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fountain Pen Review: 2018 Special Edition Lamy Safari All Black

Lamy has completed its trio of matte-finish Safari pens with All Black in 2018. After launching Dark Lilac (2016) and Petrol (2017), Lamy added its darkest Safari to the limited/special edition pen series. Lamy's 2018 Safari pen is called All Black, and it has a black clip, nib, finial, and section/grip.

I have a fountain pen, but the All Black Safari collection also includes a rollerball and a ballpoint. In 2014/2015, when the neon Safari pens (Neon, Neon Lime, Neon Coral) were launched, Lamy started calling the year's Safari and AL-star pens as 'special edition' instead of 'limited edition.' The Safari and AL-star pens after that period were then called special edition pens. The Special Edition All Black Safari in this review is from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company.

All Black Safari fountain pen in its special edition box.
A T10 ink cartridge and a new Z28 converter are included in the box.

Lamy released the All Black Safari fountain pen in a packaging similar to that of the Dark Lilac (2016) and Petrol (2017). Instead of the old, bulky plastic pen box, Lamy now uses laminated cardboard boxes with the year's color theme for their special edition pens. The laminated pen box is enclosed in a plain white sleeve.

Last December, fans and fountain pen collectors waited for the 2018 Safari color with wild guesses on which color it would be. The wait seemed endless to some, but when Lamy finally announced that the 2018 Safari will be 'All Black,' mixed comments flooded fountain pen groups all over the world. I, too, was a bit baffled by Lamy's choice of color because there are two black Safari pens already -- Charcoal/Umbra and Shiny/Glossy Black. When I received the pen, I was surprised that the new All Black is unique and totally different from the previous two black pens. But, yes, it's ALL BLACK.

Lamy Safari is a student pen, often called 'starter pen' by fountain pen enthusiasts. The All Black Safari with its matte finish is still made from the sturdy ABS plastic – the same material used in Lego blocks, keyboard keycaps, refrigerator walls, and the filament commonly used in 3D printers. Designed by Wolfgang Fabian, the first Safari was presented during the 1980 Frankfurt exhibition (read more in Lamy's Company History) and has been in Lamy's regular production since then. Despite some fountain pen enthusiasts' low regard for this plastic pen, many fans around the world collect the Safari and its aluminum cousin, Lamy AL-star.

Some people dislike the Safari's triangular grip, saying it is uncomfortable and annoying. This feature, however, is designed to make writing easier — it helps users to get a firm and secure grip on their pen. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents a user’s fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. I do not find the triangular grip uncomfortable at all. I actually do not notice it when I'm using my Lamy fountain pens.

Lamy's interchangeable nibs are very useful. A Safari fountain pen uses the same feed and nib as those on the Vista, Al-Star, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. Due to the color difference, my nib options for the All Black is limited only to a broad nib from an older Safari. Safari fountain pens bought in the Philippines have medium nibs, but other nib sizes are available: extra-fine, fine, broad, and left-handed. The Safari can also be fitted with italic nibs ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.

The anodized black nib of All Black Safari fountain pen writes smoothly out of the box.
The triangular grip is meant to 
help beginners, but some people find it uncomfortable.
All Black's finial (cap top) is the same as those installed in Dark Lilac and Petrol Safari fountain pens.

The All Black Safari's parts are barrel, section (grip + feed + nib), converter, and cap. The Z28 converter (a newer version of the Z24) was included in the box, together with a T10 ink cartridge. Safari fountain pens measure 5.5 inches when capped, 5 inches without the cap, and 6.5 inches if the cap is posted. It's a lightweight pen and can be used for extended periods of writing. The cap with the oversized clip is 2.5 inches long, the length from the nib to the converter is 4.6 inches, while the barrel measures about 3 inches.

The proprietary piston operated Z28 converters are used to fill Lamy fountain pens with ink from a bottle, but T10 Giant Ink cartridges are also available.
I had fun disassembling the All Black Safari and Z28 converter. I often do disassembly of my fountain pens to thoroughly clean the section, feed, and nib before inking/reinking.

All Black (top) and Charcoal/Umbra (bottom). Notice the difference in shade? All Black has a deeper, darker shade, while Charcoal/Umbra is lighter, looking almost gray in bright light.

Barrels of the All Black (top) and Charcoal/Umbra (bottom).

Even their nibs are different! The nib on All Black is darker than the one on Charcoal/Umbra.

Lamy introduced the Z28 converter in 2015/2016. I got the Petrol with a Z28 converter but did not write about it. The Z28 is an update to Lamy's Z24 converter. A proprietary converter, Z28 still got two nipples on either side for a secure fit inside the pen. See photos and captions below for more details about the Lamy Z28 converter.

The metal ring on Z28 (bottom) has changed to chrome matte finish, compared to the Z24's black finish. The new converter's tube is clear/transparent, while the previous one is frosted.

The Z28's turning knob is more square and matte finished. Also, the Lamy logo is now debossed on the Z28, while the logo on the Z24 is embossed.
The Z28's bottom is also different than the Z24's flat end.

The new trio of Lamy Safari fountain pens in matte finish: Dark Lilac (2016), Petrol (2017), and All Black (2018).

The medium nib on the All Black Safari writes smoothly out of the box. I inked it with Lamy Black ink. Lamy did not release a new ink this year as they already have a black ink in their collection.

Lamy Safari through the years.
Limited and special edition Safari fountain pens from 2008 Lime (topmost) to the 2018 All Black (bottom).

Similar to Dark Lilac and Petrol, the All Black Safari is a unique Safari. The dark color of this pen is eye-catching and a sure standout in any pen case. It's a different Lamy Safari, and another one to add on to my Lamy Safari collection.

The All Black Safari is a special edition pen, so you better get one now. It's almost sold out, and to date, Lamy will not be making this special edition pen anymore. Go get yourself one now!

Lamy Safari pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy retailers, visit: http://www.lamy.com/content/find_a_retailer/index_eng.html.

In the Philippines, the All Black Safari (and other Lamy products) is exclusively distributed by Times Trading Company, and available in leading bookstores and stationery specialty stores nationwide. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fountain Pen Ink Review: Honest Ink Ultramehrine

Honest Ink Ultramehrine by Straits Pen

Last October, our local fountain pen group, Fountain Pen Network Philippines, organized the first-ever Manila Fountain Pen Show. Members of the group, guests, and local sellers of fountain pens and related products were present during the much anticipated one-day fountain pen show. Straits Pen, a company from Singapore was also at the show with their store-exclusive inks, notebooks, and fountain pens. Straits Pen produced the Manila Fountain Pen Show's special edition exclusive ink, Manila Copper.

I was excited to visit Straits Pen's table at the show because of their blue inks. I wanted to get their store-exclusive Noodler's ink Blue Straits of Malacca and the newly-launched Honest Ink Poorman's Sapphire. I was only able to get Poorman's Sapphire because Blue Straits of Malacca was already sold out. But Ng Lip Sing and the Straits Pen group offered me a bottle of a still-unreleased Honest Ink for review.

I appreciate details such as this one. Most of us throw away the boxes that our ink bottles came with, not knowing that the box helps prevent the ink from fading due to exposure to bright light and heat.

Straits Pen's Honest Ink is a very young ink brand. The ink series is the company's significant move to becoming a manufacturer from being a distributor and reseller of fountain pen inks. Most ink manufacturers are from other parts of the world, and Southeast Asia seemed poorly represented. As a Singapore-based maker, Straits Pen wishes to bring colors and approaches to the market that people from the region would recognize as being from their "neck of the woods." The ink colors' names such as Bougainvillea Purple is a message to the world that Straits Pen is part of a wave of makers that are embracing their own traditions and bringing Southeast Asia to the world.

Not even a year old, the first season of four ink colors was launched in August, during the San Francisco International Pen Show for the US market. The batch includes Poorman's Sapphire, Shitty Sepia, Sad Stormy Swedish Sea, and Happy Accident Lilac. The inks were again launched twice in Japan at the Tokyo International Pen Show and at Itoya's INK.ink.ink! event in September. In October, Honest Ink was launched in the Philippines at the Manila Fountain Pen Show.

Honest Ink is still young, yet the second batch of four new colors is already awaiting their launch. One of the colors in the second batch is Ultramehrine, and the Straits Pen group is thinking of a launch during the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers Pen Show in 2019. While Honest Ink has been released in different places already, it has not been introduced formally to the local fountain pen community in Singapore. The upcoming pen show in Singapore is the perfect opportunity to launch the inks. The group will also launch the second batch of Honest Ink at the next San Francisco International Pen Show.
Honest Ink comes in a simple no-fuss bottle with a simple no-fuss label.

Ultramehrine is a deep, dark blue fountain pen ink with purple tones. This ink has moderate flow and excellent shading (see writing and calligraphy samples below) which is very visible when used in fountain pen-friendly paper such as our local Victory notebooks. Ultramehrine is not waterproof, however, but it doesn't stain, and I was able to easily clean it off a Lamy Al-star which was used in my writing samples.

The people at Straits Pen named their inks Honest Ink because these inks reflect the reputation that the group has made over the years. They believe in selling honestly, and in telling people the truth about the products they sell. They do not only tell customers about the upsides of a product, but they reveal the bad points as well -- which is evident in the story behind the name Ultramehrine.

According to the group, they wanted an ultramarine ink color, but initial tests were underwhelming --  the color was a subdued dark blue rather than the brilliant ultramarine blue that they want. The resulting color was still a good dark blue, and they decided to use it, even though they felt the ink was 'meh.' And this is how the name UltraMEHrine was created.
Swatches of Honest Ink Ultramehrine.

I love blue inks, and I had so much fun testing this ink (See the tips I used in swabbing inks for this review.). I like using fountain pen inks which surprise me and Ultramehrine did. In the ink swatches above -- details below -- the single layer/single pass swatch is already a nice handsome blue, but note that the double layers swatch is not only significantly darker, it has a distinct poignant character, and I'm thrilled that this same depth is what I see in my writing samples from a 1.1 Lamy nib.

Ultramehrine up close, single layer/single pass. It's a nice, handsome blue ink!
Two layers of Ultramehrine give us a poignant, dramatic dark blue ink.
I'd love to use this ink in my journal entries!
Ultramehrine's drying time. From a Lamy 1.1 nib on Victory paper, it took 12-13 seconds to dry.

I have a wide selection of blue fountain pen inks, including some dark blues which are similar to Ultramehrine. I find Ultramehrine to be very close to Noodler's Midnight Blue, Diamine Sargasso Sea, and Rober Oster Midnight Sapphire. All these inks are beautiful dark blues, but I have stopped using the heavily saturated Sargasso Sea after it stained a converter. Ultramehrine is a dark blue ink but it's not heavily saturated at all and has not stained the two fountain pens I have inked with it.

Honest Ink Ultramehrine is very close to Noodler's Midnight Blue and Diamine Sargasso Sea.
Among the Robert Oster inks that I have, I find Ultramehrine to be closest to Midnight Sapphie.
Here's a (long) writing sample of Honest Ink Ultramehrine. I wrote this using a Lamy Al-star with 1.1 nib on local Victory notebook. 

I love shading inks, and I'll take shading over shimmer or sheen anytime. But, does Ultramehrine fountain pen ink shade? I tried this ink using 1.1 and 1.5 Lamy italic nibs to see its shading, and I was not disappointed. Ultramehrine is a shading ink, and when I tried it using the 1.5 Lamy nib for italic calligraphy, the ink color became more dramatic and meaningful.

It's confirmed. Ultramehrine is a shading ink!
This is Ultramehrine in italic calligraphy using a Lamy 1.5 nib. Excellent shading, beautiful color.

Ultramehrine is a blue ink that every fountain pen user should have. It's a versatile dark blue that is suitable for business or art purposes, or even for daily journaling and notetaking. It doesn't stain so I'm sure it won't clog pens. Overall, it's a joy to write with.

Right now, we don't see the Honest Ink selection in the Straits Pen website. The group said they cannot put it on the website yet because they do not have enough bottles to sell at the moment. Well, I think they should hurry up. These inks are sure to fly off the shelves fast as soon as they become available online.

After my week-long visit in 2011, Singapore became a special place for me. That visit opened my eyes to new horizons, new opportunities, and to more knowledge about the world. Singapore is even more special to me now because of Straits Pen and Honest Ink.

I received the ink in this review for review purposes at no cost from the Straits Pen group during the Manila Fountain Pen Show in October. The Honest Ink selection is available for purchase at Straits Pen in Singapore. Their office is located at Office Block 212 Hougang Street 21 #04-349 Singapore 530212.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fountain Pen Ink Review: Pelikan Edelstein Olivine

As a regular fountain pen user and collector, I join hundreds of enthusiasts from around the world in our watch not only for new pens but also for new fountain pen ink colors. I eagerly wait for announcements of special edition pens, limited edition inks, new notebooks, and their ETAs to the far east where I live.

This year, Pelikan of Germany has added a new color to their Edelstein ink series. Edelstein Olivine is Pelikan's Ink of the Year for 2018, the seventh ink to be named such. Ink of Year colors includes Turmaline, Amber, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, and Smoky Quartz. The Edelstein ink collection also includes eight more colors: Onyx, Tanzanite, Sapphire, Topaz, Jade, Aventurine, Mandarin, and Ruby. Olivine, as well as the other Edelstein Ink of the Year colors, are limited and available for the current year only, and I'm so happy that Scribe.ph has kindly sent a bottle for this review.

Pelikan has a wide collection of fountain inks from its three series: 4001 inks, Fount India, and Edelstein. Edelstein is the German and Norwegian word for "gemstones". These higher-end inks from Pelikan correspond to the beautiful colors of gemstones and contain a special ingredient to ensure extra smooth writing.

Edelstein inks are presented in a unique 50 ml high-value glass flacon. The Edelstein flacon is an elegant rectangular glass bottle with a thick base and wide opening for easier ink filling. An eye candy, the flacon's design is one of a kind, and one of the most elegant ink bottles available in the market today.

Edelstein inks are presented in an elegant 50 ml glass flacon.

The Edelstein flacon has an equally elegant cap with the Pelikan logo embossed in silver. 

The flacon's wide opening makes ink filling easier, and it can accommodate bigger pens.

Olivine is a deep, dark green ink that looks more like a forest green color than olive. This color confusion bothered me for a while. Don't be surprised about the color, though. According to The Pelikan's Perch, this ink actually got its name from a gemstone with a typical olive-green color derived from traces of nickel. The mineral also takes on a reddish color, thought to be a result of iron oxidation. There it is. Edelstein Olivine got its name from a gemstone, not from olives.

A single pass/swab of Olivine. This ink is truly versatile. It can be deep and dark, but it can also be light and dramatic.

Double passes/swabs of Olivine shows a dark green ink, but also reveals a faint reddish sheen where the ink pooled before it dried.

I do not have many greens in my ink collection to compare Olivine with, but here is a side-by-side comparison with Diamine POGI, an Olive Green ink specially mixed for the Philippine market.

Pelikan Edelstein ink writing sample from a Pelikan M400 with a broad nib. It took a while to dry at 23 seconds, but ink drying times vary depending on nib wetness, paper quality, and the writer's hand stroke. Olivine could dry faster if written using a fine or medium nib.

Here is Olivine from a Bexley Intrepid with an extremely wet stub nib. It looks like a very dark green-black ink with no shading at all.

Shading is seen in most Edelstein inks but this -- like its drying time -- depends on a combination of factors: nib wetness, paper quality, and the writer's hand stroke. I tested Olivine in pens with wet broad and stub nibs. The writing samples from these nibs looked almost green-black after the ink dried. These are seen in the two photos above. However, when I tried Olivine in a wide 1.5 italic Lamy nib, shading was more obvious, and the ink color became more dramatic and meaningful.

Edelstein Olivine from a 1.5 Lamy nib on Pukka notebook paper. 

Lastly, let me add that Pelikan's packaging for their Eldestein inks is truly impressive, and possibly one of the best. The flacon has inner and outer boxes to ensure that the glass has full protection whether it's in transit or in storage. The flacon and its box both bear the ink's color, making it easy to find an ink you are looking for.

It is helpful that Pelikan includes the ink's name not only on the flacon (see images above) but also on their specific boxes. Locating inks is faster and easier with box labels.

The Edelstein flacon is first encased in an inner box, while the outer box provides additional protection.

Thick pads are added around the cap for reinforced protection. As I said, this packaging is impressive.

Olivine came out of Pelikan's 2016 social media contest which allowed fans to choose the 2018 Edelstein Ink of the Year. An entry for a dark green ink eventually won over 1,200 suggestions sent to Pelikan, which fans all over the world now enjoy. "Created and voted by Pelikan-fans for Pelikan-fans," Edelstein Olivine is a must-have ink color for anyone who loves to write with a fountain pen. This ink has a beautiful dark green color, produces excellent shading, and comes in an impressive and elegant packaging. If I were you, I'd get a bottle of Olivine now, because when it's gone, it's gone!

I received the ink in this review at no cost from Scribe.ph, Pelikan's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines. Pelikan products including Edelstein inks are exclusively available at Scribe.ph, a specialty store in the Philippines selling fountain pens, inks, paper products, and calligraphy supplies. Scribe.ph has stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 4, SM Aura Premiere, SM Megamall, SM Cebu, and Ayala Mall Cebu. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.
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