Writing Down the Ink #8 – Seven Browns

I love hardwood floors, wood desks, golden California hills, Fall leaves, otters, chocolate, chipmunks, almonds, Redwood trees, brownstone houses, hashbrowns, unadulterated coffee…er, a lot of things that are brown. Especially fountain pens. And sometimes the ink that feeds them.

Recently I was in NYC and at the, uh, Art Brown Pen Shop. Slumping further off my ink wagon, I left with four bottles of Noodlers: Lexington Gray, #41 Brown and two Bulletproof Black. All bulletproof inks. Oh, and a bottle of Waterman Blue-Black. My intention was to buy a single bottle of Black. However, my beloved said, “Are you sure you don’t want more?” It doesn’t take much egging on to acquire more bottles.

The #41 Brown was a complete impulse buy. I’d read many raves about the color and had heard rumors it may be discontinued due to rising costs of the materials to make this ink. One of the things I admire about Nathan Tardiff is his commitment to keeping his products affordable.

I like a nice dark brown ink and #41 fits that category nicely. Next to dark browns, I prefer yellow-browns over the red-browns.

Rhodia side-staple #18: the page that inspired this post

While updating my ink log in a Rhodia side-stapled #18 notebook, the Noodler’s #41 Brown smeared terribly after I (honestly) accidentally spilled some water and wiped it off the page. Okay, don’t razz me about not blotting… You can see the original smear is over the Elizabeth Bishop excerpt in the scan on the left. The other smears are from subsequent testing. I let the pages dry dry dry for days thinking that would help. It didn’t. So much for bulletproof brown ink combatting my occasional coffee or water drips. (Hey, I’m of that age. It happens. Okay?) IME, Noodler’s Bulletproof Black doesn’t smear like that. Would that all the bulletproofs be like the great Black.

Bulletproof inks are water resistant once the ink dries, adhering to the paper. Mr. Tardiff states on his website, “they are also waterproof once permitted to dry upon cellulose paper.” Some folks say that the premium papers such as Rhodia and Clairefontaine cannot properly absorb some of these inks and thus never fully dry. (Do I normally blot? Yes. Blotting does not eradicate the problem.) You can read more about Noodler’s ink qualities here.

Of course I preceded to test the ink on other papers I commonly use: Rhodia #18, Staples Bagasse, and even the Rhodia Webbie. #41 Brown fared best on the Bagasse notepad. Not so good, however, on the Bagasse composition notebook. The Bagasse is not a premium paper, by the way. Nooder’s #41 Brown did okay against a wet coffee mug on Rhodia #18 top wire-bound notebook, but not so well in a Rhodia #18 side-stapled notebook. (YMMV: I only can report on the papers I have at hand.) It’s curious to me that the Rhodia #18 fared differently (top wire-bound vs side-staple bound). That leads me to suspect different manufacturer tolerances.

In fact, I pulled the brown inks still remaining in my ink hoard to compare them. Inks involved:

  • Iroshizuku Yama-guri
  • Iroshizuku Tsukushi
  • J. Herbin Cacao Du Brésil
  • J. Herbin Lie De Thé
  • Noodler’s #41 Brown
  • Noodler’s Walnut
  • Waterman Havana

It will be of no surprise to know that Waterman Havana has no water resistance. I include it because, well, it was in my stash and it’s a brown ink.

I did not subject the Webbie nor the Rhodia side-stapled #18 to water soaking. (Who’s nutty enough to do that?) Just coffee rings. Please treat this lighthearted experiment as anecdotal experience and not as scientific testing of any sort. As I wrote earlier, YMMV.

Some surprises for moi:

  • How well J. Herbin Lie De Thé holds up to a water beating.
  • J. Herbin Lie De Thé is a perfect match for the Edison Huron’s Yellowstone acrylic.
  • How close J. Herbin Cacao Du Brésil, Iroshizuku Yama-Guri are to each other in shade. Noodler’s #41 Brown runs very close beside them.
  • Noodler’s Walnut is a bit darker than Iroshizuku Tsukushi.
  • Nooder’s #41 is a perfect match for the Danitrio Cumlaude.
  • That Staples Bagasse 8 x 10 notepad is pretty great.
  • My favorite paper experience is the Rhodia #18 top wire-bound notepad. Smearing be damned. A very dignified notepad.
  • I should just stick to black ink like Noodler’s Black if I care about water droplets on the page. (Hey! They are gonna happen!) I find the simplicity of that appealing. Hmmmm…..

No one comes here expecting pretty handwriting or sketches. Go see “A Verb” for that.

5 thoughts on “Writing Down the Ink #8 – Seven Browns

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