Ink Testing Pens – What do you use?

My acquisition of ink has hit over drive lately and I’m not sure why. This has put me way behind on ink cataloging that I really like to keep current so I don’t sample or buy the same thing again. Not saying that has EVER happened of course but just in case. I like my ink catalog system of index cards and big ink splotches.

Ink_SamplerWhere I struggle and why I usually end up staring at a new bottle of ink or several sample vials is how to most efficiently test them in a pen I like to write with. I have tried a dip pen but it just doesn’t hold enough ink to get a true picture of the ink. I’m a disciplined pen cleaner and probably could be found guilty of some OCD when it comes to flushing and cleaning my pens. So I end up procrastinating on new inks when I dread the cleaning afterwards, especially if I don’t like the color. I still use the Q-Tip swabbing to create the big ink blotch but it’s a bit hard to write with on a 3×5 index card .

My perfect ink testing pen would have the following attributes:

  • A converter that turns easy, or a push pull, to make cleaning easier
  • With a twist converter I want the least number of twists to move the plunger
  • A Smooth Nib to enjoy the testing
  • A broad nib that lays down a lot of ink to reveal any shading and the true color.

My current favorite tester is a Faber-Castell Ambition Broad nib that I received in trade from a fellow blogger. It hits all the right notes as a tester for me. An easy converter, a broad smooth nib and lately it’s been getting quite the work out.

What do you use for testing? Any attributes I’m missing?

Remember: Write something nice……

Thanks for stopping by and if you enjoyed this post I would love to send you an email every time I have a new post. Click Here to Subscribe

6 thoughts on “Ink Testing Pens – What do you use?

  1. Hi Ray,

    I basically agree with your criteria (ease of cleaning is very important to me in a test pen too) although I prefer a nib size more typical of the ones that I routinely use, so it’s Japanese Medium / US or European Fine for me. I take the point about shading, but I find swabs are satisfactory (at least for me) for indicating what an ink is capable of in this respect.

    One point I would add is that a test pen (for me) should be fairly easy and economical to replace, and of a uniform quality, so it’s not the end of the world if something breaks – which I managed to do with a feed once when cleaning it too vigorously.

    So my favourite test pen is a Pilot MR, which has the added advantage of taking cheap international converters, unlike the Metropolitan which takes the more expensive Pilot converters. I’m not a great fan of Pilot converters anyway.

    In practice I tend to do my tests in batches, and I’ve settled on using three MRs, a Metropolitan and two Preras, as these all give comparable results. I find that doing the cleaning all in one go at the end is more bearable that way. Plus, having a few pens inked up at once allows me time to get to know how the inks behave without feeling the pressure to clean up and move onto the next, which is what happened when I was testing one ink at a time.

    PS – must give that Pelikan Violet a try…

    • Thanks Terry for stopping by. Yes you make a great point about using the nib size that is your normal preference. A broad vs. a fine could bring out different properties in the ink. I never thought to use multiple test pens, I certainly have enough sitting around and I kind of like the idea of testing all the ink at once then doing all the cleaning instead of one at a time and multiple trips to the sink. Good thoughts thanks.

  2. When I first started up I bought several Platinum Preppies to use for ink testing. I was going to be systematic and use comparable pens, multiple papers, and extensive records. More recently I’ve concluded that extended time spent with the ink in a pen is more useful to me. I usually put ink first through a fine nib and then a 1.1 italic. The pen chosen depends on which pen I feel like carrying next.

    Eventually I recognize that I am anxious to use up a color and go to something else, or maybe that an ink I like for the color dries annoyingly rapidly in the nib. Or I realize that I want to refill and keep that ink going.

    I do have a number of samples unopened, but I am in no hurry.

    • Thanks RD for stopping by. You are probably more complete than I am if you run it through a FINE and an Italic. I think that’s a better approach but my patience would never survive. I know pretty quick if I like an ink or not and I would not give it a second chance. That is probably shortsighted on my part.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This helps me prevent spam * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.