Sunday, April 27, 2014

Testing: Higgins Fountain Pen Inks

I tested Higgins Fountain Pen India and Sepia Calligraphy Ink in a few pens last year. Cheap ink and easy to find locally (at Dick Blick art store).

My selections were "Fountain Pen India Ink" and "Sepia Calligraphy Ink". Both inks are listed as fountain pen safe and non-waterproof with no gum arabic.

A 2.5 oz (74ml) bottle of each was $2.87. That is less than 4 cents per ml compared to around 14 cents per ml for Noodler's Black.

My test pens for this ink are a Noodler's Ahab w/Goulet medium (Jowo) nib for the "Fountain Pen India" and a Chinese Baoer 388 for the "Sepia Calligraphy" ink. After filling both pens up, both seem to write fine with good flow. There don't seem to be any start up issues as of yet. I picked the Ahab and Baoer pens for this test because they are

1. Fairly cheap.

2. Easy to strip down (removable nibs and feeds) and to clean thoroughly if need be.

I will see how well they work during my test phase and to see if there are any clogging issues and/or difficulty cleaning the pens.

Day 2: So far, so good. Both inks are acting fine and there are no start up or clogging issues. I did a water resistance test and the black seems to be very water resistant. A small portion of the ink dissipates but it remains very readable. It is good enough to use for addressing an envelope. The Sepia is much less water resistant but still readable. I also find the sepia to be a bit runny and the first letter seems to be a bit darker than the other letters when I start it up. It does seem to be capable of nice shading, though. I cannot see any evidence of a precipitate or residue from either ink. Both are behaving like typical fountain pen ink.

Day 3: Higgins Fountain Pen India still performing well in the Ahab. No signs of clogging or hard starting. I think this ink is a keeper, especially at its low price. The Higgins Sepia Calligraphy ink is also holding its own in the Baoer 388. To extend the experiment, I also am using the Higgins FP India in my Serwex Special 101 eyedropper pen. Preliminary tests show that it is working in that pen as well. I highly recommend Higgins FP India in newer pens that can be easily disassembled and cleaned thoroughly as well as cheaper pens for everyday use. At less than 4 cents per ml, it is a true bargain.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hero 100 Fountain Pen

by Tony Thomas

If you have looked for a vintage Parker 51 aerometric in good condition recently, you probably have a bad case of sticker shock.

I have never owned or used a 51 (sadly) but decided to spring for the next best thing: a Hero 100.  Produced in the old Parker pen factory in Shanghai, China, the Hero 100 is a fairly accurate tribute to the venerated 51 complete with 14K gold nib.  The price?  $40 shipped (eBay).

I have used my 100 for about a week and, after a bit of nib tuning and smoothing, I have deemed it good enough to be a daily writer.  It is a big step up from the Hero 616 and is much more solidly built.  Well worth the money, in my opinion!

More info on the Hero 100:

Pentrace Comparison of Hero 100 and Parker 51

Hero Pen Company

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hero 382 Fountain Pen

by Tony Thomas

I have really been into Hero pens lately as I like their styling and vast selection of models.  One that caught my eye is the Hero 382 which I believe is one of their best designs.  At between $12-15 on eBay, it is also an affordable pen.

It has smooth lines and a very simple design with a shiny black lacquered body, large clip and silver trim.  It is a hefty pen at 34 grams and 13.5 cm long.

At its widest point, the pen measures 13 mm and the section diameter is 10 mm tapering to around 9 mm. The 382 is comfortable to hold in my large hands and I had no problem with the shiny section.

The two-tone fine nib had quite a bit of feedback initially and I was able to smooth it using 12K micro mesh.  Even after smoothing, I found the nib to be less than inspiring so I decided to grind it into a stub.  You can see the difference below.  All in all, the Hero 382 is a very impressive pen!