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May 13, 2024

Ink 11: Yard-O-Led

By Chas Wallace

I have held off writing this review for no good reason. Perhaps it was because it was my last bottle that remained to test and I had not taken the opportunity recently to go into the city and restock. My trip in yesterday to Art Brown's has safely resolved that problem. I picked up two new bottles and had a nice conversation with my friend there. We talked about black fountain pen ink, and I informed her of my current effort to survey the market of black ink. Her eyes lit up a bit at this and she started talking about several new inks on the market. In addition to the two I just picked up, I now have several more I'm quite looking forward to try. One, she promised, was definitely darker than Noodlers Bulletproof black. Oh, and in a true Peter Falk Columbo moment as I was walking away, she let drop that Noodlers has another black ink that she thinks is even better than their Bulletproof black. Yeah, there was definitely a bounce to my step when I left yesterday.

If you've never heard of Yard-O-Led before, neither had I. I went and did a search on the internet and came up with this:

"In 1822, the first ever propelling pencil was invented and patented by Sampson Mordan. From that point onwards the family-run business continued to develop its unique design carrying twelve three inch leads inside the barrel of the pencil, hence the name Yard-O-Led. In 1934, the Yard-O-Led Company was founded and today continues its traditions of craftsmanship and excellence established nearly 200 years ago. Each pen is individually numbered and comes complete with a lifetime guarantee."

Well okay, fine, this doesn't seem to have much to do with ink, though. When I searched I did find some rather nice fountain pens in the $200 to $400 range. Still, I will admit I picked up this bottle thinking it was well off the beaten path.

I tried it out on a three by five card as I always do. Hmmm. What's this? I've seen this color before. I laid all my samples of black ink out. (I am currently up to ten.) This Yard-O-Led Jet Black looks exactly like Diamine Jet Black. This is to say it is a pale black, very translucent. To look at the swath you would almost think there is more gray in it than black. Almost. After studying it for a few minutes I came to the conclusion that it was in fact the same ink and that Yard-O-led is buying it from Diamine and having it bottled under their label.

Today, when doing a bit of research for this page I found the following from Pendemonium's web site:

"Yard-O-Led inks are currently made by Diamine in England. Since they are the same, we opted to carry Diamine in larger 3 ounce bottles -- a better value for your dollar. We've listed below the names of the Yard-O-Led colors and their Diamine name to help you figure out which one is which since there are a lot more Diamine colors available than Yard-O- Led colors. Also of note: Yard-O-Led Royal Blue changed color formulas around 2002. The older pre-2002 Yard-O-Led Blue is a match to Diamine Tropical Blue, a limited edition ink issued in 2004."

This was interesting to see and experience, and now that I know I find I have little desire to keep this particular bottle around.

Article © Chas Wallace. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-12-14
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