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September 26, 2022

Ink 12: Sailor Black

By Chas Wallace

I pressed my heavy dark gray topcoat closed by pushing my hands, one in each pocket, towards each other. Both of the buttons that had popped off were in one of the pockets waiting to be sewn on. If I didn't do it myself it wasn't going to get done, because I didn't have the money to send it out to get fixed. Like so many things in my life this was on hold just now. My matching tam, which I had picked up in Edinburgh warmed my head but did nothing to protect my ears which were suffering in the cold wind that raced down 45th street. The only splash of color I wore was the bright red wool Wallace plaid scarf, scratchy but warm.

I hurried into Art Brown's, walking past the two long display cases that held the beautiful fountain pens that if I but glanced at would be overcome with lust and unable to stop myself from acquiring even though I can't afford them. I stopped at the tiny set of shelves that held the ink, fountain pen ink. I have been over these shelves more frequently and more thoroughly than any kid in any toy store. For this reason I hardly glanced at anything. A highly developed gestalt focused my eyes to the box I was looking for, "Sailor Black." (not to be confused with Sailor Jentle Black) It was all I could read on the box. Everything else was in Japanese. I picked the box up and looked for her.

Where was she? I knew I saw her when I walked in. I stood unmoving for no more than ten seconds. She came out of some door at the side of the store. An old man caught her eye and nodded in my direction. She walked over smiling, and greeted me.

The black ink was expensive at $30 for 50ml. Yes, ounce for ounce more expensive than an excellent bottle of single malt. We discussed the ink and its relative merits. It was promised to be very black, and a highly saturated ink. It would flow very well in my pen of choice, a Sailor 1911 with an extra fine nib. It was promised to dry quickly, which was more than we could say for other inks like Private Reserve. Where else could I have this kind of a conversation? Exactly! That's why I go to Art Brown.

Yeah, I was excited to get this ink. It was the fourteenth bottle of fountain pen ink I had bought from Art Brown in the last several months, all of them black. Why am I doing this? I am no longer quite sure. My goal though is to try every bottle of black fountain pen ink I can get my hands. On this one thing I will be able to speak with absolute authority.

She tells me she is going to give me a discount on this bottle. I smile and thank her, thinking she must remember me from my frequent visits. As she rings up the sale for the ink I ask her name. I'm not that outgoing but I come here enough now, a couple times a month, that I think I should be able to address her by name.

She smiles and grabs my hand, "I am Mrs. Brown, Art's wife."

The ink was every thing she said. It is very black. Depending on the conditions it is every bit as dark as Noodler. Because it is highly saturated with little to no transparency in natural light you would say it looks blacker than Noodler. It really raises the question of just what black actually is. My working definition has been and is darkness of the color. This ink is rich.

No, make no mistake -- this is an excellent ink. I have to say it tops Noodler's in the color test and it works very well in my pen. The only drawback I can see in this ink is that it is pricey, at $30 a bottle. I will note though, that if you're after the blackest ink you can find, then dropping that kind of cash is likely not an issue for you.

Article © Chas Wallace. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-12-28
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