17 May 2016

Vintage Inks

Two are the issues associated to the two words in the title: how old can an ink be before using it, and how often do companies change the formulation of the inks?

Last weekend, at a meeting of the Wagner group in Tokyo, we had the opportunity to check five different varieties of the Pilot Blue-black ink. The older of them was about 60 years old. All of them were in their original packages and were, apparently, in perfect working order.

Vintage Pilot Blue-black inks. The oldest inks were from around 1955.

The four iron-gall inks to be tested. From left to right, from 1955, 1965, 1975 and 1985. The price as well as some details in the inkwells allow for a detailed dating.

Inking the pens, Hero 616, for the writing tests anyone could take.

Pilot Blue-black is, even nowadays, a water resistant ink. Formerly, this property was achieved by the classical trick—iron-gall formulation. But at some point in the early 1990s, it was abandoned in favor of a solution that reacts with the cellulose of the paper. Therefore, all the sampled inks but the most recent were ferrogallic. Some minor differences in color among those iron-gall inks are visible, but it is not possible to say whether those variations were due to any ageing process or to any variation in the formulation. The major differences are, as expected, between those classic inks and the newer formulation.

Writing test of all five inks (left), and water resistance test (right). The sample was one full minute under running water. Some dyes were removed from the iron-gall inks. All of them are remarkably resistant to water--even the modern, non ferrogallic, formulation.

A surprising detail we could see was how usable those vintage inks were despite their age. All of them were in perfect condition without mold or deposits. However, once open, these iron gall inks face an issue—the Iron ions will react with atmospheric Oxygen. Then, what is the open-inkwell lifetime of these inks? The ink should be all right as long as there were no mold or deposits, and some users spoke of some time between one and two years as safe to keep on using them.

My thanks to Mr Niikura, Mr. Nyoi, and Mr Toda.

Pilot Myu 701 – Pilot Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 16th, 2016
etiquetas: Pilot, evento, tinta


Mr. Blather said...

I live in Saitama and am interested in attending a Wagner meeting. Where can I find a schedule?

Bruno Taut said...

Mr. Blather,

Thanks for passing by and commenting.

you can find the schedule of Wagner meetings on this link: http://pelikan.livedoor.biz/archives/2016-01-01.html

But, please, contact me directly through my email katsura.rikyu at gmail dot com.



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