This is the newest ink from Franklin-Christoph. It had its debut at the Atlanta Pen Show, and I snapped up a bottle while I was there. This one isn't limited like the Philly ink was, so there should be plenty available.
Spanish Blue is a really light blue that is not particularly saturated, but it remains legible anyway. I wasn't sure it was going to be dark enough for me when I first saw it, but I haven't had any problem with it so far. It's a happy blue, and not at all serious. This one might not
You know, this reminds me a bit of Akkerman #03. I think this one is a bit better, though.
Check out the shimmer in the Blue Lightning. Whoa.
As you'll see in the video, I made that nice smear while I was showing off the ink in the bottle. Yet more character for my desktop.
Copy Paper Test
Solid performance from a pretty broad nib on some mediocre paper.
They re-worked all of their ink cards over the last few months, and now they're all digitized and you can compare them absolutely side-by-side. Qualities, prices, all sorts of things compared. It's very cool. Go see it.
So, this is a new company called "Tekker Ink" that creates custom inks for you from hex codes or a color-picker on their site. The most difficult parts of the process are picking the color and waiting for it to arrive. I found some sites that will let you upload a picture and pull a hex code for whatever shade you like. I found this particular hex on the SMU website under public affairs (actually, I used student affairs' website for this code). Most universities do this in the name of branding, so you should be able to find your school's colors if you're interested.
It takes about two weeks or so to come in the mail, it seems, and there's very little communication from the company while you wait. I think that will get better when they get some more experience or expand a bit, though. Either way, the ink is good.
What colors would you get? Leave a comment!
Not the simplest blue mix, right?
The color isn't fancy, but it is a really nice blue that behaves itself really well.
Water Test and Review Video!
Before and after!
I really like this ink and the idea behind the company. I think it could really shake things up. At $14.95 for 100ml of ink, this is a pretty good deal. Definitely check it out. Play with some colors. Get the exact color you're looking for.
Here's a pen that you've probably seen around. The Montegrappa Fortuna has takenmany forms, but this Copper Mule is the one that has gotten the most play on blogs and social media. Ryan at Kenro was kind enough to send this one out to me for review, and I'm going to hate sending it back. I've come to like it quite a lot.
The pen comes in a leathery box inside of a cardboard box inside of a paper sleeve. It's a lot of packaging, but the inner box is really nice. The elastic band in mine came loose while I was filming the video for this post, but I'm sure that's an easy thing to fix and it's not something that I care about much.
Were I given to fancy-talk, I'd say that the Montegrappa Mule is a study in contrasts.
The copper finish on the cap and barrel is beautifully smooth and shiny when you get the pen, but you may see some marks and smudges on the pen right away. I can't tell if these are tool marks or just blemishes in the copper, but they don't have a texture so I'm thinking they're blemishes of some kind. In any case, the pen won't look pristine for very long, so if you're a person who is obsessed with avoiding fingerprints and smudges this won't be the pen for you.
These shots were taken the night that I got the pen, so the finish is all fresh and new. The lighting isn't as nice as I'd like, but I didn't want to wait for daylight to start playing with it.
These are some of those blemishes I mentioned. They're small, and they
don't have a texture, but it would be odd for it to be tarnish in just
these couple of places, right?
At first glance, the brushed stainless silver plate on the cap ring and the section look out of place. They have striations and lines that look rough against the mirror-polished copper of the cap and barrel. As you let the pen collect a patina (and I suggest that you do so), the brushed silver starts to look better and better.
The first impressions of this pen are great. It's polished and shiny. there are imperfections, though. Blemishes on the cap and barrel. Those disappear once there is a bit of tarnish on the pen. Some tool-marks on the section that don't show up until the silver starts to tarnish a bit. (These actually bother me a little bit. I know I didn't make them, and I can't see them in the original photos, but they must have been there just waiting to be tarnished.)
It's a pen that looks fancy and refined, but it's meant to be used. As you use it, the patterns of tarnish and wear become more apparent and unique to you. It's a pen that add to. One that you make your own. I think that's pretty darn cool.
It's a stainless steel nib, and that has put some people off of a pen at this price. I'm not an issue for me, though. A good nib is a good nib, and I think this is quite a good nib. It was a little bit too dry, right out of the box, but after I flushed it well it has improved quite a lot.
The design on the nib is called a "filigree Montegrappa pattern" but it looks more like diamonds to me.
The brushed silver of the clip stands out against the copper of the cap. It actually looks like brushed stainless steel to me, but there's a small amount of tarnish that will appear over time.
It's a fairly stiff clip without much give, but the roller at the end of the clip makes it easy enough to clip onto jeans or other thick fabrics. I think this is a very "jeans" sort of pen.
And interesting thing about the clip is that it creates an area on the cap that is protected from skin oils and tarnish. I haven't done anything to clean or prevent tarnish on my pen, and you can clearly see the bright copper under the clip. It's a nice reminder of the history that you're putting on the pen. (Or, if you're more fastidious, it could be a constant reminder of how clean your pen could be. That's not me, though.)
How's it feel?
I thought this was going to be a really heavy pen. It's a bit bigger than the only other full-metal pen that I have to compare it to: The Karas Kustoms Fountain K in brass. Compared to that pen, the Mule is longer and thicker. It must be a good bit thinner, though, because the Fountain K is about 50% heavier than the Mule.
For my hands, the Mule is pretty perfect. The weight of the pen seems to be in the grip section, and that really helps with the balance of the pen.
The threads are big and flat. The cap feels solid when you screw it on, and I haven't had it come open in my pocket yet. The nib also stays wet for days even when I don't use it.
The Mule is a pretty standard-sized pen. The two pens that are closest in length are the Lamy Al-Star and the Pilot Custom 74. I think the Sheaffer Intensity is close to the same weight, but that's just a "holding them in my hands" estimate.
These two pens are actually almost exactly the same length from end to nib and the sections are very close. The Mule's section is slightly larger, and the nib is longer, but the overall length is identical and they are both very comfortable. The Mule is heavier, though, so if you like the feel of the Custom 74 but you'd like something more substantial, this is a great pen for you.
So, I really like this pen. It's not going to be for everyone, though. It's pretty heavy, it smells like pennies, and the copper will drive you mad if you hate fingerprints and smudges. If you're like me, though, you'll love the weight. You'll like it when people ask to check it out. You'll probably spend too much time looking at the patina when you should be writing words. You'll like the nib. There's a lot to like about this pen.
The biggest issue with the pen is the price point. The MSRP of $375 is going to put it outside of many people's budgets. The dealer-price of around $300 is still pretty high. That puts it above a lot of Sailor pens, most Pilot pens, and into the higher range of bespoke pens like the ones from Shawn Newton and Jonathon Brooks. It's still fairly low for a Montegrappa, though, and that's a brand with some caché. It's been around for over 100 years, and they make some really interesting pens.
Okay, so there are a lot of pictures in this post. Way more than usual. That's probably what you came here for, though, right?
Dark Lilac is the new hotness right now. Everyone wants it, and relatively few people have it. It's the ink that sells out immediately when it comes in stock. It's a semi-limited edition, but it's not the sort of LE that is in terminally short supply. Usually Lamy will make and distribute plenty of ink for everyone. I got mine at the Atlanta Pen Show from Crazy Alan. He had the pens and bottles, too, but I didn't get them. I sort of regret that, now.
One last thing: If you're looking for lots of purple comparisons, then check out the end of the post. Lots of comparison cards. Lots.
Also, this blog is ad-free, and I plan to keep it that way. If you're interested in helping to support the blog, then use the Patreon link to set up a donation. Every little bit helps!
I only got a pack of cartridges of this ink, but I'll probably get a bottle when I get a chance.
Copy Paper Test
There's some bleed-through from the stub nib (which is a little weird), but just some show-through from the other nib.
I'll be reviewing this "Dark Orchid" ink in the near future, too. Much lighter, but it's a happy shade of purple, right?
Gratuitous Sheen and Stuff
This is a cool ink, and I couldn't resist taking more pictures of it. You won't always see this sheen, but you will see it if you use a really wet nib.
Above: Wet! Below: Dry!
Video Review and Water Test:
Is this an ink I'll buy a bottle of? Yeah. Probably. It's dark, rich, and there's that sheen. It's not really water resistant at all, but it's good stuff. You can find it (when it's in stock) at your favorite Lamymerchant.
A million comparisons: I put these at the bottom in case people would rather not scroll past them.
Akkerman #14 in the picture below is much more purple than it appears below. This one and Cassia are pretty similar, and neither of them come out true from my camera. The other two inks look just right. Weird, huh?
See? Cassia is a bright purple color, and it's coming out very blue. As before, the other two inks in the picture are accurately represented.
Murasaki-shikibu is also slightly more lavender than it appears in the picture below.