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Diamine Sargasso Sea


This is a bottle that I picked up from Bert at Bertram's Inkwell in the DC area over Christmas. His shop can be a little difficult to find, but it's worth the trip. If you're in the area, stop on by.

This one is a deep blue that goes down super dark and then lightens up as it dries. There's a good bit of violet in there, too, I think.

This one is a bit on the wet side, and it has a tendency to bleed just a little. It would probably be a little better in a fine nib, but I really like it in the broader nibs.

 Written Review!


 Fancy Paper!
  I just got this fancy Tomoe River paper, and it really shows off the sheen and shading in inks.

 And now, compared to a close relative that has more sheen:

Copy Paper Test!

 If Sargasso Sea falls short anywhere, it's on 20lb paper. There's a little more bleed and feather than I'd prefer, but it's not too bad.

Color Comparisons!


Video Review and Water Test!

Check this ink out at Bertram's Inkwell.

You can find big bottles, small bottles, and samples at Anderson Pens.

What's inked?

Well, the answer is: Lots of pens. I've got 39 pens inked right now. Time to write some reviews, I guess.

Inks as far as the lens can see...

The Anderson Podcast ft. Mike & Audrey!

We got to be the special guests on the Anderson Podcast last night, and it was super-fun. Check it out!

That freeze-frame, tho...

Franklin-Christoph Spanish Blue

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

Written Review



 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.


Anderson Pens' Ink Comparison Tool

So, this is a new thing on their site. I've been waiting for it to go live, and it finally is.

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.

I linked this picture from their blog.

Tekker Ink #0039a6 "SMU Blue"


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!

Written Review

Close Ups!

 Not the simplest blue mix, right?

Color Comparisons!
 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.

The Montegrappa Fortuna Mule


Here's a pen that you've probably seen around. The Montegrappa Fortuna has taken many 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.

The Nib:

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 Clip:

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.

Find it online at your favorite dealers:
Anderson Pens
Pen Chalet
Pen Boutique

Video Review:

Extra Pictures!

Disclaimer: This pen was loaned out to me for review, free of charge, with the expectation of an honest review. That's what I've given. No money has changed hands, and no guarantees were given.