Beautiful inks in a tall narrow bottle
The ink is made by hand, in house, by the Birmingham Pen Co. at their factory from raw ingredients. They control the complete process for manufacturing, filling and labeling he bottles and shipping it out. This is not a case of a company having a manufacturer produce ink under a house label. Birmingham says seven ingredients are involved in their ink. A diluent, highly purified laboratory grade water to ensure consistency. A thickener to control feathering. Humectants to influence the time to dry. Lubricants and surfactants for flow and ink performance. A preservative to provide shelf life for safe long-term use and storage. Finally, colorants in the form of powder dyes to colour the ink.
The colours of the ink are shown on the web site, however, broad swabs never really represent what the ink will look like when it flows from the nib of the pen. While the large swabs look great on their site, they may not be a true reflection of the ink in general use. On many of the samples, click below the large swab to see a sample of printed text to show the colour of the ink.
The company is very responsive to feedback. I had a difficulty with a colour and they immediately connected and asked about what paper I was using and to send a sample on Rhodia paper. Rhodia paper is great but it is not the only paper that I or many people use. In the end the variance between the ink swab colour and the colour I get with normal everyday use was too significant to use that colour.
The inks come three sizes of bottles: 30 ml, 60 ml and 120 ml (the 120 ml bottle comes with an eyedropper). I have selected the 60 ml as it is a good tall bottle and will be easy to fill pens with large nibs. I must say, thanks for the good selection of a tall narrow bottle.
Crisp - The Crisp Formula fountain pen inks are manufactured and bottled by hand in-house. These inks are formulated to perform well with a variety of premium, mid range, and discount papers.
Swift - The Swift Formula fountain pen inks are manufactured & bottled by hand in-house. Swift Formula inks are designed to start quickly, write wet, and operate easily within a wide variety of fountain pens.
Rich - The Rich Formula fountain pen inks have been formulated and refined to output a higher concentration of colorant with each pen stroke.
Everlasting - The Everlasting Inks are permanent and highly water resistant, manufactured by hand in our workshop.
Twinkle - The Twinkle inks are manufactured & bottled by hand in-house with a unique blend of proprietary fountain pen ink formulas and iridescent pigment carefully calibrated for optimal luster and performance.
My first shipment of Birmingham ink arrived and I loaded a pen and started to give the ink a try-out. I find the performance of the ink to be very good. I like the flow, it is a pleasure to write with the ink. There is next to no feathering. It is a lush ink in what Birmingham calls their Crisp Collection - a group of inks to perform well with a variety of pens and discount paper.
While I may have discount quality paper from the office photocopier, most of my writing is on good quality paper. I noticed as I made entries into my Leuchtturm 1917 Journal, the ink out of a 1.1 Stub nib flowed and stayed wet on the paper for a couple of minutes. I used some other journals I picked up on Amazon, the Essentials line, where the bleed through did occur depending on how wet the nib was when I wrote. I have also used the ink on sheets of sketchbook paper and the ink also performed well on that much heavier paper. It was easily absorbed into the paper. In the end this is a good ink.
I like the colour. It looks like a black, or a very dark grey/black with an slight green tone. But I will not group this ink with my greys.
After a day or so of using the ink, I just admit I like it. If you are thinking of this ink be guided by the ink swab more than the print sample on the web site.
Of the first three inks I ordered as my first purchase of this line of ink, Weathered Brick is my second favorite. This ink is from the Swift Collection - designed to start quickly, write wet and operate well in a wide range of pens.
I thought it may be yet another red, and I do have a lot of red ink so I was concerned if they would male it into my top list. Well it ranks up there because it is not really a red ink at all. It is really a beautiful interesting brown ink, with bit a red tone. When I purchased the ink there was only the swab image to identify the colour.
I find this ink to be all purpose inks in that you can use Weathered Brick for business and personal writing. The ink leaves a good strong visual presence on the page.
Writing characteristics are good. I have used the ink a number of pens, and flow and dry times are very good.
I was looking for a group of dark inks. Bold colours that will hold their presence especially when I am writing with a broad nib. I find that weak colours do not come our the way I want them to look when the nib strokes are too wide.
Mulberry Silk is a colour from the Swift Line. This line are designed to start quickly, write wet and operate easily with a wide range of fountain pens.
It writes as soon as the nib hits the paper, and is wet. No pushing hard on the nib to get the ink flowing. When Mulberry ink leaves the nib and hits the paper it almost looks like a deep grey black tone. As it dries on the paper, slate grey tone remain but the ink takes on a deep blue tone.
In terms of performance this ink shares the solid performance characteristics that I found in most of the Birmingham Pen Company inks. This was the ink I had the highest expectation, and while I am very happy with the performance of the ink, just not as excited about the actual colour.
This is another ink in the Swift Line of colours, inks that are designed to start quickly and write wet. Yes, it met both of those characteristics. The ink has a good flow and so nicely leaves a rick line of colour as the ink hits the paper.
It is dark and rich, that is what I was wanting. Has very good writing characteristics. One of those inks you can just enjoy. I am enjoying using the ink.
I made a second purchase of inks to try another three colours. This is one of the darker colours in the Crisp Line - manufactured to write on all quality of papers. Yes, it met both of those characteristics. According to the ink swab this was to be a mid to dark tone grey, but definitely on the grey side.
The ink has a good flow and so nicely leaves a rick line of colour as the ink hits the paper.
When I saw the sample I thought I would be getting a black grey. Sometimes, depending on the nib there are grey tones in the ink. Other-times, it comes across like a black.
I like the way the ink performs. I will be certainly using the ink and enjoying it.
This was a challenging ink. I selected the colour as I wanted a light-toned purple ink for some a particular project. At first I had difficulty in having the ink produce the colour shown on the company website. I wrote Birmingham about the issue and they quickly got back to me. They asked about the paper I was using and indicated test their inks on a variety of quality papers. I did try the ink on Rhodia paper and I must admit I found the ink did produce the colour much closer to that on the web site.
I guess that is no surprise as I am aware that ink colour is influenced by a number of factors - size of nib and the characteristics of the paper.
Thanks to the folks at Birmingham for helping me out. For my use, I need to use a variety of papers, various journal books, and often I have little control on the quality of paper I use except for that I choose for my personal notes.
Colour issues aside, the ink performs very well, it has good flow, dries in a reasonable time, I experiences no feathering - and I tried it on a variety of papers. In the end, the tone is a bit light for my personal choice.