ink review: rohrer and klingner salix

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Rohrer and Klingner make wonderful inks – I've enjoyed Morinda, a vibrant, juicy candy-red, and Verdigris, a dark, weathered blue-green. I also really liked Scabiosa, a dusky purple, and one of the only non-blue-black iron gall inks that I've ever seen. Salix is R&K's other iron gall ink, and it, too, defies the traditional iron-gall color scheme, though not as significantly as Scabiosa.

Salix goes down on paper a bright oceanic blue and then darkens as it dries. In wet nibs, it turns a deep midnight blue, and exhibits moderate shading, whereas in dry nibs, it takes on a powdery look and delivers a consistent line. As it ages, it takes on more of the traditional blue-black iron-gall character, but remains primarily blue.

For those unfamiliar with iron gall, it was the most common form of ink used in Europe from the 12th through the 19th centuries. When used on vellum or paper, it cannot be removed by rubbing or washing – only be scraping away a layer of the writing surface.

Traditional iron gall ink has one very specific caveat. It is produced by combining iron salts with tannic acid extracted from various vegetable sources (traditionally from oak galls, which are hard, brown spheres that grow on oak trees and house wasp larvae – for real – nature is weird), which means that it is not pH neutral. Over time, the acidic nature of the ink will gradually eat away at vellum and paper, and could contribute to the corrosion of any steel components on a fountain pen.

Fortunately, modern formulations of iron gall ink are safe for fountain pens. The levels of acid are low and should not be a cause for concern for most users.

Salix behaves reasonably on each of the papers I tested. Its drying time is significantly longer than its cousin, Scabiosa, but is not unreasonable. Dry time on fountain-pen-friendly Clairfontaine paper took about twenty seconds. On Staples bagasse, it was dry to the touch in ten seconds, and on cheap copier paper, it dried in five. Feathering was extremely low on each of the previously mentioned papers, as were show-though and bleed-through.

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As befits iron-gall ink, Salix performed well on the various water tests I subjected it to. However, like most permanent dye-based inks, (and unlike Platinum Carbon and other pigmented inks) only the ink that bonds to the paper can be considered waterproof. In the smear test, in which I drag a wet finger across the surface of the paper, you can see a light smudge caused by a small amount of ink that dried on top of the surface of the paper.

The drip test, in which I let droplets of water soak on the page before blotting them up, reveals a slight bit of feathering due to the surface ink running and then drying elsewhere on the page. The original lines are still completely readable.

The soak test, in which I run the paper under a stream of water for half a minute, results in the surface ink washing cleanly away, and leaving fully legible, though slightly lighter, lines behind.

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Rohrer and Klingner inks come in a 50ml glass bottle with a screw-on, metal lid. The color featured on the label in intended to mimic the color of the ink within. They're neither unattractive nor exceptionally pretty; instead they're merely functional, and remind me of art supplies. Unless you're an artist, they're not the kind of bottle you're likely to feature in a prominent place on your desk.

If you're in the mood for permanent fountain pen ink that behaves well and delivers a lovely blue color, then you can't go wrong with Rohrer and Klingner Salix. It's work-appropriate, waterproof, and moderately priced, to boot. I highly recommend it.

Rohrer and Klingner Salix is available from:


Review notes: The widest lines were made with two Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens: one with a steel 6.0mm nib and the other with a steel 3.8mm nib. The medium lines were made with a Lamy Joy Safari with a 1.9mm steel calligraphy nib. The narrow lines were created with a TWSBI Diamond 540 with a steel EF nib. The paper is Rhodia 80 gsm from a Rhodia Bloc No. 18. The featured script is Fractur.

ink review: rohrer and klingner scabiosa

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We writers often struggle with the concept that our words might not survive us. Thousands of artists have produced countless poems and plays and prose over the years, of which but a few remain in the popular consciousness. What will remain of our words when we pass beyond the veil? A poem? A story? Will a collection of ink reviews define my literary existence for future generations? 

Complicating our ennui is the medium that we choose. Writers of our era produce most of our words on a computer, which, when reduced to their base components are simply patterns encoded as zeroes and ones — ephemeral bits floating in a sea of magnetic media covered by a fog of electrons.

I'm not a luddite (precisely the opposite, in fact), but I think that the virtual nature of our work is why so many of us find comfort in writing with a fountain pen on good quality paper. There is a palpable sense of history in a pen and paper. Sure — paper can burn or moulder, but it is one of the few things that we as a society strive to preserve.

Writing with a physical instrument on a medium that's been in use for thousands of years connects us to other writers, connects us to a history of the written word that will endure collectively, even when our individual contributions are forgotten. Our words have a physical presence in our notebooks that, depending upon the quality of the ink and paper, could outlast us.

The choice of ink, then, defines a lot about how you, as a writer, relate to the word on the page. For those of us that embrace impermanence, there are inks that will feather and run with the addition of the smallest amount of moisture, but for those that are caught in the grip of an existential crisis, there are permanent, waterproof inks — inks like iron gall.

For those unfamiliar with iron gall, it was the most common form of ink used in Europe from the 12th through the 19th centuries. When used on vellum or paper, it cannot be removed by rubbing or washing – only be scraping away a layer of the writing surface.

Traditional iron gall ink has one very specific caveat. It is produced by combining iron salts with tannic acid extracted from various vegetable sources (traditionally from oak galls, which are hard, brown spheres that grow on oak trees and house wasp larvae – for real – nature is weird), which means that it is not pH neutral. Over time, the acidic nature of the ink will gradually eat away at vellum and paper, and could contribute to the corrosion of any steel components on a fountain pen. Perhaps that feeling of permanence is illusory after all.

Fortunately, modern formulations of iron gall ink are safe for fountain pens. The levels of acid are low and should not be a cause for concern for most users. The main drawback to iron gall inks these days is the limited choice of color. Every iron gall ink I've seen has been a blue black — but then I was introduced to Rohrer and Klingner Scabiosa.

Scabiosa is a pretty, dusky purple comparable to Diamine Damson and J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune. Named after the eponymous flower, it has a low level of saturation which results in a moderate level of shading in a fine-nib pen. In a broad calligraphy pen, the shading is accentuated, and it results in a very lovely line full of depth and character.

Iron gall inks are traditionally dry-writing, and therefore behave well on most paper. Scabiosa is no exception. The show-through was minimal on all of the paper I tested, and I detected bleed-through only on the cheap copier paper that would let a pencil bleed-through.

Dry time was very good across the board, ranging from 3 seconds on the cheap copier paper to 12 seconds on the Rhodia paper. The outlier was staples bagasse, on which it took a full 16 seconds to dry. Feathering was also consistently low relative to the character of every paper; there were no surprises.


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As an iron gall ink, Scabiosa has extraordinary water resistance. It's almost not worth showing the results, as it is incredibly difficult to tell that I did any testing at all. However, for the sake of completeness, I've included it above.

The drip test, in which I let several drops of water sit on the page before blotting them up, shows no effect at all. While I was able to transfer a little bit of ink that hadn't bonded to the writing paper on to the blotting paper, the line that remains is identical to the original.

For the smear test, in which I run a wet finger across the page, the results were almost the same. If you look very, very closely, you can see a very fine purple haze where the ink that hadn't bonded to the Rhodia travelled across it.

Finally, the soak test, in which I run the paper under water for thirty seconds, resulted in a very gradual lightening of the lines, as all the ink that hadn't bonded was washed away. What remains, though, is completely and easily readable.


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Rohrer and Klingner inks come in a 50ml glass bottle with a screw-on, metal lid. The color featured on the label in intended to mimic the color of the ink within. They're neither unattractive nor exceptionally pretty; instead they're merely functional, and remind me of art supplies. Unless you're an artist, they're not the kind of bottle you're likely to feature in a prominent place on your desk.


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One final word about the water resistance of Scabiosa - it does a pretty good job of clinging to skin. This took a few washes to get completely off.

Rohrer and Klingner Scabiosa is a wonderful ink that I will not hesitate to recommend. It is the only purple iron-gall ink that I know of, it behaves admirably on all paper, and it is lovely to write with. If you like dusky purple inks like J.Herbin Poussiere de Lune or Diamine Damson, or you like your ink to have better staying power than the average ink, be sure to check out Scabiosa.

Review notes: The widest lines were made with two Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens: one with a steel 6.0mm nib and the other with a steel 3.8mm nib. The medium lines were made with a Lamy Joy Safari with a 1.9mm steel calligraphy nib. The narrow lines were created with a Visconti Homo Sapiens with an EF palladium nib. The paper is Rhodia 80 gsm from a Rhodia Bloc No. 18. The featured script is Fractur.

ink review: rohrer and klingner verdigris

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Thanks to the generosity of the Fountain Pen Network member, Jared, I received set of ink samples. Among them were several vials of Rohrer and Klingner ink, which is a German brand that has recently become available in the US. I previously reviewed Morinda, which is a pretty, vibrant, candy-red ink. The second vial I opened was Verdigris, which is one of the more interesting inks I've had the pleasure of using.

Historically, verdigris refers to the green patina that forms on copper, brass, or bronze as it weathers. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, artists have used that patina as a pigment, and it frequently was used in paintings.

This Verdigris captures the character of a weathered bronze statue admirably. In the bottle, the green is quite pronounced, but it dries a dark, blue-green black on the page. It is of medium-high saturation, though not to the level of many Noodler's inks, and produces moderate shading, especially when used with a broad nib.

The dry time was quick, coming in at 3 seconds on Rhodia paper, and even less on Staples Bagasse and garden-variety copier paper. It also exhibited acceptable levels of bleed-through on each of the papers I tested it with, though it did show-though quite a bit on all but the thickest of papers.

Feathering was not an issue in each of my tests. The noticeable feathering on the decorative capital "V" on the writing example was due to my pen putting down far more ink than even the mighty Rhodia paper could handle.

Verdigris is quite a lovely color, and is better behaved on the page than it's cousin Morinda. I have yet to test out other R & K inks, but if they're of the calibre of this one, then I will be quite pleased. If you're a fan of uniquely colored inks, then Rohrer and Klingner is one you should definitely check out.

Review notes: for the thin lines, I used a Lamy Safari with a steel EF nib. For the medium lines, I used a Lamy Joy with a steel 1.9mm italic nib. The broad lines were produced using a Pilot Parallel pen with a 3.8 mm steel nib. The paper is 80 gsm Rhodia.

ink review: rohrer and klingner morinda

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Thanks to the generosity of the Fountain Pen Network member, Jared, I received set of ink samples. Among them were several vials of Rohrer and Klingner ink, which is a German brand that has recently become available in the US. I was immediately attracted to the vial of Morinda, which is a pretty, vibrant candy-red ink. It is similar in color to J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier, but significantly more saturated and somewhat less prone to shading.

Morinda, as it turns out is a genus of flowering plant also known as the Indian mulberry. Some of the species of plant produce a fruit which is often described as the "starvation fruit," due to its pungent and bitter flesh. Apparently it's only worth eating if you're suffering from starvation. Duly noted. More relevant to the discussion of ink, though, is the dye made from parts of the plant.

The bark of the great Morinda (morinda citrifolia) is used to make a purple brown dye, while its roots are turned into a yellow dye. The roots of the Morinda tinctoria are cultivated in India to make a bright red dye, which is the color that I assume this ink is named for.

Morinda is a wet ink, and produces a broader line than comparable inks. Unfortunately, the wet nature of the ink resulted in some undesirable behavior during my testing. I tested with four different papers: cheap office copier paper, Staples bagasse, absorbent Ecosystem notebook paper, and high-quality Rhodia webbie paper. Across all of them, I noticed a higher than normal level of feathering. It even managed to occasionally feather on the Rhodia paper, which is normally feather-proof.

On the cheap copier paper, I noticed medium levels of show-through and bleed-through, and a six second dry time. On the bagasse, the ink exhibited medium levels of bleed-though and high levels of show-though, and the same six second dry time.

The Ecosystem notebook fared a bit better, but its thicker, more absorbent paper tends to behave better with troublesome inks. Relative to other inks on Ecosystem paper, I did notice an elevated level of show-though and bleed-though with Morinda. On the Ecosystem, it dried to the touch in two seconds. Except for the afore-mentioned occasional feathering, the Rhodia paper held up well to this ink. Show-though was low and bleed-though was non-existent. On it, the ink dried in ten seconds.

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Morinda held up better than I expected when subjected to my series of water-fastness tests. On the smear test, in which I ran a wet finger across the page, the ink ran, but remained somewhat legible. I've seen other inks turn into an illegible mess, so this was somewhat refreshing.

On the drip test, in which I let droplets of water sit on the page for a minute before blotting, about fifty to seventy percent of the ink came up from the page. Certainly not ideal, but not a disaster, either. The soak test, in which I held the paper under the faucet for a few moments, lifted much of the ink that was directly targeted. However, the ink in the "splash" zone remained legible, which is not often the case. Overall, Morinda provides a modicum of water resistance - certainly more than I expected. It is a mark in its favor.

I dearly love red inks. They are by far my favorite color to write with. However, they are unsuited for most business applications, save for proofing and editing. R&K Morinda is no different in this regard. It is, when compared to other red inks, particularly bright - though not blindingly so. For those with more tolerant eyes, it could certainly be appropriate for daily personal use.

Rohrer and Klingner inks are sold in fifty milliliter bottles. The bottles are fairly utilitarian, though they do have pleasantly colored labels.

This is my first experience with Rohrer and Klingner inks, and I'm interested in seeing more. Regarding Morinda, specifically, I'm of two minds. The color is lovely, and it is pleasant to write with, but the higher than normal degree of feathering, show-through, and bleed-through limit my enthusiasm. I'm hoping that other R&K inks are somewhat better behaved. For those that use high-quality paper, Morinda is worth a look, especially if you do not already own an ink in this color family. For those that write primarily on office-grade paper, I'd consider trying a different brand.

Note on the scan: the Morinda ink washed out a bit when scanned in, so the actual color is a tad more vibrant and saturated. It is a fairly accurate representation of the character of the ink otherwise.

Review notes: for the widest lines, I used a Pilot Parallel calligraphy pen with a 6.0mm steel nib and a Pelikan Script pen with a 2.0mm steel nib. The fine lines were written using a TWSBI Diamond 530 with an EF steel nib. The paper is Rhodia 80gsm.

Rohrer and Klingner inks are available from: