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Thread: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

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    Default Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Hi gang,

    I am new to the vintage pen world, so help me out here.

    What brands of inks should I be looking for (or away from) for use in vintage pens like a Parker 51, an Esterbook J or SJ, and a Sheaffer desk pen? Are there particular brands that are more saturated that I should avoid? Are there other factors that are still outside my knowledge.

    I am thinking first in terms of not gumming them up, and secondly what is actually going to look good and work well with some of these older pens.

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Todd

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Hi Todd,
    While there are many varying opinions, I will suggest one. Good Pen Hygiene. Be sure to full flush between brands/colors, and flush whenever your pen seems to have sluggish performance. Cool water, rinse rinse rinse, then stand your nib in a small glass overnight with the nib in a bit of paper towel to absorb.
    Hope that helps.
    There are different viscosities, such a Private Reserve Tanzanite is known for being super fluid, and Pelikan 4001 for being dry, etc. you will learn them in time.

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    Senior Member fountainpenkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    I agree. Good pen hygiene is key. Also, try to stick with basic colors that you really like---Pelikan 4001 blue is one of the safest inks on the planet, but that's not to say others will hurt your pen. I'd stay away from Noodler's Ink unless you are using an aerometric Parker 51, in which case, you can use just about anything. For pens with rubber sacs, try to only use tried and true inks....especially if the celluloid is prone to ambering. Diamine inks are safe for the most part...just know that they are "boutique" so you should clean your pen out with cold water a bit more often when using them. P
    Will
    If my p.m box is full, feel free to email me at dabantur@gmail.com.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Once again, flush your pens well. Button and lever fillers are harder to flush so choose inks that flush easily. The brand is irrelevant. Diamine Ochre is a pain-in-the-... to flush and Noodlers Apache Sunset is easy. The Esterbrook is easy to clean since you can remove the nib unit and soak it while you flush the sack through the hole.
    I love Noodler's Red Black in a vintage flex nib and it's worth the extra time it takes to clean the pen. I've got Sailor Jentile Grenade (other, less explosive, colors are available) in my Estie J today and De Atramentis Aubergine in my Waterman 55 (this was not the best combo because both the pen and ink are very wet).

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    I use any and all fountain pen inks in my old pens. The key is to clean them well and thoroughly between fills and not to let ink dry out in them.

    Yes, I even use Noodler's and have never had a SINGLE issue. The only ink I've had a problem with? The dead "safe" Namiki blue, which stained a pen.
    ---
    Current pen rotation: way too many!

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    I use any and all fountain pen inks in my old pens. The key is to clean them well and thoroughly between fills and not to let ink dry out in them.

    Yes, I even use Noodler's and have never had a SINGLE issue. The only ink I've had a problem with? The dead "safe" Namiki blue, which stained a pen.
    Sorry about your experience with Namiki blue. Could you please elaborate on the circumstances of this incident?

    I have used Noodlers black and blue-black with no problems BUT I must admit the black ink stained an eyedropper I used for mixing inks. Go figure...

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Loaded a Pelikan tortoise 400NN (1950s) with the Namiki blue for its 'safeness.' It stained the barrel, not jut inside, burped out the nib and stained the outside of the barrel where it got caught by the cap threads. Used every cleaning trick in the book, pen is still stained. Ironically I then shrugged and used whatever in it. BRIGHT Noodlers, Diamine, etc, no staining.

    So ya never know.
    ---
    Current pen rotation: way too many!

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    Loaded a Pelikan tortoise 400NN (1950s) with the Namiki blue for its 'safeness.' It stained the barrel, not jut inside, burped out the nib and stained the outside of the barrel where it got caught by the cap threads. Used every cleaning trick in the book, pen is still stained. Ironically I then shrugged and used whatever in it. BRIGHT Noodlers, Diamine, etc, no staining.

    So ya never know.
    Interesting to hear. I guess I should take back my advice about inks then!
    Will
    If my p.m box is full, feel free to email me at dabantur@gmail.com.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Hi Todd,

    I agree with above advice re flushing between inks - and even before filling dry pens.

    I'd start off with a few basic inks, inexpensive stuff. There's nothing wrong with Parker Quink and Waterman's, for example.
    As your tastes broaden (or narrow), you could venture into the more exotic (and expensive) varieties.

    I've never had a problem with staining - although all my pens are dark colours (black, mainly), so it probably wouldn't show anyway.

    Good luck.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    Loaded a Pelikan tortoise 400NN (1950s) with the Namiki blue for its 'safeness.' It stained the barrel, not jut inside, burped out the nib and stained the outside of the barrel where it got caught by the cap threads. Used every cleaning trick in the book, pen is still stained. Ironically I then shrugged and used whatever in it. BRIGHT Noodlers, Diamine, etc, no staining.

    So ya never know.
    That is really sad to know. I will keep the Namiki blue away from my vintage Pels to be on the safe side!

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    I find waterman inks to be the safest inks. They perform well, clean easily and have great colours to boot. If I could have just one brand of ink, this would be it. It's the best. Period. Or even exclamation point. Yes. The best.

    -Gerald

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Quote Originally Posted by tandaina View Post
    I use any and all fountain pen inks in my old pens. The key is to clean them well and thoroughly between fills and not to let ink dry out in them.

    Yes, I even use Noodler's and have never had a SINGLE issue. The only ink I've had a problem with? The dead "safe" Namiki blue, which stained a pen.
    I do the same. I use all my inks in all my pens, except Baystate Blue which I only use in my black Pilot 78G.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    I only have three vintage pens, but have never had a problem with: Lamy Black, J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir or Waterman Havana(Absolute) Brown.

    Other inks that I have and would be reluctant to try include: Private Reserve, and some Noodler's.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Come to think of it, most of my inks are "safe" to begin with and I test them on less sensitive pens first. "Safe" here meaning not prone to staining and if they're prone to clogging (like Diamine majestic blue or Noodler's Burma Road Brown), there's an easy to fix for it.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Parker ink is always dependable for vintage pens. Drawback? not much color choice. My husband has a finicky old Cartier - and the only thing it will write with is- Irizoshizuku. Its crazy- it will not write with anything else. Good pen hygiene is essential as well. THE SUZIE will swear by Parker- Stay away from anything with thick viscositi.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Parker is my go to for anything, I must admit. It's all I'll use in my older pens ( except vintage Rapidographs ). I have Quink black in two old Parkers right now. I've used it in my 1940s pens without a problem and load it in models 65 & 75 Osmiroids for drawing. I have drawings I did in art school back in the Dark Ages using Quink that still look freshly drawn. Yes, I suppose all that black ink is boring, but I never have to worry about the pens. I have a couple of Pilot 78Gs and Osmiroid calligraphy pens that I use when I want to use a lovely color of ink. I figure in case of a tragedy it wouldn't really be much of a tragedy, because I can replace them. Waterman is always a safe ink as well.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    All the pens you are talking about are very solid and sturdy, which makes a difference. I'd worry more about celluloid pens. You can't go wrong starting with Waterman, Parker and Pelikan, but there are a lot of good inks. I have to say I feel safest with inks made by pen-makers, but then there's Tandaina's story above to dispel that superstition.

    In general, reds and purples seem most prone to staining and usually are harder to clean out.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Waterman and Parker inks have great reputations for use in vintage pens, especially in black, blue, and blue-black. I played it safe with them ten years ago. These days my Esterbrook sporting a 9128 nib is inked with Namiki blue. The Parker '51' Aero gets J. Herbin Vert Empire or Noodler's Zhivago while the Sheaffer Sentinel has a thing for Diamine Indigo.

    As said by others earlier in this thread, good pen hygiene is key and will allow you to use most any ink. That's how my pens work well with most any brand and any color and variety is what keeps this color addict happy.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    Apart from my Parker vacumatic pens, which are usually fed with Waterman Ink, I've used Noodlers, PR, almost every brand you can imagine in my other vintage pens.

    Although good pen hygiene is very important, my mum has left Noodlers Black in an Esterbrook and P51 for at least a month with no problems.

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    Default Re: Best inks for vintage pens (Parker, Esterbrook & Sheaffer especially)

    I noticed that on old pen Waterman, Sheaffer, Swan Mabie TODD etc using an ink tenuous from the lighter tones
    work better than the blacks, dark blue and so on,

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