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Perle Noir, Herbin

Perle Noir is one of the most recommended and well reviewed black inks out there. When I bought this ink a few years ago, I was disappointed. It is not the blackest, not the smoothest, not the fastest drying ink, not an archival ink, not the cheapest.  I decided to give it a second chance so I eyedropped a Preppy with it and filled a Lamy All-star. Over the past few days I have written many pages of work notes with the ink. Perle Noir is a well behaving black ink that is sold at a reasonable price, but it doesn't excel in anything. Below some writing samples, followed by drying times and test in water resistance. Drying times are about average to slow, 45 secs with a broad nib on Tomoe River 52g paper. The ink is certainly not water resistant, but it can handle an accidental drop.   The full characteristics: Feathering none Shading hardly any Show through negligible 

Ultramarine, Montblanc

Recently released by Montblanc: Ultramarine. A very bright, dark blue. There is no shortage of blue inks in this world, including many by Montblanc itself, which makes the question inevitable; does this ink really add something?

The ink can be used in any situation. It's dark enough to be used for business purposes, but pleasant and vibrant enough for personal notes and correspondence as well. I have used it for two days now in many different situations and it didn't bore me for a minute. Most blues do after a few hours to a day at most.

In my experience Montblanc inks are excellent and well behaved, but a little bit dry. This causes problems in some pens, like TWSBI's. This Ultramarine ink is wetter and better lubricated than the other Montblanc inks I have. I didn't experience the problems encountered before. The ink doesn't feather, its shading is subtle and beautiful, show-through is minimal. Water will quickly ruin your writing. No surprises there. Drying time was a surprise, only 15 seconds on crown mill vellum paper!

I picked three colors that I thought would be the closest match to Ultramarine, but I could have expanded that list. Compared to Imperial Blue (Diamine), Asa-gao (Iroshizuku) and Edelstein Sapphire (Pelikan), Ultramarine has some hint of purple in it. The differences are small though and I doubt if I could tell them all apart. 

So what's my final verdict? Ultramarine is a wonderful bright, dark blue. I like it and I will definitely finish the bottle. Does it really add something though? No, it's too close to too many colors, including some of Montblanc's own. The better lubrication is a big plus though, I hope that will stick. 

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