Noodler’s Old Manhattan “Bulletproof” Black Ink–Long Term Review

There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black. –Nigel Tufnel, Spinal Tap guitarist.

Although I have several kinds of ink sitting around, I’m not the kind of fountain pen user who swaps out inks constantly. Instead I like to find a perfect combination of pen and ink and then stick with it. Sometimes, though, I change pens but keep the ink.

I don’t remember how I stumbled across Noodler’s Old Manhattan. I either read about it on Fountain Pen Network, or found it on the website of the New York based Fountain Pen Hospital as the ink is exclusive to them. I seem to remember it being recommended as one of the “blacker black” inks available and for some reason that made me interested in it.

I put it in my Pilot Vanishing Point and it immediately became my favorite ink. It is about as black as it can be, more black than Aurora Black, which is also one of my favorite inks.

Old Manhattan is smooth and, at least on regular copy paper, dries reasonably quickly. Once it’s dry, it doesn’t smear and it doesn’t wash off if it gets wet. With other inks, Aurora included, if I’m working during a Tokyo summer and the Communists Heat Resistant Individuals who run the school where I work have set the air conditioner to “Mild Swelter”, my sweaty hands and forearms end up printed with what I was working on.

Note: THAT ink never seems to wash off. What evil is this?

Even when I write a heavy, wet line, it dries reasonably quickly, at least on regular copy paper.

Noodler's Old Manhattan on copy paper.

Noodler’s Old Manhattan on copy paper.

Noodler's Old Manhattan on Tomoe River. It looks great; dries eventually.

Noodler’s Old Manhattan on Tomoe River in terrible lighting. It looks great; dries eventually.

After it dries, it also holds up to spills rather well. The following pictures show the ink after I’ve wiped away the water (which sat on the ink for a couple minutes).

Noodler's Old Manhattan on copy paper after the water's been wiped away.

Noodler’s Old Manhattan on copy paper after the water’s been wiped away.

Noodler's Old Manhattan on Tomoe River paper after the water's been wiped away.

Noodler’s Old Manhattan on Tomoe River paper after the water’s been wiped away.

I’ve finished almost two bottles of the ink since I bought it and already have two replacements in storage. It is now used in my newest workhorse pen, a TWSBI 580. I like the ink capacity (note to the Pilot Pen Company: find away to increase the ink capacity in VPs and you’ll win me back). I also like that I can easily disassemble and clean the pen.

That leads to the main negative of Old Manhattan: it’s got bits floating in it.

In order to make it bulletproof, it lays down black sediment that, according to Noodler’s, resists all known tools of forgers, including bleach and UV light. That sediment, though, can build up in your pen.

After years of using it in my Vanishing Point, with what I thought were frequent thorough cleanings but were really only basic rinsings, I was shocked to see how much black sediment came out of nib when I soaked it with a proper cleaning solution. I never had any clogs, but I did notice that red ink (after it became my marking pen) always seemed bit darker than I expected when I used it in the pen.

The half empty bottle of Old Manhattan. You can see the sediment clinging to the side.

The half empty bottle of Old Manhattan. You can see the sediment clinging to the sides of the bottle.

Fountain Pen Hospital also sells a Blue Manhattan that I may have to check out some day. First, of course, I’ll have to find the perfect pen for it.

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