Berlin Notebook Blue No. 1

This year I decided to do a few more ink reviews and like Ink Of The Month they will based around what I think of the ink and how it has performed in everyday use; essentially some Q-Tip testing and then load a pen and take it out for a spin.

Ink’s one of those things where I think you need to live with it for a while before presenting an opinion to the world and sometimes you have to change pens to get the best from an ink; to paraphrase Mr Ollivander “The ink chooses the pen, Mr Potter.”

Berlin Notebook Blue No.1 is a bit of a well-kept secret because when you run a Google search there are not that many reviews of it compared to what you would normally expect.

I had heard mention of this lesser known but wonderful blue ink and finally came across a review on John’s site, Fountain Pen Love, and I was very impressed; so I decided to order a bottle.

The ink is made by Dr Peter Koval the founder of Berlin Notebook and was  designed by the artist Viktor Walter; it is well worth a visit to Berlin Notebook as Peter really does sell some very nice notebooks, covers, tea as well as ink.

What intrigued me was an artist designed ink; it’s unusual and yet highly logical to ask someone who’s business it is to create works of art to design a colour for you and I must say they have done an outstanding job from creation to bottle.

The ink is in a plain card box with a simple round sticker on the outside that matches the one on the bottle, it was well packed and the little sample size I also ordered was wrapped and packed securely. The ink arrived in less than a week and this is the really impressive part of the shipping process all it cost to ship was €1.50, which is extremely reasonable especially when you consider this is a flat rate so ten bottles of ink would cost the same as one bottle of ink.

So, having said all that I did a swab test and while the ink dried I loaded a Lamy Nexx, broad nib, and started testing the ink. It turned out to be a very well-behaved ink that flows nicely and is not too wet; the colour is strongly saturated and that gives a wonderful deep blue which has plenty of sheen. 

Q-Tip Test Web 250px.jpg
Two passes with the Q-Tip.

Whether Q-Tip, written text or just wet on the rim of the bottle this ink has a beautiful copper/red sheen and the more ink you lay down the more pronounced it becomes. With the Q-Tip I did a couple of passes and it is very obvious; the broad nib helped to emphasise the blue a little more and a fine nib dip pen actually showed more of the sheen colour than the blue. Overall, the results are really good and I’m very happy with the colour and the sheen.

Text Sheen Web 350px.jpg
Text with sheen.
Wet Sheen Web 300px.jpg
You can even see the sheen when the ink is wet.

Now this all sounds lovely, but it turns out that not everyone is very keen on inks that have a sheen and in response to this Peter has produced a Black Label version that has almost no sheen and whilst it would have been easier to produce a black ink,  instead Peter has listened to his customers and worked to deliver a low sheen blue that, as closely as possible, matches the original.

Finally, the big question is at €11.99 / £10.89GBP / $13.36USD* (€12.99 for the Black Label version) is it worth it for a 30ml bottle of hand-made ink? 

I think so, and I’m happy to recommend it because what you get is a rich blue ink that is blue through and through and has an effortless sheen that produces some wonderful results. So, if you are in the market for a new blue ink then this one should be at the top of your list, but if you are unsure then get the 5ml EDC sample size and try that first.

This ink is an amazing result of collaborative working that is well worth your pennies and Peter will be getting more of my pennies soon as I plan to order another bottle.

One last thing, Peter hinted in his last email to me that there would be a new colour coming soon; now maybe it was the Black Label, he didn’t say, but I would really like to see Peter and Viktor create a red ink, that would be something special.


*Conversion rates, from Google, correct at time of writing, 15th Mar.’20.

Disclaimer: The ink was purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.

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