Monday, July 12, 2010

Miscellany: Ammo for Fountain Pens - Noodler's Legal Lapis ink review

A fountain pen is one of the most versatile writing instruments you can own. Unlike ballpoints (which are invariably slaved to a particular refill cartridge), fountain pens with converter cartridges or internal reservoirs can take a wide variety of ink. The fountain pen allows the writer to customize his or her writing in the same way handloading ammunition allows a shooter to tailor firearm performance to a particular task.

As you might expect, you won't be able to pick up the best fountain pen ink at a big box office store. The only place you can buy Noodler’s Legal Lapis, for instance, is Pendemonium, a specialty pen shop:

I picked up a bottle of Legal Lapis to see what all the fuss was about. In terms of color, the ink is supposed to mimic the old-fashioned iron gall inks used in the 19th century (the label bears a famous depiction of the Lincoln-Douglas debates - hard to think of a better lawyer than Honest Abe). Legal Lapis is mostly black, with pretty hints of blue, green, and grey if you make your strokes neat and fast. On a typical yellow legal pad, the ink is clear and legible without bleeding through.

Noodler’s fountain pen ink is some of the best in the business; Legal Lapis, despite its old-school trappings, is a very modern ink. It's water-based, so it flows readily from the nib of my Waterman Phileas fountain pen for smooth, enjoyable note-taking. Legal Lapis is also nearly indelible once it has been applied to paper. Water, grease, alcohol - you'll basically have to destroy the paper the ink is written on in order to get this stuff to budge.

So, if you're a lawyer who needs a bombproof, permanent way to take written notes and sign documents, or if you're just someone who enjoys good ink, Noodler's Legal Lapis fits the bill perfectly.


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