Being a long time fan of the British reggae band UB40, the title of this review was easy to choose… Pace Eric Donaldson for the wonderful original too of course. In fact as I write this I’m listening to the track ‘Kingston Town’ off one of their compilation albums. Anyway today it’s the turn of Private Reserve Black Cherry to be put through its paces. Private Reserve is an American brand of ink, coming from Zionsville Indiana, originally from the workroom of the Avalon gallery. The company now produce a spectrum of 53 colours of their standard inks as well as a few fast drying version. They are available in 66ml bottles and standard international cartridges. The bottles retail at about $11 in the USA, about £8 in the UK and €9-10 in Europe. I should say that they are not widely available outside the USA so finding some may need some detective work. I was sent this sample from a fellow fountain pen enthusiast in the UK. Thanks Ross.
Presentation: I honestly can’t say too much about the presentation of this ink first hand as I received this ink as a sample from a fellow fountain pen user. I have taken the trouble to order some for myself and at least look online. From that perspective only I’d say that the 66ml bottles seem functional rather than massively attractive. I don’t mind that as long as the price of the ink reflects this and the ink is good quality. So let’s see shall we.
On Test: I tested this ink simultaneously in two fountain pens. One has a fine steel nib and the other a soft vintage 18k gold nib which I would designate as a medium. The medium nib is much wetter than the fine and this showed through on test in how the ink is put down on the paper. The soft medium nib allowed the ink to show its full potential for shading which was good. The black cherry name is well-chosen with the ink shading from a lighter more delicate redwood or cherry to a full-bodied deep wine and burgundy. The finer nib, being somewhat drier in function, showed off the more delicate lighter tones of the ink.
I found that the ink behaves really well, there were no flow issues in either of the test pens. Dry time for this ink with the wet medium nib was consistently between 20-30 seconds on Rhodia paper, much less for the fine nib. I found that the colour is great with white or cream paper, in fact I’ve found myself coming back to this ink again and agin over the last month of intense letter writing for InCoWriMo. This brand of ink is renowned for its vivid colours and high colour saturation and this example is no exception. Of course this may mean that you have to clean your pen a little more frequently than you would normally do, but that’s just good housekeeping anyway.
Summary: For not the first time on this particular blog I’ve stumbled across a really great ink through the kindness of another member of the fountain pen community. I like that these Private Reserve inks now available in larger 66ml bottles, which is bound to be better value. All colours are supposedly pH neutral and suitable for all makes of fountain pen. I found this to be a darkly delicious shade of ink that I’ve already grown fond of and ordered for myself. I think that says it all really.