You may not have noticed this (ha…) but I love blues. Blue-greens, blue-blacks, plain ol’ blues… I love ’em! So when I picked up Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts, I expected to have a pleasant ride. I’ve had relatively good experiences with Noodler’s in the past (Noodler’s Black was the first ink I ever got, Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black is a definite favorite, Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng was quite simply a disaster, but I am willing to forgive Nathan for it), so I was really hoping that this ink would fall in the Black/Air-Corp Blue-Black category and not Kung Te-Cheng category.
Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts is a lovely and rich blue-black. It’s an excellent ink for both formal and informal situations. It displays a little bit of shading, which I actually found quite impressive for a blue-black. I don’t know if many blue-blacks shade (in my experience, not many do at all), so I was pleasantly surprised. It does have a chemical smell. I noticed it immediately, and I noticed it every time I uncapped the pen. I eventually got used to it, and I’m definitely not sensitive to smells, but if you are, I would highly suggest staying away from this ink! It flows very well–that is, if I could get it to flow at all. Unfortunately, this ink does not flow well. I couldn’t leave this ink sitting alone in a pen for more than a few hours: the next time I picked it up, I would be scribbling on papers and flossing the nib to try to get any particles of dried ink out. After about a week of struggling with this ink (all the while shedding silent tears because I loved it when it finally flowed gloriously from feed to nib to paper), I had to clean it out. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m 95% certain that it wasn’t the fault of the pen I put it in (a Jinhao 599), because I eventually filled the pen with Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black and have not had a problem since that fill.
I really, really want to love this ink. Unfortunately, it has too many issues for me. I need to find inks that are easy to clean and easy to maintain now, because I don’t have the time to fiddle with pens all day anymore. I wish I could recommend this ink, but I have no intention of misleading you. There are other blue-blacks in the world that you would most likely prefer. I definitely do not recommend this ink to a first-time user of fountain pens or even a first-time user of Noodler’s, because I feel like it might spoil your experiences with the wonderful world of fountain pens or the wonderful work of Nathan Tardiff. If you want to try this ink, I strongly suggest you try a sample of it first before you splurge on a whole bottle.
You can see examples of the shading in the following samples, if you were not able to catch it above. Here are two samples done with a Nikko spoon nib and a Nikko G nib on Tomoe River paper. A spoon nib lays ink down more consistently and with a thinner line, while the G nib has more flex and lays down more ink. There is a slight bit of bleedthrough on Tomoe River paper, but this ink runs quite wet, so it doesn’t surprise me at all. I think it’s pretty cool that the bleedthrough of the ink is a light blue, but that’s not really relevant (unless you find it cool as well!).
You can buy a 50 ml bottle of this ink from Goulet Pens for $12.00.
Please note that the colors present in this review may not be perfectly true to life: there will be color differences between monitors. Scans I post online are as close as I can possibly get them to the ink that I have. Please keep this in mind, as different factors (such as whether or not the bottle was shaken, the pen used, the paper used, the lighting in the room, etc.) could affect the color!
I’m not at all affiliated with Goulet Pens: just a happy customer!