Ink Showcase: Monteverde Noir Collection
I don’t often purchase entire sets of ink. They usually don’t include enough colors that appeal to me to warrant buying a complete set. However, when I first saw Monteverde’s Noir Collection I couldn’t decide on my favorite colors, so I just bought the whole line. Was it worth it?
Packaging & Bottles
When purchased as a collection, the Monteverde Noir inks come packaged in a sleek cardboard gift box that has an attractive matte black finish. The box has a flip-top with a magnetic closure and additional magnets along the edges that give it some added sturdiness. On the underside of the box lid there is a paper insert that lists each of the ten inks along with a short description.
The ink bottles themselves are packaged in individual plastic inserts to allow them to be stored tightly and compactly. Unfortunately, digging bottles out of this additional nest of plastic quickly becomes annoying, prompting me to toss it out. Doing so comes with the downside that the bottles now rattle around in the box, and I feel less confident transporting them in this box.
The glass bottles are 30 ml and have a simple, squared-off design. The opening of the bottle is covered by a plastic cap and is large enough to fit any of the fountain pens I own. I like the minimalist design of the labels, but dislike that they are applied unevenly to the bottles; most of mine are slightly askew, and it can distract from an otherwise eye-catching design.
Color & Inspiration
Monteverde describes the Noir Collection as “inspired by the renowned blue/black ink,” which they’ve expanded on by introducing a line of “vibrant ink colors blended with black ink, creating a mixture of mysterious, bold and expressive fountain pen inks.” Ordinarily I am quick to condemn such characterizations as pure marketing fluff, but Monteverde nailed it here. It’s amazing to me how much character can be added to an ink by blending in some black. Though the hues lose some of their original vibrancy, they gain a sort of richness and depth that never ceases to delight me.
Colors in this collection are highly saturated and, with a few exceptions, have modest shading when used on less absorbent paper. Most of the inks display light sheen, but only when applied in extremely generous volume. Don’t expect to see any sheen in your everyday handwriting, or even in flex writing.
One unfortunate aspect of the collection is the inclusion of what are effectively two “black-blacks.” Monteverde describes Coal Noir as “gray fused with black” and Raven Noir as “black on black,” but in my experience they were quite similar and effectively the same on absorbent paper. Smoke Noir is gray enough to be distinct from the other two, but I was a bit blas about it and suspect others may be as well if color is what you’re after. With that said, only seven of the ten inks in this collection are non-grayscale, which may further inhibit some from purchasing this set.
Here’s a quick rundown of my rankings of the inks in this collection:
The inks in the Noir collection consistently perform admirably and without issue. Most of these inks dried in around 20-25 seconds, even when using pens with broad or wet nibs. In my experience Monteverde’s newer inks have generally been well lubricated, and I’ve never really experienced any issues with ink flow when using them.
The Noir inks never feathered when used on premium quality paper, and still performed well on absorbent paper like that found in Baron Fig or Leuchtturm notebooks. They demonstrated minimal show-through on most paper that I tested, and bleeding was not an issue.
I inked ten different pens, one with each color in the collection, and used the pens on and off over the course of a couple weeks. Doing so did not result in any staining or other unusual issues. When it came time to clean the pens, all of the Noir inks cleaned out easily and without any noticeable concerns.
Of all the inks, Copper Noir did seem to behave a bit uniquely. In my experience it dried out in pens more easily, and dried very dark when applied in volume. I’m not sure I’ve tested it long enough or with enough different pens to warrant any concern, but I did want to note this point.
As of the time of this writing, the Noir Collection sells for around $72 at popular online retailers. Considering Monteverde 30 ml bottles normally retail for $8 each (including those in this collection, which can be purchased separately), you are getting ten bottles for the price of nine by buying the set. Though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this entire collection, if I had to do it all over again I would probably just purchase my favorite 3-5 inks from this set and skip the rest. Coal Noir, Raven Noir, and Smoke Noir just don’t inspire me, and I doubt they’ll get much use. Plus if you do buy individual bottles, you are still getting great value at $0.27/ml.