Ink Review: KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry

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Iron gall inks have two very appealing features.  They are waterproof or very water-resistant, because the iron gall component penetrates the paper surface. And the iron gall oxidizes in contact with air, so an iron gall ink darkens in color as it dries.  However, iron gall ink is generally acidic, so using it does require extra attention to how long the ink is left in a fountain pen, and to cleaning the pen afterwards.

Gummiberry is a happy standout among iron gall inks because of its purple color.  Its behavior is also different: iron gall inks tend to be dry inks, but Gummiberry is on the wet side.  However, it still worked well in both my pens, a Pelikan M200 with a fairly wet 14k medium stub nib and a dry Lamy 2000 with a fine nib.

Gummiberry’s dry time seems slower than normal. On lower quality notebook paper that seems easily manageable, because even with the wet Pelikan, Gummiberry dried completely on notebook paper within 20 seconds. However, on fountain-pen friendly paper like Rhodia and Clairefontaine, you need to give it extra time to dry. On that paper with the Pelikan, Gummiberry iron gall ink could take up to 50 seconds to dry for me.

Water resistance seems excellent. Some of the color dye component runs off, but the dark iron gall component remains, leaving the writing legible.

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On fountain-pen friendly paper, Gummiberry’s color change was nicely dramatic, as the ink color almost immediately darkened from a medium dark purple to a very dark purple. Here is the result on Rhodia.

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It wrote darkest with the wet Pelikan pen, here on Tomoe River paper.

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There was some shading on these papers, but not a huge amount.

However, I saw shading on regular, low-quality notebook paper. On the notebook paper, the ink also seemed to dry just a bit lighter, making it look more purple. With the Pelikan I could see some showthrough on the reverse side of notebook paper, but I still felt I could write on both sides. I saw no feathering on notebook paper, and only a minimal amount on even terrible copy paper. So it seems like a nice ink for lower quality paper.

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Gummiberry cleaned out of the Lamy 2000 very easily, which is notable for any purple ink. I’m going to keep the ink in the Pelikan for a few more days, to see how its cleans out after more extended time in a pen. I’ll update this post if there are any issues.

I like the dark purple color.  I don’t have another purple ink that’s the same.  The most similar I found was Sailor Kobe #32 Tamon Purple Grey, which shares the dark purple character of the iron gall Gummiberry, but is more gray and more blue.

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Among those ink swabs is the regular Gummiberry ink, and I’ll write about that version, and compare the two Gummiberry inks, in the coming days.

A friend gave me my sample of Gummiberry.   KWZ ink is available online from at least one US store and also directly from KWZ in Poland. The KWZ website contains a lot of good general information about iron gall inks, including cleaning and maintenance advice here.

3 thoughts on “Ink Review: KWZ Iron Gall Gummiberry

  1. How does it compare with Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa? As I have not seen either in person I find it hard to make the comparison on screen images alone.

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    1. Good question. I used Scabiosa a few years ago, and my memory is that Scabiosa is a different shade of purple, as well as duskier and lighter. I never saw Scabiosa get as dark as iron gall Gummiberry.

      I may still have Scabiosa; I will double-check.

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  2. It sounds like this is a great all-rounder ink to have around! The water-resistance would make it great for knock-around notes, but the ease of rinsing would keep it from being a hassle.

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