Posted in Restoration

WTH Happened – Beware of Your Ink Choice

Back Story

The Waterman Expert was introduced circa 1995, as a lightweight plastic-bodied pen featuring a distinctive two-tone, beveled steel nib. The Expert I nib has a little piece of plastic going through the nib which maintains the nib in relation to the feed. The trademark “W” is aft of this plus “Waterman Paris” is engraved on the underside of the nib diameter.

On the cap between the trim rings is their trademark script “W,” with “Waterman Paris” on the opposite side. The jewel atop the cap is solid plastic embossed with “W”. The first generation of Experts had a much more robust and durable snap cap system than its predecessors.

Circa 2000, Waterman introduced the second-generation Expert. The body is now made of lacquer over brass much like the Hemisphere which dramatically increased the pen’s weight. The Expert II also sported a redesigned yet inferior nib. The clutch was also redesigned in the cap however, it failed to engage the barrel securely.

My Pen

Is Bordeaux in color (sounds so much better than burgundy) with gold trim accents. When I acquired the pen the nib was heavily crusted with dried ink, but the barrel and cap were free of scratches and tooth marks. Plus, there was no brassing of the cap rings or the clip.

The feed used in generation 1 Experts is unique. There is a small piece of plastic that protrudes through the nib, henceforth known as an anchor block. This piece of plastic sits atop of the fins of the feed. In this picture, the anchor block is facing in the wrong direction. It is so small I could not determine which direction it was facing. It is very easy to lose, especially on a carpet – experience speaking x2. The anchor block is about the size of an uncooked grain of rice.

Now things get interesting, where do I begin? I bought the pen knowing the tines needed some TLC. The tines bowed outward yet coming together at the tips. This I could correct and I did.

But when I removed the nib and feed from the section – SURPRISE! The diameter portion of the nib was heavily damaged. It appears the owner was an ignoramus having inked the pen with some sort of gallic ink and failed to clean the pen.

Damage caused by Gallic Ink

Welp iron-gall inks should only be used in dip pens, they contain gum arabic or maybe Ferro-gallic to increase the permanency of water-based ink. These chemicals are corrosive and both increase the already corrosive level of the ink. Resulting in damage to the nib and pen. I’m now looking for a gently used Expert I beveled steel nib and a feed.

With all this damage, I suspect the pen will have issues holding a vacuum inside the ink reservoir. However, I am considering making a go at repairing the nib using silver solder – what do I have to lose? The lesson to learn is this, Gallic ink is bad, while the pen is good. The previous owner used the wrong ink, did not clean the pen, and welp I now have one or two new topics to blog about. I look forward to the day when I can use the pen.


I'm a loser as my wife likes to tell me, I enjoy researching dead cousins and playing with fountain pens.

6 thoughts on “WTH Happened – Beware of Your Ink Choice

  1. Silver is a great adjunct healer in wound care if used correctly. Antimicrobial property. Fingers crossed it extends it’s ‘healing’ property to this project. Albeit of a different nature. Shame about you finding this result. So! Inks are quite a conundrum and I wonder if there is an internet link to types and ingredients of inks in existence. Cheers for the insights again. Sad about the nib though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our former clothes washing machine contained a silver bar to fight the microbes in towels etc. It worked GREAT! Towels always had a great smell to them. Silver solder is used in jewelry, it is hard. The worry is silver solder on steel! Sometimes they don’t play nice together or so I’ve read. The repair will become another post, hopefully, it has a happy ending. Gall inks have a very bad reputation for damaging steel nibs. I believe gold nibs are impervious, but don’t take me for my word. It is unfortunate but I was able to share my misfortune with others in the hope that they will not make the same mistake (not my mistake) or convince them to engage in a more regimened pen cleaning schedule.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All fountain pen fans have probably been exposed to the downsides of iron gall ink, but have never had any problems myself. I guess it’s the long-term misuse that really causes trouble. That looks like some serious damage indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Stuart, Again, your comments end up in the WP “trash.” Absolutely. I’ve used the ink without any issue but I also clean my pens. Long-term misuse is the real issue but people assume there is no need because it’s what they have always done…. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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