Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chesterfield Archival Vault Permanent Ink

One of the websites I visit is, a Pittsburgh-based retailer with good-quality, low-priced pens. They are the only place I've come across that has Chesterfield ink, which has gotten some positive posts over at the FountainPenNetwork (especially the browns, Sepia and Mahogany).

I recently placed an order for one of their pens and decided to try out the Chesterfield Archival Vault permanent ink, which like Diamine Registrar's Ink is said to be the exact same formula as used in the United Kingdom to record demographic data (births, deaths, marriages). Like Diamine, it starts out blue and oxidizes to black, in this case more of a dark blue black. And it is waterproof and permanent, of which I can only test the former (but will ask my heirs to blog about the latter in seventy-five to a hundred years from now, so stick around).

Diamine Registrar's Ink is an iron gall-based formula, which can damage a pen without regular cleaning. There's no mention of that on the xFountainPen website, but according to a great review by fiberdrunk at FPN the Archival Vault is made by Diamine for Chesterfield, and is the same iron gall formula as Registrar's Ink.

The two inks may be identical in most ways (waterproof, permanent, blue-to-black-oxidation) they are distinct in one particular way: color. In the picture at the top, the upper right corner compares Diamine on the left to Chesterfield on the right. The Diamine fades to black with a distinct blue-green undertone, while the Chesterfield is a truer black-blue color.

I like both inks and wouldn't recommend one over the other based on the color, but I would do so based on price and amount. The Chesterfield is 50ml for $9.99 while the Diamine is 30ml for about $15 (the glass bottle of the Registrar's Ink may make an aesthetic difference but the illustration of the horse and carriage on the Chesterfield "plastic" bottle goes a long way towards alleviating that little detail). And xFountainPens offers free shipping on orders of $15 or more, so two bottles of ink or one of the lower-priced pens will get you into that territory.

As you can see, the ink is definitely waterproof. I had it under the faucet, running my fingers over it, and there was a small amount of ink loss that tinged the paper a pale-deep blue but nothing you would really notice regarding the writing. I like this Chesterfield Archival Vault, it fits my template of what a true blue-black ink should look like. If you're interested in archival quality, waterproof ink made by Diamine for Chesterfield and sold at a reduced price, definitely give this a try.


  1. Thank you for posting this review; the pictures of the tests especially helped. I got a fountain pen for Christmas was looking for a durable ink and it seems like the Archival Vault is perfect! I am also ordering several mini 3 mL bottles from xFountainPens in varying colors. :D