Noodler's 54th Massachusetts: Ink Review

There are some inks that just aren't that great, let's be honest. Most inks are pretty good, and there are a few that are really exciting. Then there are some that just stand out and have no equals. I would argue that Noodler's 54th Massachusetts is one of those inks. It's a bold statement, and I'm a retailer who sells the ink so take what I say with that in mind, but I really think this ink is that good. And I know I'm not alone in that thinking.

There are a lot of blue black inks out there, and for good reason. They're popular mainly because they're usually acceptable on work documents, but they are more exciting than just plain black. Most blue blacks aren't permanent though, or at least water resistant. Some of the most popular ones that are include Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher, Bad Blue Heron, and Rohrer and Klingner Salix. These inks all have their tradeoffs, though. BBK and BBH tend to feather, the Sailor ink is pigmented and can have trouble in some pens, and the Rohrer and Klingner is iron gall so it takes a little more consideration than your typical ink (especially with certain vintage pens). It's been hard to find a ‘hassle free' waterproof blue black, until 54th.

I did a full review of the ink here, and I explain it in more detail in the video. The most outstanding feature of this ink is the water resistance, you can hardly tell I even did my drip test!

Noodler's 54th Massachusetts fountain pen ink writing sample


There are some comparable colors, but nothing really dead-on. 54th is a pretty dark, saturated blue black that leans very gray.

54th Massachusetts swabNoodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher swabNoodler's Midnight blue swabNoodler's Blue Black swab
Rohrer & Klingner Leipziger Schwarz swabRohrer & Klingner Verdigris swabDiamine Blue Black swabDiamine Denim swab


It darkens in a wetter pen. Its strengths are water resistance and cost effectiveness, and it's not too bad to clean out of the pen considering the ink's permanence.

Dry time is a bit long on ink resistant paper like Rhodia, but on more absorbent paper it dries incredibly fast. The type of paper you use will make a huge difference in the dry time.

This ink, like all other Noodler's bulletproof inks, attains its permanence through cellulose reaction, when the ink chemicals bond to the cellulose fibers of the paper. It's an incredibly permanent bond, but one that requires the ink to soak into the paper to achieve it. For that reason, most Noodler's inks (this one included) don't bond so well to heavily sized paper like watercolor paper.


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