Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium Update

This past week, some ink fans have expressed their desire for Liberty’s Elysium to be more water resistant than it is. The hype started building in this thread on the Fountain Pen Network, and it all came to a head in this thread (now locked). We’ve spent a lot of time talking with Nathan and deciding the best course of action for how to respond to the public’s reaction to the ink, and we think we’ve come up with a good plan.

The video above covers the full explanation of what’s going, but the main point is that Nathan is going to do what he can to improve the ink. We’re reclassifying the ink in its current form as ‘semi-bulletproof’. Now, we’re currently out of it but we do have one more batch of the ink as it exists on the way. By no means is anything ‘wrong’ with this ink, we just want to make it better. So we will still offer the ink in its current form while we have it, since it’s going to be upwards of 3-4 weeks before we can see any reformulation happen. Nathan has to take some rather drastic measures to work with his dye component manufacturers to improve the permanence of this color, but he has given me a vote of confidence that it can be done, without sacrificing the current color, shading, or performance of the ink (with the exception of making it more water resistant, or course).

Once he has a reformulation, he will send me some ink to test, and I will post a video and pictorial comparison of the current and new formulas. As soon as it’s ready for production, it will then replace the current formula and it will remain as the formula ongoing.

The main thing to keep in mind here is that we and Nathan are pushing the envelope here, and it’s always tough going into uncharted territory. We really appreciate all of the feedback that’s been given about the ink, as we’re learning from the whole experience. Despite some individuals typing some things (specifically about me) that were tough to read, I have no hard feelings at all and will continue to do what I do. We fountain pen folk are a mighty passionate bunch, and I have to take the good with the bad 😉 In this case though, I think we’ll be able to take a good ink and make it better, and we will hopefully see Liberty’s Elysium become one of the staple inks in the fountain pen world.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T13:57:26+00:00 June 7th, 2012|Pen News|59 Comments
  • Kiran Kaur Saini

    Brian, I haven't read any of the personal comments you refer to above, but I just want to assure you that for every person who might write any such comment, you have countless other clients all around the world who know you're the best thing to happen to fountain pens in decades.

  • Thank you so much! I really appreciate that, and it was evident to me that this is the general feeling of most folks by the counter-reaction in that thread!

  • foo

    ah, noodler's… thank you for being the one aspect of my life where my oft-perilous penchant for procrastination actually pays off. 🙂 also for the wonderful inks; never a dull moment! after a mini-catastrophe with baystate blue, which was (dis)solved with a pint of isopropyl alcohol, i'm unfortunately needing to replace it; looking forward to the new formulation.

  • I think that's great that you guys are working so hard on listening to us customers and doing what you can to help us out. 🙂 Keep it up! Looking forward to the new batch, but I may just get one of the current formulation bottles when they come back in stock.

  • Haha, yes, never a dull moment indeed. Honestly, I thought there would be more fuss about the label than the water resistance! It's okay though, if there's a way to improve this ink, Nathan will find it. We all want this to indisputably be the best blue ink ever made!

  • Thanks! That's what we do, always has been. As personal as this ink is to me, I don't have my ego wrapped up in it… if it can be improved, then we'll do it. It's definitely a huge effort to go through a reformulation, not just for Nathan but for us too, but I honestly feel it'll be worth it. 

  • Noah Jefferson

    I'm sorry to hear this awesome event is causing stress and problems for you guys.  I am very excited to see a special ink come out (I just ordered a sample and haven't had the opportunity to try it out).  You are a great company and I'm thankful for what you do and for the energy and passion you put into it.  Please don't let the negative comments make you think you aren't appreciated.

  • Brad

    From the comments I read, the tests were done on extreme conditions. Personally I wouldn't soak a piece paper for a half hour. I believe that paper would almost be dissolved or mush by that time.
    There will always people that want to push something beyond what is reasonable in this case ink.
    Hats off to Brain, for his hard work to bring new products to the forefront in cooperation with Nate.
    Brain, has always been customer focused from day one. He is always willing to listen. Not many company owners answer their  e-mail or respond to it.
    It is a shame that people have to be so negative, rather then offer constructive comments.
    Brain, thank you for being a great spokesperson for fountain pens.

  • Thanks for the link to that article, it is all too easy to focus only on the 'bad stuff'. What's different about this situation though is that I do empathize with the ones who complained, they we're just personal attacks, they stemmed from something real. It's true that it's hard to shake 'critic's math', but it can be done. I will admit that now having 599 (as of today) blog posts under my belt with literally thousands of comments posted, my skin is a little thicker than when it used to be. However, I still feel it's important to hear everyone out. Sometimes people are just outright looney and I have to believe that there is something else going on in their life and they're just taking it out on me, but the vast majority of the time people are pretty reasonable, they just get a little brave behind the keyboard sometimes. 

    In any event, don't you worry about me. I'm fine, if anything I'm challenged by opposition 😉 What was awesome to see was that a few stray comments that were bordering on 'attacking' me were countered by a slew of support to Goulet and what we all do here, and for me personally. I've been getting at least a dozen emails/comments of support for any one bad one, so I think that's pretty good. Besides, I'm working with Nathan on this…talk about a man who's faced some opposition!!

  • I haven't tried the ink yet, but from what I've seen and heard of it, I wouldn't change a thing if I were you, except maybe calling it semi-bulletproof. If I get a piece of paper wet, it's never going to look the same since it will be wrinkly and deformed, so I don't mind if there's a little colour wash on it. What matters is that the writing is still completely legible, which it clearly is with the LE.

    Not sure why no one commented on the label. Maybe those who don't share Nathan's views just got used to his labels by now, and like you said, only care about the ink.

  • Donnie T

    All I know is I am anxiously awaiting this ink. The old formula is fine with me. I wish I had ordered it before I went away for vacation. Now I have to wait.

    Oh, and if a new formulation comes out, I'll have to order a bottle of that one as well! 🙂

  • I will take a sample of the reformulated batch. I will then write my opinion of some of the FPN hermits on 90g Clairefontaine…no, make that Mead…and line my son's potty chair with it. I'll do a waterproofness test just for them. Sorry…no scans. Personally, I like the color and it's quite resistant to hand oils, which is why I bought it.

  • Thanks so much Brad! I really appreciate all of the compliments, both Rachel and I (still) work all hours of the day to keep up with things like FPN, this blog, our emails, etc. Even while we were moving, we were doing our best to keep up with all our emails and the like. It's true that soaking a piece of paper for 30 minutes is extreme, but keep in mind that Nathan has specifically developed inks that are laser-proof, so he kind of brings that on a bit himself! Yes, for 99.9% of all situations, LE will be a wonderfully suitable ink, but if we can improve it then we will because we want to make this the best ink possible. 

  • Yeah, that was my thinking too, which is why I was a little caught off guard with the thread. I was especially blindsided because this thread blew up really quickly and I was never even emailed by anyone in the thread who opposed the ink before they posted. It's okay though, I'm not taking it personally or anything, when you work with Nathan you just have to expect to get a little flak. I thought it would have been for the label, too! Maybe people are getting used to it, but look at Rome Burning and how much people went crazy with that label…I'd like to think LE's label isn't getting as much opposition because the label is meant more to honor our nation's founders than it is just trying to make people angry! Nathan has made some inks before just to piss people off, but this one wasn't intended for that 🙂 

  • Well, we should be getting restocked here in the next few days, when I'd talked to Nathan a few days ago he said it was already made, so it's just a matter of when he has time to ship it. I'm eager to see what kind of improvement he does on it! He's talked to me about it in theory, but I want to get my hands on a sampling of it. Maybe we'll have an overlap where we'll still have the original formula in stock while I get to test the new stuff, but it all depends on how quickly he can develop a new formula. No doubt he'll want to work on it quickly, but keep in mind he's still only a one-man show making ALL of his inks!

  • I think you are being quite reasonable, perhaps overly so.  I have to say I think it's a bit silly for people to harp on one aspect of bulletproof-ness without testing the others.  I didn't see in the closed thread anything about how LE compared to other blues in terms of UV exposure and chemical resistance.  

    LE may contain fugitive blue elements (as pretty much all the bulletproof blues due, so far as I can tell), but what is left on the page probably isn't going anywhere, and is still readable.  Which is what bulletproof means, correct?

    People should inhale, exhale, and remember that it is a $12.50 bottle of ink.  

  • Charles

    Brian, I admire your patience with those less gracious and ignorant of the work that was invested to make LE a reality by Nathan and all of you at GouletPens.  I love the ink as it is.  I will definitely help empty what original stock you have left or coming.  I will, of course, be purchasing the new reformulation too.  Please do not change the color and shading characteristics of LE.  It is perfect as it is and easily my favorite blue.

  • Mike H.

    I support you 100%.  Good luck with the reformulation!

  • Eurekan

    You careful attention to this controversy will further cement your positive reputation in the fountain pen community. 

  • Ychung77

    Hi Brian and Rachel,

    I saw your earlier videos you made on the LE and was blown away by the colour, vibrancy and wetness that I decided I had to buy a bottle (even though I just ordered some stuff from you guys a few weeks back!). I love blues (high 5 there!) very much….. LE was unfortunately sold out then so I had to wait for the 2nd batch to arrive. My ink is on its way to me as I type. I can't wait. And I will buy the new formulation too. 

    I read the threads on FPN. Sure, we're all ink aficionados but I believe you did not mean to misrepresent the ink. Discussions were too heated. In fact, I think this "ink" episode, originally meant to be a pleasant surprise and addition to the ink library out there, came out so twisted. 

    That being said, I think it speaks a lot of your character and work ethics that you go through these lengths to post clarifications and videos amidst the madness of housemmoving!!! Well done. I don;t think many businesses would bother.

    You have my support! Keep it up and best of luck with the new house! 

    Best regards from a new fan in Singapore

  • foo

    although i am sitting pretty with no prior investment, i've got to say, it's easy to take for granted that it's (unless i'm mistaken) the first ink with these characteristics in known history. early adopters always take a bit of a risk and, hey, at least it's a $12 bottle of ink which, let it be noted, still leaves pretty marks on paper. i've known some early adopters of a certain fruit-themed computer/phone/mp3-player company, who lost a LOT more, and without even an apology.

  • RagingDragon

    FWIW I though the bulletproof vs. semi-bulletproof argument was pedantic, and the negative reaction surprised me. If you (well Nathan really) can produce a true blue, fully and incontrovertibly bulletproof ink, it'll be quite the accomplishment.

  • RagingDragon

    The label didn't actually strike me as controversial. There aren't many people willing to proclaim individual liberty is a bad thing! Though, I could see loyalist descendants pointing out that the American revolutionary leaders were often cruel to loyalist families, and then there are people who hate all things American.

    As for the bruhaha that did emerge:  such things are common in all geek communities.

  • Tomas Voboril

    my only question is … where is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt…. I thought that was becoming standard video attire… 

  • Dang. I don't follow FPN (Its too overwhelming for lil ole me and I have different views to a lot of the more regular posters) but you guys rock. I could care less about blue ink in general – just not a huge blue fan (over saturated to it – everything in my mom's house is blue) so I couldn't see the excitement in the first place (why I asked on YouTube to "sell" it to me – I had NO idea there was this drama over it!) and if I hadn't just spent three months of pen money in one go on Kaweco nib units and a TWSBI I'd buy a bottle out of solidarity (and send it to someone who likes blue more than me 😀 ) but you got all my money anyway! 🙂 props to making a few crabby semantics geeks happy and being great people at the same time. Even if you are crazy-blue-fans. 🙂 (I'm probably just as insane for pink so I will joke about it, but I understand.)

  • Haha, funny you should mention that! I actually wore that shirt to work yesterday when I shot this video, but I changed for the video because I wanted it to be a little more serious 🙂

  • Haha, well I'm glad you like it as it is 🙂 

  • This was pretty much our argument, that the fact it does resist water and bleach and is still readable on the page means it's bulletproof….but that small distinction is what seemed to get the most hoopla. In the end, bulletproof means whatever Nathan says it means as its his term, and in this case he thought it fair to call it semi-bulletproof until the reformulation. Yes, it's only a $12.50 bottle of ink, but there were actually people that got even more upset over the $1 double-wall o-ring set when the Ahabs first came out! 

  • Thank you! Don't worry, we're going to be very sensitive to all of the aspects of the ink that everyone has raved about so far, specifically the shade of blue, the vibrancy, and the shading. The only thing we're aiming to do is increase its waterproofness, and if that comes at a price to other aspects of the ink, then we'll have to determine if that's worth the tradeoff. That's part of why I'm intending to do another video on the reformulation as soon as Nathan gets me a sample of it, I will share it with you all and get feedback on it. 

  • Thank you so much Mike!

  • Thank you so much Yvonne, I really appreciate that you recognize our intentions here 🙂 The whole thread (the one that's now locked) unfolded the night before our move day, and the following few days all played out with more drama than was probably necessary. I knew as soon as I read the first post in that thread that it was going to be dramatic, I can practically see threads like that coming from a mile away now 😉 It all has worked out okay so far though, most everyone seems to recognize that we're really doing the best we can, and this reformulation is part of a good faith effort to show that we really do care about the writing community and specifically how we're a part of it. 

  • Well, I feel pretty much the same way. The idea of a 'semi-bulletproof' classification seemed like really splitting hairs with me, as the ink is clearly fraud resistant, but if reclassifying it will smooth things over temporarily until the reformulation, then it's not a battle I want to fight. 

  • Charles

    If it is a few more dollars…so be it.  I am willing to pay extra if that is what it takes to keep the current characteristics while increasing water resistance.

  • Breck

    Brian and Rachel, I am new to this whole world of fountain pens; heck this is the first time I've been to your Facebook page! But I have to say that regardless of anyone's "passion", ad hominem criticisms are simply not civilized, and gentlemen and gentlewomen do indulge in such crassness. Fountain pens are very genteel and we should be at least as good as our pens!

  • Barbara Buchanan

    I saw some of the first comments about Liberty's Elysium, and then quit reading.  I'm sorry people got to name-calling.  It's only ink, fer gossakes!  

    I like the new ink, I love Goulet Pens' people, products and service, and I'm glad you're able to keep smiling in the midst of this. 

  • I think there is only one regular task LE fails at — addressing a letter. It is an important task, and I think a lot of this bulletproof controversy is wrapped up in that task. A lot of bulletproof inks do well with this task, but not every one of them does. I think it's a terminology problem more than an ink one, but I will look forward to seeing what if anything Nathan can do about this issue. 

  • Freddy

    Brian and Rachel, I am appalled at what people post when no one can physically see or hear them. The vitriol seems to be sport to some people. I can appreciate being upset because one didn't get what one hoped for. However, there are many polite ways to let one's displeasure be known, certainly initially. Just remember that for every poisonous comment there have been many many more comments of praise. Choice, service, quick responses to problems, and just plain fun for customers, those go into a successful business model. You have all of those attributes many times over. This tempest in a teapot will pass and you two will still be here to serve the fountain pen community. Thank you for that.

  • I address letters using whatever inked fountain pen I have on hand. This morning I addressed a Father's Day card using a 1:1 mix of Lamy Green and Private Reserve Ebony Green, neither of which are particularly water resistant. When I'm done, I rub over the writing with a white candle to protect it from wetness.

    Hey Brian, that might be a good topic for an experiment/video, to see how waterproof that technique makes the ink. I've never actually tested it, just heard that it works, so that's what I've been doing.

  • I think people have the wrong idea about bulletproof. I've heard that real bullets don't just bounce off of bulletproof vests without leaving a mark, but rather they are slowed down enough that they don't penetrate, and the wearer ends up with a mighty bruise (and is alive, and not seriously injured). I doubt anyone who was saved by such a vest would claim that it was not bulletproof. So likewise, a bulletproof ink doesn't need to survive unscathed; it just needs to survive clearly legible.

  • After looking at some online test pics, I agree with your decision to reclassify this as semi-water-resistant. It’s more like a black swan ink where some components remain while others wash away.  Except with the black swans a gray line remains and with the Elysium a light blue line remains.

    The truth is that making a water proof blue ink that behaves well in fountain pens is just difficult, especially if you take into account it has to be done at a specific price point. The chemistry just might not be there to allow it.  The BSB tends to stain and not be light fast. While the lux blue is better behaved and totally water proof, but very washed out, like a J. Herbin ink. My absolute favorite in the blue water proof range is Kung Te-Cheng (another GPC exclusive), totally water proof reasonably easy to clean out (if you use j.b. pen flush), non-staining as far as I have encountered.  It’s nice and dark though on some papers it does tend to be a little bit on the purple side, but given its properties it’s absolutely amazing stuff, possibly the most advanced fp ink on the planet, as of this writing.  
    I am certainly pleased that Nathan is pushing the state of the art in fp inks.  He has really nailed water proof black in all aspects. And I hope he will have the energy and enthusiasm to continue his work, as he is the only one putting research into the waterproof inks field it seems.


  • Just to clarify the ink has been reclassified as semi-bulletproof, not semi-water-resistant. The ink is water resistant, but not waterproof like some of the other inks that are classified as bulletproof are (think Luxury Blue). Nathan is working on a reformulation, and though I haven't talked to him in detail yet, I know he is having some challenges. You're right in the respect that KTC is one of the most advanced inks around, and I know from talking to Nathan that it's also one of the most challenging and most expensive inks to produce. Notice, a 4.5 ounce KTC is $27.50, which is one of the most expensive Noodler's inks you can buy. He really is pushing the limits of dye-based inks. If he comes back and tells me that Liberty's Elysium just can't be reformulated and made more waterproof (while maintaining the same color and vibrancy), then I'll know that he's done everything he can before he comes to that point. 

  • I appreciate your kind words, and if you'll notice here all of the other comments are very positive as well. What was hurtful in that thread has been far overshadowed by the love and support we've felt by folks like yourself, so there are no hard feelings at all on our end 🙂 We're a passionate bunch, and sometimes you have to take the bad with the good!

  • I don't know that I've ever heard of a candle, that's smart! It would be interesting to see how that holds up. I've heard there's a product that's made for that purpose too, but the name escapes me right now. 

  • You're right about this being a terminology issue. Listen to Nathan's definition when we interviewed him back in October, around 14 minutes in:

    Even back then, he doesn't describe waterproofness as an intention with bulletproof inks. I think that there is an expectation for that aspect, but it's something that's been assumed over a number of years and not something that's been advertised with this specific term. That's where a lot of this confusion's come about, and Liberty's Elysium has simply brought this issue to a head. That said, if you address an envelope and it gets wet, the ink will remain on the page to be readable, no matter how wet it gets. Some color will move, but I doubt it will enough to make a letter unreadable. In any case, Nathan's working to see if he can improve this, because he does recognize that this is an expectation, though it's not something he promises with each ink because the particular colors and dye components act differently. Now that I've played with a whole host of different permanent inks, I understand that even within one classification, the characteristics of each ink will vary. Some colors are just naturally stronger or weaker than others. 

  • Phil Anguelov

    It saddens me to see another good ink get bashed from certain folks who have nothing better to do. I am talking about some people from a certain forum. There is no other ink company out there that stirs so much discussion quite like Noodler's. And sadly it's from those who do not agree with his politics. I love Noodler's will continue to support him and you if you do too. Reformulation is great and all as long as it does not ruin the color. Look what happened to V-mail GI green because a bunch a doodle heads said it was not green enough. Now it's another boring green 🙁

    All the best guys, I love the ink and you 🙂

  • Thanks for your support Phil! Nathan's worked on a reformulation and we're expecting a sample of it in soon to play with and test. It's very important to us and to him that this color remains the same, so we will only reformulate if there is no noticeable sacrifice in color, vibrancy, and shading from the original formula!

  • Thanks Barbara! Yeah, I pretty much knew as soon as I stumbled on that thread which was only about 3 posts deep at that point) that it would be a brouhaha. I've seen this type of thread happen over so many things on FPN, that it wasn't completely surprising to me, though I was a little shocked how personal it got so fast. I was a little surprised that I got attacked with such strong accusations without being given much benefit of the doubt, even after all of the good I've tried to do for the writing community….but I didn't take it personally. Some of the things said were almost so outlandish that it threw up a flag to me that some people had to have some personal things going on and they were just using this issue as a means of therapy, with me as the target. It happens, I get it, but boy was it a fun few days there as I was trying to monitor everything going on there literally as I was moving sofas and boxes and installing baby gates and whatnot!

  • Thanks Breck, and I'm sorry you had to discover us in such a turbulent period! The fountain pen community as a whole is very courteous, kind, and generous, as you can tell from all of the love shared in these post comments. 🙂

  • Well, I know that won't happen. Nathan feels very adamant about keeping this ink $12.50, he wouldn't even raise it if we asked him. Perhaps a future ink could be developed with more expensive components, but that's just not going to happen with Liberty's Elysium, Nathan will ensure that. 

  • That's actually the most sensical argument I've seen for the true term of bulletproof yet, thank you Stefan! You're right, bulletproof was never meant to imply 'completely waterproof to the Nth degree', some just perceived it to be that way because many of the other bulletproof inks are fully waterproof (but not all of them!). I don't know exactly why LE became the scapegoat for everyone's life troubles on FPN, but enough people were passionate about this ink being more waterproof that it was worth seeing what we could do about it. Think of it as us taking a bulletproof vest that is made of ceramic and going to kevlar, that's what we're doing to LE 😉 

  • I didn't really expect there to be much fuss about the meaning behind the label (you're right, who hates liberty except for tyrants?), but more the depiction of that with the graphic depictions of Mary Dyer and Nathan Hale….still though, I don't want to make it an issue if it isn't one!

    And yes, you're right about the brouhaha, I've seen it happen on every forum I've ever been in, but I can say it feels different when you're the target!

  • Thank you! I'm glad to hear that 🙂 

  • thanks for putting things into perspective 😉 

  • foo

    you know, i admire libertarianism quite a bit. but i do wonder that, maybe, if nathan tardif would just admit that esoteric fountain pen inks are a luxury market, things would improve for him and that, maybe, it's not just the government that's screwing him over. sorry for the rant, but hey, i've read several on my ink bottles, i think i'm allowed to contribute one.

  • XiaoMG

    Huh. I'm happy that you're looking to reformulate, but I am a little confused about the whole discussion thing.

    I posted in the supposedly vitriolic thread, but I saw next to nothing that actually was as charged as some are claiming it to be. I'm trying to read back to find the comments that people are referring to as "bashing" and "poisonous", and not having much luck. Therefore, as a commenter that actually expressed mild disappointment, I have little choice but to assume that I'm one source of the alleged hostility. I think such descriptors are a bit exaggerated, and perhaps even a little offensive.

    It is reasonable to engage in the little semantic games that others here are dismissing as pedantry. There are many people, both native and non-native speakers of English, who quickly assume that "bulletproof" is a hyperbolic extension of "waterproof". Are they wrong to do so? Yes, but is such an assumption really that unreasonable?

    For what it's worth, I like Liberty's Elysium. I don't doubt your sincerity in trying to clarify the issue. I don't blame you for some of the confusion or accuse you of misrepresentation. I am happy you are trying to work to satisfy everyone, but I do not like how commenters like me are being vilified in the process.

  • Post #46 is what really got things going, with statements (towards me) such as " If you had said what it accurately is…"partially waterproof" then people would have not have felt let down. " and "Being openly misled is not right. " To me, the 'personal' part wasn't so much what was posted in the thread, but more that it was posted there publicly before I or Nathan was contacted in any fashion. Some of the accusers are loyal customers who I would had expected to contact me directly if there were any issues that were as serious as warranting a reclassification or reformulation, but we weren't. Perhaps I perceived it to be more personal than the accusations were, but looking at the feedback from others who viewed the thread as well, some of the posts did seem pretty accusatory. 

    Looking in hindsight now since this was two weeks ago that all this went down, it doesn't seem quite as serious, of course that's now that the dust has settled. I can assure you, when you've worked on an ink for a while, come to an agreement with the maker of the ink about its classification and promotion, and that is challenged publicly without warning, it sure feels pretty personal. Nathan and I both take what we do very seriously and we do it with a lot of heart and sacrifice, and it was hard to read a lot of the comments posted there. But it's water under the bridge now. We're working on fixing the issues at hand, and in that thread and here there it has been made clear to us that our reputation is intact and there aren't any hard feelings. 

  • Oo, now I shall have to investigate this. I'd rather use Black Swan than boring old Black for the outside of the envelope. Perhaps the candle trick will make it possible! 😀

  • It's worth a test, let me know how it goes!

  • Smoores

     I use the white candle all the time and haven't had a letter come back or not be received yet. Works very well and is worth a shot for those who don't always want to address with a bulletproof ink.