I was recently asked for a sample of some of the more popular, at least in my view, blue and blue-black inks so I thought I would share them with you. I hope you find these interesting and helpful to your search for the ultimate blue and blue-black ink:
When I’m filling my fountain pens “Blinding me with science – science!” I can smell the chemicals
“Blinding me with science – science!” “Science!” “Science!”
Inspired by this post by Richard Binder some of the more pseudo-science-minded members (in other words, a small but enthusiastic gathering) of the LPC thought it would be great fun to conduct a science experiment aka Ink Chromatography this past Saturday (Sept. 27) morning.
As most of us know, ink is composed of different dyes that are mixed together to give it a particular colour. With an eye dropper, some paper towels and water (using the eyedropper means we get to call it a science experiment – as long as you fill it right on the meniscus!) we can see what individual colours your favourite inks are made of. The photo below is (from left to right) Diamine Eclipse, Parker Quink Blue Black and Diamine Salamander.
What did we learn? Most blues are blue, most purples are purple, brown’s are an interesting mix of colours, Herbin inks are very light on pigment and Noodler’s Inks that contain their permanent black in the mix leave the black in the centre and the colours running out to the periphery. It was fun. Science is FUN!
Yes, tis true – the LPC went green for our Saturday, March 15, 2014 meeting to honour St. Patrick and the Irish people, including our own Irishman Stan O’ Waterman! We have the photos to prove it – including some from a member in northern Manitoba, IIRC (Thanks O’wen, always good to hear from you!)
So, get yourself a drink (a pint o’ Guinness or a shot or two of Bushmills or Jameson whiskey), stream some Irish music (Celtic Thunder, Irish Tenors, etc.), sit back and enjoy more green pens and ink than you ever thought possible!
Of course, it wouldn’t be right if we did not have a proper blessing, so here goes:
“May your glass be ever full.May the roof over your head be always strong.And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
These last few pictures come from a member who moved away from London a few years ago. Thanks O’wen!!
Recently Badger & Blade commissioned Noodler’s Ink to create a signature ink – “5 O’Clock Shadow” (FOS). FOS is a deeply pigmented black with shadings of grey and green.
At a recent pen club meeting there was a brief discussion about the colour of FOS and how it compares to Noodler’s Zhivago ink.
Interestingly, there has been some discussion on the online pen boards whether FOS is simply Zhivago in a different bottle. Our trusty ink testers assure us that this is NOT the case. Yes, both are a dark green ink and appear very similar; however, there is a subtle difference – FOS is more grey (grey-green-black) than Zhivago (green-black). The scan (below) of the two inks made with a Q-tip on Rhodia paper provides further evidence of this subtle but real difference.
The $100,000 question is how FOS compares to the now discontinued Mont Blanc Racing Green or the recently released Diamine Racing Green (created for Missing-Pen ) and offered for sale in this FPN classified ad??
A collection of comments from various members who attended the 2010 Toronto Pen Show (TPS):
“The TPS, although small, was my first show. By far, the neatest thing about it was seeing all the pens that previously, you had only heard about. Pictures don’t do justice to the real thing. They certainly don’t show the beauty and detail that goes into making these instruments. One memorable table held several old filigreed eyedroppers. Nothing much to look at in pictures, but infinitely interesting in person.
I went with only a little bit of money, just enough to get something small and a bottle of ink. And I’m glad I did. Most, I imagine, plan to get something really nice, or expensive, or unique, or even their grail, at a pen show. It would have been nice to go with a hundred dollars and get an impressive, memorable pen. But I would have spent the whole time trying to pick out that particular pen, second-guessing what I really wanted. I would have only looked at pens that cost a hundred dollars. I may not have even seen those beautiful $500 filigreed pens mentioned above. I would see the price tag, move along.
So, to all those first-time pen-show-goers, I say this: Bring twenty dollars. It’ll be enough to get you something small, as a souvenir of the show. You will be able to spend your time a lot more wisely. By the time the next show rolls around, or you get onto the Internet, you’ll have handled dozens of pens, and have a much clearer idea of what you really want in a pen.”
“I met a gentleman from the UK who kindly hand-delivered my copy of the new Conway Stewart book – Fountain Pens for the Million, The History of Conway Stewart 1905-2005 – from the author, Stephen Hull (long story), I had also arranged to buy this gorgeous Swan 46 Eternal fountain pen when it came up on FPN (for less than what was asked here) but waited to have it brought to the TPS rather than pay for shipping. The owner of the Swan was also interested in a 2006 LE mandarin Parker Duofold that I own but we could not agree on a price.
I have an Edison Huron with a custom grind steel nib but I decided that I wanted to have an Edison gold nib in it (also custom grind) so I met Brian there to pick up the new nib and have it swapped into the Huron. I yakked with a bunch of people who I know, looked at a few pens (but did not buy) and bought a few bottles of ink (Noodler’s EL Lawrence – a green/black colour and Parker Penman Emerald) from Sleuth & Statesman. I was hoping to buy some of the new Diamine inks like the Amazing Amethyst and Syrah but unfortunately there was a dearth of ink at the show. Finally, I bought some large Apica recycled notebooks from Nota-Bene.”
“Being my first ever trip to a pen show I was not sure what to expect. There was certainly more to see than I expected for what I had been told was the smallest pen show around. I was amazed and commend the vendors who made long treks to Toronto to bring us their wares. It was great to meet a couple of guys from the Michigan Pen Club, they were disappointed not to see Doug and John there (LPC members who could not attend) and asked me to relay greetings to them. Of course seeing most of the members of our neighbor club from Cambridge again was also nice. Sadly I did not purchase anything at this year’s show, which I think surprised my wife even more than it surprised me. All in all it was a fun day and I look forward to doing it again next year.”
“Once my travel-mates had stopped squabbling about the position of the front passenger seat, the trip to Toronto proceeded smoothly enough with a discussion of pen show hopes and wishes. It was good to see a new natural light-filled room for the show along with familiar faces from previous shows. Following a brief tour around the tables, I settled down to examine a Parker Duofold Junior desk pen with a grey and white marble base. The seller had two – the esthetically less desirable model with the better nib, a nice juicy medium with stubbish tendencies. He switched nibs for me and the deal was done; I am very pleased with this pen, which writes like a charm.
I bought a bunch of paper items from Russell at Nota-Bene, including some Apica notebooks (best value for money of any notebook), a Rhodia Clic Bloc mouse pad, some other paper and an Exacompta notepaper holder. There were a couple of other minor purchases before I bought a 32 oz. bottle of red Waterman’s Ideal Ink, bottle almost full and complete with original box. I won’t need red ink for a while.
I spent a little time talking with FPN’s “goodguy” who showed me the four magnificent pens he had in his shirt pocket, including three Montblanc Writers Editions and the biggest pen I have ever seen, the Visconti Jewish Bible fountain pen. And of course it was fun to watch all the goings-on, such as Mike negotiating a potential trade, Rick drooling over a plum Parker 51, and Gord fondling his new Visconti Opera fountain pen in Honey Almond. The trip back was relatively uneventful; fortunately I managed to tune out some rather conservative and highly misguided political chit-chat by tuning into “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on NPR, which was appreciated by all.”
Perish the thought! I am not writing what would be, for most of us, an unthinkable predicament, that is to find ourself without ink. Ask the question “Does anyone have ink?” at one of our pen club meetings and there will be 20+ bottles on the table before you can say “Noodler’s”.
As a seasonal aside, for the past two (?) years, at our Saturday meeting just before Christmas, the London Pen Clubdoes a gift exchange of sorts. Everyone brings a gift of “mystery ink” – ink wrapped up in everything from LCBO bags to men’s underwear (they were clean but for the rainbow of ink stains). The booty is placed on a table and we each get to pick the package that calls to us. This year I gifted five FPN sample vials of Noodler’s ink – Borealis Black, Dragon’s Napalm, Blue Upon the Plains of Abraham, FPN Galileo Brown, and one that I did not know (the label was off the bottle). I received two baby food-size jars, one containing MB Blue – Black and the other Diamine Presidential Blue. Very nice – but I can’t forget that the MB Blue-black is an iron gall ink.
Back to the scary notion of “without ink”. Like you, I probably spend too much time looking at and reading about pens and ink on the web. Occasionally, I come across sites or blogs that catch my eye, such as WithoutInk The writer describes himself in a way that struck a chord with me – “… even with all this cool technology. i have noticed — life is very different without ink. i used to write a lot. i enjoyed it. now i type a lot… and thats totally different.” I could not agree more – I wished that I wrote much more and typed less (perhaps after reading this far, you also agree that I should type less!). The site has a number of pen and ink reviews, each of them are thorough and well written. I particularly like the template that the writer employs to give the reviews structure and consistency. In fact, the format and content reminded me a lab report, which makes sense as the writer describes himself as a “tech geek”. I actually sent the writer a note asking him if he would link our site and send me a copy of the template, which he (Matt) did kindly and promptly. Matt mentioned that he intends to update the template soon, once he designs it. I can’t wait. Thanks Matt, keep up the terrific work! Your site is now on my regular reading list and others would do well to add it to theirs.
First things first. Here are the names of the ink swatches in the scan:
1. Diamine Tropical Blue
2. Diamine Royal Blue
3. Diamine New Century Sapphire
4. Herbin Eclat de Saphir
5. Herbin Blue Pervenche
6. Noodler’s Ottoman Azure
7. Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue
8. Waterman South Seas Blue
Montegrappa considers my new pen to be turquoise. While turquoise is not included in the actual name of any of these inks, The Writing Desk includes two of these eight inks in its Turquoise Col-o-rama, namely #5 Herbin Blue Pervenche and #8 Waterman South Seas Blue.
Using a picture of the pen as well as a scan of the ink swatches obviously makes it difficult to match the two for a variety of reasons. IMHO, the biggest problem is the 2-dimensional picture cannot possibly show the depth and variation of the colour of the pen.
While I have not made my final decision, I have reduced the possible choices to three, listed below in the order of my likely preference:
1. Diamine Tropical Blue
5. Herbin Blue Pervenche
8. Waterman South Seas Blue
I like the Diamine Tropical Blue because it appears, to me at least, to include a few more darker shades of blue than either of the Blue Pervenche or South Seas Blue. Whether I choose one of these three, the remaining five or one of your other suggestions, I don’t think I could go wrong because they are all wonderful colours of ink, IMHO. For example, I know that some suggested #6 Noodler’s Ottoman Azure, which has been a long-time favourite of mine.
Thanks again to all of you for your suggestions and comments.