Is This Ink List Too Long?


Some inks make it into my rotation based on just one characteristic. Not that these beauties don’t possess other stellar qualities but the inks on this list make it for color alone.


  • Noodler’s Ottoman Azure – Greenish blue. Flows well in fine nibs.
  • Noodler’s Eel Blue – Medium dark blue. Very lubricating. Piston fillers.
  • Diamine Royal Blue – Medium blue. Shows well in broad nibs.
  • Iroshizuku syo-ro – Soft greenish blue. Good in all pens.
  • Diamine Mediterranean Blue – Bright sky/ocean blue. Broad nibs.
  • Iroshizuku ku-jaku – Dark turquoise. Free-flowing.


  • Montblanc Racing Green – Very dark green. Shades beautifully.
  • Noodler’s Zhivago – Very dark green. Looks black at times.
  • J. Herbin Vert Empire – Muted green.
  • Diamine Emerald – Medium green.
  • Iroshizuku shin-ryoku – Blue green with good flow.


  • Diamine Violet – Purple that flows very well. Perfect for wide nibs.
  • Caran d’Ache Storm – Grayed red-purple.
  • De Atramentis Aubergine – Non-bright purple.


  • Diamine Sepia – Orange brown. Shades and outlines.
  • Noodler’s #41 Brown – Dark brown.
  • Noodler’s Golden Brown – Yellow brown. Shades.
  • Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan – Somewhat pale yellow brown. Shades.
  • J. Herbin Lie de The – Medium dark brown.


  • Noodler’s Cayenne – Orange red.
  • Diamine Vermillion – Red orange.
  • Noodler’s Apache Sunset – Intense orange. Excellent shading.


  • Noodler’s Red-Black – Dark red with strong black element. Shades.
  • Diamine Monaco Red – Dull red.
  • Noodler’s Tiananmen – Brick red.



  • Iroshizuku tsuki-yo – Greenish blue-black. Good flow.
  • Waterman Blue-Black – Unsaturated blue-black. Very safe ink.
  • Diamine Teal – Saturated greenish blue-black. Best on quality paper.


  • Noodler’s Lexington Gray – Dark gray.
  • Noodler’s Black – Basic black. Reliable.
  • J. Herbin Perle Noire – Very black. Good coverage.
  • Sailor Deep Rust Black – Brown black. Good flow.

Yes, the list is long but only a few inks go into pens at one time. What’s on your list?

Note: Links are to previous Inkophile mentions and reviews.

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  1. This is a wonderful list. Not too many, just beautiful choices. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Glad you enjoyed the list, Peggy. :)

  2. Doesn’t look too long to me :P… of course I have no idea how much ink I have :-)

    • Do not count your bottles, Wayne. It might be depressing. :P

  3. Excuse the obnoxious question….

    How many years worth of writing are all those inks?

    I guess simplifying the number of pens –a task I deeply admire on you– should be matched with a simplified selection of inks.



    • Good question, Bruno. With certainty there are always at least five from that list in my rotation. If I am working on paper reviews, that number could double or triple as I test various combinations. For ink reviews and comparisons, a significant depth of choice is necessary. It helps that a few were sent for review or to test for a retailer or manufacturer. Still I agree it is a lot of ink and less than half of what I own.

      I’ve no idea how long my inks will last but I share them with family so perhaps not as long as you might think. In addition to use, on occasion bottles will spoil. Three so far this year. That reduces inventory rather quickly.

      Despite my best intentions, I am forever loading too many pens at one time in pursuit of the perfect pen/ink/paper combo. It is an affliction and nothing less. Have you managed to reduce your rotation?


      • Yes, I am managing to reduce my rotation. It is a slow process because I do not empty a pen halfway, on one hand, and I have decided to become more disciplined on my journaling–just one ink per notebook. The later pushes me to have two pens inked with the same ink, which currently is the wonderful Sailor Seiboku. Currently I have 4 pens inked.

        My question on how long your inks would last was very honest–I think you are one of the few users who have a clear idea of how much ink (per week, per month,…) she used. I confess I cannot even give a reasonable number on my actual use.



        • Good on you for reducing your rotation to a very manageable level. Recent ink tests have driven my rotation to ten pens again. It’s a good thing I like variety.

          I haven’t tried Seiboku yet but have only read good things about it. Sailor certainly makes some of the nicer inks these days. Their discontinued brown remains one of my favorites especially for a flex nib.

          Your question about ink use is certainly valid. Ink consumption depends on nib width, ink flow, paper, and of course volume of writing. I use about four to five bottles per year. Now that you’ve put my focus on the subject, it’s certain I need to get away from the keyboard more often. My bottles of ink are lasting too long!

  4. That is a very nice list that has given me a few ideas for future ink purchases – I have only 14 of the 35 on your list. Is too long? I currently have 131 bottles of ink (no samples) so I will say definitely not. :)

    • Dave, 131 is a goodly number and there are many inks that are excellent substitutes like PR Ebony Blue for Diamine Teal. The properties might be slightly different but irrelevant when it comes to satisfactory use. So the inks on my list might not offer anything really new for you. Then, again…


      • Yes I agree that there are substitutes for most of those on your list. Interesting enough I have none of the inks listed in your orange and red sections – I collect Noodler’s inks for the label art so they account for more than half of my collection.

        • Dave, collecting Noodler’s for the art is a new idea for me. Don’t get me started.

          Of the reds and oranges, I would recommend Apache Sunset over the others due to its shading. It is a slow-drying ink so patience is required. Red-Black is more useful and more unusual in color but not as exciting. Admittedly I use it more often. Both work well with flexible fine nibs if you have any. My Sailor 1911 has a softness to the nib that is especially nice with Red-Black. A dry, wide nib should be fun with them as well and is on my list of duos to try soon.

          How’s that for enabling?


          • I do use the Noodler’s inks I buy but have bought several where the ink is not “me” just because the label is great. I am thinking of buying one of the large (16 or 32oz) bottles just so I can have the art work big – The Heart of Darkness is one I would love in a larger size. I suppose orange or red ink is not the most useful tones for me as I would use them only to markup documents for correction at the office. I had Noodler’s Antietam in a broad stub last month and my assistant thought I spilt blood on it. :)

            • Now I know what to recommend when some asks for an ink that looks like blood. :)

              A small bottle of red would last a long time at that rate. No Antietam here but I do have Cayenne. It would never be mistaken for blood but it does pop off the page. And here I was thinking I had enough pens inked. ;)

  5. I can only echo those above who found some new ideas for their own ink lists. I appreciate your short descriptions following each name. It gives me a better idea of what they really look like. Some on-line images are not true to the ink in the pen on the page.

  6. As the happy user of some 50+ bottles and dozens of samples, I am certainly not the one to call you out on your list of 35 or so! We have a few in common – and you have mentioned a few I’ve never tried. Hmm…

  7. Thanks for this list — which overlaps with my few inks only at one point (Tiananmen Red). I’ve fallen for J Herbin’s Larme de Cassis in the red-violet range, though, and Ambre de Birmanie as a honey-brown. I was given their Eclat de Saphir recently, and that has impressed me, too.

    • Larme de Cassis = Tears of Blackcurrent.
      I’ve always thought that a sweet name.

      • ‘Burmese Amber’ is pretty sweet, too.

    • I have Larmes de Cassis and Eclat de Saphir but they aren’t in my rotation of most frequently used inks. However, they are participants on occasion and are indeed lovely colors.

      • My ink shelf isn’t full enough to make a strong distinction among more- or less-frequently used inks (there is such a distinction, between ‘service inks’ and ‘fine inks’, but since I have more of the former than the latter, I end up using Tiananmen Red very regularly, Ambre de Birmanie likewise, Noodler’s Marine Green (which I should have mentioned earlier), and miscellaneous blues and blue-blacks). I usually keep one pen red, one green, one brown (I also have Private Reserve Chocolat, which doesn’t really excite me, and the Caran d’Ache Grand Canyon Brown), and one blue; but you’ve offered tantalising hints toward broadening my repertoire.

        • Noodler’s Marine Green has a lot of fans. What don’t you like about PR Chocolat? I haven’t tried CdA Grand Canyon though at last count I had at least 25 brown inks including samples. Yes, that’s too many but the variation is amazing especially when you consider what Noodler’s has to offer.

          • Not something that I don’t like, but the absence of anything that I especially like. I’ll give it another try next time my brown runs out, and will examine it more carefully.

          • OK, I was making some ink swatches for a local pen dealer, and that gave me occasion to revisit Private Reserve Chocolat, which I now agree is a delicious shade of brown. Thanks for prodding me to re-examine my earlier impression.

            • Happy to be of assistance. :)

  8. what a lovely post. i like your inks! here’s mine:
    Red: Caran d’Ache Sunset
    Purple: Noodler’s Saguaro Wine
    Purple: Mont Blanc Lavender Purple
    Blue: Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise
    Blue-Black: Noodler’s Ellis Island Blue-Black
    Brown: Waterman Havana Brown
    Black: J. Herbin Perle Noir
    Black: Diamine Graphite
    Green: J. Herbin Vert Olive
    Green: Diamine Green-Black or Diamine Evergreen with a drop of Perle Noir

    I always have too many pens inked. It’s a really bad habit. =)

    • That’s a great list, KP. I’ve only tried three on it: Waterman Havana Brown, JH Vert Olive, and JH Perle Noire. I have Montblanc Violet, a red-purple, which might be the same as Lavender Purple. So many inks I have yet to try.

      There is no such thing as “too many pens inked” so long as they each get a little play time. Dried ink clogging an unused nib is the only thing that could indicate a rotation is too large. That or the pen is filled with an ink that ought to be retired for lack of interest, poor performance, etc. Keep the ones that make you happy and put the others aside. At least that’s my criteria. :)

      • Great suggestion! Thank you! I will keep this in mind. It’s time for me to clean some pens; it will be interesting to see which ones I retire. =)

  9. Might you be able to mark which inks dry waterproof?
    As a pen/ink artist, I like to know before I buy a bottle of ink, if my pretty-colored linework is going to self-destruct the moment I lay a wash over it.

    • Chromeheart, I have no idea which inks would be waterproof but you can find out about many of them at the Fountain Pen Network Ink Reviews forum.

  10. [...] Is This Ink List Too Long? « An Inkophile’s Blog [...]

  11. [...] I have to give a “hat tip” to Inkophile for the idea to buy this particular ink from her post in september where she listed the inks she had now available for use and why. The American Eel Blue is part of [...]

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