Color Redundancy Or Too Much Of A Good Thing


While doing ink research spurred by a shipment of samples from Goulet Pens, it became evident that turquoise is produced in a very narrow range.

From left to right, Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise, Waterman Inspired Blue, Diamine Havasu Turquoise, De Atramentis Adular Blue, J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche, Lamy Turquoise, Sheaffer Turquoise, Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare, Platinum Aqua Blue.

After that revelation, I was curious to see how many other inks in my collection were similar enough to be mistaken one for another. There were more than a few colors that turned out to be virtual twins. To make things more interesting, swatches might look identical, but written words quite different. Four examples of similar colors though the photo does not show just how well they match.

Which does make me wonder why we collect so many inks. Not that I’m complaining, but when is enough enough or can one never have too much?


  1. Wow, what a collection of “peacock blue”-type inks. I have Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise and the Waterman South Seas Blue (as it was known until a couple of years ago), and also the Noodler’s Turquoise (which is more greenish than the others.) But I know what you mean — we do collect more than we need, and sometimes I see subtle differences, and other times I wonder why I bothered.


    • Indeed. If not for needing a full array for ink comparisons, I could narrow my turquoise selection to Bleu Pervenche and Platinum Aqua Blue. The former for narrow nibs and the latter for chunky ones.

      Don’t get me started on green biased turquoise. I consider that an entirely separate category. 🙂


  2. You need Ku Jaku. Trust me.


    • Ku Jaku is one of those green-biased turquoise inks. I used it frequently in my MB and a TW stub until both broke. I was thinking earlier today that both pens should go for repairs and return to my rotation. Excellent nibs on both. Which pen do you use with Ku Jaku?


      • Love it in demonstrators! Visconti Ripples with stubs are awesome, but there are times the Pel M1005 is all that will do.


        • Ah, one of the Platinum Century Nice pens should be just the thing for Ku Jaku. Nothing so fancy as what you have, but still nice with such a colorful ink. 🙂


  3. I like to buy a lot of ink samples. I have never done that comparaison but I like what you did. I would like to know if you ever found an ink that was similar to Mont Blanc Lavender Purple? I like your blog a lot.


    • Thank you!

      Samples make it so easy to find what suits you best. I haven’t used Lavender Purple so cannot comment on a color twin. Diamine offers a lot of purple and would be a good place to start your quest.


  4. I only have a few inks in my arsenal, but I have to watch when I’m looking at inks to try and not match what I already have. Which is more difficult than I thought it would be because I seem to like specific colors. But no, can you really have too many? Hmmm


    • One can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many inks.


  5. This is exactly why I limit my purchase of inks. I waste enough money on inks and fountain pens as it is


  6. […] Color redundancy or too much of a good thing? – Inkophile […]


  7. Colour swatches can be misleading, because ink performance varies with nib width, and a given paper’s water resistance adds another dimension. So, when you try out all these turquoises in the same pen, you’ll likely find they look quite different.

    For instance, with fine and extra-fine nibs, on high quality paper like Rhodia or Clairefontaine, some will have lovely shading and others nada. Then there’s the sheen factor…

    Matt Armstrong at the Pen Habit does some interesting ink reviews where the unpredictability of nib & ink is (for me) a highlight of his reviews. Take Kaweco Ruby Red. In his writing sample below you’ll see (on the top left) the ink looks a completely different colour with different nibs. I think there’s more going on here than just saturation, I suspect there’s a bit of interplay with chromatography in how the paper absorbs certain elements of the ink, thus changing how it looks [pure speculation on my part].

    As you might expect, the saturation of the ink increases with the amount of ink laid down, thus “fine” is much less saturated and “flex” and “broad” much more so. This logic, however, is turned upside down when you look at his writing samples with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo (Crimson Glory). Here, the darkest and most saturated combination is found in the “fine” nib and not the wider nibs!


    All this craziness is what I love about fountain pens…it requires connoisseurship that’s far more tangible than, say, with wines, because ones expert-predictions can be seen by all in black and white (so to speak).


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