Ink Samples Saved Me A Bundle


Ink samples from Federalist Pens saved me a bundle. Eight of them and not one suited my regular rotation so bottles of these inks would have gone to waste.


Edelstein Apatite and Laban Zeus are saturated colors that will please many people. Colorverse Butterfly and NGC 6302 along with Laban Hermes are pale and performed best on absorbent paper like the Strathmore Windpower Sketch used for the swatches. Laban Apollo, Aphrodite, and Poseidon are mid-range colors in terms of saturation. I might give Aphrodite a whirl someday, most likely in a pen with a narrow nib like the burgundy New Moon 2. That one just got a fill so Aphrodite will have to wait her turn.

A friend tested the Laban Hermes and found a normally smooth, fude nib to be scratchy. That was telling. However, The Well-Appointed Desk had a different experience with Colorverse Butterfly and NGC 6302. Unlike Jessica, I saw no sparkle or glisten from the Butterfly ink sample. It is possible the bottle from which the sample was taken could have benefitted from a good shake to distribute any reflective material. I am not a sparkle enthusiast so that is no loss for me.

Sometimes I just want to use familiar inks. This week it’s Diamine Eau de Nil, Raw Sienna and Merlot. But it’s good to try something new and samples are the best and most economical solution for me.

What works for you? Do you dip a toe in and buy samples or jump in with both feet and purchase bottles?




  1. I used to buy a lot of samples, but lately I’ve just been buying bottles. However, I’ve also been sticking to my trusted ink providers (Diamine, Sailor, and Robert Oster, mostly) and I’ve been looking at a LOT of sample swatches before picking a color.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sticking with trusted brands certainly ups the odds of success. Online swatches have been unreliable for me whether it was my monitor or an inaccurate image that was the culprit. The result was the same. The three bottles I purchased this year were disappointing and served to cement my commitment to samples. It’s how I discovered Diamine Eau de Nil, one of the regular participants in my recent rotations. That started with a sample that blossomed into an affair. I haven’t used enough Oster to have an opinion, but Diamine and Sailor inks were amongst my earliest purchases. They make so many colors now that it is hard to pick just one or two when it is time to order ink!


      • True, online swatches can be questionable depending on the monitor and the photographer’s equipment. They’ve been enough for what I needed, though sometimes the saturation hasn’t been exactly what I expected from the pictures. It was still close enough for me.

        I’m glad the swatches have been working for you! They were a huge help for me when I was new to inks for sure, and if I need something specific from an ink I’ll definitely use swatches for that too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Usually samples. I do buy bottles of limited run inks if it appeals to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s easy to acquire hundreds of samples but at least storage space needed is minimal given the size of the vials. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I try to limit myself to 25 at a time. It seems to me when the bottle is almost empty. When there is only a little bit left I ignore those bottles. Before you know it there are a dozen almost empty bottles. Have you ever considered poring them into one bottle just to see what color is formed?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really do have hundreds of samples and still return to them for comparisons for Inkophile. Consequently, I keep them in the original vials with enough remaining to make several swatches in future. Have you discovered any special mixes with your experiments?

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve gotten burned a few times by buying bottles based on how their online swatches looked. Some of them were WAY different (to me, anyway) from the online swatches. So now I only buy a new ink if I’ve tried a sample first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly!


  4. Ink samples are so much fun. I like switching inks often, so it’s a great way to get to try new ones. Glad you didn’t buy full bottles if you didn’t like them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, ha. Me, too. 😀


  5. Ink swatches likely help artists who use fountain pen ink. For me, writing samples are so much more helpful. I buy samples and bottles. Some samples have led to buying bottles. I do look at reviews before buying bottled ink. Sometimes I shop at Cult Pens where Diamine ink is so very reasonable. Their Wonders of the World Series, oh! Five of the seven colors are calling me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Cult Pens. Good retailer. Only five of the Wonders Series? Why not all seven? 😉


      • I have no interest in Taj Mahal blue or Christ the Redeemer. Some of the standard shading inks seem more up my ink alley. The Platinum has been filled with a sample of UNICEF turquoise by Montblanc.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It looks similar to Waterman Inspired Blue but that might be my monitor.


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