Monday, January 18, 2010

When Blue Is Not Just Blue

With Florida still lingering in my thoughts, it seems like a good time to stop and give some consideration to the Waterman ink, Florida Blue. Not the first mention of that particular ink here, as it was included in a list of basic favorites at the end of last year. As a schoolboy, I remember only one ink, and that was the old Sheaffer Skrip blue. Blue has for so long been the fall back choice of ink, it is by now taken for granted. Most people probably expect to see blue ink in a letter, so don’t give it too much thought when they see it. It’s expected, common, universal. On the other hand, for some of us blue is not always just blue.

There is a good choice of blue inks available these days, and the makers and mixologists have come a long way since those old fifty-cent bottles of blue Skrip down at the corner drugstore. Personally, with everything out there today, I almost have a hard time settling on the standard blue I like best. Montblanc Royal Blue is a splendid ink; who would doubt it? Sailor and Pelikan both make a handsome blue ink. And how could anyone leave out either J. Herbin or De Atramentis?

I have long liked Waterman’s Florida Blue, first attracted by the name, and later by its freshness and by its clean look. Yes, the name was appealing to me, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the ink is a match for the ocean blue that all but surrounds the state. Waterman’s ink is not that kind of blue, and that isn’t a criticism. To my eye it has the look of Montblanc’s Royal Blue, but with the addition of sunlight, as though they were somehow able to stir in a jolt of Florida sunlight. I think that’s what I mean when I describe it as having a clean look.

The ink always works well in my pens, be it a Pelikan, Sailor or Bexley. My choice is usually an M or B sized nib, because I prefer a generous flow of ink onto the paper. I have no reason to think it wouldn’t satisfy those who prefer an F nib. I would have liked to try the ink on Clairefontaine paper, but I don’t have any of that, so had to settle for two kinds of Japanese paper for the samples in the photos. The ink review form was printed on thick, heavy paper made for postcards, and the other was done on a good, heavy paper I don’t have the details on—an unused page from an old journal.

In making the samples for the scan and the photo here, I found that my bottle of Florida Blue is verging on empty. You can be sure I will buy a new bottle soon.

I should also mention that the color on the scan (ink review form) is not accurate, and looks much too dark.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America