Friday, February 4, 2011

Rose No. 5

Journal notes remind me that exactly five years ago to the day, I brought home from Shosaikan in Tokyo a new bottle of ink, a color that impressed me as a lone standout among inks. The color was Arabian Rose from Private Reserve. In 2006 purple inks were few in number and apart from Pelikan Violet, there was little to choose from. On my shelves at least, there was only the bottle of violet (Pelikan) and from De Atramentis a darker purple, Nicolaus Copernicus. Fast forward five years and you can easily find a wide selection of purple inks. The Goulet Pen Company offers a choice of thirty-two.

One of the many great things about Brian & Rachel and Goulet Pens is their monthly Inkdrop offer of five sample inks for a reasonable cost. The February theme is “My Inky Valentine” and is a selection of five ‘rose’ inks: (1) J Herbin Rose Cyclamen, (2) Noodler’s Ottoman Rose, (3) Noodler’s Shah’s Rose, (4) Private Reserve Rose Rage and (5) Private Reserve Arabian Rose.

With a bottle of Arabian Rose already on my ink table, the sample from Brian & Rachel was rather than an introduction, more along the lines of a reminder. For a long time Arabian Rose has been absent from my line up of weekly inks, but thanks to Inkdrop it has rediscovered the spotlight.

I’ve read reviews comparing this Private Reserve color to other shades by other makers, but no one has convinced me, or shown me yet that Arabian Rose is similar to another shade of purple. The closest match I’ve been able to find is a sister ink from Private Reserve, Plum. Compare the swatches on the right. The big difference is in saturation, but on the written page this difference is hard to detect. The color has an elegance to it, and while it is not an ‘office’ color, it makes up for that with practicality on the home front. Perfect for letters, cards and journals. Curious as to what would pop up, I googled Arabian color images—through squinted eyes the dominant color in the page of samples is pretty close to Arabian Rose ink.

The pen used to sample the ink today is a vintage Pelikan 100N with medium nib. I call it my ‘communist’ fountain pen, one that had its heyday in Budapest of the 1950s. (I bought it from a dealer in that city.) No question of ink flow and smoothness, the Private Reserve ink moving across the page like the silk of ballet shoes, a pas de deux of fine pen and ink. Shading is good, though some might wish for more saturation. I hesitate because I don’t wish to make that a complaint; the saturation of this ink is not a negative.

Drying time? Here is something that many users might find fault with. Arabian Rose is still sopping wet after fifteen seconds on the page. On the other hand, it is quite waterproof. I wrote several lines on white premium 90g copy paper and after allowing the ink to dry for ten minutes ran it under cold tap water for thirty seconds. The result was nine lines of still legible writing.

In the end it really comes down to the color. This could be the ink to nudge a person beyond the confines of standard shades. Arabian Rose is almost guaranteed to evoke comments from friends who see it in cards and letters. A good choice for Valentine’s Day. As Brian & Rachel suggest, be somebody’s inky valentine.


  1. You'll be happy to know the ink cartridge that came with my Lamy pen is empty and it's time to fill it with one of the inks you sent along to sample. And after using the Lamy daily at work, have about said goodbye to all the ballpoint pens scattered about in drawers near and far.

  2. I'm not much into pens and ink - but I do love that color. What a beautiful color ink to use for correspondence. We'll have to have a conversation about "pens for dummies" sometime!

  3. Thanks for posting this, and for referencing Rachel and I (and Ink Drop). I'm very glad to hear that even though it's a color you already had, that it helped you find your 'forgotten love' for Arabian Rose. :)


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