Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgotten Ink

For those with a passion—some call it a malady—for the collecting of inks, the hobby has in some ways blown itself out of proportion. What does that mean exactly? It is by no means a dart fired at the makers of fountain pen ink, for they are only following customer demand and produce exactly what the market will allow. Rather, the numbers of available colors in bottled ink have gotten unwieldy for the collector and consequently outstanding shades of ink get lost in the shuffle. There was a time I could look at an ink and recognize the name at only a glance. As the reds and greens and blues multiplied, the browns proliferated, the purples mushroomed and the oranges snowballed, that sort of quick-read identification has become near impossible for anyone but the person who mixed the individual inks, and even they might be fooled on occasion. Most of us now have stacked on shelves inks of exquisite color that lay forgotten behind the heaped bottles of newer mixes.

Say hello again to one of the forgotten. Rummaging through the bottles accumulated on shelves and drawers here, I came upon one from the Caran d’Ache Colours of the Earth series, a red called Sunset. Don’t ask me to count through the different bottles of red ink on those shelves and in those drawers; anybody with a level head wouldn’t hesitate to say, “Too many! You’ll never use all that.” Quite true, but as stated above, a malady is involved. I have so much red ink that the beautiful Sunset ink from Caran d’Ache got lost in the jumble.

Let me paraphrase what this Swiss company says about its line of nine different inks…

Caran d’Ache has drawn on its expertise and mastery of colour to offer lovers of handwriting a collection of inks in nine original tints. These nine inks offer the natural colours of the earth in a rich assortment ranging from sombre to tender to vivacious. The colours are an inspiration, expressing a mood, adding an emotional dimension to words, or marking a special moment—each colour finding its own nuance, with pen playing in perfect harmony.

There is very little exaggerated hype in this product copy. Most of us who collect fountain pen inks would quickly admit that the copywriter has hit the nail on the head in appealing to a customer base. For a look at the nine different tints in the Colours of the Earth series, click here.

Back to the forgotten ink, Sunset. The maker suggests in a further note of copy that the writer ‘Sympathize in Sunset.’ It sounds good, but that particular verb does not come to mind when I look at a sample of Sunset red, or when I see a written passage in this color. I might be more tempted to say something like, ‘Celebrate in Sunset,’ but the next person might also have another idea. There is for sure a good bit of ‘sunset’ in the color, but look at it long enough and several more associations will come to mind. A little of the tropical, of the Hawaiian Punch or the romantic, seasonal, and I can’t help adding, lipstick. Anyone telling you it is a totally unique shade of ink is pretty much out of the loop. A quick comparison reveals that Iroshizuku Momiji, Diamine Classic Red and J Herbin Rouge Bourgogne each come close to the Caran d’Ache Sunset. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the specialness of Sunset.

The sample page of quotes here was written using a Montblanc Generation with a 14 carat medium nib. Just as the copy says, the pen works in perfect harmony with the Caran d’Ache ink, writing smoothly without skips, spits or drag. A short sample of handwriting it is, but looking back at longer pages written in other notebooks with the same ink and the same pen show a smooth flowing curl of ink unwinding prettily down the page. On the downside—though perhaps not for all users—Sunset is a slow drying ink. On a separate page of tests, in writing single characters there was no difference in dryness between three seconds and fifteen. A short phrase of five words required a full minute to dry thoroughly, but then a dryer nib may produce a shorter drying time.

1 comment:

  1. I would re-name that red ink "Celebration a Christmas Red". It is a beautiful red....one I would use a lot if I were a collector of inks.


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