Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seven Oranges

Prompted by Brian and Rachel Goulet’s October inkdrop from Goulet Pens, I went digging in my ink stacks pulling out some resonant oranges to line up beside their “Autumn Leaves II” October inkdrop palette. Pretty much a sucker for inks in the orange range, and with shades enough to satisfy any Halloween or Autumn theme I have probably wasted money on some I too rarely use. But addiction to ink being what it is, the phrase ‘waste of money’ doesn’t easily get through to me.

In one important characteristic, orange inks are like their distant cousins, the grays. For both colors to work well they must have good saturation, otherwise the words wash off the page and a reader will have to squint to read. No matter how beautiful an ink is in the bottle, or in a swab test, if it produces hard-to-read lines of writing, then you don’t have an ink that is very useful. I could name a half dozen orange inks that fail the test—I have a few bottles gathering dust—but for this comparison I left those inks out and lined up seven oranges that have rich saturation and are not difficult to read on the written page.

Another thing about the seven inks displayed here is that each one comes from a reputable company consistently producing quality inks. The range is broadly international, covering inks from the US, Switzerland, Germany, England and Japan.

A word about each…

The inks on the chart here are by no means listed 1-7 in any particular order of preference or quality. It is a totally random arrangement.

1. Private Reserve Orange Crush: I lied. Private Reserve’s Orange Crush is one of my longtime favorites that has as much to do with a childhood full of Orange Crush pop as it does with the richness of the color. This one is perhaps the most saturated of the seven and produces lines that can almost be called delicious.

2. Caran d’Ache Saffron: Similar to Diamine’s beautiful Pumpkin ink, this one too has the needed saturation, and a softness not seen in the Orange Crush. Part of the Earth Colors series from Caran d’Ache, it is a perfect fit, looking much like something squeezed from the earth.

3. De Atramentis Buonarroti Michelangelo: De Atramentis has long been a favorite ink maker and this one comes from Dr Jansen’s Historic Persons series. Very close to butterscotch and not terribly far from its Saffron neighbor, this ink definitely has a renaissance flavor, a color familiar in the works of Michelangelo.

4. Diamine Sunshine Yellow: Perfect name for a near golden yellow-orange. Sprinkle some orange zest beside this ink and it would be a match. This is one in the October inkdrop which arrived yesterday and there hasn’t been time yet to try it a pen, so I am trusting the saturation will be similar in a written sample.

5. Sailor Custom Mix Persimmon: Another ink that is always in one of my fountain pens, it was mixed by Osamu Ishimaru at a Tokyo pen clinic. I placed a persimmon on the table and asked him to match the color. No question he hit the bullseye. It is the color of late autumn persimmons hanging on trees in Japan.

6. Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki (Winter Persimmon): No argument with Pilot and blenders of the Iroshizuku inks; they too have captured the essence of persimmons. My tiny complaint about the color is that it is closer to the color of the fruit in autumn and not winter. As the fruit ripens you will see more red.

7. Iroshizuku Yu-yake (Sunset): Another ink I like despite not using very often. That isn’t because of anything that bothers me specifically, except that it always looks better in a swab than it does in a letter, journal or notebook scribble. Saturation is fine and it has all the good qualities of Pilot ink.

For those with a penchant for orange, red-orange or yellow-orange inks, any of the above seven will do the trick and have your pens drunk on smoothness. Except for the De Atramentis Buonarroti Michelangelo they are all available at Goulet Pens, where the service is No. 1. If you are interested in the De Atramentis ink, it is available at Art Brown.


  1. Thanks for the post!

    As a Longhorn alum with Vol cousins, species of orange are important :)


  2. To Millicent in comment #1....don't forget Clemson Tigers although I am a dyed in the wool LSU Tiger. Yeah #1 I love the vibrant array of colors in your choices of orange. The one named "Orange Crust" certainly doesn't resemble the orange crush I use to drink from the brown bottle. Pretty post.

  3. Well, since the color of my Honda Element (who is named Pearl) is called Sunset Orange Pearl, I must like the color orange and its array of hues. My favorites from the colors on the outdoor page are Orange Crush, Persimmon, and Winter Persimmon. Yes, might as well go bold. Now I just need some orange ink to change things up at work.


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