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shortbow
08-14-2008, 03:02 PM
Anybody know what color(s) of ink was to be found in fountain pens of the 'teens, twenties, thirties? Would the type of writing one was doing be a factor? Ie. documents, correspondence, academe? Also, any preference by the sexes?

Ta.

Max Flash
08-14-2008, 04:05 PM
I don't know the answer to which colour is correct by era. However, brown ink is supposed to denote intelligence (several of my schoolmasters and Oxford dons used this so perhaps there is some truth).

Personally I think dark blue (i.e. blue black) is classy.

Hemingway Jones
08-14-2008, 04:15 PM
In the 50s, my mom used a color called "Peacock Blue." It was the cool color at school that year.

shortbow
08-14-2008, 04:16 PM
Thanks Max. Actually, brown is my favorite, not because I'm smart, but because it looks like the walnut/oak gall ink of the 19th century and before.

shortbow
08-14-2008, 04:18 PM
Hemingstone, I remember peacock blue from school as well. Even back then I was using a fp when all the others had ball points. I'm not your mother's age but uncomfortably close.

DeaconKC
08-14-2008, 04:34 PM
There were a variety of colors back then too. There are a couple of makers who have been around for well over a century making ink. Black, blue and red were all business staples, and other colors were available to those wishing variety. Just make sure not to use India ink in a fountain pen as it will clog it up.

dhermann1
08-14-2008, 04:58 PM
Among the thousands of old family letters I have, dating back about 150 years, I'd say up till WW I black was most commonly used. After that I'd say blue was most common. If you're using a fountain pen, I'd suggest you find yourself some blotters, as well. Depending on your style of writing, you'lll want to blot every page, otherwise it can get messy.
When you see old 19th century letters and the ink looks brown, I'm pretty sure that's black ink that has faded.

Highlander
08-14-2008, 05:10 PM
I have used Visconti, in their Lapis color for several years. A very very bright and vibrant blue. Looks very good for signatures.

DerMann
08-14-2008, 05:14 PM
Pelikan makes a very fine Royal Blue. It shades very well and produces a very "vintage-y" line. Plus, it's probably one of the cheapest inks out there. Their Blue-Black is very nice as well, and Brilliant Black is supposed to be very good as well, but I cannot comment on it.

Noodler's has a gigantic assortment of colours, some which are Bulletproof. Legal lapis is technically a blue-black but it looks more of a dark teal. On ivory or yellow paper, it looks perfectly vintage. It's a Pendemonium.com exclusive, though, and it's not always in stock.

For inks, I would suggest both Swisherpens.com and Pendemonium.com. I've ordered from both, and they both have tremendous customer service. I think Swisherpens is having a sale on inks at them moment, though.

MB5
08-14-2008, 06:03 PM
The 1922 Emily Post does not seem to care about ink color, but does warn not to use pencil for correspondence unless the situation requires it (on a train, or flat on your back sick). The choice of paper seems to be of far greater importance, as is having matching paper and envelopes.

The book is inscribed with a charcoal grey ink. Possibly to match grey tissue lining of an envelope. ("Colored linings to envelopes are at present in fashion. Thin white paper, with monogram or address stamped in gray to match gray tissue lining of the envelope is, for instance, in very best taste" (p. 450)). Or it may just be faded black ink.

If you want further reading, there is an online copy here: http://www.bartleby.com/95/

shortbow
08-14-2008, 11:15 PM
Thanks all. On the old time ink, I'm pretty sure some of it was brown, because I've made my own out of walnut hulls and iron filings. Couple of interesting things about it besides the color is that it is waterproof when dry, and I can get a higher viscosity which makes steel dip pens and quills work like they should. Unfortunately it gums up a fountain pen. I also think the rust and acids would fry a pen pretty quick.

One of the reasons I'm looking for a better and authentic fp ink is that a couple of times lately I've taken letters to the PO in the rain and the address has run on the Rotring black and Scheaffer's blue I have. I know about the Noodler's bullet proof black, but would like some really run and smudge-proof brown which my current supplier doesn't have.

But, see'ns as how black is PC for the era, perhaps I'll go for that BP stuff.

DerMann
08-14-2008, 11:32 PM
Bulletproof inks are wonderful.

Noodler's offers an Eternal Brown, but I don't have an affinity for brown inks, but chances are that it's pretty good.

The inks you are referring to are iron gall inks. The only problem is that they are very acidic and will actually destroy the paper on which they are written on before they wear away. Mont Blanc, Diamine, and I think Lamy all make an iron gall blue-black ink. All of these inks are also suitable for use in fountain pens - so long as the ink isn't in contact with any non-gold, metal parts. Which means if you use them in vintage pens you probably won't run into problems.

Pendemonium and SwisherPens both carry the inks I mentioned.

Miss Neecerie
08-14-2008, 11:36 PM
Thanks all. On the old time ink, I'm pretty sure some of it was brown, because I've made my own out of walnut hulls and iron filings. Couple of interesting things about it besides the color is that it is waterproof when dry, and I can get a higher viscosity which makes steel dip pens and quills work like they should. Unfortunately it gums up a fountain pen. I also think the rust and acids would fry a pen pretty quick.

One of the reasons I'm looking for a better and authentic fp ink is that a couple of times lately I've taken letters to the PO in the rain and the address has run on the Rotring black and Scheaffer's blue I have. I know about the Noodler's bullet proof black, but would like some really run and smudge-proof brown which my current supplier doesn't have.

But, see'ns as how black is PC for the era, perhaps I'll go for that BP stuff.

Noodlers has a bulletproof brown called Eternal Brown.....so you can go that route easily...

and they have an almost bulletproof called Kiowa pecan...that I like -better- as a color...

If you like brown...go with brown....unless you are writing a letter for a reenactment.....don't worry about PC for the 'era'.....worry about what you like to -see-.

shortbow
08-14-2008, 11:46 PM
Thanks friends. I asked my guy about the Eternal Brown and he said it isn't water proof. Perhaps he just meant as compared to Bulletproof. Think what I'll do is just get both and see for myself.

On the acidic nature of the iron gall inks of days of yore, I have also read that it has a tendency to eat paper, but if that is the case, I wonder at the high number of surviving documents going back centuries as well as more recent stuff? I wonder if the old time alchemists had a way of neutralizing the acid?

Widebrim
08-14-2008, 11:51 PM
I've collected ink for some years, and agree that black was the most popular color until at least the 20s. Before that decade, you don't really see many examples of ink bottles which had contained different colors (except red, which was used for book-keeping). By the 30s, you definitely see a trend toward other colors, including blue, blue-black and brown. Carters was famous for its variety of colors, and so was Waterman's (albeit to a lesser extent). Red was somewhat popular in the 50s, and at least Parker, if not others, aimed it at the female market.

DerMann
08-15-2008, 01:54 AM
Thanks friends. I asked my guy about the Eternal Brown and he said it isn't water proof. Perhaps he just meant as compared to Bulletproof. Think what I'll do is just get both and see for myself.

On the acidic nature of the iron gall inks of days of yore, I have also read that it has a tendency to eat paper, but if that is the case, I wonder at the high number of surviving documents going back centuries as well as more recent stuff? I wonder if the old time alchemists had a way of neutralizing the acid?
Eternal inks are, for the most part, water proof and will withstand fading and most chemicals. Eternal colours are not referred to as "Bulletproof" kind of as a legal thing. There is a contest in progress to see if anyone can remove Bulletproof black from standard cheque paper without destroying the paper. The prize began at $1000 and I believe another $1000 is added every year it goes unaccomplished (believe it's either at or past $5000 now).

My bottles of Legal Lapis do not have the word "Bulletproof" or even Eternal on them, but the ink does not wash away or fade. My bottle of Heart of Darkness is labeled as "Eternal," though, as is my bottle of Empire Red.

Here is the second page of a review I did on the FPN for Empire Red:

http://img296.imageshack.us/img296/1548/empireredreviewpage2dr4.jpg

As you will note, it is completely water resistant whereas Waterman's Ink and other Noodler's ink (La Coeleur Royale) have essentially faded away completely from tap water alone.

Here is a link to the review on Eternal Brown:

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=40779&st=0&gopid=379774

Here is a link to a page on all the ink reviews on FPN (most should have pictures):

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=39354

As for iron gall ink's effects, good ol' wiki can back me up:



While a very effective ink on vellum, the formula was less than ideal for paper, since the iron-tannin pigment would not make chemical bonds with the cellulose fibers. The ink still stuck firmly to the paper, but largely by mechanical bonding namely the dried ink would penetrate the spaces between the fibers and, after drying would become entangled in them. Besides causing unsightly "ghost writing" on the obverse face of the paper, any excess of ferrous ions remaining in the ink, over years or decades, would create a rusty halo around the marks, and would ultimately cause the paper to disintegrate

Edward
08-15-2008, 10:38 AM
I'm loving the light-blue / turquoise colour that came as a sample cartridge with my Waterman Phileas.... I'll definitely look into some more of that. Otherwise, I normally stick with a Royal Blue. I understand both to have been available by the 30s... I've never used brown, but I might give it a go.

For what it's worth, if you're looking at writing notes to be read by other people, if you have scrupulously neat handwriting, black looks really sharp, but if like me you have less than perfect copperplate, a 'softer' colour like blue looks much better on the page.

shortbow
08-15-2008, 12:19 PM
Thanks lots, Gents. DerMann your exhaustive reply and listing of lings is most kind. I shall peruse them with attention.

As to the acidity question.

It is worthy of note that your citation says that iron gall ink was effective on vellum. Perhaps that is the key to the survival of all the Illuminated Manuscripts et al that go waaay back. Still, I wonder at how longevity is being defined, as I have held a few and seen many more photos of documents written on paper in say the last couple hundred years. There are some old Civil War letters and journals out there that have been carried for years, rained, bled, sweated, coffee spilled and died on that are still quite legible and which were quite clearly written on cheap paper.

I know this is off topic really and of no great moment, but these little details of history fascinate me.

shortbow
08-15-2008, 12:31 PM
Wow, DM those links are great!

One thing, what pen/nib did you use for the Empire Red test? The only way I can get a line like that is from my dip pens.

DerMann
08-15-2008, 03:46 PM
Fountain pens are one of my many fascinations in life.

You are partially right on iron gall ink. I imagine if you manage to keep the ink from rusting, you can preserve the paper its written on. Many people today still prefer iron gall ink for artistic purposes as it does give a thinner line and deeper, richer blacks. And really, if you're going to be using it in a dip pen, you won't have any problems.

As for the type of paper used, many people on the fountain pen network agree that "back then" the paper, even cheap paper, was generally more suited to fountain/dip pens, as you never see any feathering on original documents. Ballpoint pens can write on basically any paper as they hardly have any water in their inks. So a cheap paper from 1850 may be significantly better for writing with a dip pen (in original condition, of course, not after 150 years) than modern cheap-o filler paper.

I used my Waterman 52V with a lovely flexible nib. It was my first real fountain pen, but now I just mainly relegate it to signatures and calligraphy. The iridium tipping on the nib makes it boundlessly smoother than the off set nib hold that I have for my dip pen (specifically for Spencerian or Copperplate).

It's not entire off topic, I mean, we are still talking about ink :D

shortbow
08-15-2008, 04:21 PM
Gracias a todos. Miss N, I went with your recommendation and ordered some Pecan. The Pendemonium website says it might not qualify for air burst nuclear event proof, but close enough for the girls I go with.

And DM, thanks for the info. None of my pens have a true flexible nib, and there's the rub. The last one I had was a Vacumatic that I gave away a few years ago. Guess I need another one. Any ideas for a modern pen that will fill that bill? I have gotten a couple of pens off the bay and was not overwhelmed with satisfaction; would hate to lay out the big bucks and get something that would disappoint, otherwise vintage would be a treat.

DeaconKC
08-15-2008, 09:02 PM
Larry Van Dyke on the 'bay does a WONDERFUL job restoring vintage pens. Also look for a Pelikan 150 or 200, great values and superb writers. If you want American made, the Cross ATX is a very smooth writer and can still be found reasonably.

John in Covina
08-16-2008, 11:56 AM
1) never use India or drawing inks in a fountain pen, use only clearly marked fountain pen inks.

2) Black / blue / blue-black inks were the most common early 1900-1920's, some other colors did work into the scheme, greens and reds.

3) Use what you like unless you are doing some type of re-enactment.


Most big penmakers have their own brand so you may be able to select the specific brand of pen you own and get their ink.

Noodlers is pretty good and Private Reserve has a multitude of colors plus a blending kit so you can combine to make your own personal color. I always seem to make a green of some sort.


Noodler's bulletproof and eternal inks are good f you are looking to do writing for posterity.

I love Namiki's blue and Levenger's Cobalt Blue, but the Levenger's seems to need distilled water added to make it less smudgey,

Have fun with it

shortbow
08-16-2008, 01:30 PM
Thanks much, Gentlemen.

Bill Taylor
08-16-2008, 03:48 PM
When I started to school in 1937. we were required to use pen staffs and the ink color required was blue-black. Nothing else was acceptable. And definitely, a blotter. Pencils were used for arithmetic only. In later grades, fountain pens were acceptable (blue black ink only), but for the first few years of school only a pen staff could be used. Many a bottle of (Skip, I think was the brand name) blue black ink was spilled on desk tops. We had the old (and noisy), oak and fancy cast iron desks. The writing surface lid raised up (with much noise) for storage underneath. There was a round hole in each side for the bottle of ink and depressions in the middle for penstaff and pencils. There were also depressions space for extra (nibs??). As I remember, different widths were used for types of writing, from broad to very narrow. Many hours were spent in perfecting the proper "written" shapes and slant of letters. For example, all of the letters within a word had to be connected, including a beginning capital letter (connected to the following little letter). And yeah, the pigtails or curls of the little girl in the next front desk did occasionally get dipped into the open bottle of ink. It's not an urban legend.

The primary school I attended, which was the only one in town, was built in about 1897, I think, therefore, the building and desks were already pretty old by the thirties. The high school was a little newer (also the only one in town) dating to about 1917. My mother was in the first graduating senior class in that then new building (class of 1917).

Also, starting to school was a big event. In the golden era, primary school was not a place to park your kids to get them out of the house. It was expected when a student arrived for their first day of school, they knew how to read, write, the alphabet, simple arithmetic and the multiplication tables. It was the responsibility of the parents to provide those learning tools. Arriving at school that first day without those skills often resulted in being sent back home until they were prepared for school. Expectations in those times were much higher than those of today.

Bill Taylor

Joe_Frances
01-28-2009, 09:11 PM
I really think Manhattan Blue by Noodler's is a classic looking blue/gray ink that looks close to Legal Blue, which is very traditional permanent ink that never, ever washes out, so I didn't buy the "Legal" but went with the Manhattan.

David Conwill
01-28-2009, 09:55 PM
This thread has me intrigued - right now I'm writing exclusively with Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue (which I like a lot) and Sheaffer Blue-Black (which I like sometimes and sometimes I detest). I may have to try out some brown ink, however, I've always liked it on old documents but had also assumed that it was simply faded blue or black ink.

-Dave

Randy
02-06-2009, 05:32 PM
My favorite ink is Waterman Havana Brown. I've tried a handful of inks and just never found anything that I like better. It flows evenly, dries quickly, starts quickly, and never gums up my pens (neither modern nor vintage) The only drawback is that it is not waterproof, but since that's never caused me any grief I have no complaints ;) I just love the way it looks in my gold fiber journal, and I'm quite over black and blue inks so this works out wonderfully. When I first started writing with it I thought it would be an interesting occasional ink, but after about two loads in my favorite pen I put all the blue and black away and have not gotten them back out again.

- Randy

shortbow
02-06-2009, 11:22 PM
Just for an update: I got hold of some Noodler's Kiowa Pecan a while back, and really liked the color, but found it wrote very wet and tended to smudge out of several of my pens. I was going to toss it, then just for the heck of it tried thinning it with water. At a ratio of about 4 to 1, I found it writes nice and dry now, no longer smudges, and while not wp, it is quite decently durable. It also toned down the darkness to a nice coffee or "pecan" color. My favourite ink now.

St.Ignatz
02-06-2009, 11:53 PM
I also like the Kiowa Pecan but it is a deep sepia with a special niche. Maybe my pen is a little stingy with the ink as I have not had a problems with it. I picked up a bottle of Bay State Blue from noodlers and really like the stuff. Watch out if you buy because there is a warning about mixing with other colors.

shortbow
02-07-2009, 11:48 PM
Thanks, St. I, been thinking of trying some of that.

Marc Chevalier
02-08-2009, 11:12 AM
In the late 19th century, gentlemen used purple ink to write to the ladies they wooed. I have purple-inked love letters from my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother (1899).


I suspect that this is where the expression "purple prose" comes from.

.

Randy
02-08-2009, 12:02 PM
Very interesting bit of trivia there. Thanks for sharing it!

- Randy

DerMann
02-08-2009, 02:14 PM
In the late 19th century, gentlemen used purple ink to write to the ladies they wooed. I have purple-inked love letters from my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother (1899).


I suspect that this is where the expression "purple prose" comes from.

.

Haha!

I inadvertently chose purple (at the time, La Coleur Royale from Noodler's) to write a few things for a girl I was 'courting' senior year of high school.

Coincidence?

John in Covina
02-13-2009, 11:00 AM
LA Pen Show this Sunday 2/15/09
See the info in the events section!

David Conwill
08-19-2011, 12:51 PM
My brother recently sent me a large bottle of Montblanc Irish Green as a birthday gift (he has been traveling in Ireland for a number of months). I like it, but try to limit it to signatures and not-for-the-public notetaking, lest I be branded a member of the "green-ink brigade"!

-Dave

Tango Yankee
08-19-2011, 03:15 PM
...lest I be branded a member of the "green-ink brigade"!

I've never heard that term before; had to look it up since I often write with different shades of green (and a variety of other colors, as well). Well, since I hardly ever write threatening or abusive letters to anyone, let alone those in the public eye, I don't fit the full criteria. I do find it somewhat odd that writers of "threatening or abusive letters" are equated to "eccentric". But if I understand the meaning fully you'd be considered a member of "the green ink brigade" if you wrote with any color outside of blue or black.

Cheers,
Tom