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Private Reserve Sepia


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#1 Miles R.

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 16:41

I have not done an ink review before and find some aspects of the practice elusive, but when I found, after I had sampled Private Reserve Sepia, that there was no review of this ink listed on the site, I figured that any attempt that I might make at a review would be better than having no review at all.

I am very much taken with this ink, whose most notable feature is its beautiful shading. The only point on which I would give warning is that once you have gotten it into a pen, it is rather stubborn about staying there.

I will start with a photograph of some writing in this ink:

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The sentence that is cut off at the bottom of the image says that the shading that I got with this ink was "the best that I have ever seen," but I retract that statement. What I ought to have written was that it is as good as the best, or that it is one of the best. In particular, I would not say that its shading is better than that of Noodler's Golden Brown, though I think that it is equally good. Here is a comparison of PR Sepia, Noodler's Golden Brown, and J. Herbin Lie de thé (please forgive the blue smear in the middle of the scan; I haven't figured out the cause of that, but I think it's an artifact of my scanner):

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I wish now that I had not used the qualifier "a bit" in those sentences (a liability of the handwritten word). In most contexts, I have found that Lie de thé does look a bit reddish, but only a bit; so the fact that it looks distinctly reddish in this scan should give you to understand that the other two inks, in most contexts, would appear more yellowish than they do here.

I completed, or nearly completed (as I didn't attempt a water test), a form for ink reviews, but I have put it at the bottom rather than at the top of this posting because the paper on which I printed it, namely Hewlett-Packard 24-pound laser jet paper, is highly unrepresentative of writing paper, having a rather unabsorbent surface. The results of the drying-time tests on this paper should be regarded in light of this fact–meaning that the ink is not particularly slow-drying, contrary to what the results shown below might suggest.

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As noted at the end of the form and at the top of this post, the ink is rather "sticky," as I like put it: once it gets on to a non-porous surface (to say nothing of porous ones), it will cling there with more persistence than other inks. The first time that I tried PR Sepia, it came to me in a plastic vial from Goulet Pens, and I found that even when the other inks in the shipment had settled down to the bottoms of their vials, the PR Sepia persisted in coating the walls of its one. Correspondingly, when washing out a pen that I had filled with this ink, I found that even after squirting the contents of a bulb syringe through it three times, I could still get deposits of ink off it. So I would hesitate to use this ink in a pen whose nib assembly cannot be taken apart for cleaning, such as a Waterman Carène. That aside, I can highly recommend this ink to anyone looking for a medium-tone brown with rich shading.

#2 Uncle Red

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 17:17

I too love the shading from this ink. I wish it had done better with a flex nib, oh well it works great for me with stubs and italics.

#3 Easterner

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 19:43

I have been curious about this ink for a while. It appears to be worth a try.
Nice review. Thanks for posting it.

#4 lapis

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 19:55

Nice review! The first thing I thought of was the Lie de thé before you even mentioned it. But the Golden Brown is maybe even more comparable. Good thing, it's on its way to me this week.

Thanks for the posting. It's maybe my favourite Sepia (alongside Stipula's, which is of course a different hue) but in general IMO if an ink hasn't yet been reviewed, all the more reason to go ahead!

Mike :vbg:
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#5 imwithtractor

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 00:22

Thank you for the review! I have Golden Brown and it's nice to see them in comparison.

#6 Signum1

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 03:15

Two words. I like! hahaha...

The Private Reserve Sepia looks darker than Noodler's Golden Brown. I certainly need a bottle to satisfy my needs. haha...

Thanks for the ink review.
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#7 PDW

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:37

I have not done an ink review before ...


It doesn't show - excellent work, as well as being perfectly timed for my current get-another-ink frenzy.

Thanks.

Edited by PDW, 11 April 2012 - 10:37.


#8 Miles R.

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 01:11

Just to give an idea of what I spoke of as the "sticky" quality of this ink, here is a photo of what I found when I disassembled the nib section of a pen in which I had been using it. (The background is a piece of rubber shelf liner that I use for gripping.)

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As I said before, I would hesitate to use this ink in a pen that I cannot take apart.

#9 Ghost Plane

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 19:05

Bleck! :sick: That's even worse than Herbin's Red Hematite! :blink:

THANK YOU for warning me before I got any of this near my Carenes :gaah:

#10 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 20:28

looks like that you have to clean and flush the pen everytime it is empty
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#11 Miles R.

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 21:03

Bleck! :sick: That's even worse than Herbin's Red Hematite! :blink:

THANK YOU for warning me before I got any of this near my Carenes :gaah:

I have not used Herbin rouge hématite, but I have used Herbin café des îles, and I can tell you that the PR Sepia is not that sticky. It is, however, sticky enough to be unsafe for undismantlable (if that can be a word) pens.

looks like that you have to clean and flush the pen everytime it is empty

That is what I have been doing. It might be safe to go through a few convertors without cleaning the pen if you are writing a lot with it every day, but otherwise, I would say take the section apart and clean it with a brush.

#12 AlejoPlay

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 16:04

Yikes! I have been having massive problems with this ink. I LOOOOVE the shading + color. But maybe I need to replace my bottle with the Noodler's? I wonder if Diamine has anything similar?

#13 Miles R.

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 16:16

Yikes! I have been having massive problems with this ink. I LOOOOVE the shading + color. But maybe I need to replace my bottle with the Noodler's? I wonder if Diamine has anything similar?

Have you tried watering it down a little, say 1:5 or 1:4? That's what I have been doing with Herbin Café des îles, another seductive but "difficult" ink. Dilution (with distilled water) can reduce the incidence of interruptions of flow and slow starts.

#14 AlejoPlay

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 16:19


Yikes! I have been having massive problems with this ink. I LOOOOVE the shading + color. But maybe I need to replace my bottle with the Noodler's? I wonder if Diamine has anything similar?

Have you tried watering it down a little, say 1:5 or 1:4? That's what I have been doing with Herbin Café des îles, another seductive but "difficult" ink. Dilution (with distilled water) can reduce the incidence of interruptions of flow and slow starts.


I will try that and see how it goes. That ink has shut down my very very wet LAMY 2000. It's amazing (well, not)

#15 PenCity.com

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 23:41

Never been a big fan of this color, but I appreciate the review.

#16 pokermon

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 10:06

Very nice shading! Too bad there are ppl with slight problems with this ink. Maybe try to water it down with a little bit of water that has a drop of dish washing liquid in it for better flow?
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#17 leomitch

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 15:26

Hi Miles
What an excellent, detailed report on this ink. Looks good for a try...I am a fan of browns and reds.
Not only is the information on the inks well done, but your use of language and sentence structure make for an enjoyable read. :thumbup:
Thank you mate.

Best regards
Leo
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#18 govindbn

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 01:06

Nice review. I love the color and the shading this ink produces. The Sepia color is perfect. Thanks for comparing against Noodler's and Herbin's counterpart. Never knew that an ink could get this sticky Posted Image

#19 Inginkpen

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:36

Thank you for the thorough review and the photo of the nib and section. I haven't tried taking a section apart and I'm a little afraid to try it. I'll certainly think about the effect of this ink and other sticky inks.
All the best, Ingrid

#20 rudyhou

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:11

very nice shade of sepia indeed. unfortunately, i have stopped buying private reserve for the the fact that many of their colors develop some sort of goo or slime overtime. and it is drier than i would have liked. but still, very nice color.
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#21 Miles R.

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 12:02

very nice shade of sepia indeed. unfortunately, i have stopped buying private reserve for the the fact that many of their colors develop some sort of goo or slime overtime. and it is drier than i would have liked. but still, very nice color.

Hmm, that's curious. I haven't seen any of the bottles in my possession develop goo, but I once bought an old bottle of Private Reserve Midnight Blues from someone that turned out to contain gouts of it. I assumed at the time that it was a mishap peculiar to that bottle or perhaps that ink. Now you have me a bit concerned about the several bottles of the brand in my possession. I will be on the lookout for that in the future.

#22 rudyhou

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 06:49


very nice shade of sepia indeed. unfortunately, i have stopped buying private reserve for the the fact that many of their colors develop some sort of goo or slime overtime. and it is drier than i would have liked. but still, very nice color.

Hmm, that's curious. I haven't seen any of the bottles in my possession develop goo, but I once bought an old bottle of Private Reserve Midnight Blues from someone that turned out to contain gouts of it. I assumed at the time that it was a mishap peculiar to that bottle or perhaps that ink. Now you have me a bit concerned about the several bottles of the brand in my possession. I will be on the lookout for that in the future.


let's hope it won't turn out that way. i'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to all colors.
-rudy-

#23 lovemy51

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 21:54

thx for the review. it might be the ink i need for my dip nibs.
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#24 fxfb60

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 16:53

Yikes! I have been having massive problems with this ink. I LOOOOVE the shading + color. But maybe I need to replace my bottle with the Noodler's? I wonder if Diamine has anything similar?

Yes, Diamine has a great Golden Brown, my favorite, along with several variations of sepia/brown worth a go

#25 coyotewhisper

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 18:19

For your first review you have done a superior and through detailed report. I enjoy using Private Reserve ink, have never had an issue with it. I would be leery of using this ink in my pens. I'm glad you posted a fair balance review of the ink.
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#26 Miles R.

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 19:03

For your first review you have done a superior and through detailed report. I enjoy using Private Reserve ink, have never had an issue with it. I would be leery of using this ink in my pens. I'm glad you posted a fair balance review of the ink.

Thanks. The review is from a year ago. As I look at it now, I am embarrassed to see that I rated this ink "very good" for both lubrication and flow. I don't think I had sufficient experience, either with it or with other inks, to make any rating at that time, and I would now rate it "poor" for lubrication and "fair" for flow. It is a decidedly "dry" ink. I wish that I could correct the review on those points, but the time for that is past.

#27 freddy77

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 18:39

Miles, it is still a superb review. I just purchased Private Reserve's Vampire Red and while I think the color is fantastic, the ink is so dry that the flow becomes almost non-existent in the two pens I've tried it in, a Pilot Metropolitan and a Reform 1745. Also, I found very heavy nib creep with the Vampire Red. Did you find the the same with the Sepia?

I have never tried diluting an ink with water. I wonder if it would change the color of Vampire Red very much. :hmm1:
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