Birmingham Pen Co. Ink Swatches
I ordered the Birmingham Pen Company’s ink sampler set, which includes their entire ink lineup (30 colors at time of writing), and I’ve just finished making color swatches for them. There doesn’t seem to be much information about the inks floating around at the moment, so I thought I’d share these swatches right away , even though I haven’t had a chance to use them each individually yet.
I’m not sure who makes these inks; according to the bottles and the website, they are made in Germany, but besides that, I couldn’t find any other information about them. I’ve found that the pictures on their website do not very accurately represent the colors of the inks that I received. As it’s always possible for batches to be inconsistent or samples to be mislabeled, I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experience with these inks, and whether or not they found the official swatches accurate or not.
Overall, I found the range of colors relatively unique. As the store is based in Pittsburgh, each ink is named after a locally significant place or person, which I really enjoy (like with e.g. Kobe and Kyoto TAG inks, I find that these types of names add an element of interest). The downside is that if you’re not familiar with the references, the colors might completely defy expectations. Also, the names are quite a mouthful. Overall, I’d describe the collection as kind of gloomy. There are a few brighter, more vibrant colors, but most are on the darker, greyer side. I like these moody colors, but I found a few of the colors to be a little redundant, looking similar to others from the same collection.
The ink samples come in small glass bottles with metal lids, and an additional plastic stopper within the lid to improve the seal. I like the small glass bottles compared to regular plastic sample vials, as they feel more “premium” and the fact that for long-term storage, I would generally trust glass sooner than plastic. However, in practice, these bottles aren’t flawless. The stoppers do not consistently fit the bottles; out of 30 bottles, three did not seal properly and leaked during shipment*. Also, they need to be separately removed from the bottlenecks, which all but guarantees that you’ll get ink all over your fingers. For those who have dedicated storage solutions for their sample vials, these bottles are shorter and squatter than the standard sample vial so they probably won’t fit.
*Although there was leakage during shipment, which was unfortunate, Nick, who runs the Birmingham Pen Co., was very responsive and generous when I e-mailed him about the issue. He not only offered to replace the samples that leaked, at no cost, but said that he would send full-size bottle replacements. I think he might save himself some headaches if he just used the standard sample vials, but I’m glad that he stands behind his products and service.
Swatches are done on Col-O-Ring cards. The manufacturer name (“Birmingham”) is written with a flex dip nib, and the ink name (in all caps) is written with a glass dip pen. The swab in the middle is applied lightly on the right, and pooled on the left. The bar on the bottom should be the middle of the ink’s color range. Note that nothing on these cards is done with an actual fountain pen.
None of these are color-corrected, so I will give short descriptions of all the failings of my scanner.
Set 1: Allegheny Arsenal Gunpowder Black, Emerald View Park Oxidized Brass, Edgar T. Steel Works Coking Coal Black, Jeff Goldblum Independence Gray, Steel Building Smoked Iron
These all came out well in the scans except Independence Gray, which should be less blue.
Set 2: Billy Eckstine Blues for Sale, Frank Gorshin Riddle Green, Southside Park Fern Moss, Schenley Park Thicket Green, Frick Park Fern Hollow Creek
Billy Eckstine is okay. Frank Gorshin should be less blue, more grey.. Fern Moss should be much more grey and brown. Thicket Green and Fern Hollow Creek should both be browner as well.
Set 3: Forbes Field Green, Point Park Fountain Turquoise, Pennsylvania Railroad Boiler Steam Blue-Black, Andrew Carnegie Steel Blue, Smithfield Street Bridge Truss Blue
This set is too bright across the board. The first four from the left are all a touch too blue. Truss Blue on the right should be substantially darker.
Set 4: USS Requin Navy Blue, Grandview Avenue Midnight Horizon, David O. Selznick Lilac Wind, Waterfront Dusk, Andy Warhol Pop Art Purple
Navy Blue should be substantially darker, with more purple and more black. Midnight Horizon is okay. Lilac Wind and Waterfront Dusk should both be more red-purple, and a lot less blue. Andy Warhol should be a little more red.
Set 5: Phipps Conservatory Verbena, Allegheny River Twilight, Gene Kelly Raspberry Rain, Fred Rogers Cardigan Red, Bloomfield Red
The left two inks in this set are slightly off. Verbena should be a bit more purple and less blue, and Twilight should be more mauve and less grey.
Set 6: Duquesne Incline Station Red, Shadyside Walnut Street Brown, Fort Pitt Blockhouse Sepia, Honus Wagner Infield Brown, George Westinghouse Alternator Crimson
These scans are all quite accurate. The leftmost ink should read “Duquesne,” but I don’t know how to spell.
I plan to eventually review all of these, but it will probably take me quite a while to get through them all. If anyone is interested in a particular color, leave a reply and I can try to prioritize, or at least do a more accurately color-corrected scan/sample.
Edited by crahptacular, 27 October 2017 - 07:47.