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Sailor makes such fantastic inks, especially greens. Spurred by the generosity of our very awesome Claudia, I've put together a five-way comparison of pine green Sailor inks. You know, for those of you who need a reason to buy more. Er, right. Thanks, C.! Writing Samples http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0123.jpg Lamy 2000 F/M on Clairfontaine Triomphe http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0124.jpg Lamy 2000 F/M on Rhodia R http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0121.jpg Lamy 2000 F/M on Tomoe River The first thing I noticed in comparing these inks is how similar Tokiwa-matsu (current version) is to the discontinued Epinard. In writing, they are close enough to identical to my eye. Unless one plans some pointed pen calligraphy (see below) or other specialized use, owning one is enough. If I had to choose one, I'd pick Tokiwa. It is more lubricated and in a broad nib pen, which I didn't use here, will sheen more. The real standout for me in this comparison was Maruzen Jade, which is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. It's like someone asked J. Herbin to recreate Tokiwa/Epinard and this dreamy, muted wisp of an ink is what they came up with. I love it. The two Kobes were also less saturated than Tokiwa/Epinard, but they differ in hue more than Jade. The Kobes also felt thinner and less lubricated than the other three inks here, making them less pleasant to write with. Swatch Washes (three times fast!) http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0119.jpg Sakura Koi Water Brush on Clairfontaine Triomphe http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0118.jpg Sakura Koi Water Brush on Rhodia R http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0120.jpg Sakura Koi Waterbrush on Stilman & Birn Gamma Series I'll let the swatches stand for themselves, except to say that they all show very little water resistance. I would not expect any of these inks to hold a line for pen and ink washes. I'm so sure that I didn't bother trying. And for those that are unfamiliar with Stilman & Birn, they make some of the best sketching journals around. This is cotton rag paper more akin to watercolor paper than stationary. Chromatography http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/croma_FUJ0128.jpg From left, Tokiwa-matsu, Epinard, Maruzen Jade, Kobe #1 and #49 Each chromatography strip received a single drop of ink. The larger diameter circle and apparent amount of ink in the Tokiwa-matsu suggests that ink has a higher amount of lubrication/surfactant. Interestingly, though Tokiwa is more complex than the other inks here, all these inks save Kobe #49 utilize the same or very similar dyes in different combinations. #49 lacks the more waterfast dark blue dye that I suspect is responsible for sheen in the other inks. Purty Writing (that's Texas twang, ya'll) http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0125-Edit.jpg Zebra G nib (dipped) on Original Crown Mill Pure Cotton Tokiwa-matsu has become one of my go-to inks for pointed pen calligraphy. It behaves extremely well, holds a fine hairline and works on many papers. The only downside of Tokiwa for calligraphy is that when this much ink is put down, the ink sheens so heavily red that it no longer appears green. Maruzen Jade performs just as well as Tokiwa, sheens just a bit, and maintains its green hue. I would definitely add this to my calligraphy ink line-up. The other inks simply don't have the lubrication/viscosity properties required for this type of calligraphy out of the bottle. Plus, though they lack saturation, they show almost black on the page. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0126.jpg http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/_FUJ0126-2.jpg Equally useable but Jade stays green, while Tokiwa sheens red Conclusion If I could pick one ink of the five shown here, it would be Tokiwa-matsu. I love the color, love the sheen, love the bottle. Luckily, it is one the only ink shown here that is available outside Japan without pricey importing through a third party. I am taken with Maruzen Jade, as well. But it's long gone, I'm told. Kobe inks are available through Cool Japan on Ebay ($20).
I stopped paying attention to the ink world for a couple years and return to find my beloved Sailor Epinard discontinued! Two years ago, no less. What a tragedy. I know Tokiwa-Matsu is supposed to be similar, and I've ordered a bottle, but I know nothing can replace dear Epinard. Is it available anywhere? Even if I have to pay shipping from Australia or wherever... I just want to find it!
Here are seven inks compared. What started it was receiving the new Super 5 Dublin pigment ink from Goulet pens. A waterproof green, I had to try it and it seemed to have similarities to one of my favorites Stipula Calamo Moss Green. Well, Dublin isn't much like Moss Green in color but it is in the category of interesting off-green inks. Included in that category are the inks below. In order are: Super 5 Dublin Stipula Calamo Moss Green Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho Montblanc Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green Sailor Gentle Epinard Noodler's Burma Road Brown Noodler's El Lawrence Paper is Staples Bagasse and the second scan was after extensive water rinse–paper was on the verge of falling apart. Dublin has good writing properties and is, in fact, waterproof (see second scan). Some ink washed away but it was ink that was "dry" on top of the ink bound to the paper. Really, it is a waterproof green. Good flow, minimal bleed through or show through. Some ignition issues but really very minor. Very happy with this ink. The name puzzles me, it's more of (dirty) olive drab. Maybe army green was too boring a name. Shows some shading too due to ink pooling at the end of a stroke. Need to shake bottle before filling pen. Kind of expensive but unique. Stipula Calamo Moss Green is one of my favorite all time inks. In the thick swab it also almost had a sheen, probably due to ink crystallization. Also leaves a blue component upon washing. Big bottle makes it a value. Montblanc Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green is another odd color that I enjoy. It fades some as it dries but it shades. Dry writing ink I've reviewed in these pages before. Of the rest Sailor's Gentle Epinard probably has the best writing properties. Plus, it has an obvious sheen that just shows up in the swab. Another with blue remaining after the wash. Ina-ho is the least saturated of all these, and is more of a golden brown than a green. It also washes out to a light blue tinged with red. That was unexpected. Love this ink from a wet fine nib to concentrate the line. Expensive, but unique. Noodler's Burma Road Brown is definitely a green tinged brown that washes to a reddish purple. Need to use this ink more, it's oddly lovely like all the other inks here. Noodler's El Lawrence is also a long time favorite. Reminds me of motor oil. It needs to be shaken before use and it has terrible nib crawl but I love it. Great name too. Also has permanent qualities. El Lawrence will also shade but it's pretty concentrated so not very often.