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Birmingham – Shadyside Walnut St. Brown


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Birmingham – Shadyside Walnut St. Brown


The Birmingham Pen Co.’s line of inks (30 colors at the time of writing) feature various colors based on or inspired by notable locations or people associated with its home city of Pittsburgh, PA. I bought their sampler pack, and plan on slowly going through the whole line of inks, though I expect it will take me quite a while. For those interested, I posted some color swatches in a different topic (https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/328952-birmingham-pen-co-ink-swatches/) where you can get a quick idea of what the whole line looks like together.


This ink, Walnut St. Brown, is a nice red-leaning brown. The ink is moderately saturated, being dark enough to be clearly legible, but light enough to show nice variation in shading. The ink is on the drier side, so using a broader/wetter nib is recommended. I found this ink to be quite similar to Franklin Christoph Terra Firma, which also tends to underwhelm when used in finer nibs. Upon close inspection, I would say that Terra Firma is a little bit redder, but at first glance they are difficult to tell apart. This ink definitely benefits from nicer paper. Even the fine nib shades nicely on TR paper, but it’s quite flat on other papers. Broad nib is, as usual, more expressive on all paper types, but even the broad ends up relatively flat on more absorbent paper like the FC notebook. Overall, I think this ink is pleasant, but a little boring. It has some attractive qualities, but on the whole does not stand out to me compared to other red-browns.


Lubrication: Moderate-Low (drier than average, but not to the point of feeling unpleasant)

Shading: Moderate-High

Sheen: None

Water Resistance: Very little

Other notes: Observed slight feathering on the more absorbent FC paper; relatively minor, but I’d rather have no feathering at all.


The following sample was done with a PenBBS 308 (Fine) and a Nemosine Singularity (Broad) on Tomoe River (52gsm, white, loose-leaf). Doodle was done with a size 0 liner and a size 3/0 mop. Flex writing was done with a Leonardt Principal dip nib.


Bad Scanner Disclaimer: Photo color accuracy continues to worsen as I receive less and less sunlight here. The scan is better than the photo across the board here. The scan is slightly over-saturated, but for my monitor, is relatively accurate in hue. Some of the comparison inks are off, though; in particular, Lie de The shows up as very green.








Comparison inks from left to right (big smear is the featured ink):

J Herbin Lie de The, Kyo-Iro Moonlight of Higashiyama, Franklin Christoph Terra Firma, GvFC Hazelnut Brown, Diamine Ancient Copper


Writing Samples (scans; some color correction), from DH Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner”


Maruman Mnemosyne:



Tsubame Fool’s University:





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  • crahptacular


  • fountainpagan


  • Tas


  • namrehsnoom


Thankyou for the review and thorough writing samples. I will probably pass on this one because I prefer my browns to be tending grey or murky green, but it's still interesting to know about others. Much appreciated.

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Thankyou for the review and thorough writing samples. I will probably pass on this one because I prefer my browns to be tending grey or murky green, but it's still interesting to know about others. Much appreciated.


Ironically, I have an earlier batch of Shadyside Walnut Street Brown and it *was* more sepia toned than this version. According to Nick, the guy in the store (and also the guy mixing the inks) the original dye components were from the UK, but now they're getting the dyes from Germany.


@ crahptacular -- thanks for the review, and LOVE the drawing (which really looks like a lot of the homes in the city in different neighborhoods (including parts of Shadyside).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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That's a shame, I think I would've liked a brown with slightly less red in it. Partially because it seems like I've used a lot of red-browns recently, so maybe I'm getting tired of them.


When I looked up pictures of "Shadyside" I saw a whole bunch of charming houses like the one I shamelessly copied. They really have a lot of character :).

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I like the color but don't like 30ml bottles. I really am just not that interested in an ink if it comes in bottles less than 50ml.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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I like the looks of this one. Do you by chance have Waterman's Absolute Brown (aka Havana Brown) to compare it with? Based on the swatch of Lie de The, it looks like this Brown is very similar to Waterman's red-brown, though maybe not quite as red.

Edited by Intensity

“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 

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Sorry, I don't have that ink, nor do I have any writing samples of it to compare in-person. Based on pictures and comparison tools, the two inks definitely appear to be similar in hue.

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What a lovely red-brown color. Thanks for the fantastic review and handwriting. Though I have many red-brown inks, I'll definitely order a sample of this once it's available.

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