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Monday, July 14, 2014

Color Change for Black Swan in Australian Roses



Update February 2015: Black Swan is Australian Roses has returned to its original formula, so the "old" color noted here is now the color we are seeing. We're leaving this blog post up purely for historical reference. 

Video Highlights:

  • Overview of the situation (0:01)
  • Showing inks that compare to the original color (3:17)
  • Showing inks that compare to the new color (4:52)
  • Inking up and writing with both colors in an Ahab flex (6:40)


It's true, the color of the famous Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses has changed from a burgundy to more of a purple. The difference is noticeable, but not as drastic as it sounds. I know this will seem like some big kind of scandal, especially given that this is one of the most popular inks sold today at GouletPens.com.



We discovered this a couple of months ago, when one of our on-point team members noticed a slight color difference when sampling up the color. We checked all the ink we had on hand and pulled the purply color off the shelf while we talked to our Noodler's distributor and the man who makes Noodler's ink, Nathan Tardif. We had to test some things, rule out some other things, as we thought that it could be a batch variation, maybe the ink needed more time to settle on its final color (because it can change slightly over time), and rule out every possibility that we could because Nathan told us he did not change the formula.

What we ultimately discovered through all this is that there is apparently some raw dye component that changed from Nathan's manufacturer that caused the color shift, even though the formula itself hadn't been changed by him. We asked him if it was possible to reformulate the ink using different components (as he's done before with other inks like Noodler's #41 Brown back in 2012), but he told us that in this dye family, there is no replacement. This is it, it's either this color or he discontinues it altogether.

We tested the ink, and the properties like shading, flow, water resistance and everything else are the same as the original color, it's just slightly more purple than burgundy. It's still a very impressive color, and I personally actually really like it for what it is. Of course, it's not the same as the original and I know that many of you will be disappointed about this change, and for that I'm sorry. Nathan is sorry, as well. All our hands are tied on this one.

The thing that's going to be just a little confusing in the meantime is that it's kind of unclear when the color change actually happened. Because it wasn't caught right away, it's likely that for several months the new color has been getting mixed in at the distributor and at retailers (more so at the retailer level, as I don't think this ink sits around long at all at the distributor). So it's not going to be clear which color you're actually buying unless the retailer in question knows the difference between the two and opens up every bottle to see what color they have, like we've done.

So I know what you're thinking, "Brian, do you have any of the old color left, I really really really want it!" Well, I'm sorry to say that we don't have any of the old stuff, everything we have at GouletPens.com from here moving forward will be the new color. And I'm willing to bet that at this point just about every other retailer will have the new stuff, too. You're going to be hard-pressed to find the original color still laying around anywhere, but if you absolutely must have it, I'd get on the phone now with whoever you can think might have it and start calling around asking them to test their stock.

It's unfortunate to have to announce a color change like this to one of the most popular inks, especially when we don't have any of the old stock to offer you. I'm deeply sorry for that, but please don't shoot the messenger. And please, please don't be upset at Nathan for it either. He is one man making all of the Noodler's ink in the world, and for him to have caught this before this point probably would mean that he'd spend half his time testing every batch of every dye component for a change every time he gets it in, which is impractical and would probably cut his ability to supply Noodler's ink in half if he did that.

It's an unfortunate circumstance, but look at the bright side. We now have a gorgeous intense-shading purple with a bulletproof component to it, something that actually has been highly requested. The purple dye itself isn't permanent, but the black component to this ink is.

And hey, it's still a pretty awesome ink. Just look at what our very own Joe, Alex, and Sarah did with the new color in today's Monday Matchup:





I'd love to hear your thoughts, good or bad. I put together information like this to "Empower through education" (Goulet Value #4). Leave me a comment below to share what you think.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

43 comments:

  1. That's too bad. This was the next ink on my purchase list. I've got lots of purples, but that red/black was quite lovely. I guess I'll just have to siphon off a bit of the bottle my dad purchased recently in the old formula. :) In any case, I do appreciate GPC and Nathan Tardiff for the investigation.

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  2. I wasn't a big fan of the original and think the new looks better - ordering up a sample! A little surprised that Nathan didn't realize the difference prior to shipping. (Pentulant)

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  3. what would happen if you mixed new AR with ER? Maybe something closer to the original? Maybe with some White Whale to clear it out a little bit?

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  4. My recent bottle of Golden Brown also is quite different from the sample that I got from Goulet prior (the bottle batch has less yellow to it). This makes me continue to worry about Noodler's ink consistency.

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  5. Tardiff should change the name for this. There is not much of what one would call a "rose" look, Australian or otherwise. But thanks for the heads-up, Brian.

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  6. I have a full bottle of the original, and just inked up a pen with it a few days ago: it's probably my favourite blackened red (with Diamine / Cult Pens Deep Dark Red a close second). There's nothing wrong with the reformulation but I never would have bought it if it had been that colour all along — I already have plenty of purples. The new version is like a darker, slightly bluer Saguaro Wine (which I also have a full bottle of).

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  7. I sympathize with those who loved the old color. I like the new color better, actually, but I think it ought to be released under a new name.

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  8. Brian, of course we all know it's not Goulet's or Nathan's fault, so don't worry :) However, I am still quite upset about this change--the original was my all-time favorite ink! The new one is a good color, and I'm glad Nathan didn't choose to stop manufacturing the ink, but the original was just too perfect. Noodler's Purple Heart is a similar color that's also awesome, but I can't help wishing that the original Noodler's Black Swan and Austrailian Roses isn't just gone like this!

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  9. That's unfortunate. The new colour looks nice, but I'm glad I have the old one. This looks like a different ink, maybe it could have been given a new name with the unfortunate discontinuation of the old one.

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  10. This is one of my favorite inks, and it looks like the color change has reduced the shading ability. It's still a pretty color, however.

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  11. How does the old ink compare to PR Black Cherry or Rohrer & Klingner Scarbiosa? Looking for something like the old one. It was a well behaved Noodler's Ink...

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  12. Aw man, I loved the old color. The name should absolutely be changed, there's no reason or excuse for a drastically different color to have the old name. It's misleading. The new color doesn't even fit the name anymore.

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  13. That's a big bummer in my book. :( I loved the previous color and Noodler's already has plenty of awesome purples. I understand the reasons for the change, at the same time, I think the name should be changed. Maybe Black Swan Spanish Roses or something to indicate that this is different than the previous Australian Roses.

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  14. What a bummer. The old BSiAR was so unique and a great color. The new one is meh. I agree with those who believe the name of the ink should have been changed as they are really not the same.

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  15. That's... interesting to hear. I still have a sample of the original color which I haven't reviewed yet. Too bad my review will be already obsolete when it comes. So who wants to bid on my unique sample of "original formula" Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses?

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  16. It is a very different ink in my book; not the same at all. I loved the original color quite a lot. I wonder if Nathan could recreate the color and shading without the properties it had before and market this new color under a new name? The new shade is lovely, but no where near BSiAR.

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  17. A few months ago, I ordered a sample of the original and was set on buying a bottle. I was excited to see it finally back in stock for me to order... then the horror! The color change is drastic, and in my opinion, the name should be changed to reflect as such. The new color is nice, but It's just not BSiAR. I guess one could say the name change would be "out of respect." haha.

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  18. Question: does this dye change affect any other inks that might be using the same raw dye? BSiER or anything else?

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  19. The video definitively says that BSiER is unchanged.

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  20. Yeah, I hear ya. I will miss the old color for sure.

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  21. Yeah, it's funny to think that Noodler's as big of a deal as it seems to us in the pen world, is hardly a zit on a fly's butt to these larger dye manufacturers. Part of the reason Nathan runs into these issues is because manufacturing in general in the US is on the decline, so there's a squeeze from industrial manufacturers of raw components like this that trickle down and effect things like our ink colors! -Brian Goulet

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  22. I don't know exactly what Nathan knew and when, but I can see how he'd miss it. You can't believe the amount of ink that he puts out, and he's just one man. It's actually incredible the quality of his inks given the fact he's the sole manufacturer, this issue is really just kind of a freak thing, not something that I think he would have been looking out for since it's so unheard of for his raw components to change. -Brian Goulet

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  23. That's a good question, I hadn't thought of that. I doubt it'll be dead on, otherwise surely Nathan would have tried something like that ;) Sounds like a neat experiment though. -Brian Goulet

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  24. Golden Brown, eh? I'll have to investigate that one.

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  25. I'll pass up the suggestion. Sorry to bear the bad news but I'd rather have it out there than have everyone wondering what's going on when the new colors start popping up out there in people's pens.

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  26. Yeah, it is somewhat like Saguaro Wine, but darker and with much more intense shading. That aspect of the ink hasn't changed at all.

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  27. I'm totally with you. I understand all the logical explanation just like you now do, but I think even as I was shooting this video it was kind of hitting me that "wow, this color is really gone".

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  28. I'll recommend this to Nathan and see what he thinks.

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  29. The shading is definitely still there, and very intense. The color overall is a little darker, but the video really doesn't do it justice. The shading is still definitely there.

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  30. Scabiosa is really more of a muted purple, not really close to the old BSAR but sorta like the new one. Black Cherry isn't tooooo far off the oldBSAR.

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  31. I know that Nathan definitely isn't intending to mislead anyone. Clearly others feel as you feel, I'll pass this sentiment along.

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  32. Haha, yeah, hang on to that, it's valuable now!

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  33. Yeah, looks like you got a sample right as the transition was happening, at least for us at Goulet. The reason we were out of stock of the ink for so long is because we'd gotten it in with this new color, pulled it off the shelves, and were investigating it. Now here we are, we didn't want to sell the ink again until we told everyone what's up.

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  34. That's a good question, I don't believe so but I will look into that. I'm not privy to that information but Nathan theoretically give me an idea which inks could be affected if a particular unnamed component changes. He didn't mention anything to me about it before when I spoke to him.

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  35. Right, I know that ink is the same.

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  36. Looks like I'm in the minority. I actually like the newer color better from what I see here. I liked using the old version in a very wet pen but other than that I wasn't a huge fan of the lighter shade. This looks like a deep purple that looks pretty awesome. And then with bulletproof components to boot. I bet he figures something out eventually and then we can all enjoy two great inks.

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  37. I'm sad the ink has changed, I loved the old color! But I'm thrilled you guys caught the color shift. The old color was on my wish list and I'd have been very sad and upset if I got it and didn't know about the change, so thank you for that! You guys really are the best.

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  38. I purchased 6 bottles in 2012 and wanted to purchase more today. Sorry to hear of the change. Will buy one and hopefully, like it. I am sure I won't like it as much though! ����. Your honesty and openness is what keeps customers coming back. I know I will never leave!

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