While most dads were watching the US Open or drinking beer while manning the grill, I was doing ink swabs for every ink I have on hand. That’s right, over 170 ink swabs on both white and ivory paper. Technically, it was over 400 swabs. Whew! But I did it for you all, because I want to try to bridge the gap as much as possible from the ink in my hands to what you see with your eyes.

Since inks look differently on white and ivory paper, I decided to do a swab on both colors of paper, to give you an idea of what each ink will look like on your own preference of paper. The paper than I standardized for these swabs is Clairefontaine Pollen 210g cards. Why? Because the pure color of the paper will show true representations of the ink, and the thicker cardstock will be durable enough to withstand an ink swab without puckering, as well as all of the handling I’ll be doing for each of my ink reviews ongoing. This Pollen cardstock is not something I regularly carry, but is something Exaclair regularly imports that I can special order anytime. I bought full size sheets and cut them down to cards about 2″x2.25″.

I have 6 brands of ink in all: J. Herbin, Caran d’Ache, Diamine, Sheaffer, Pelikan, and Private Reserve. Since I like to have the full line, this comes to over 170 different colors across the brands. There are a lot of similar colors across brands, so having the swabs makes it very easy to show a quick and dirty comparison. Some brands have more colors than others, as you can see from the size of their stacks!

I know that Q-tip swabs are not always very accurate to how an ink is going to look in a pen. However, inking up my pen 170 times is going to take a while for me to accomplish! Just check out all of the severed Q-tip heads I went through!!!

So what I decided to do was make a compromise, and use my J. Herbin Glass Dip Pen to write the brand and name of the ink on each swab. This shows what the ink looks like in writing form (much like a wet-writing broad nib would do) next to the swab.

These swabs are not the ultimate end-all-be-all for my ink comparisons, but they will certainly help to give you an idea of colors, especially because some of them REALLY don’t look like what I thought they would by the names alone! Look for a lot of comparisons over the next couple of weeks. Not only will I be focusing a lot on doing different ink reviews, but I’ll be assembling packages of ink samplers based on colors, too! Be sure to check back here frequently!

All inks brands you see here available at The Goulet Pen Company, in full-size bottles and 2ml sample bottles.