Saturday: Goulet Pen Co. Stuff- Swab Shop Improvements

A special thanks goes to my incredibly smart, talented (and patient!) wife Rachel, whose incredible computer wizardry allows this Swab Shop to even be possible.

If you’ve never seen the Swab Shop, you have to go and check it out. It’s an interactive ink swab comparison tool that my wife and I put together to allow you to see color-adjusted ink swabs of all of the fountain pen inks we have available at

Interactive Tool

We originally set up the Swab Shop to be an individual ink color comparison tool. Here’s the original setup:

We’re now calling this feature the ‘Interactive Tool‘. It’s a pretty simple setup, you select any ink color you want to see from the five drop-downs, and you can compare 5 inks at a time. The idea was that if you have a color you know and love, you could find one comparable to it with this tool. For example, say you really like Caran d’Ache Amazon, but it’s a little pricey to be your daily ink. If you want to find something comparable, you might pull these up:

This worked well for a while, when we only had about 150 ink colors. We now carry around 300 inks, many of which have names that are not even suggestive to their colors. Looking at a list of 300 names and trying to find a ‘green’ proves quite challenging at times. So we wanted to add a way to view like colors on a single page. Thus……

View By Color Group

Using the same color-adjusted swabs, we wanted to lay out entire groups of colors to make it easy to narrow down your ink color search if you’re just looking for a ‘type’ of color. Viewing the whole page can give you an idea of the names of the individual inks in that color range, then you can use the Interactive Tool to view those specific colors you want to compare side-by-side. We’ve listed these in a general order according to the hue of the ink, not in any particular brand/name order:

We have 11 different color groups:

  • Blacks and greys
  • Blue-blacks and dark blues
  • Blues
  • Browns
  • Greens
  • Pinks
  • Purples
  • Reds
  • Turquoises
  • Yellows and Oranges
  • Highlighters and Invisibles

You can navigate to any one of these groups from any other color group page by just clicking on the color at the top of the screen:

Now when you’re comparing 25 different black inks, you won’t be flustered with a limit of viewing 5 inks at a time! But of course we wanted to take this a step further too. If you are loyal to a certain brand and want to shop within it, we have pages laid out for each brand of ink as well….

View By Ink Brand

This is perhaps even more exciting than the View By Color Group pages, because there are some brands (like Noodler’s) where there is no color sheet available for the brand. Some brands like J. Herbin and Private Reserve do provide color images of their ink colors (though I can’t speak to what degree they have been adjusted for computer viewing). In general, though, it is hard to find a comprehensive single-location where an entire brand of ink colors could be viewed (I should say, WAS hard to find until now!).

So we’re pleased to announce that we’ve grouped together all of our ink brands so you can view the entire line of inks (at least that are available through us) on a single page. Like so:

‘Add to Cart’ Buttons:

We have two other features as well that are somewhat recent additions to the Swab Shop. One is the ‘add sample to cart’ button. If you’re on the Interactive Tool page, you’ll notice there is a yellow button beneath each swab that says ‘add sample to cart’. Clicking this will add one 2ml ink sample into your shopping cart, and you won’t even have to navigate away from the Swab Shop! The other button labeled ‘add bottle to cart’ will add the most popular size of ink bottle (if multiple sizes are available for that color) to your cart without navigating away from the page. Both of these buttons are currently only on the swabs on the Interactive Tool page, but we’re working on getting them available on the View by Color Group and View by Ink Brand pages, too.

We do have some swabs still to add, so please be patient on those! This whole thing takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, so patience is key. We’re doing innovative things like this in our ‘spare time’ when we’re not running the daily GPC operations, tending to our teething 10-month old, or doing other reviews and updates for Ink Nouveau.

Hopefully, all of these changes we’ve made will only enhance your experience on our Swab Shop and The Swab Shop is a completely free tool that we provide to you, so we encourage you to share it with all of your inky friends. We’re always looking to enhance what we can do for the writing community, so please post here in the comments if you have any suggestions for improvements we can make for the Swab Shop (or any other thing we do!).