A Comparison of Blues Similar to Noodler’s Navy
Google+ has a really nice fountain pen community going. It’s not super busy there, but a group of dedicated regulars keep the conversation going. There’s a lot of information sharing, show-and-tell, and (of course) questions & calls for recommendations. Regular contributor Nathan stopped in to ask for recommendation: He was looking for a blue similar to Noodler’s Navy, but that was even more water-resistant.
I knew that Noodler’s published a
list of their inks with their special properties (water resistance, UV resistance, bulletproof, etc.), so I pointed him to that and recommended he look at some of the “Warden” line of inks (i.e., Bad Blue Heron and Bad Belted Kingfisher). But I got to thinking of all the similar blues I have in my collection from other brands. I have no idea how water-resistant they are, so I figured I’d pull out my glass dip pen, write up some samples, and throw water all over them. Here’s what I found…
Including both samples and bottles, I have about 170 different inks. It’s certainly not a huge number compared to what’s out there, but I was able to pick out nine inks in (roughly) the same family as Noodler’s Navy. Well, Levenger Empyrean isn’t really all that close, but I knew it would have some level of permanence, so I included it anyway. I left out a couple of KWZ inks because (1) I only had room on my sheet for 9 other inks; and (2) the two KWZ inks are not from their Iron Gall line, so I expected no water resistance (which was the focus of Nathan’s search). The inks in this comparison include:
Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue
De Atramentis Steel Blue
Noodler’s Ottoman Azure
Pelikan Edelstein Topaz
Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki
Robert Oster Blue Sea
Robert Oster School Blue
Toucan Bright Blue
So the most important thing we’re looking for here is water resistance. Nathan was looking for something bulletproof that he could use for things like work and check writing. Navy is only partially bulletproof, so he wanted something more permanent. Unfortunately, none of these inks was more water resistant than the Navy he started with, so this test didn’t really produce a viable alternative. However, some of these inks can also be classified as partially bulletproof/water-resistant, so I thought it was worth sharing the results with my dear readers.
Closest Colors (Writing):
- Pelikan Edelstein Topaz: Maybe a tiny bight lighter, but differences are largely imperceptible.
- Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki: Slightly less green component, but the tone of the color is about the same.
- Robert Oster School Blue: Little bit more vibrant and sheenier (I just made that word up right now. Call Oxford and Webster!).
Closest Colors (Swab):
- Robert Oster School Blue: Honestly, they’re almost identical, except that the School Blue is a little more vibrant.
- De Atramentis Steel Blue: A little less green, but very close.
- Robert Oster Blue Sea: It’s brighter than Navy, but not by much.
- De Atramentis Steel Blue: For the most part, it left behind the darkest lines (other than Navy).
- Noodler’s Ottoman Azure: Left behind light-but-fairly bright lines.
- Levenger Empyrean: Also left bright blue lines behind.
- Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki: The lines left behind are pretty feint, but still dark enough to see clearly.
So none of these inks is suitable for writing checks or signing legal documents. But if you’re looking for a blue that won’t totally vanish when you spill your beer on it, there are a few viable options from this inksperiment (looks like I need to add Oxford and Webster to my speed-dial). And if you’re simply looking for a nice new mid-range blue to try, here are several great options to consider.