Ink Review: Kaweco Royal Blue

I began my review of the eight Kaweco ink colors with Pearl Black, though Royal Blue was the first bottle I actually opened. Any manufacturer's version of "ballpoint pen blue" is usually a safe bet - it's like trying the crème brûlée at a new restaurant, or the pale ale at a new brewery. It's a known quantity with minimal variables that provides an easy avenue for comparison.

In my collection, Kaweco Royal Blue is most similar to Lamy Blue, but with a more intense color. Like the other Kaweco colors, it has low saturation, moderate to low shading, and a very dry flow. It produces a thiner line than a wet-flowing ink like Iroshizuku Asa-gao when used in the same pen. It behaves very well on cheap, absorbent paper, and dries relatively quickly on premium sized paper, which, as far as I can tell, was a deliberate choice on the part of whomever engineered the line.

Paper Dry Time Bleed Through Show Through Feathering
Copier 1 second Low Moderate Low
Bagasse 3 seconds Moderate Moderate Low
Rhodia 10 seconds None Low None
Midori 15 seconds None Low None
Canson 10 seconds None None None

Royal Blue holds up to water the same way that the other Kaweco colors do: it doesn't. On the smear test, in which I wipe a wet finger across the page, the ink was wiped completely out, and readily lifted from the page when I blotted it. The same happened on the drip test, where I let a droplet of water sit on the page before blotting. The ink lifted completely away. You can see the same behavior on the soak test, where I hold the paper under running water for a few minutes - no ink remained.

If there is a silver lining, it's that I imagine, though I have not tested, that Royal Blue should clean up easily from other surfaces, like desktops and shirtsleeves. This is an "inside the envelope" ink, certainly not one you'd want to use on the outside.

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Kaweco ink comes in two forms: cartridges and 30ml glass bottles, which is the format I used during testing. The bottles themselves are pleasantly designed, and the labels accurately reflect the color of the ink inside them. I have no real complaints about the bottle, other than I had to tip it to the side slightly in order to create sufficient depth to fill my test pen properly.

After evaluating all eight colors, I've concluded that Royal Blue is the best all-around color, especially if you prefer not-black. the other colors have their place, though, which you'll see in the coming weeks: Palm Green has the best shading and Caramel Brown has a lovely sepia-tone quality, for example. If you're looking for an all-around, ballpoint-blue ink to use in an office environment where cheap paper abounds, then Kaweco Royal Blue is a good bet.

Kaweco Royal Blue is available from:

Review notes: the handwritten portion of the review was created on 160 gsm, acid free, mixed media paper from Canson’s XL line. The broad lines were made using a Pilot Parallel pen with a 3.8mm calligraphy nib. The fine lines were made using a Visconti Homo Sapiens fitted with an EF palladium nib.

A bottle of this ink was generously provided by Kaweco for review purposes.

ink review: j herbin bleu pervenche

j herbin bleu pervenche writing sample

J. Herbin makes watercolor-lovely ink. Some colors, like Bleu Myosotis, give the impression that the viewer is looking at a field of wildflowers through a set of gauzy curtains in the pale light of a spring morning. Bleu Pervenche, on the other hand, places the viewer on a rocky outcropping, gazing out at the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean, one hand against the brow to shield his eyes, squinting in the summer sun.

It's an extremely lovely, bold color, even if it is puzzlingly named. Pervenche means periwinkle in French, and this color doesn't resemble the periwinkle that I'm familiar with in the slightest. It's not a light blue-purple, but a bright, bold blue that leans toward the green end of the spectrum (as opposed to the purple end).

I prefer to use new ink for a week or two before I review it. In this case, I cleaned the Noodler's Black out of my trusty Visconti Homo Sapiens and filled it with Bleu Pervenche. While few inks are as smooth as Black, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Bleu Pervenche handled. It is wet-writing ink, which allowed the pen to move easily across the surface of most paper types I used.

The ink exhibits a high degree of feathering on normal copy paper and Staples Bagasse. It generally behaves well on coated papers like Rhodia pads or Clairefontaine notebooks, but does feather when using wet-writing pens like the Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens in the writing sample above.

Like most J. Herbin inks, saturation is low, which enables the loveliest characteristic of Bleu Pervenche to shine: the high degree of shading that it exhibits even in fine-writing pens. Show- and bleed-though were both moderate on Rhodia paper, though I didn't notice it at all on slightly heavier Clairefontaine notebook paper.

j herbin bleu pervenche water test

J. Herbin inks aren't known for being water resistant, and Bleu Pervenche is no exception. When I ran my wet finger across the page for the smear test, it erased most of the lines, and left a blue haze in its wake. The drip test, in which I let a several drops of water sit on the page for a minute before blotting them up, wasn't much better – most of the ink came up with the blotter. The soak test, where I run the paper under water for thirty seconds, was the most impressive of all – nearly all of the ink was washed away, and only the faintest of lines remains.

j herbin bleu pervenche bottle

J. Herbin fountain pen inks come in a 30ml bottle with an integrated pen rest that is suitable for displaying on top of one's desk. The bottles are slightly challenging to use with a large-nibbed pen, though – I had to tilt the bottle to get a deep enough well to fully submerge my pen.

Despite the high degree of feathering and the logistical issues of the small bottle, I have no hesitation in recommending J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche for those that enjoy bold, vibrant colors. It's nearly impossible to be unhappy when writing with this ink. It's an instant pick-me-up, and worth picking up to add to your collection.

Review notes: The fine lines were created by a Lamy Safari that was equipped with a steel EF nib, the medium lines with a Lamy Joy 1.9mm calligraphy pen, and the broad lines with 6.0mm and 3.8mm Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens. The paper is bright white, 80gsm, from a Rhodia Bloc pad.