On this, the ninth day of Inkmas, I give you a tried-and-true classic, Pilot Blue. This is not the fancy-pants Iroshizuku version but the back-to-basics, loyal-like-a-labrador Pilot Blue.

It comes in a gorgeous, classic bottle with a pedestal base that will look nice on your desk and last for ages. The bottle has an ingenious little plastic tube in the middle. When the ink level in the bottle starts to drop, just cap the bottle, flip it over and then right it and open it. The plastic tube will be filled with ink and you can easily fill your pen.


Pilot Blue has a bit of a strong smell in the bottle but once its loaded in my pen, I don’t notice it. There’s lots of shading details in my writing sample from a crystal sky blue to a deep indigo. The dry time was pretty reasonable. I was using a wider nib than I normally do and didn’t have any smudging issues. It stood up pretty well to water. While it is not waterproof, there is a bit of water resistance which is nice.


When compared with other blues in my arsenal, Diamine Washable Blue 80ml ($12.75) was the closest in color. De Atramentis U. S. Constitution 35ml ($12.50) (besides being extremely bloopy in my dip pen) is a bit more of a smoky blue. Private Reserve American Blue 50ml ($8.80) is more of a royal blue and leans much darker when applied in heavy strokes.

Pilot Blue comes in a 70ml bottle for $16.50. If you’re looking for the best value for the volume, Pilot Blue might not be the favored option but the easy-to-use bottle adds a benefit some of the other inks don’t offer.

The samples above were written with a vintage Esterbrook outfitted with a #2442 falcon stub in the Quo Vadis Habana bright white, blank notebook. Dry times will vary depending on paper stock. Comparison samples were written using a steel dip nib with a bit of flex which causes some of the more liquidy inks, like De Atramentis, to run a bit. They are included for color comparison. Best efforts were made to achieve color accuracy but the limitations of camera, lighting and individual monitor calibrations may alter the final look. For best results, order a sample of the ink color you like best and try it before you invest in a whole bottle.

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