So often, we focus on the newest inks and ink colors. Today, we thought we’d do an overview of an ink classic: Sheaffer. There are eight basic colors: Black, Purple, Red, Brown, Green, Turquoise, Blue, and Blue-Black. Each ink is available in 50ml bottles for $10 each or in Sheaffer proprietary cartridges (I recommend the mixed pack of cartridges, $6).
These colors have been around for decades. Yet, they are still lovely.
The great thing about a classic ink like Sheaffer is that it is safe for your vintage pens. So, having a bottle of Sheaffer ink around is wise just for the vintage pens you have — or might one day have.
Another great aspect of Sheaffer inks is the reasonable price. Compared with a lot of other ink brands, $10 for 50ml is a great deal.
Let’s get into each color. I’ll start with black ink. We should all have at least one bottle of black ink. If you are not brave enough to keep a bottle of Platinum Carbon Black as your “one true black”, here’s a comparison of Sheaffer Black against some other water soluble black inks and Platinum Carbon Black. From top to bottom, left to right: Pelikan Edelstein Onyx, Waterman Intense Black, Sheaffer Black, Platinum Carbon Black, Colorverse 20 Blackhole, Monteverde Raven Noir, Monteverde Coal Noir, Kaweco Pearl Black, Lamy Crystal Obsidian, Colorverse 1 Sunspot, Robert Oster Black is Black.
It’s challenging to see the subtle differences between the blacks on screen but I tried to compare Sheaffer Black to other similar blacks. Sheaffer Black is a rich, dark black. Monteverde Coal Noir is probably the closest black to Sheaffer Black as both feel genuinely neutral black and very dark. Monteverde Raven Noir is close but a little warm with a hint of red. Pelikan Onyx has a hint of green. The remainder of the blacks are definitely warm blacks. It would be hard to tell the difference between these blacks if I didn’t have all these swatches side-by-side to compare. Sheaffer Black is a good flat black.
When it comes to blue-black inks, they run the gamut in the dark blue hues: indigo, midnight blue, deep sea blue, blue-black, and anything else that is not turquoise or bright blue. That said, to find good comparisons for Sheaffer Blue-Black which leans a little more dark greenish-teal, these are the inks I find: Callifolio Olifants, Sheaffer Blue-Black, Sailor Shikiori Shimoyo, Robert Oster Great Southern Ocean, Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris. Clearly, I didn’t find other inks that were clearly described as “blue-black” but really fit the same look-and-feel as Sheaffer Blue-Black. Sheaffer Blue-Black has lovely shading.
Sheaffer Brown is a very warm, brown so it was hard to find a comparable color. Instead I tried to find familiar, popular browns. From top to bottom: Diamine Ancient Copper, Sheaffer Brown, Ackerman SBRE Brown, J. Herbin Cafe des Iles. All of these browns are warm browns but all feel like they accomplish different things. Sheaffer Brown shades beautifully.
With Sheaffer Blue, it was pretty eye opening that the blue was pretty comparable to so many other blues that are beloved and considerably more expensive. From top to bottom: Sheaffer Blue, Monteverde Capri Blue, Sailor Jentle Sky High, Colorverse 14, Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, Sailor Jentle Souton. Looks like there’s no reason to drop twice as much money on the same color anymore, huh? Sheaffer Blue has some rockin’ red sheen.
Oh, turquoise! I have so many bottles of turquoise ink and I marvel at how similar they all are. From top to bottom: Sheaffer Turquoise, J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche, Lamy Pacific Blue, Franklin-Christoph Spanish Blue, Monteverde Caribbean Blue. None of these turquoise inks are crazy expensive but that’s okay. It just means its okay to have more than one bottle. Sheaffer Turquosie has a delicious, pinky sheen.
Sheaffer Green is not a crayon green or Kelly green that you might expect from a basic line of inks. It’s actually more of a teal. For comparison, from top to bottom: J. Herbin Bleu Calanque, Robert Oster Torquay, Sheaffer Green, Diamine Marine, Colorverse #23 Photon. I have recommended Robert Oster Torquay so many times and Sheaffer Green is similar, just a little more green. It’s a really pretty color. Don’t discount it just because it has a simple name. Think of it as “Vintage Pyrex Aqua” instead of Green. Sheaffer Green sheens with a little reddish.
Red ink is a hard color to agree upon. To compare, from top to bottom: J. Herbin Rouge Opera, Diamine Matador, Sheaffer Red, Colorverse 49 Felicette, Taccia Aka Red. Sheaffer Red is a slightly warmer red like Taccia Aka Red but Taccia has way more sheening. There is a little sheening in the Sheaffer Red though. Colorverse Felicette is a slightly pinky red and Diamine and J. Herbin are both a darker red.
Sheaffer Purple is a lovely shading bright purple. Compared to other inks, from top to bottom: Sheaffer Purple, Pilot Iroshizuku Mirasaki Shikibu, Pilot 100th Anniversary Jurojin, Papier Plume Violet. Sheaffer Purple is very similar to Pilot 100th Jurojin which is really surprising. Pilot Iroshizuku Mirasaki Shikubu is a little warmer and Papier Plume Violet is a little cooler.
I hope this overview gives you a little more of an appreciation for Sheaffer Inks. I really think they are a great option. They are reasonably priced, the colors are great AND safe for vintage pens.
- Pens: Tachikawa Comic Pen dip nib holder ($8.25) with Zebra G titanium nib ($33.50 per 10-pack)
- Swatches: Col-o-dex Rotary Cards ($15)
- Brush: Blick Synthetic Round #0
- Ink: Sheaffer Fountain Pen Inks ($10 for 50ml bottle)
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
4 comments / Add your comment below
Great overview, thank you!
I have three bottles of Sheaffer ink: brown, which I really love because it shades from a true warm brown to full black, and it matches perfectly some pens with that range in their bodies. Turquoise, which I also like a lot but, as you mention in your post, it is quite similar to other turquoise inks.
And then there’s Sheaffer green… When I bought the bottle, I noticed it was not green but teal. Actually, I found it similar to Sailor Yama-Dori without the sheen. I preferred the Sheaffer ink because it was better behaved than the Sailor, which is quite a praise! But now five years have passed and the ink has turned turquoise. In fact it is lighter than the turquoise ink, like “more turquoise than turquoise”. I wonder how it will look in five more years from now.
I also have blue and black cartridges and I also like them.
From you review, it looks like Sheaffer red is the truest red of them all. I may soon get a bottle.
Thanks again for this overview… What about a similar overview of the Waterman or Pelikan 4001 inks? 😉
I wonder if the Sheaffer green was exposed to light and that caused it to fade? Inks are sensitive to light. I would recommend storing your bottles in drawers, boxes or a closet that does not get sun exposure to protect it from damage.
I have a Waterman overview in the works. I will add Pelikan 4001 to the list!
Thank you for your feedback.
I store my ink bottles in metal tins, which are opaque. I read somewhere that exactly the same happened to a Caran d’Ache green ink bottle, so there may be something prone to fading in some green inks.
Great, I am looking forward to reading the Waterman inks overview!
Brilliant review! I have Sheaffer red and turquoise and it’s great to see how they compare to other inks.
This is an amazing reference post.