of words about my guide to the brown ink family are appropriate.
My primary motivation was to determine which color is most
appropriate for the task at hand.
YMMV. A brand that looks wonderful from one pen won't necessarily
look as nice in another pen. And (as we all know) some pens
are just plain picky. One brand that flows like the Nile from
one pen may flow like molasses in another. Naturally my comments
are based on my experience and are not the be-all or end-all
of the topic!
brown ink is Sheaffer Brown. Possibly the "sturdiest"
of the browns, it is neither red nor yellow.
a somewhat arbitrary division of brown inks and sepia inks.
Webster's New 20th Century Unabridged defines sepia as a dark,
red brown. I include three inks in this category of dark,
red brown: Higgins Sepia Calligraphy, Omas Seppia, and Pelikan
4001 Brilliant Brown. It is debatable as to whether the Pelikan
really dark enough to be counted as sepia ink, but -- to my
eye -- it is too red not be counted as sepia.
Conway Stewart Brown: a rich, milk chocolate brown
with a suggestion of auburn. I have not used it enough to
comment on its flow, but it appears to be excellent ink.
Sepia Calligraphy: The least red of the sepia family,
it tends toward middle brown with medium auburn highlights.
This is the "softest" looking color of the sepias.
Over a period of time (years) it becomes a bit darker. It
is sold in a nasty plastic bottle; it's best to transfer it
to a decent bottle.
Herbin Café des Iles: A light brown with subtle
reddish tones. The color reminds me of a camelhair coat that's
been washed with a new red towel. I used to despise this color
but it has grown on me. It is definitely great ink; I have
only ever seen a single pen that doesn't care for J. Herbin
Herbin Tabac: A light, pastel brown with no obviously
discernable blonde or auburn tones. I'm still making up my
mind what to think about this color; perhaps it will grow
on me like Café des Iles.
Brown: The color of the tan tops of a horseman's hunting
boots. Suggestive of some half-remembered bright, cheap chocolate
candy. It was sold in 100 ml. plastic bottles! ! I despised
this ink when it was available (but used it every day, go
Seppia: A cordovan brown with deep, dark highlights. This
is the deepest brown of the sepia family; it is certainly
the most assertive of the sepia inks. It flows magnificently
in my Omas but doesn't fare as well in some other pens.
Penman Mocha: This is the darkest brown I have seen. I
think of it as "Burnt Crispy Umber," "Used
Motor Oil Brown," or perhaps "Dusty Old Bear Brown."
Can be mistaken for poor-quality black ink (handy in government
offices). It looks terrific on calligraphic parchment!
There is nothing I can say about Parker Penman ink that hasn't
been already been said a hundred times. I husband my small
supply and use it in pens with wet, wide nibs to bring out
its best. Discontinued.
4001 Brilliant Brown: More of a sepia tone than a brown
tone. Its reddish overtones make Brilliant Brown the brightest
in the sepia family, although it does have some suggestion
of blonde highlights. It is so reddish that one of my friends
uses it to grade papers! It has stellar flow.
Reserve Copper Burst: A golden brown that really does
look copper. It has a pronounced blonde hue, with pale, medium-brown
highlights. Like its siblings from Private Reserve, Copper
Burst flows beautifully.
Sepia: A very light brown, quite similar to Café
des Iles, but with blonde tones in place of the J. Herbin
Brilliant Brown: I expected another Pelikan-like brown
because if its name. But it is really a true chocolate brown.
Brown: An earthy brown with no hints of red or yellow.
It's a very easy ink to underrate, which is a shame as it
is a first-rate performer.
Bethge Papiere Pralinébraune: As nearly as I can
tell, this is J. Herbin Tabac, available in a bottle.
Havana Brown: A mahogany brown. Its color is similar to
a Brazil nut shell, or walnut wood stain. It has very dark