Disclaimer: the five new TWSBI 1791 inks were supplied to me for free by Pen Classics for review purposes. The six original colours were purchased by me.
When Rene at Pen Classics (www.penclassics.nz) offered to send me the new TWSBI ink colours to review I figured it was a good opportunity to put all 11 colours together for a giant review. I’ve tested all the inks on three different papers – Tomoe River original 52gsm, Rhodia, and standard copy paper. Tests were all done with a glass dip pen, which is not ideal as it tends to put a bit more ink down than a fountain pen would – but inking up and cleaning one fountain pen 11 times was never gonna happen!
The original six colours (named S1 for the purposes of this review) are Pink, Prairie Green, Royal Purple, Sky Blue, Orange and Emerald Green. The 18ml bottles are made of an attractive frosted glass with a translucent red plastic cap, and are available individually or in a boxed set. The box is plain white cardboard reminiscent of TWSBI’s pen packaging, and while not very decorative it does provide a practical way to carry the inks around securely.
The S2 inks (as I’m calling them) are Forest Green, Grape, Navy, Tangerine and Crimson. The bottles are identical to the S1 inks, but only come individually – a strange choice IMO considering that they could easily have added a brown ink to the mix and offered the option of a whole boxed set again. But for whatever reason, this time they come packed in individual sturdy cardboard boxes.
PRAIRIE GREEN (S1): a bright spring green, dark enough to be legible in most pens. Looking through my own ink swatches the closet match I have is Iroshizuku Chiku-rin, which is similar but has a bit more blue in it.
EMERALD GREEN (S1): sits on the border between green and teal. Nothing in my swatches is similar, but that’s because I go for the teal shades usually.
FOREST GREEN (S2): this one is not as far removed from Emerald Green as I thought it would be. It’s definitely less blue-toned and more of a traditional green though. My closest match (forgetting the shimmer) is Herbin Emerald of Chivor, though that is a bit more blue.
PINK (S1): a pretty pale pink with orange undertones that is too light for legibility in a dry or fine nib. My closest matches for this are actually corals – Herbin Corail des Tropiques and Sailor Ink Studio 173.
ROYAL PURPLE (S1): a bright standard purple, somewhat similar to Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu.
GRAPE (S2): a dusky dark pink and not at all a colour I’d associate with grapes! It’s quite unlike any of my other inks – the closest I could get was a very old sample of Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses.
SKY BLUE (S1): a bright, happy turquoise. I don’t have a good match for this, Iroshizuku Ama-iro is my closest but Sky Blue definitely had more green in it.
NAVY (S2): an opaque blue-black. KWZ Walk Over Vistula is similar but has more sheen.
ORANGE (S1): a darkish shade that leans quite red. Robert Oster Orange Rumble is as close as I can get, but the TWSBI orange is redder.
TANGERINE (S2): very very bright – the iPhone camera couldn’t capture it properly, but it’s really only a shade away from being a fluorescent. Nothing in my collection comes close!
CRIMSON (S2): a blood red that leans blue. Diamond Red Dragon is similar but has a bit more blue – Crimson is more of an arterial red!
All inks behaved well on Tomoe River, and most exhibited some haloing in heavy deposits. Emerald Green, Forest Green and Navy all showed some red sheen on the swatches, but Navy was the only one to show a hint of sheen in actual writing. Prairie Green and Sky Blue look like the best bets for getting noticeable shading.
On the Rhodia paper there was feathering in all the swatches except for Pink and Tangerine, the two lightest colours. None of the inks exhibited any haloing, sheen or shading.
On the photocopy paper Tangerine was the best-behaved, with all other shades showing feathering – Crimson and Navy were the worst offenders.
My conclusion from my testing was that these inks are best used with high quality paper and are too “runny” to look good on cheap paper (with the possible exception of Tangerine.)Most of the colours are fairly standard, but may exhibit some interesting halo or shading under the right conditions. As such they are a good match for TWSBI’s pens, which are similarly unpretentious and affordable.
My favourites out of these are definitely the Grape and Tangerine, which I feel take a step beyond “normal” colours into the territory of “interesting.”
Thanks to Rene for ink, my cat HarrietJonesPrimeMinister for assisting as a background model, and the little unnamed guest reviewer who was too shy to voice an opinion!
(Note: in the photos the Tomoe River paper is first, copy paper second and Rhodia third. The closeups are all Tomoe River.)
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