When I write with brown ink or receive anything in brown ink, I always feel like the writer was making a special effort to be friendly and warm toward me. Brown ink is marvelous for love poetry and for a seemingly somber color, it has a lot of fun and joy about it. Also, there isn’t anything quite as nice as a pretty brown ink on a good cream colored paper (except the contrast of crisp white paper and snuggly sepia writing).
There are a great many different shades of brown in to choose from. I think of the continuum as going from the grey-brown of sepia to the glow of a red-orange. Each one has a place for your writing. If you have to say something very non-whimsical, I would say write it in a sepia sort of brown. Two great sepias which spring to mind are both from the Noodler’s Ink company and come in generous bottles which you may not live long enough to use up. Whaleman’s Sepia is a greyed almost purple brown; it just barely makes it over the line to brown…but it is. The other is Burma Road Brown and this one is almost a green shade when compared with Whaleman’s Sepia.
On the other end, a great fiery red-brown is Diamine Ancient Copper. As a bonus, this color really shades well and performs beautifully in all pens in which I have tried it. Pelikan Brown and Sheaffer Brown are also red/brown favorites. A lot of people love love love Diamine Burnt Sienna as well. To me, Ancient Copper takes the cake.
One of the offbeat colors you might want to investigate is Noodler’s Golden Brown. It is a very high shader,which makes it desireable, and it is a real unusual looking greenish brown which virtually guarantees you won’t be overlooked when you write with this color. Almost a mustard but dark enough to be read, it’s a perfect color for the iconoclast.
I must confess, that if I were going to copy out Ginsberg’s Howl in longhand, I think I would use more of an oxblood sort of color. Failing that, and if I absolutely had to use a brown ink for it, I would use MontBlanc’s Toffee Brown. Sounds like a strange choice from a staid ink maker like Mont Blanc BUT it is a red-brown with no shading and looks great no matter what you are writing or to whom you scribble. It would be correct whether you are a banker or an undertaker. Well, maybe not the latter but just about for everything else.
That should give you a good idea of what’s up with brown inks. You can find each of these on amazon.com if you decide you want to try out a brown ink in your fountain pen.
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