The Holy Grail of Ink – Parker Penman Sapphire

A few weeks ago, I searched eBay for ‘Parker Penman Ink’ and expected the usual insanely expensive options to pop up; instead I found a seller who had three bottles of Sapphire blue for sale and it was very reasonably priced. All three described as ‘New Old Stock’ so I bought two of them, which makes me the lucky owner of two bottles of one of the most sought-after inks.

One bottle will remain sealed and stored and the other I decided to open and use and the biggest decision was which pen to load; and after much consideration I decided to load my Franklin Christoph Model 02; and once that decision was made the rest was easy.

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Loading the Franklin Christoph Model 02.

First thing I decided to do was see how the colour compared to natural sapphire, well actually it’s not bad when you do the Q-Tip test; however, the writing test brings out a darker but no less agreeable blue. Bearing in mind this is an old bottle of ink, it flows very nicely and is, if anything, a little on the wet side, so all in all I was very impressed with it.

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Writing test.

Next I decided to pitch it against the modern competition in a simple Q-Tip test. For this I chose Diamine Sapphire, Herbin Eclat De Saphir and Monteverde Sapphire and for each of them did a patch test and wrote a couple of words. It turns out that they are all different colours so from a comparative point of view there is nothing to say other than they are all good colours in their own right, but, other than being a blue ink, they are not similar to each other at all.

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Parker Penman and the competition.
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The Q-Tip comparison test.

If I had to choose a favourite from the group it would be Diamine Sapphire, it’s an amazing bright blue ink and I currently have it loaded in one of my Platinum 3776 pens, in this case it’s the one with a music nib and I can tell you it’s a lot of fun to use.

Let me leave you with this thought; Penman Sapphire is a great ink, a lovely colour but it’s an old ink so be careful if you buy some; the bottle I opened is about 40% ink and the rest is sediment which means I need to add some water to it and see what gives. There is no way the seller knew this, and, in all probability, the other bottle is fine, but do I want to open it and find out, not right now. 

Just one last thing, I would like to leave you with this wonderful little anecdote about Penman ink, the truth of which we will never know but it goes something like this:

Parker have been supplying British royalty with pens and inks for some time, and as a consequence of this hold a Royal Warrant. The Queen, so the story goes, has a liking for a particular colour of ink for her personal correspondence. 

So, when Parker took the decision to discontinue production of all Penman inks, they politely informed the Palace. The Palace then politely pointed out that if that was their decision then there was no longer any need for them to retain their Royal Warrant; Parker thought about it and the upshot of this is that they still have their Royal Warrant and the Queen still has her ink.

Disclaimer: All of the inks were purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.

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