Review of the New 2012 Noodlers #41 Brown Ink

As many of you may know, Nathan (owner of Noodler's Ink Company) has been unable to continue making his popular #41 Brown. Artists, calligraphers, and fountain pen aficionados have all been wondering how they're going to continue to satisfy their addictions for a favorite color. Nathan reformulated the ink with different ingredients, and it is now available, bottled as Noodlers #41 (2012). I just received a sample of it, and did some comparisons with the new and old #41s on different types of papers.

It would certainly have been more scientific to test them in the same type of pen, but all my pens were inked up already. I had my old #41 in a Lamy Safari with an Extra Fine nib. The new Noodlers #41 went into a Sheaffer 100 with a Fine nib. Still, I think I found out everything I need to know except for how the new one will do on lightfastness tests, and that will take awhile.

Let's take a look at the images, and I'll explain some of the things I did. You should be able to click them to view larger sizes. Since inks react differently on different papers, I tested them on three different types of paper today. This first test was done on an Ampad Quad Ruled Steno Book. I dried the page with a hair dryer on high heat, then scrubbed the left side of the cross-hatched section of each sample with a clean waterbrush. (That's the kind of brush that has the water right in the barrel of the brush.)

As you can see above, the new formulation hardly bled at all, even when scrubbing with the wet brush. The old formulation displayed the one characteristic that has always bugged me about this ink, and ran enough to easily contaminate watercolors used in conjunction with an ink drawing. Before I started jumping for joy and thinking I'd finally found a true waterproof brown ink to use with watercolors, I figured I'd better test drive it on some paper I might actually use for journal art.

Below are samples of #41 New and #41 Old in a Stillman and Birn Epsilon book, made specifically for pen and ink. I let both samples sit for a few minutes, then scrubbed with the waterbrush on the left side of the crosshatched sections. Then I dried them with a hair dryer on high heat, let it cool, and tested the waterbrush on the right sides of the samples. As you can see below, both the old and new versions ran on this sized paper with the wet brush. However, the new #41 bled much less than it's older counterpart.Plus, the color that did wash out was much more neutral, rather than the more orange hue from the old version.

I don't usually scrub so hard when working with watercolor over ink. Generally it's just one or two passes with the brush. I decided to try on one more paper and see what happened with just a single pass over the dried ink with the brush, as well as with scrubbing. For this I used a Stillman and Birn Alpha book, to see how they would act on a slightly more textured, sized paper. The ink was dried with a hair dryer before using a wet brush on it. I ran the wet brush down the left side of each of the crosshatched sections and also the more densely colored squares. Then I scrubbed with it on the right sides of each.

Again, the new Noodler's #41 Brown outperformed the old. In fact, the single pass with the waterbrush on the crosshatched sample of the new ink didn't bleed at all. Are the two inks exactly the same color? No. When viewed side by side, you can see differences, but you probably wouldn't notice those color shifts without the direct comparison.

In closing, congratulations to Nathan for not only formulating a replacement, but for improving upon the original as well! I think I see a bottle of the new #41 in my near future. (Anybody interested in a swap for a bottle of the old, now unavailable #41 ink? ;) )

Tomorrow: Some comparisons of "waterproof" blacks!


  1. Good job, Jamie! Fascinating comparisons...

  2. Hmm! Interesting! I am looking forward to seeing how the Platinum Pigmented Sepia compares to the #41. Both in waterproofness and in color. Good job on this! It's very useful!

  3. Nice to know. I love brown inks. Thanks for sharing this. :)

  4. Thanks for the comparison here, Jamie. I've been meaning to do one of these myself, but now I can procrastinate a little longer since you've done such a good job here ;) And how are you loving that Sheaffer 100? It's one of my favorite pens as of late (but I like a juicy M nib!).

  5. Hey, Brian! Thanks very much. How do I love that Sheaffer 100? Oh sooooo much! I got a bunch of new pens from you last week and that one is by far my favorite. I love everything about it, and it's extremely well priced for what it offers! I'll be reviewing all of them in about another week. I need to play with them more before I open my big mouth. LOL

    The good news is that we now have power back and I can get to the files on my desktop computer, which means that I can post the results of my tests with waterproof black inks, as well as have all the conveniences such as HEAT! :)))