More Ink Lightfastness Test Results

A sheet of sample swabs of various popular fountain pen inks has been in my studio window since March 10. The samples I tested in that round are:
  • Noodler's Kiowa Pecan
  • Noodler's Nightshade
  • Private Reserve Chocolat
  • Private Reserve Avocado
  • Private Reserve Velvet Black
  • Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia
  • Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng
  • Noodler's Baystate Blue
  • J. Herbin Rouge Hematite
  • Diamine Red Dragon
  • Noodler's Sequoia
  • Noodler's Navy
  • Noodler's Walnut

One month later, I posted the changes that occurred in that short time period. Today I took down the sheets and photographed them again. It's seven and a half months that they've been in the window, and a couple of the results I  found surprising. Here's what the sheets look like now:

You can click that image to see a larger version. The left side was in my south-facing studio window. The right side was kept inside a box in a cabinet, to avoid light exposure completely. The biggest surprise was that Noodler's Baystate Blue completely disappeared! Well, okay, there are a few greenish bits barely visible here and there, but I'll bet within a month, those will be gone too.

The other big surprise is actually a good thing; Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng, one of my favorite inks to work with, has stayed exactly the same as far as I can tell. That doesn't mean I'd do fine art with it to hang on my wall, but it does mean I feel totally comfortable with using it in my sketchbooks and for other purposes too. All the rest of these colors either faded dramatically, had large color shifts, or both.

It's a well known fact that fountain pen inks should not be used for fine art. They are dye-based, rather than being pigment-based like paints, and those dyes are fugitive and not meant to withstand the long term effects of ultraviolet light. Still, some hold up much better than others. Even for use in my sketchbooks, I like to know where they stand. It is worth noting that the sheets on the right, which were kept in darkness, have had no problem with retaining vivid colors, so please don't get nervous if you've been using these inks inside a book. They should be absolutely fine! These tests only reveal what happens when an ink is exposed to sunlight. If the inks you've used are not exposed to light, then these results are irrelevant.

In April, I started another round of tests with 26 more colors. It's hard to find the time to post them all at once, so I will be posting those results tomorrow and the next day. Tomorrow I'll be posting the results of::
  • Noodler's Bulletproof Black
  • Parker Quink Black
  • Private Reserve Gray Flannel
  • Diamine Graphite
  • Diamine Grey
  • Noodler's Lexington Gray
  • J. Herbin Gris Nuage
  • Iroshizuku Kiri-same
  • Omas Grey
  • Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogen
  • Iroshizuku Yama-guri
  • J. Herbin Cacao du Brasil
  • Diamine Damson
  • Caran D'Ache Storm
  • J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune

On Thursday I will share results from testing these colors:
  • Noodler's Brown #41 (old version)
  • Noodler's Golden Brown
  • Diamine Chocolate Brown
  • Diamine Saddle Brown
  • Caran D'Ache Grand Canyon
  • Noodler's Brown
  • J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir
  • Diamine Marine
  • Diamine Majestic Purple
  • Noodler's Navajo Turquoise
  • Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses


  1. love seeing you test info!

  2. Yay ! finally a comment to you is posted!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to be working on a very important book and I need it to last. I'll be sure to use only pigment based colors.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Very interesting, Jamie! I think the most important thing to note here (for all of the fountain pen enthusiasts) is that you have to keep your inks out of sunlight. That goes for ink in the bottle as well as on paper. UV just kills dye-based inks, with very few exceptions. Fountain pen inks on paper are just fine closed up in a journal or tucked away in a desk, but you definitely wouldn't want to display artwork used with (most) fountain pen inks up on the wall.

    There are a few pigment-based fountain pen inks out there like Platinum Carbon and Pigment inks, as well as Sailor Nano inks, but for non-pigmented, the only other ink maker I know that focuses on UV-resistance is Noodler's. Clearly, BSB isn't one of those inks, as most aren't, but you can see here with KTC that Nathan Tardif can do some time-tested UV-resistant dye-based inks. You'll want to look for the 'eternal' classification on the Noodler's inks, which is the name that Nathan gives for UV-resistance. Whaleman's Sepia has this rating too, which seems to have held up okay but not as well as KTC. I'm curious to see how other Noodler's eternals will hold up, too. Noodler's Black, Lexington Gray, and #41 Brown are all eternal as well, so it'll be neat to see those in your next batch of tests!

    I do really appreciate all of the time and work you're doing here. it's really cool to see your results!

  6. Brian, as usual, many thanks for your words of wisdom. KTC pretty much gets the gold star! Unfortunately, Whaleman's Sepia (also shown on this page) didn't fare so well! But I try to emphasize in my lightfastness tests and posts about the results, that for work inside a sketchbook or journal, this shouldn't be a problem. At the same time, the results send a clear message that these are not materials that should be used for a work of art that will be hanging on a wall, and I wouldn't trust UV glass to protect it well enough either. All my inks are in a drawer since you first mentioned that storage information to me! Thanks for visiting and posting; always a pleasure to see you here!