Private Reserve Blue/Purple Inks Test

Here are the next batch of 20 bleach swatch tested Private Reserve inks in the blues and purples range. Of note, there are 2 Mindnight Blues with the second one being the fast dry option.

Since my my first post I have done some digging on this particular brand. This a quote from Jordan, posted in August 2016, who is a member of the Fountain Pen Network:

“The man (Terry W. Johnson) behind Private Reserve passed away recently, and he failed to properly document his knowledge before passing. His family has tried their best to keep the business running, but has had persistent quality issues, causing customer complaints. If we can learn a life lesson from this, it is: if others depend on your specific knowledge, write it down somewhere. You never know what tomorrow holds.”

I also had a chat with another very knowledgeable character within the industry who confirmed the info in the above quote and also divulged that ink contamination (bacteria) has been a big problem with this brand which may explain the gloopy consistency I found with some of the samples. Didn’t feel great after hearing this I as sometimes lick my paint brushes and may well have done so during these tests!

Well, as you can see apart from one colour there is not a lot to get too excited about here. They all blend with water and gradate out. There is some reaction with bleach – Sonic Blue and Purple Haze were the most dramatic. Chromatically, there is nothing noteworthy and even from a sheen perspective there’s not much happening. I don’t enjoy bad mouthing, but when a brand claims to be the Number 1 and it evidently isn’t, well…. That said, the samples I have could ALL be rotten and maybe you should ignore my post? However you look at this, if Private Reserve want to live up to their claim of being the premier brand – they need to pull their fingers out and do something about it! This brand can be summed up as lack lustre – at best – and I’m being kind.

Inks tested: Ebony Purple, Midnight Blue, Midnight Blue (Fast), Sonic Blue, Electric Blue, Supershow Blue, American Blue, Naples Blue, Tropical Blue, Daphne Blue, Black Magic Blue, Cosmic Cobalt, Tanzanite, Purple Mojo and Purple Haze.

Ebony Purple – bizarre name considering that I can’t see any purple in it, but there is a hint of chromatic activity and evidence of a metallic green sheen. No reaction with bleach.

Announcement: I have finally given into pressure and opened an ETSY shop. If you’d like to buy any of the original art featured on my site you can purchase it here. I will do my upmost to add value to your investment over time – click here to access the shop . I am also accepting commissions for swatch tests. So, if you have a favourite ink(s) and some words for someone special, or maybe just for yourself, drop me a line and we can discuss further.

If you’d like to know more about this project, please take a look at the Mission Statement.

All tests on Bockingford 200lb watercolour paper using a dip pen with titanium zebra G flex nib for the bleach work and a Noodler’s Ahab for the ink work.

Ink samples sourced through Goulet Pens.

Just for the record – I do this for myself, I receive no remuneration what-so-ever and I tell it exactly how I see it.


8 thoughts on “Private Reserve Blue/Purple Inks Test

  1. That is interesting to learn about the brand….and sad. Aside from being a life lesson, it does make one curious about the intrigues & machinations involved in the workings of the pen & ink trade. I for one sidestep Private reserve inks after having invested in a bottle and ending up with some kind jarred, exotic mushroom growth. Imagine that in an expensive and/or vintage pen! oi

    Once more, thanks for an illuminating review 🙂

  2. That’s too bad about the owner passing away, and not having the recipes properly documented. Good life lesson though! The well-known contamination issues are one of the reasons why I only have a bottle or two (and a few samples) of this ink in my collection. I bought Shell Pink, which was a strange colour right out of the box, and did not match any swatches I have seen of the colour (including your most recent post!). It also looked manky, so I never even used it in a pen. To be honest, I never got really excited about this line and it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, (there were a number of well known pen repair people who expressed their opinions about the line (all boutique brands of inks) and the possibility of these inks causing damage to pens) but since I was meh about the lineup, I just gravitated to other brands. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    • I shouldn’t rise to the bait, but when someone claims to be No 1, where I’m concerned, they have to demonstrate that they deserve that accolade. Since I started this ridiculous project, one thing I have demonstrated, time and again, is that there are many fantastic ink makers internationally who are not just talented, but are charming, demure and don’t make stupid claims to false crowns PLUS the fact that you and Pira have both had mould cultures sold to you just adds to my contempt for this particular brand. Rant over. I’m going to enjoy the next two posts….

  3. Yep, all my samples from PR ink has been moldy… though, interestingly enough, my bottles of blue suede, napels blue and arabian rose have not…yet? (knock on wood, I hope not in any time frame really!…) I have heard this story too from pen shops in NL and that is why they are selling what they have an not getting any more in. They might have been No 1. at some point, but not in recent years. Sad but true!

  4. The swatch labeled ebony purple looks more like ebony blue, which would explain the lack of purple tone. I understand that mislabeled samples have also been an issue. Too bad as I used to really enjoy their inks.

    • My Spearmint sample appears to be okay. If it’s gloopy in consistency or appears to be mouldy then you obviously have a problem. Check it out – if it seems weird – send it back.

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