Last week, I took a really close look at four fabulous blue inks.

Some of these inks are not easy to find. Let’s take a look and see if we can figure this thing out…
Sailor Bung Box Sapphire

After a little searching, I’ve found some sources for Bung Box inks . . . 
Rumor has it Cool-Japan had them over on eBay at one time. As of this writing, there are no Bung Box inks listed, I’ve bought ink from Cool Japan in the past and had a great experience.

The bottles and packaging look amazing and I’ve definitely enjoyed using the sample Gerald sent me. 

Here’s the trouble: money.  The Bung Box inks are not cheap – add in some shipping (from Japan!) charges, and you’re at right around $45-50 per bottle. Yikes.
Parker Penman Sapphire would also be a good substitute for Bung Box Sapphire. Because the Penman ink is no longer available, I’ve listed some good replacements in that section.  Zoom down to see.
Bottom Line:  If $ isn’t a concern, go for it. It’s a great-looking and well-performing ink – you wouldn’t be disappointed. If $ is a concern, DC Supershow Blue is a fine alternative.

Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium

Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium is only available from Goulet Pens. The good news is that Goulet Pens has a fantastic reputation in the fountain pen community for excellent customer service. They will also ship overseas.

I shop at Goulet Pens regularly and mention them frequently. I’m not related to the Goulet’s, I receive no discounts, free product, special treatment, or anything else from them. Unfortunately, in our relationship – the money only flows in the one direction 😉

PW Akkerman #5 Shocking Blue

I got mine direct from the Netherlands. Shipping was fast, seemed reasonable (though I was buying multiple bottles), and everything arrived in good condition.

Vanness Pen Shop also carries Akkerman inks. You’ll have to call or email them for specifics.

It’s expensive. The Akkerman bottles are super-fancy and they’ve come a long distance. If you don’t want to put out the money, my strong recommendation is Diamine Majestic Blue (see image below).

Parker Penman Sapphire

No longer available, there are some inky recipes out there for replacing Penman Sapphire. A quick search turned up these two links for you . . . 

Another Parker Penman Sapphire Replacement

The difficulty here is that while I think it is possible to get the color right (or at least close enough), I’m feeling pretty certain that it’s quite impossible to get the feel of Parker Penman right on target. That is to say this: the color is only part of what makes an ink so special. The feel of the sample I had is wonderfully different from all of the other blues here and I seriously doubt that mixing 6.5 drops of ink #1 with 3.75 drops of ink #2 is going to result in that same feel* – and without that, well, there are plenty of off the shelf colors that come close enough.  Have a look . . .


Some of the above ink swabs are showing the sheen – and maybe you’re thinking Penman Sapphire doesn’t have much sheen here or in my review from last week, but look at this review over on FPN – crazy sheen.

Sailor Bung Box Sapphire also looks like a good sub for Parker Penman Sapphire, but there are difficulties in obtaining that ink, too. (See the above section for those details.)

Bottom Line – DC Supershow Blue is the color I would choose if I was trying to match the color of Parker Penman Sapphire.

Of course, you could search eBay for it, but there are rumors that it was discontinued because it may contain metallic bits (hello, sheen) in it and it causes pens to clog. I’ve not had trouble with it in my Pilot Metorpolitan, however.

* Did you know that mixing inks can be an invitation for Major Trouble? Some inks don’t play well with others and you could end up with a blobby globby mess – in your pen. Some mixtures will take some time to form the blobby globby mess and by the time it does, you may have already loaded it into your pen. Be careful.

Annnnnd…that’s that!  Four Fabulous Blue Inks. This has been a fun fun project and I really have to thank Gerald again for sending me samples of some of these inks. If you’re not following me and Gerald on Instagram, you simply must.

You tell me . . . Are you going shopping for one of these? Or maybe you have another favorite blue ink?

IN-DEPTH REVIEW: Four Fabulous Blues

I’m so excited to bring you this super-charged review of four fabulous blue inks:

  • Sailor Bung Box Sapphire
  • Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium
  • Akkerman Shocking Blue
  • Parker Penman Sapphire

First, a huge and happy shout-out to my Instagram buddy, @mycoffeepot. Gerald provided me with generous samples of Sailor Bung Box Sapphire and Penman Sapphire. He’s a fountain pen nerd (in the best way possible) and if you’re not following him on Instagram, you should be.

Second, let me tell you how I worked this thing:  I loaded up four Pilot Metropolitan (medium nib) fountain pens and got to writing on Clairefontaine 90gsm paper. Lots of writing. So much writing. Then, I set everything aside and didn’t think about these inks for a couple of days. Finally, I wrote just a little more with each of the inks to see if my initial thoughts changed with a little time and separation.

Third, let me spoil things just a little here. You could, seriously, choose any of these four inks and be pretty happy.  They each write wonderfully, flow is great in the Metropolitan, and the color and saturation are right up there with some of the best inks I’ve tried.  These are truly four fabulous blue inks.

Let’s dive in!

Number 1 above will always be Number 1 (Sailor Bung Box Sapphire) below – same for Number 2, 3, and 4.  I think I could have organized things a little better for you, but you’ll figure it out – I’m confident 😉

Smear Testing . . . 

I wrote a little and then smeared across the writing. Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium (number 2) and Penman Sapphire look like the winners here. Then, I scribbled back and forth over the same area three times and smeared that – same winners.

Water Smear Testing . . . 

I wrote, let it dry, and then went over my writing with a dampened cotton swab. The clear winner is Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium. I’d say that the other three inks are about even in their resistance to water.

So, which would you choose?

Still too hard to decide?  Let’s take a closer look.  (Warning: this is where things get really long.)

Sailor Bung Box Sapphire Review . . . 

A solid medium blue, maybe not as saturated as the others. Not especially bright, no muddiness to the color. Just straight up blue.

Some nice shading. Would love to give this a go with a super broad nib because I’m seeing some pretty nice red/purple sheen in there, too.

Decent dry times.

 Definitely not water resistant.

And it’s pretty smeary when tested with a highlighter.

My thoughts on Sailor Bung Box Sapphire:

  • i love the color and it’s suitable for any writing occasion
  • nice shading and some serious potential for sheen
  • this ink can be hard to find
  • once you find it, shipping costs may make the whole thing too expensive

Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium Review . . .

Pure bright blueness.  

Not a lot of shading and definitely no sheen.

It’s interesting, I wrote in my initial review that this ink is supposed to be water-resistant. I’m positive this writing and the one above had been sitting for at least ten minutes when I dropped the water onto it. Maybe it needs to sit even longer? It’s also supposed to be semi-bullet-proof. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but there you go.

My thoughts on Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium . . . 
  • this is an ink i own and love
  • the bright color may mean it’s not suitable for some professional settings
  • it’s only available through Goulet Pens – if you’re outside of the US or don’t want to order online, you may be out of luck
  • i’m not finding it particularly water-resistant even though it’s advertised as such

PW Akkerman #5 Shocking Blue Review . . . 

A rich, dark, blue with a reputation for some fantastic red sheen.

Good shading . . .

Nice sheen . . .

It does just ok on the smearing tests . . .

Yikes. I wrote the word “DRAG” and then dragged a wet cotton swab over the writing after the ink had dried. Crazy, right?

And given the above, the below highlight test probably isn’t too much of a surprise.

My thoughts on PW Akkerman #5 Shocking Blue . . .

  • crazy sheening potential from this super-saturated ink
  • fun bottles
  • this ink can be hard to find and international shipping can be expensive. Vanness Pen Shop (in the US) carries the Akkerman line
  • zero water resistance

Parker Penman Sapphire Review . . . 

True blue, dark blue, saturated blue.

Lots of shading and color variation . . .

Great dry time . . .

Not so great water-resistance . . .

Just ok on the highlight testing . . . 
My thoughts on Penman Sapphire . . .
  • i love everything about it – the writing experience is different from all of the others – maybe a little bit more lubrication than the others?
  • impossible to get (i didn’t know this until i started writing the review, but it was the smallest of the samples that Gerald sent and I knew there must be a reason)

That’s it (enough already!) for today.
Just one quick question for you:  which would you choose?
I’ll be back next week with more on these inks. Specifically, I’ll be looking at suitable substitutes for each.  You know, in case you don’t have a time machine so you can pick up a bottle or two of Penman Sapphire 😉
In the meantime, here are links to some full-size images for you (they’re big!) . . . 
Ink Swabs (note, these are a bit out of order)