Sometimes inks can be identical because a store or pen maker releases another brand’s ink under their private label, like the P.W. Akkerman store in the Netherlands and the Bung Box store in Japan, as well as the late lamented Conway Stewart.
Or sometimes inks can be similar, but not the same, and there’s no obvious explanation.
Lately I’ve been trying the excellent, and very well-priced, inks from the online store Seitz-Kreuznach. I haven’t posted all my reviews yet, but they will all be up soon.
One of the things I do when I review an ink is to swab it, and then I look for comparables among other inks I own. Another thing I do, sometimes, is simple paper towel chromatography to see what the ink’s component dyes are.
I’ve noticed in doing these two things that Seitz-Kreuznach’s lovely red ink, Tomato Red, looks an awful lot like the swab of another red ink I’d sampled, Monteverde Red.
Now, different inks can look similar. And swabs aren’t perfect. So I did chromatography on both inks. Monteverde Red is on the left and Seitz-Kreuznach Tomato Red is on the right.
The dyes and dye pattern of these two inks look incredibly similar, if not the same, to me.
Seitz-Kreuznach ink is made in Austria. Monteverde ink is made in Austria but bottled in the United States.
I do not own many Monteverde inks, but I do have Monteverde Brown. Here are swabs of Monteverde Brown on the left and Seitz-Kreuznach Chestnut Brown on the right.
Here is chromatography of the two brown inks, with Monteverde on the left and Seitz-Kreuznach on the right.
Again the dyes and mixtures of the Monteverde and Seitz-Kreuznach inks look extremely similar, if not the same.
I also own a sample of Monteverde Burgundy. I can’t compare that to a Seitz-Kreuznach burgundy, because there is no Seitz-Kreuznach burgundy. But I can compare it to Montblanc Burgundy Red. Here are the swabs.
I did paper towel chromatography of the two burgundy inks. Montblanc Burgundy Red is on the left and Monteverde Burgundy is on the right.
It looks to me that those two burgundy inks also use the same dyes, or at least incredibly similar dyes. Montblanc bottled ink now is made in Austria, too.
I own a bottle of Montblanc Mystery Black. I don’t have Monteverde Black, but I can compare Montblanc Mystery Black to Seitz-Kreuznach Panthers Black.
Here are the chromatography results, with Montblanc Mystery Black on the left and Seitz-Kreuznach Panthers Black on the right.
Finally, I purchased a sample of Montblanc’s current version of Midnight Blue, because I had noticed that the old iron gall Midnight Blue did look similar to Seitz-Kreuznach Navy Blue. Here is a swab of the current version of Montblanc Midnight Blue next to Seitz-Kreuznach Navy Blue.
Here are the chromatography results, with Montblanc Midnight Blue on the left and Seitz-Kreuznach Navy Blue on the right.
However, that is the end of the similarities. Montblanc’s new Lavender Purple is not similar to Seitz-Kreuznach Dark Orchid. Nor is Montblanc Royal Blue similar to Seitz-Kreuznach Pacific Blue. And Montblanc Irish Green is very different from Seitz-Kreuznach Palm Green.
The browns seem different, too. Montblanc Toffee Brown does look a little close, in swabs, to Monteverde Brown and Seitz-Kreuznach Chestnut Brown.
However, the chromas do show different dyes, though the mixtures may be similar. From left to right is Montblanc Toffee Brown, Monteverde Brown and Seitz-Kreuznach Chestnut Brown.
My Montblanc ink bottle is older than my Monteverde and Seitz-Kreuznach inks, which may have some bearing, but that’s what I have.
So, first, even of the inks that I own and could test, only some are very similar. Both pairs that I own between Monteverde and Seitz-Kreuznach look very close — red and brown. One pair that I own between Montblanc and Monteverde looks very close to me — burgundy. And two pairs between Montblanc and Seitz-Kreuznach seem to me very close — black and blue black.
But they aren’t all similar. And I do not own every ink from Monteverde. Nor do I have the sort of sophisticated testing equipment that would be necessary to draw firm conclusions. These are just some interesting similarities. Companies change their ink formulas from time to time. And ink is more than dyes: inks use other ingredients, too, some which may cause different behavior.
I happen to be a Montblanc fan, and some of my all-time favorite inks are Montblanc inks; I’ll keep using Montblanc inks. The inks that I’ve used from Seitz-Kreuznach are excellent, too. I always think it’s a great idea to look past brand names and really try an ink for itself.