Ink Review: KWZ Thief’s Red

KWZ Thief's Red swabs

I used Thief’s Red for more than three weeks in a Pelikan M600 with fine nib and a Lamy Safari with 1.1 mm stub. Thief’s Red behaved beautifully in both the wet-writing Pelikan and the dry-writing Lamy Safari. Startup was instant, even if the pen hadn’t been used for days. Thief’s Red is a wetter ink, and felt nicely lubricated in the Lamy Safari.

My favorite paper with this ink was Rhodia, which really set off Thief Red’s sprightly color. Here it is, first from the Pelikan and then the Lamy Safari.

KWZ Thief's Red writing sample

I loved the cheery color from the Pelikan with fine nib, though shading was minimal. The Safari isn’t as wet a pen, so the color seems a smidgen lighter, and less saturated. Perhaps Thief’s Red shades a tiny bit more from the Safari’s 1.1 mm stub.

Thief’s Red shaded most on Tomoe River paper. I think Thief’s Red might even sheen on Tomoe River paper, if you choose the right pen. I see a hint of sheen here with the Pelikan fine nib.


Cream-colored Tomoe River paper also seemed to bring out a slight orange tint in Thief’s Red — it still looks red, but not as pure red as it does on white paper. Here it is first from the Pelikan, next the Safari on Tomoe River.

KWZ Thief's Red writing sample

Thief’s Red performed acceptably on poor paper, too. Showthrough and bleedthrough were not a problem with the pens I used. Thief’s Red did tend to feather a bit on poor paper with the wetter Pelikan fine nib, but never terribly.

Here is Thief’s Red on Staples Sustainable Earth, my normal paper. The color of Thief’s Red remains nice and bright, but there is almost no shading.

KWZ Thief's Red writing sample

Thief’s Red is not particularly water resistant. Like most inks, it holds up fairly well on ordinary papers, which absorb much of the dye. But on smooth paper like Rhodia, Thief’s Red washes away.

KWZ Thief's Red ink water test

On the other hand, Thief’s Red is incredibly easy to clean out of a pen. That’s especially notable with a red ink. Even after being inked for more than three weeks, Thief’s Red was as easy to clean as Waterman Serenity Blue.

Thief’s Red is the most “standard” red of any KWZ ink I’ve reviewed. Here it is compared to KWZ Cherry and KWZ Red. #1.

KWZ Thief's Red, Cherry and Red #1 swabs compared

Thief’s Red is a bright red, very cheerful, and for me it was instantly likable. As I’ve mentioned, I was a little surprised to discover that Thief’s Red actually looked fairly close to an ink I’ve long owned, but really only use to mix with other inks.

KWZ Thief's Red and Sheaffer Skrip Red swabs compared

That is Sheaffer Skrip Red. Thief’s Red isn’t the same as Skrip Red, but they are fairly close in color. To compare them, I put Skrip Red into another Lamy Safari with 1.1 mm nib, and used it alongside the Safari with Thief’s Red.

Thief’s Red is a wetter ink than Skrip Red, so Thief’s Red will write a wider line and may do better in a very dry pen. However, Skrip Red didn’t give me any problems in the Safari either.

The slight difference in color shows nicely on Rhodia. In this writing sample, the first five lines are written with a Safari with 1.1 mm stub with Thief’s Red, and the second five lines are written in a Safari with 1.1 mm stub with Skrip Red.

KWZ Thief's Red and Sheaffer Skrip Red comparison

I think in hue Thief’s Red is a happier red, while Skrip Red is slightly more restrained. But Skrip Red shades more.

That said, on more absorbent paper, it becomes harder to see the differences in color between the two inks. Here is a writing sample on Staples Sustainable Earth. The first “The quick brown fox” sentence is written with Thief’s Red, the second with Skrip Red, then the third with Thief’s Red again.

KWZ Thief's Red and Sheaffer Skrip Red comparison

Even in person, on absorbent paper, it’s very hard to tell the two inks apart. Both behave the same, too: a slight bit of feathering, no showthrough or bleedthrough, and no water resistance. Thief’s Red cleans up more easily, but Skrip Red isn’t difficult to clean either.

Paper towel chromatography shows how the dyes are different. KWZ Thief’s Red is on the left, Sheaffer Skrip Red on the right.

KWZ Thief's Red and Sheaffer Skrip Red ink chromatography comparison

So I think that explains a lot. The Skrip is indeed a pure red, which is why I’ve always found it great for mixing with other inks. Thief’s Red has more pink, which seems to explain its cheerful cast.

Here’s Thief’s Red chromatography by itself. In addition to the pinkish dye, look at the yellow and peach — that explains the very slight orange tint, which I only saw, or half-saw, on Tomoe River paper.

KWZ Thief's Red ink chromatography

KWZ Thief’s Red was such an interesting ink to get to know. I instantly loved it, even though it didn’t shade very much. Maybe I was just in the mood for something straight-forward. Except, looking at the chromatography, Thief’s Red isn’t so straight-forward. But for me, it’s another winner from KWZ.

KWZ Ink is available online from at least one US store and also directly from KWZ in Poland.

One thought on “Ink Review: KWZ Thief’s Red

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.