Pure Pens English Collection mini-review

Righty-ho… a very quick Pure Pens “English Collection” mini-review, just because no-one else seems to have done one yet. My apologies for the messy samples: this was really just for my own test drive of these new inks, rather than a comprehensive review for public consumption. These scribbles are on white Tomoe River paper with a glass dip pen.

I’m a big fan of Pure Pens’ Celtic Collection, with Cwm Idwal being probably my #1 favourite ink. I wasn’t expecting as much from their English Collection, as to me they look like also-rans.

Anyway, my most anticipated was Cotswolds, as it appeared to be a golden brown, at least in bulk. It is definitely a mustard yellow though – halfway between Colemans and Dijon, I guess, unless you pretty much pour it on. I’ve compared against Diamine Ochre (whose name invokes what Cotswolds actually seems to be, but is definitely a browner brown); Pure Pens’ Pendine Sands (dirty orange); and the unshimmering J.Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre.

Pure Pens' English Collection: Cotswolds, Windermere, St. George's Cross, Buckingham Blue; and comparisons

Pure Pens’ English Collection: Cotswolds, Windermere, St. George’s Cross, Buckingham Blue; and comparisons

I still think a better course would’ve been to produce a slightly greyer or grey-shading version of Diamine Ochre as a tenth member of the Celtics, as I feel that collection misses a brown (and a black, for that matter…)

Their new blue-black Windermere is interesting… I’ve compared it here with Nick Stewart’s “Randall” as I’m not much on blues and blue-blacks. It tends more to the black/grey than the blue side, unlike Randall, and has an interesting brownish sheen, like Saltire was blackened.

Pure Pens' English Collection: closer

Pure Pens’ English Collection: closer

The other two, Buckingham Blue and St. George’s Cross were the two I was least interested in.. boring blue and boring red, respectively. However, they’re really not bad at all.

St. George’s Cross is a slightly brighter red than Pure Pens’ Cadwaladr but still isn’t a pure red. Side-by-side they’re different, but in isolation, they’re more similar than perhaps I would’ve gone with. I see where they’re going, but I’m not sure Cadwaladr needed such a close sibling.

Buckingham Blue was the more surprising. I don’t like plain blue ink. Bores me silly. As a result, I’m no expert. However, I do think Buckingham Blue is pretty vivid, and it shades well. It might even sheen a bit. Compared side-by-side with Noodler’s Baystate Blue it doesn’t have the same retina-searing quality, and lacks the purple tinge BSB has, but for an ink produced by humans and able to be used in a non-Adamantium pen, it’s worth a look.

Pure Pens' Buckingham Blue vs. Baystate Blue

Pure Pens’ Buckingham Blue vs. Baystate Blue

In conclusion, I don’t think these four new Pure Pens English Collection inks stand up as well as the upper half of the Pure Pens Celtic Collection inks – for me, the sublime Cwm Idwal, Celtic Sea, Cadwaladr and Llanberis Slate; but I do think they reach the same level as the lower half of the Celtics, which are great inks. I don’t think this new collection is curated as well – I’ve maintained for a while that the Celtics are so great because they harmonise so well, sharing so many qualities. This new range is a little haphazard.

Saying all that, you could go far worse than buying these. They’re great inks, and great value for money.

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