(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Bookbinders Snake Ink is made by the Australian Stationery company, Bookbinders. The eight inks mimic the colors of actual snakes, and you can read about each snake on the Bookbinder’s site. The bottle design was inspired “by the wily snake oil salesmen of the early 1900’s.” In homage to those salesmen, the ink promises to “cure writer’s block,” but don’t expect any miracles.
Until recently, you had to purchase Snake Ink from the Australian store, but now Anderson Pens carries all eight shades in 30ml bottles ($12.50) and 3ml samples ($1.25). The glass bottles come in draw string bags made out of hessian jute.
What follows is an introduction to all eight colors. Each ink is PH-neutral, non-pigmented, and water soluble. None are waterproof.
Bookbinders Blue Racer
Bookbinders Blue Racer is a deep blue with good shading in wide nibs. As a blue ink afficionado, I’m impressed with this color. It’s a good standard blue.
Bookbinders Blue Coral
Blue Coral is a nicely saturated turquoise color. It also exhibits good shading.
Bookbinders Red Belly Black
Red Belly Black is a soft black that seems a bit too unsaturated for my tastes. I like my black inks to be really black. This one is more like a dark gray.
Bookbinders Ground Rattler
Ground Rattler is a light gray ink that is so unsaturated you probably should reserve it for wide nibs and brush pens. In wide nibs it does have some gentle shading.
Bookbinders Red Spitting Cobra
This ink is an interesting shade of coral-red. It is definitely not an intense red, but it shades well with wide nibs. I really like the unique color.
Bookbinders Eastern Brown
Eastern Brown is a gorgeous deep brown ink with excellent shading. This is my second favorite ink in the collection.
Bookbinders Everglades Ratsnake
Everglades Ratsnake is a vibrant, happy orange ink. Like the other saturated colors, it exhibits excellent shading.
Bookbinders Emerald Boa
My favorite ink in the Bookbinders collection is Emerald Boa. It is a gorgeous, saturated lime green with amazing shading.
As this is only an introduction to the Bookbinders line of inks, I will make some general observations:
- All of the inks are very wet. In fact, they remind me of watercolors. They would work really well in brush pens, and the lighter colors are perfect for painting and washes.
- Some of the colors, such as Ground Rattler and Red Spitting Cobra, are unsaturated and might be too light to use in finer nibs.
- The two most saturated colors, Eastern Brown and Emerald Boa, exhibit fantastic shading and are gorgeous on paper.
- The inks have no odor, and because they are PH-neutral and non-pigmented they should be safe for most fountain pens.
- My favorite colors are Emerald Boa, Eastern Brown, and Blue Racer. I inked my Sailor 1911 (medium nib) with Blue Racer, and the ink performs beautifully.
If you’ve been wanting to try Bookbinders Snake Inks but were put off by shipping costs from Australia, now you can get them from Anderson Pens. Each full bottle of ink is reasonably priced, and at $1.25 for 3ml samples, you can certainly afford to try all eight. You might not be able to trust snake oil salesmen, but you can definitely trust Bookbinder’s Snake Ink—it’s excellent stuff. And who knows? Maybe it really does cure writer’s block!
(Anderson Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)