Finding a Ink “Dupe” in My Collection

This year, I found my favorite ink color and have proceeded to use it in my daily writers all year. It’s not a particularly rare or coveted ink but, for me, it is exactly what works for me. I am almost to the bottom of the bottle and so I wondered if, in the 100s of bottles of in that I own, I might have a close match.

In the make-up and cosmetics world its referred to as a “dupe”. This term is often used when trying to find a. cheaper version of an expensive item or one that might have only been available in a limited edition kit. While the ink I want to dupe is neither expensive nor rare necessarily, I was hoping that I could use an ink I already own rather than buying yet another bottle of ink.

As you may have already guessed from the photos or if you have been following my daily writing journey this year, the ink I have been using is Monteverde Birthday Cake. The 30ml bottle I had cost about $12 at the time of purchase. So, there’s a bit of irony as I try to dupe it with inks that range in price from $12 – $40+ per bottle.

This was not an exhaustive search across every purple/violet ink currently available. Rather, this was a search through my personal collection. We all do it, right? We often buy colors we love over and over again. I like dark smokier purple/violets and so I tend to buy similar hues from different brands.

The Inks

In the end, I found about 27 or so bottles of purple/violet or purple-adjacent inks in my collection. There may have been a couple more but this seemed like a good range. Using a sheet of Col-o-ring paper in my FOLIO pad, I was able to swatch each bottle, one after the other, to get a bird’s eye view of the color range.

Several bottles were much too reddish purple. And several colors were too sheeny for everyday use (for me) like Troublemaker Grapevine and Lamy Azurite (see below).

The Short List


In the end, I found three close matches for me. The closest was Monteverde Mulberry Noir but it is a bit darker. Sydney Lavender has a similar smoky quality but it is much more reddish. Waterman Tender Purple was also a close dupe and probably closest in color but its a bit more saturated and the color sheens a bit.

So, what do you think I decided to do?


In the process of doing this experiment, I discovered that one of the inks I had dramatically changed colors. What was once “Canterbury Raisin” from Birmingham Pen Company had turned turquoise. this was from their earlier ink batches and the bottle was labelled “made in Germany” so it is at least four or five years old. My inks are stored in drawers to keep them out of the sun so this was quite a surprise. I have a swatch on the lid of the bottle showing the color to be closer to Sailor Manyo Fuji — a bit of a shifting color but definitely a purple color. I talked with some of our Patrons about it and they each had a similar tale of an ink in their collection shifting colors. Has this happened to you?

In Closing

If you decide to attempt a similar experiment with a favorite ink color, remember that the pen nib size and the paper you use may alter the experience. In my case, I am using Stalogy paper and a Fine nib in my Sailor Pro Gear Slim as my daily carry. I discovered when I switched nib to an EF, the ink color altered slightly with more shading range making my experience less consistent. This is definitely something to consider when deciding if you like an ink: try it in a couple nib sizes and on a few papers. This is a prime example of YMMV.


Written by

17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I am wondering why you are marking Watermen Violet Tendresse as a possible dupe. This ink color has been produced for decades if you ask me – violet being a color French school children were required to use for schoolwork. Chronologically speaking the possibility that others are ‘dupes’ seems more logical to me.

    1. This is more about duplicating the color than the historical or chronological value. If we were talking which was the more historical then waterman tender purple would be the winner by far.

  2. Monteverde Birthday Cake was one of the first ink samples I ever received and it is still probably my favorite purple ink to this day.

  3. Hi,
    I think you went on and bought a new bottle of Birthday Cake because your dupes were not perfect or close enough duplicates!
    I have many bottles of ink but am not deterred by that fact from buying more. I am currently writing my way through all of my sample vials looking for new favorites, in fact.

  4. As I’m almost to the bottom of my coveted Lamy Dark Lilac, I keep looking for its dupe. I think I’m seeing a few choices above, so thank you for your review!

  5. I’ve been hoarding my Canterbury Raisin and haven’t used it lately because I love it. Yes, I know better. If it turned, I’m going to be sad. It’s one of my favorites from my monthly shipment from back then.

  6. If I were dedicated to the mission, I would try diluting Waterman Tender Purple with water and see if that made a better match. In real life, I’d have bought another Monteverde Birthday Cake.

  7. Without seeing your shortlist, I picked Mulberry Noir as the closest match, too! Whenever I think I have way more colored pencils than any sane person would, I think about your ink collection. 😉

  8. I love this! I have been looking for a dupe for my Montblanc Shakespeare Velvet Red ink, which was a limited edition. Maybe I should try the same method as you, and see if I already have an ink in my collection that matches.

  9. Not a Birmingham color, but I recently had a sample of Colorverse Hubble Zoom go from that dark red/brown to straight up light tan. The sample was probably from 2018 and was kept in a drawer almost the entire time, and never in harsh sunlight. It was the strangest thing! I ended up dumping it even though there were no issues with the ink (from what i could tell).

  10. I have found that Sheaffer Purple was a nice, lighter purple, lighter than Waterman or Pelikan, without looking watery or washed out. It might be a good dupe.

    “Was” though: Sheaffer reformulated their inks, and now I’m not even sure if they sell a purple. I’m having a hard time finding what colors are available, and the company doesn’t seem to even list their bottled inks on their own web site.

Leave a Reply

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

%d bloggers like this: