Passionate about peacock blue ink

January 24, 2007

I believe most writers have quirky writing habits, and I’m no exception. I love to write my first draft by hand, and I use a very specific sort of paper and ink, in a Sheaffer fountain pen I was given as an award. It’s engraved “Teacher of the Year, 1983.”

I love this pen because it has a very fine tip, which works well with my rather cramped handwriting. I use Skrip cartridge ink in “peacock blue” because it dries instantly on the page. If you’re left-handed, you know why this is important. I’ve ruined many a sleeve, dragging it through wet ink.

When I was very young, I found some old papers of my mother’s from college, and she used this same color ink. So it must be in my blood.

last cartridge of peacock blue

But there’s tragic news for us lovers of Peacock Blue. Because, okay, they still make the ink and it still looks the more or less the same. But they changed the name to turquoise. What’s up with that? Peacock blue is evocative. It’s romantic. It means something. Turquoise is just a color.

I’m curious about the marketing decision that resulted in changing the name. I wish they’d checked with me first. Writing is hard enough without messing with our heads about the tools of our trade. From the www.Pendemonium.com web site:

“In July of this year, Sheaffer announced that Skrip was being re-formulated and would be available in new colors….Sheaffer also took this opportunity to inform us that Skrip was now being manufactured in Slovenia! A mild panic set in amongst pen collecting Skrip fanatics… And just where is Slovenia? …. Favorite colors such as peacock blue went the way of the Skrip-Well. Gone are the transparent cartridges where you could easily see how much ink was left. In their place are just very slightly translucent cartridges that appear opaque at first glance. The new cartridges are the same color as the ink inside them….Prior to the recent changeover to Slovenian Skrip, the available colors were: Jet Black, Blue, Blue Black, Green, Red, Brown, Lavender, Gray, Kings Gold, Burgundy and Peacock Blue. Sheaffer discontinued Lavender, Gray and Burgundy entirely. They replaced, or perhaps better said, renamed Kings Gold to Gold and Peacock Blue to Turquoise. Both of these colors have changed; the new turquoise is still definitely turquoise, but darker than the old Peacock Blue.”

Okay, so that’s probably too much information, but I am in a funk here. I just used up my very last cartridge of real peacock blue. Who knows how my next book will turn out? Will it be darker? More obscure? We’ll see–I have to start work on it tomorrow.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here’s a great quote. When THE MARCH by E.L. Doctorow won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, Doctorow said in his acceptance speech: “A book written in silence and read in silence goes from heart to heart and soul to soul as nothing else can.”

Susan

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| 54 Comments
  • Peacock Blue was MY ink all the way from Jr. High through High School. I love it, and don’t have any right now. I have been looking for some. Why can’t they bring it back?

  • I have Shaeffer fountain pens with replaceable ink cartridges. Some of the cartridges are inscribed “Shaeffer Slovenia”. They are similar in length and diameter to the regular Shaeffer ones. The only difference I see is that the ends are not flat like the regular Shaeffer ones (with a slight circle on one end to show that this end is the one that presses down onto the nib). The ones marked Slovenia are not flat at the ends but somewhat indented, set in from the end so that the entrance point is farther away from the nib. Do these cartridges marked Slovenia need a particular fountain pen (maybe made in Slovenia), or can they be used in the Shaeffer pens that the other type (flat ended) apply? Please get back to me at your convenience. Thanks and best regards, Rich Pante’

  • Just looking at info about fountain pens and found your site. I always used Peacock Blue when I was young, but did not know it could be had in cartridges: at least it used to be there. — When Richard McKenna was writing “The Sand Pebbles” he used one of those classic green plastic mechanical pencils. One day he could not find it, and his wife, Eva, spent days finding another one just like it so he could finish the book, as nothing else would work. Yeah, writers are quirky.

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  • Hello Susan,
    I have four unopened bottles of Peacock Blue Skrip ink. I am awash with nostalgia as I read the comments here! I want to put these on Ebay but I cannot find a single bottle in the world to use for pricing. Ideas?

    Thank you!

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  • I always used this color of ink in a cartridge pen, when I was in high school. No way should they be messing with the name, it’s perfect. Just like a peacock! 😉

  • What a lovely post. I just found this while searching longingly for a Shaeffer clear-barreled fountain pen like the one I wrote with in high school and college. Maybe we can start a Facebook campaign–Bring Back Peacock Blue!

    Nice to confirm that other writers are just as quirky as I am.

  • Susan,
    I, too, use this color of ink. It is my signature color (I stole that line from Legally Blonde). I have so many things in that color of blue! It is so soothing to my soul. Of course, since I also do calligraphy and illumination, I am thrilled that you have pointed me to this fountain pen cartridge color. I have blue inks this color I buy in Venice when I am there, but having the cartridges is so handy!

    Hope you are doing well! When I was out in Oregon a month ago at Liz’s writing retreat, your name came up. Sending love and prayers to you and wishing we could get together for a laugh, some wine, and just general gabbing. You are such a sweet soul.
    xxooxx
    Stacy

  • Tx for this discussion. It is just what I was looking for!

    I just went looking on the net for the color that is closest to the old Skrip Peacock Blue and found the Fountain Pen Network forums where people show samples of many different inks!! Very cool! After much searching, I did find some people discussing our peacock blue. Inks that are close are these: Diamine Aqua Blue, Waterman South Seas Blue, Parker Quink Turquoise. To view the samples, you might have to register and sign in, which I did. Here is a page where they are showing Diamine Aqua Blue and Quink Turquoise side by side. http://goo.gl/uQMEP

    I’ve gotten so impassioned to recreate my Skrip Peacock Blue experience of 1964 that I bought a new fountain pen (Kompass X750 for $15) and will buy one of the above inks!

  • I have been on a quest to find Peacock Blue for many years. Like many who’ve posted here, my romance with this color began in 4th grade. I also miss the Skrip-Well.

    So in my adult years, I’ve learned how to mix inks, still on the search for that elusive, bright peacock blue substitute. The closest I’ve found out of the bottle is Lamy Turquoise. I am still experimenting with my first bottle, am about to mix it with white to see if I can make its hue just a bit brighter. The other imitations (Waterman South Seas Blue, Pelikan Turquoise, Noodlers Navajo Turquoise) aren’t even close.

    I’m a professional computer software engineer … have been so coming up on 35 years now. The typed stream-o’bits just doesn’t cut it. There is no substitute for the handwritten word. Period.

  • As I’m sitting here at my desk at work, trying to quickly clear my mind for my next project, I started looking closely at my Precise V7 Rolling Bar pen in blue. I noticed it has a clear “cartridge-looking’ barrel and then it hit me! My memory flashed me back to the 8th grade, and my Schaeffer Cartridge ink pen with the peacock blue barrel! I was in parochial school then, and those pens were the fad! Everyone in my class had one, …red barrel, green barrel, blue barrel. (colors just like those neat yoyos that were popular then) I remember my favorite color being peacock blue! They came in a set of 4, in a little box. You would just pop them in your pen and you were ready to go. Boy, was it fun doing my pages and pages of sticks and circles with that color for my required “penmanship” exercises. …those were the days.. I am actually surprised to read the stories of all the peacock blue ink fans! so glad to find this website.

  • I love Peacock Blue. Once I was allowed to use Cartridge Pens, that was the ONLY color to use. Okay, to make the teachers happy, I wrote final copies in Blue Black, but Peacock Blue was special special. I wonder if kids today have such relationships with colors.

    Thanks Susan, I’m going to go find some Peacock Blue ink now.

    • I, too, always used my favorite Sheaffer pen for daily school work. My teacher, (Of course much older than I) LOVED when I chose ‘Peacock Blue’ to do my work in. Ball point pens were the “Marvel of the era” back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, but I loved my fountain pens. Turquoise, huh? I didn’t know they changed the name. I just got my first Sheaffer in 40 – 45 years off Evil-bay and I will look for the “Turquoise” ink now to go with it…….stitch

  • I too long for the days of my original encounters with Sheaffer and peacock blue ink. I was so excited when I googled the color and found other people who are passionate about this color. I ordered a new fountain pen and turquoise refills this week from http://www.penhero.com.They arrived and I have found that the color is really pretty however I don’t think it is exactly the same. Oh the good ole’ days!

  • i was thinking back to my youth and remembered a time when I had a fountain pen with peacock blue ink. Suddenly I had a yearning to have one again. I did a web search and imagine my surprise when I found a posting about someone else that had the same experience. That friend was a little strange. He was in to bats and was a big fan if old movies. I am so jazzed up I am going to go out and visit the Office Depot and see if I can find one today. I am studying for my ordination, and I want to find a very nice pen to write in my bible study journal. Thank you very much for the posting, it really made my day.

  • I started with Peacock Blue, too! Aaargh! I addressed and wrote all my holiday cards this year with that color, finding some old cartridges to which the years had left very little liquid. It took all of them to finish the cards with almost none to spare. I figured I would find more, as I always had, in art supply stores, or now, on the internet, but what sad news here! My Sheaffer pen has a clear barrel so that I could always see how much remained as I was writing. Now, they’ve even changed the opacity of the cartridges that they do still make. Oh, why must companies always change the beloved!

  • I started out using Peacock Blue. Wrote in fountain pen starting when my biology teacher, who used to carry around a set of old and new fountan pens with him in his shirt pocket, got my attention by using such a great color to correct papers, etc. I got into fountain pens because of him and peacock blue was my fave. Sad to see them change the name; I’m with you Susan, I feel they should have kept the name the same.

  • Oh, my. I’m very late to the party here, but am heartbroken at the loss of Peacock Blue. In high school, I wrote with those beloved, but cheap, Shaeffer fountain pens with the deeply colored plastic barrels. I was especially enamored of the emerald green ones which were the same glowing color of the green Duncan yoyos of the time. Most importantly, however, was the ink color and nothing, but nothing, would do except Peacock Blue.

    I’m mourning its passing…

  • I loved Peacock Blue and the fountain pen that let the ink flow onto the page. It seemed to encourage the words to jump on the page.

    In those days I didn’t have word quotas and goals, just homework. I wonder when I switched over to black when I’m not using the computer.

    Is there a good substitute for peacock blue? Would a pen work better for the unleash your story challenge or NaNoWriMo? Maybe I’ll just have to stick to the AlphaSmart.

  • I used a fountain pen in the early years of grade school because ballpoint pens had yet to be invented. Even after the invention of ballpoint pens, I tended to use a fountain pen into high school a little. My favorite ink color quickly became “Peacock Blue.”

    Here I now am, fifty years later, wanting to go back to a fountain pen. My how things have changed. I seem to recollect a fairly decent shaeffer fountain pen could be bought for less than $5, and large bottles of ink went for around 49-cents. The bottle had a built in ink-well. Fountain ink cartridges were invented a little after ballpoint pens, probably to compete with the convenience of the new ballpoint pens which cost more than fountain pens.

    How things have changed. A decent fountain pen now costs over $100. Fountain pen inks are hard to find, even the cartridges. Certainly there’s no large rack of ink bottles in a dozen or so color choices.

    My wife just got me a Parker Gold somethingorother pen. It has a screw activated internal reservoir. I thought I could take it out and use cartridges, but no luck. The stub in the pen that the cartridge would have to slip onto is too large in diameter.

    My search for ink begins. Having read this website, I find that Peacock Blue is no longer made. Bummer.

    Regards to all, Gary in Sandy Eggo

  • This is weird – today I was cleaning out a box of stuff and stumbled upon my old “Calligraphy” box set of a Schaeffer pen with three different sized tips. The box included 14 Skrip cartridges (7 different colors, 2 of each) of which all but one has been drained from all the drawing and writing I did umpteen years ago.

    I thought to myself: “Guess I should google those cartridges and see if it’s still possible to buy them”… well, I end up here on this page, read your story about peacock blue and of course I’ll have to go check which one it was that was still unused…

    Yep.

    “Peacock Blue” – that’s just great 🙂 Who thinks up these schemes for the world?

  • When I was in jr. high school in the 60’s, my best friend and I both purchased a Schaefer fountain pen and the peacock blue ink cartridges. We loved our uniqueness! Although, I did have one teacher who did not like the color and insisted I use black or navy blue ink. Such great memories of all the notes I took and homework I did with my fountain pen and “peakcock blue” ink. It was fun being a teenage girl then. Thanks for writing about a nice memory I had temporarily forgotten about.

  • I just have to comment on what you said: “And for a writer, four months of unrelenting darkness, rain and snow is actually a work opportunity.”

    All I can say is HAHAHAHA! Very good!

  • Mary Lou, I have that pen! Or something very like it. I love the detail in your comment. I can perfectly picture it. I’ll take a picture of it and post.

  • I, too, LOVED to write with Peacock Blue Ink! I grew up using it, as my Mom used it too. I really miss the bottle with the little well on the side. I used an Eberhardt fountain pen, that had a marbled turquoise body, abd a little lever on the side that you had to pull down, dip the nib into the well, and then slowly let it up so it would fill the rubber bladder with the ink. I LOVED it. Alas, it got lost in a move with the Navy, and I never could find another like it, so Now I use a computer! SIGH!!!

  • That photo is gorgeous. As you know, I used to live in Seattle, and I have to say except for the rain which kept my hair in constant state of frizz, I loved it there…

    And Yes! Thank you! It was Miss Christina! Much happiness in 2007!

  • Sometimes I sense a mass migration of writers to this corner of the world. I think, when you break away and pick anywhere on the map to live, the Pacific Northwest rates high. Washington has no state income tax so that’s a plus. And for a writer, four months of unrelenting darkness, rain and snow is actually a work opportunity.

    And check out the header of this page. That’s a picture I took from my beach. It’s what I see out my window every (clear) day. You can’t beat that with a baseball bat!

    Nice to hear from you. I wonder if you’re thinking of authors Susan Mallery or Christina Dodd.

  • Susan has a blog! Go girl! 🙂

    Congrats on the optioning for the movie, by the way! How exciting is that? Got your postcard for The Winter Lodge. Can’t wait to pick up my copy…and the coupon on the website is an awesome idea!

    Just saw the other day that another Houstonian had moved to the Great Northwest…and now for the life of me cannot remember her name! Agh! Cute little blonde who was friends with “Cay David”… my old age disease is kicking in.

    Anyway, saw her book on the shelf at the grocery store, thought immediately of you, too, up there in God’s country, then got your postcard the same day…the joining of events–kismet or a nexxus (or as Tom Hanks said in Sleepless in Seattle…”the Bermuda Triangle”)!

    Oh, and the pen…man, that stinks. You find something that really works for you, and then they change it! Maybe a petition…wonder what language they speak in Slovenia…I should look that up!

    Many happy blessings to you and your family. And be sure to tell them you want a cameo role in your movie…Stephen King does it! And you’re a lot cuter than he is! 🙂

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