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Thread: The Search for Persian Rose

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    Default The Search for Persian Rose

    An ultra-rare ink. An ink that no-one knows the absolute 'true' color of. Yep-Yep! That's something I've been researching actively over the past month. My 'hypothesis' is that Persian Rose is indeed a lovely pink with undertones of purple. FPN member Univer posted in March 2008 a picture and swab and noted that his bottle had an air tight seal due to the paper liner sticking. FPgeeks member Chrissy also posted a sample picture that was a dusty pink color, as did Jon Szanto in August 2015. An article posted December 2011 by FPN member ToasterPastry shows a picture of a swab of Persian Rose vs the original Sheaffer Skrip Permanent Red of the time (circa 1953). Also a pink color with purple undertones.

    However, the major evidence is from an actual eyewitness who had used the original Persian Rose when she was a young girl back in the early 1950's.

    " Guess I'm the anomaly here- I remember Persian Rose- the original thing- in its era. I was quite focussed upon my older sibling's Persian Rose... forbidden to play with it... so I played with original Peacock Blue instead but I sure 'longed' to play with that Persian Rose. I'm an old chick, so I guess my 40+ year old memory could be faulty... but I recall- not a bright magenta pink... but a truer rose, which was soft... closer to a mix of shell pink (in my monitor's picture of the sample), with the cited darker greyish rose above. Instability of an ingredient is the only possibility I can suggest, other than memory issues. By the way, we were very focussed on roses in our household... my dad cultivated 100 plantings in the back garden alone... Don't know if any of this lends to my credibility- was a fairly detail-oriented brat." ---FPN member pen2paper

    She goes on to say in a later post of how she would sneak into her older sister's room to get a fill of Persian Rose for her fountain pen, even though it was forbidden.

    I copied these paragraphs from pen2paper and showed it to my neighbor, who is a long-time credentialed School Psychologist for the School District we live in. The question was-- Can a child that was obsessed with a particular color of ink remember that shade accurately 40+ years later?

    The answer was "Absolutely, if the child is intelligent and especially if she was exposed to all of the various pinks, whites, and red shades of color from the roses her parents grew. Her sense of color perception would be much above average."

    I did some research on red dyes used during the late 1940's to early 1950's for inks and the primary one was eosin Y, which is still used today in many ink formulations. This dye has an interesting decolorization breakdown profile. At a pH of less than 5 (acidic) or pH above 8 (caustic) the dye remains stable. Between a pH of 6 to 8, the presence of oxygen causes oxidation breakdown of the red color.

    Was Persian Rose bottled under slightly acidic or caustic conditions? Currently unknown, but I am aware of the fiasco when Parker developed Superchrome ink that was so acidic it destroyed the pump mechanisms of their pens. Today's inks run the gamut from low to high pH's, depending on the type of dye(s) and amount used.

    In the case of Persian Rose, when an ink container is brand new, it can develop a hermetic (airtight) seal where the meeting of paper liner meets the glass due to ink exposure. When a customer gets a new bottle of ink, the first thing they do is open the bottle, to look in, try a nib test or fill. Some even sniff it. At that point, you have introduced fresh air and bacteria/yeast/fungi into the bottle. Yes, there are antimicrobial chemicals added to slow/prevent growth, but it's the oxygen you can't compensate for. Over the decades, the pH of the ink changes, and decolorization of the red dye begins. What's left are the other dyes, the purple (and other colors?) that are in so many of the posted ink samples of Persian Rose that we see today on the net. Butch (penmanila) has a beautiful example of the strong purplish red that developed in his bottle.

    Chrissy had posted that the chroma of one of her Persian Rose samples were red, pink, and purples and blue towards the top. On a different sample she later posted that her chroma was predominately reds. (No pictures, unfortunately.) I would bet that the very few bottles of Persian Rose that exhibits the Pink with purple undertones were pristine NOS, never exposed to air and stored under ideal conditions, such as long forgotten in the dark bottom of a drawer or inside closet shelf.

    Dusty looking was another description of the Pink color in Persian Rose. To me (and maybe some of the ink experts who post here might be able to correct me if I am mistaken) dusty means an ink that is under-saturated. Inks that are popular today have lots of color saturation, indicating very high dye loads. A highly color saturated ink also exhibits low shading, which is because of the heavy dye load. The reverse is also mostly true, under-saturated inks can show excellent shading, and under-saturated inks appear dusty looking. (I'm looking at a lot of the J. Herbin ink products.)

    Finally, I put myself into the mind-set of a customer in the early 1950's. There are black inks, green inks, blue and blue-black and reds, from Sheaffer, Carter, long-time rivals Parker and Watermans. Sheaffer decides to make a special new color, a pink with very light undertones of purple, to appeal to the ladies who buy ink. A color no one else has yet (remember, we are using 1950's mindset, not 2018! ) Would a woman who has dollars to spend buy a dusty purple ink back then, or a pretty pink ink? [And I again remind you, using a 1950's mindset!! ]

    Can we recreate this color? Lots of companies have tried, such as Noodler's (Shah Rose and Ottoman Rose), Private Reserve (Arabian Rose), but without an idea of what the actual color 'should' be, it's pretty hard.

    I leave you with this final thought from FPN member white_lotus. " Grail inks are a chimera. A false thing to chase after. You might as well chase after unicorns and pixie dust. It's the oldest desire in human nature, to want something said to possess amazing qualities and what you can't get."

    And of course my personal answer is, "So I like to tilt at windmills. Come along, Pancho," as he whistles the tune of 'The Impossible Dream' whilst riding off into the sunset.

    All the Best.
    Last edited by junglejim; November 6th, 2018 at 10:17 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    One other element that is not addressed: there is no way to know if there was a reliable, reproduceable formulation of the ink even during it's production time. Is there any way to know, for certain, that bottles from different batches, from different years, were identical, or were there variations even in the production process.

    Surely inks change, degrade, morph over time. We create false grails and make fetishes of the rarities. So many variables. While nothing current can compare to the number of fountain pens made during the hey-days of the instrument, I'd wager that we are now living in a relative Golden Age of ink making. I watch as new lines come out, people excitedly making swabs and samples and so often I think "that looks so much like Ink X that is isn't worth the effort!" Virtual indistinguishability has become a common trait. Whether there is an ink out there that perfectly duplicates Persian Rose seems somewhat irrelevant, as there are inks that can create the same attitude, aura, intention of that lovely ink.

    Footnote 1. The three bottles I purchased over the years had slight differences. Two were unopened when purchased and the third was partially used.
    Footnote 2. At one point I finally tracked down a bottle of Montblanc Racing Green. What a bloody dissappointment!
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    True, even today with ultra-modern computerised liquid dispensing equipment, different batches of ink can be slightly different. Anyone that has purchased inks from Nathan Tardif knows that the next bottle will be a little different in color. As far as shelf-life of inks, during the 1950's heyday of fountain pens manufacturers probably thought they would have pretty good turn-around of existing ink stocks. I wouldn't be surprised if a shelf-life of 5 years from date of bottling was considered acceptable. If the ink changed color or was "off', the customer returned the unused ink to their brick and morter store and the shopkeeper happily replaced it with a new bottle, even if it was used by the customer for a while. The shopkeeper then informs the Parker/Sheaffer/Waterman salesman who comes through regularly and receives a credit for the return. No big deal.

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    Not to mention that in those days, with so many fewer inks (and colors), if an ink under-sold or presented problems it was eventually dropped. I honestly have no idea how long Persian Rose was an available product from Sheaffer, but one has to assume it was always, even for them, somewhat of a niche product.

    On a similar tangent, you might find this of interest:

    The 30-Year Quest to Recreate James Bond's Original Vesper Martini
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    I have a part bottle of Sheaffer Persian Rose, and in a roundabout way it might have originated from Jon, but that's another story.

    When I received it I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's still pinkish red and not purple. I've used it a couple of times, but to be honest, I have other pink inks that I prefer. Montblanc Pink ink and Diamine Hope Pink spring immediately to mind as examples.

    After seeing some packs of Sheaffer pink ink cartridges for sale on ebay.com, I planned an experiment, and bought a couple of packs in order to compare, by chroma testing, the contents of the cartridges, against the contents of the Persian Rose ink bottle. My thinking was how many pink inks would Sheaffer make? Persian Rose and pink could easily be the same colour.

    I returned home with the pink cartridges at the end of June this year. So far I haven't done the experiment and it remains on my to do list.

    One thing that persuaded me to lean towards the possibility that Sheaffer pink ink cartridges might be the same colour as Persian Rose ink is the fact that there are still occasional packs of gold cartridges available, and that's surely the same colour as their King's Gold bottled ink.

    As a completely separate issue, I've made James Bond's Vesper Martini several times, although I use very small measures in order to stay within reasonable alcohol limits. The best substitute for Kina Lillet is now Lillet Blanc. It's made by the same company and is readily available. It might be slightly sweeter than the original version and has to be kept refrigerated once opened.
    Last edited by Chrissy; November 7th, 2018 at 02:11 AM.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose



    Quite like the colour here, but don't have anywhere near enough experience in this palette to suggest anything similar.

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    My Sheaffer Persian Rose is more red.

    Sheaffer Persian Rose_0003.JPG
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    Wow. The inks between EoC and Chrissy look like completely different inks.

    Something that I feel needs addressing: faulty memory. As a millenial, nostalgia is king for marketing right now, hence all those late 80s early 90s reboots happening in virtually every media. The problem comes in how we remember things. As an example: Friends. The ubiquitous culture sitcom. It was immensely popular and largely considered very funny. Viewed through a modern lens, however, you see rampant sexism and homophobia as jokes and plot-lines. Many of those jokes wouldn't fly today, nor should they. But we remember the show as being funny and almost innocent in its humor. Or go watch the original Ghostbusters and count how many sexual harassment/assault charges would be brought against Bill Murray's character, a creepy manipulator that comes off today as pushy and as a sexual deviant.

    In your case, Junglejim, you have the memory of a memory, a first exposure to something that hadn't really existed before that ink. The sheer novelty of the ink would color your experience of Persian Rose on its own, but it being a first is important. The first is that which lays the groundwork by which all other experiences down the line are judged. This is easier with experience than visual input. You will remember your first kiss and judge all others by it, better or worse, but that was the first. The benchmark. With color, it was the first time seeing something quite like that, therefore any reproduction down the line, even using the exact same formulation, won't look quite right because it's not the first time you saw/used that ink.

    Time and distance colors all memories differently, but color them eventually.
    Last edited by AzJon; November 7th, 2018 at 08:51 AM.

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose


    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post
    Wow. The inks between EoC and Chrissy look like completely different inks.

    In your case, Junglejim, you have the memory of a memory, a first exposure to something that hadn't really existed before that ink. The sheer novelty of the ink would color your experience of Persian Rose on its own, but it being a first is important. The first is that which lays the groundwork by which all other experiences down the line are judged. This is easier with experience than visual input. You will remember your first kiss and judge all others by it, better or worse, but that was the first. The benchmark. With color, it was the first time seeing something quite like that, therefore any reproduction down the line, even using the exact same formulation, won't look quite right because it's not the first time you saw/used that ink.

    Time and distance colors all memories differently, but color them eventually.
    THAT could very well be true, AzJon, especially in my case. As an analytical chemist, I enjoy looking at an ink color and trying to figure out what dyes went into them. Persian Rose is a unique enigma, in my opinion, since no one knows what the 'actual' color is, short of hopping into Dr. Who's Tardis for a brief trip back to 1954 for a fresh bottle. With PPS, or MB Racing Green, we have lots of samples available with little degradation. Are the colors of Persian Rose due to degradation of a particular dye, sloppy batch to batch processing, or just crappy photography due to lighting/light temperature? It would be perfect if every ink sample posted on the net had an X-rite color checker card right next to the swab so it could be color corrected in Lightroom or Photoshop. For me, I think it's more a matter of academic interest, much like Mrs. Fletcher (Murder She Wrote) unravelling a crime scene.

    All the Best.
    Last edited by junglejim; November 7th, 2018 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: The Search for Persian Rose

    I think my Persian Rose used to be lighter, but it may be concentrating in the bottle as the bottle isn't full.

    Pink Inks.jpeg
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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