McCaffery's Penman's Ink

Item Code: I37


I37. McCaffery's Penman's Ink. 1 oz. jar.

July 2022: Ivory is currently out of stock and expected in early August 2022.

Formulated for the pointed pen, which is used for Spencerian, Copperplate, etc, not for the broad-edged pen used for Italic, Blackletter (Gothic), etc.

The black ink is an oak gall ink which was developed with the help of leading penmen of today to provide an ink similar to that used during America's golden age of Ornamental Penmanship in the 19th and 20th centuries. With a newly opened bottle, the black ink writes brown but turns a dense black. Good for fine hairlines.

(Colors and whites are not oak gall inks. They are made with natural pigments).

Choose from Ivory, White, Indigo Blue, Green, Brown, Red, Red-Violet, Black, Glossy Black.
Prices of colors vary.

I37. McCaffery's Ink color chart

Click to read what Michael Sull has to say about using McCaffery's

Q and A



Write a review

Not impressed
Jul 5, 2017  |  By Rachel
I have many other calligraphers using McCaffrey's Ink, and so was excited to try it out. But when I did so, I found that it was much more watery than I'd expected. I never achieved the ink consistency that I liked... maybe I need to add some arabic gum to thicken it up a little, but overall, I wasn't impressed enough to buy more.
Owner Response: Gum Arabic is a good thickener for this ink.

Probably the
Jul 20, 2017  |  By Michael Sacco
Well, the above poster is entitled to their opinion but this is the closest thing IMHO to the ink of old. It will go on grey but in a hour or so the shades will be rich and the hairlines a very, very, thin pale grey. This is exactly what one wants for Ornamental Penmanship. Now it's quite possible you might want an ink with blacker shades and strong hairlines for copperplate or E.S. but that is not what this ink does well. I would put Blots a close second but even that ink cannot pull the faint hairlines of McCaffs!

Favorite Ink
Feb 3, 2020  |  By C. McCurley
I've been using this ink exclusively in my maps (and other reproduction 19th Century paperwork) for almost a decade. I absolutely love it.

Love this ink but
Jul 19, 2021  |  By Ardath Richards
I love this ink for my copperplate. I do not need to add any gum arabic to it. I do have one problem. When I get within 1/2 inch of the bottom of the jar the ink becomes thick. I added distilled water to it but it still will not flow a well a the top section of the jar.
Owner Response: We reached out to Neil McCaffery and this is his response: "If it is the regular black ink it is because iron gall type inks are always making a sediment that is basically insolvable. This happens when the ink is left open to the air for long periods. It is best to decant the ink into another sealable container and use from that and as you use it add more from the larger container. By doing that you keep the air and can limit the formation of the sediment. The container you are using from will eventually form quite a bit of sediment and will need to be cleaned out and started over. Another old way of possibly thinning out the bottom of the bottle is to add a bit of vinegar, but I have had mixed results with that."

Fine Hairlines
Sep 21, 2021  |  By Fred K
Iron Gall Inks, such as Black McCaffery's Penmen's ink, are prized for their ability to produce fine hairlines as well as dark shades in pointed pen work. If you are looking for a thicker, denser black, say for pointed pen work that will be reproduced, you can look to a pigmented ink, such as Moon Palace or Best Bottle Sumi (they may need some thinning to work well in a pen). Your letters will be a blacker black and the thins will be thicker and the printer will be happy. Old World Gall Ink is an Iron Gall ink that also has pigment, so it produces results more similar to Sumi.

McCaffery's Penman's Inks
Nov 9, 2021  |  By Joseph
McCaffery's Inks are just the right consistency -- straight out of the jar -- for Copperplate and Engrossers scripts. I use McCaffrey's black ink, an iron gall ink, and love the delicate hairlines. But if I am designing a wedding invitation that will be printed, I use his Prairie Night ink or Old World Gall Ink. The printer needs thicker, blacker hairlines.

McCaffery's Inks
Dec 27, 2021  |  By Ardath
I very much enjoy using MaCaffery's inks. I love them.