Ink Formula Modifications And Consumers, An Unhappy Mix


Ink manufacturers make formula changes that affect color and properties without notice to the consumer. The recent change in J. Herbin formulations is a case in point. Based on EU regulations JH has been forced to modify ingredients resulting in variations that have altered some of our favorite inks. Even the manufacturing process has changed.

Whether this is all for better or worse isn’t an issue for this post. What is relevant is that old reviews should be considered old. New bottles of ink may contain a product significantly modified from the one used for my review. Even subtle differences can make a review inaccurate. Add to that color variations in monitors and what’s a reviewer to do? Why post a caveat of course!

From a pragmatic perspective, I had planned to review some of the inks in my collection that aren’t so fresh and new. Nothing old mind you but purchased in the last three years or so. Now that seems risky. In future and when possible, I will include an acquisition date. Still caveat emptor applies.

What would be the best solution to the problem of matching ink to reviews? Either a lot number or year of manufacture would resolve the question of whether your bottle matches mine. But it would be just as important to know if a formula has been altered regardless of the reason for that change. Perhaps ink manufacturers don’t realize how attuned we are to the slightest difference in color or properties. Adding a “Series 2” or something similar to the name or changing the name entirely if the color is significantly different would be a big help to the consumer.

Contact manufacturers, retailers, and distributors if formula modification is an issue for you. It may help to post at message boards and via social media as well. If nothing else, comment on this post because with certainty, many people in the supply chain read An Inkophile’s Blog and they do care what you think about them.

So inky friends, have at it!

Note: If you want to request a review of an ink you manufacturer or supply, please contact me at inkophile *at* gmail.com. Inks previously reviewed, but that have had formula modifications in the interim, would be especially welcome. For those products, an update rather than a full review could be posted fairly quickly.


  1. Time to stockpile Poussiere de Lune.


    • They wouldn’t dare touch PdL, would they? The horror! Hope they keep their reformulating mitts off Cacao du Brésil while they’re at it…


      • There have been reports that PdL has experienced a color shift but that’s something I would like to see myself before confirming it. Unfortunately, it might be difficult to determine whether a new bottle is indeed from the latest formulation. That’s another reason why I favor lot numbers and dates of manufacture.

        I have queried Karen at Exaclair about the situation but no word yet. Stay tuned. An update will get posted whenever there is something useful to relay.


  2. ….and Perle Noire! I know people don’t get that excited about black ink, but I do Perle noire is my favourite.


    • Indeed. J. Herbin Perle Noire is my second favorite black ink and the one I use in my vintage Watermans with flex nibs. 🙂


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