During a recent email exchange, Karen of Exaclair offered to send a few bottles of J. Herbin ink. What a great opportunity to compare the older ink in my stash to the more recently manufactured ink, reformulated to comply with <insert string of profanities> EU regulations. You don’t think I said “no” do you?
The first thing of note is that none of the new inks have any odor unlike some of the earlier inks that had a very mild chemical smell. For those who have sensitivities, this is a boon.
In case you are new to fountain pen ink, a word of caution is in order. Should a bottle of JH, or any ink for that matter get an off odor, it’s worth checking further for signs of contamination. Better to throw out a bottle of ink than to repair or rehab a moldy fountain pen.
Consider this subjective but both the newer Lie de Thé and Poussière de Lune inks look just slightly more red than the older formulas. As a result the brown may look less yellow if more neutral and the purple slightly more red-purple but these differences are minor.
However, if like me you loved the grayed look of the original Poussière de Lune, the current offering isn’t a duplicate. The new formula is slightly more vibrant which is in keeping with current ink color trends. This is a subtle thing and only visible on close examination. For most PdL fans, it will be irrelevant since the other characteristics of the ink remain the same.
The older Vert Empire swab soaked up a good deal of ink and laid down a darker line than the new sample. It takes looking beyond that darkness to discern any difference. There might be a more yellow bias in the new formula but I am hesitant on this one since the odor of my old bottle may indicate some degradation or even contamination. Regardless, it’s an understated green and eminently useful.
The only thing I wonder is whether the shelf life will be as long for the new formulations. It may take years to know about that but a manufacture date or use by date would be helpful.
Now that I have fresh bottles of some of my favorite inks, it might be time to acquire another italic pen or two. J. Herbin’s relatively fast drying time makes it well suited to wide nibs. Despite EU tampering, I remain a fan and intend to enjoy this venerable line for years to come.