Posts Tagged ‘herbin’


Modern Pilot Fountain Pens


That is my collection of Pilot/Namiki fountain pens. Nice variety to it, but they seldom get inked. In comparison to other pen makers, I’ve experienced more flow issues with their modern pens than any other brand. While the fine nibs can be temperamental, the wider nibs and flexy ones are the most frustrating.

With more than thirty Pilots having passed through here in the last few years, I am certain their feeds and nibs are not created equal. The nibs write well enough but the flow is not able to keep up. The pens are too often hard starting and skip mid-word even failing for a full word or occasionally even several. This has never happened with my Sailor and Platinum pens. It has been a rare issue with a vintage Western pen but that could be attributed to careless handling by a former owner. My Lamy, Waterman, and Levenger True Writers have had very rare flow issues though matching ink to pen has helped in a few cases.

Pilot Elite pocket pens from the 1970’s are not so quirky though some of the Script nibs write dry and especially narrow. The ink flow keeps up nicely maintaining an even line. The pretty, decorated ones have had a higher than acceptable rate of cracked barrels so that’s a different kind of warning. However, my Socrates, Isaac Newton, and Black Striped models have been especially good writers and aren’t at all picky about brands of ink. That sort of versatility puts them on my list of favorite fountain pens.

This doesn’t mean all of their pens have flow issues. However, this post can be considered a caveat to my previous pen recommendations from the Pilot Custom 742 to the Custom 74 to the lower end Prera and 78G and the bottom of the line Plumix. Even the Namiki Falcon Soft Broad (SB) nib unlike the Soft Fine (SF) has a flow that is inadequate for the amount of ink that should be laid down. A nib adjustment might help though I’ve experienced mixed results on that score.

A free-flowing ink can improve performance a notch. Pilot Iroshizuku ink is a good match though some Diamine and J. Herbin inks have proven up to the task as well. Waterman Blue-Black is my standard test ink and one that can bring out the best in a multitude of pens so that’s a good one to have on hand. Unfortunately, ink won’t fix a pen but it can improve one that is borderline.

This isn’t meant to dissuade you from buying a Pilot or Namiki fountain pen but it is a warning. Your sleek, new pen may need tweaking to be the best it can be. Or it may only take finding the right ink and paper combination to bring out its most charming qualities. Even better, you could get a pen that is perfect from the start. Shouldn’t they all arrive that way?


J. Herbin Ink – Past And Present


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.

J. Herbin Ink -  New Formula Comparison

J. Herbin Ink – New Formula Comparison

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.


Is This Ink List Too Long?


Some inks make it into my rotation based on just one characteristic. Not that these beauties don’t possess other stellar qualities but the inks on this list make it for color alone.


  • Noodler’s Ottoman Azure – Greenish blue. Flows well in fine nibs.
  • Noodler’s Eel Blue – Medium dark blue. Very lubricating. Piston fillers.
  • Diamine Royal Blue – Medium blue. Shows well in broad nibs.
  • Iroshizuku syo-ro – Soft greenish blue. Good in all pens.
  • Diamine Mediterranean Blue – Bright sky/ocean blue. Broad nibs.
  • Iroshizuku ku-jaku – Dark turquoise. Free-flowing.


  • Montblanc Racing Green – Very dark green. Shades beautifully.
  • Noodler’s Zhivago – Very dark green. Looks black at times.
  • J. Herbin Vert Empire – Muted green.
  • Diamine Emerald – Medium green.
  • Iroshizuku shin-ryoku – Blue green with good flow.


  • Diamine Violet – Purple that flows very well. Perfect for wide nibs.
  • Caran d’Ache Storm – Grayed red-purple.
  • De Atramentis Aubergine – Non-bright purple.


  • Diamine Sepia – Orange brown. Shades and outlines.
  • Noodler’s #41 Brown – Dark brown.
  • Noodler’s Golden Brown – Yellow brown. Shades.
  • Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan – Somewhat pale yellow brown. Shades.
  • J. Herbin Lie de The – Medium dark brown.


  • Noodler’s Cayenne – Orange red.
  • Diamine Vermillion – Red orange.
  • Noodler’s Apache Sunset – Intense orange. Excellent shading.


  • Noodler’s Red-Black – Dark red with strong black element. Shades.
  • Diamine Monaco Red – Dull red.
  • Noodler’s Tiananmen – Brick red.



  • Iroshizuku tsuki-yo – Greenish blue-black. Good flow.
  • Waterman Blue-Black – Unsaturated blue-black. Very safe ink.
  • Diamine Teal – Saturated greenish blue-black. Best on quality paper.


  • Noodler’s Lexington Gray – Dark gray.
  • Noodler’s Black – Basic black. Reliable.
  • J. Herbin Perle Noire – Very black. Good coverage.
  • Sailor Deep Rust Black – Brown black. Good flow.

Yes, the list is long but only a few inks go into pens at one time. What’s on your list?

Note: Links are to previous Inkophile mentions and reviews.


New J. Herbin 1670 Ink Called Bleu Ocean


Jean Elie has just posted info on FPN about a new J. Herbin 1670 ink for 2012. The color is blue-black and called Bleu Ocean. No metallic particles this time but it does look like a deep, bright color. He will post a swatch as soon as he receives a shipment. Anyone else looking forward to this new entry in the ink market?


I’m In The Mood For Green – Ink That Is


There are four green inks that form the mid-range of my green rotation. Each is different enough to get its own time usually in one of my Pilot Elite ‘Socrates’ pocket pens and when I’m in a bold mood, a Lamy Vista 1.1 mm calligraphy nib.

  • Diamine Kelly Green has the most yellow of the green inks and shades incredibly well from light green at the tops of letters to shamrock green at the bottom.
  • J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage is less yellow and might be considered the truest green of the bunch. It shades less and offers more consistent coverage than Kelly Green.
  • Rohrer & Klingner Verdura starts the transition to blue-based green. The blue isn’t strong but is definitely present in greater measure than yellow. Shading is more subtle and the flow a bit dry compared to the other green inks.
  • Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku is the most blue of the group. Depending on the paper it can produce excellent shading with excellent flow. Even though it leans decidedly blue, it is definitely a green.

In that same color range ,Diamine Umber, J. Herbin Vert Empire, and Diamine Emerald get high marks, too.

No one has done a better job of comparing green inks than geoduc with two outstanding posts (#1 and #2) at FPN. Be sure to scroll through all of the graphics. It’s an amazing body of work.


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* 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.


J. Herbin Solves the Slime/SITB Issue


Sometimes sh*t happens. Toward the end of 2010, venerable ink maker J. Herbin had an issue with stuff/slime/sh*t in the bottle (SITB). Only a tiny fraction of bottles sold were affected, but the company took the issue seriously. Karen Doherty, VP of Exaclair, Inc., has posted a letter from the J. Herbin General Manager that explains the problem and how it has been remedied.

Though none of my ink was affected, I am appreciative of their efforts and willingness to be open about the situation. If you wound up with a tainted bottle, get a replacement from your retailer or directly from Herbin. The company definitely wants to make things right.

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