Posts Tagged ‘Vert Empire’


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.


When A Pen Falls Out Of Favor


Sooner or later most of us trade or sell fountain pens but which ones to keep can be tricky. So I’ll share my criteria if you’ll share yours. Deal?

No doubt my pen preferences are evolving. Over the past ten years my tastes have expanded from a fixation with tiny Asian nibs to an infatuation with chunky Western ones. Consider me an equal opportunity pen fancier. Lesson learned is to maintain a varied collection and hang onto the odd ones. With the right ink and paper, almost any pen can be fun.

Another criteria is size. Thin or short pens can cause fatigue and are best suited to brief sessions. A heavy pen must balance well or it will flip out of my grip making it a poor choice unless I don’t mind a little ink flung here and there. Medium to large, light-weight pens work best these days though there are exceptions.

Filler mechanism is important and with few exceptions, levers are out unless the nib pops out easily. I like getting a pen really clean when changing inks and lever fillers are too much work. Most of mine have been sent to more appreciative collectors.

How often I use a pen is less relevant than whether another pen is similar. If two nibs are virtually identical, I might let one go if I’m not thrilled with it. Not foolproof but helpful.

Here’s a case in point. A couple of years ago I gave up on Pelikan pens. Nothing wrong with them. Good build quality, swappable nibs, etc. When I sold or traded them, those nibs and exuberant flow didn’t suit me. Now that I’m exploring wide nibs, Pels are a much better fit and the few still here are getting renewed interest.

So despite modifying my criteria for re-homing pens, I still make mistakes. Put all that together and it makes a lot more sense to keep pens that have potential than it is to let them go.

A keeper, the navy gray Parker ’51’ Aero, though with Noodler’s Zhivago today…

Moleskine, a Parker '51' and Herbin Vert Empire Ink

Moleskine, a Parker '51' and Herbin Vert Empire Ink

Remember that deal we made? Now it’s your turn to share how you decide which pens to give the boot when they fall out of favor.


Moleskine Meets J. Herbin Vert Empire


Serendipity. Now there’s a word you don’t hear often but it suits this occasion. Serendipity is defined as “The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.” Ink/pen/paper success is accomplished in exactly that manner. Today I got lucky.

As I was writing an entry in my daily journal, an Apica 6A10, I was struck by how small I could comfortably write with my 1950’s era Parker ’51’ Aero. The barrel color is called “navy gray” and is quite similar to J. Herbin Vert Empire.  The fine, dry nib that is ideal for paper that feathers just begged for a go at a Moleskine and so I obliged.

Moleskine, a Parker '51' and Herbin Vert Empire

Moleskine, a Parker ’51’ and J. Herbin Vert Empire

The result was excellent. Not only is the writing nearly feather-free, the combination of ink color and ivory paper is soft and very appealing. In addition the mid-century pen coupled with the vintage looking journal is elegant and retr0 cool. There is a bistro in my neighborhood with little café tables and a touch of Parisian chic that fits the look better than the on-every-street-corner coffee shop. Mmmm, know where I’m headed?

J. Herbin Vert Empire on Moleskine

J. Herbin Vert Empire on Moleskine

While there might not be a ’51’ in your future, they can be found on eBay and various pen boards if you must have one. The Aero-metric model is hardy and relatively easy to maintain. Even so do buy from a reputable source and preferably a pen that has had a new sac installed. The price range is $50-100 with the 14k nibs like mine or rare colors bringing in the higher prices.

Another pen option is the Hero ‘329’ that sports a hooded nib like the ’51’. The Hero ‘616’ is a true copy of the ’51’ so that’s another model to consider. I have no experience with Hero pens so this isn’t a recommendation but there is at least one positive review at Fountain Pen Network. Check out Amateur Economist and Another Word for Nerd for more opinions. Frankly, any fine nib that writes on the dry side will do.

Now I’m off to try today’s happy accident in a fitting setting. Make that a double espresso and a croissant, if you please. I think I’m going to sit here a little longer than usual.

%d bloggers like this: