I think everyone that owns a fountain pen will own at least one J Herbin ink – I may be wrong but at least everyone must have heard of them. I resisted these inks for sometime as they are everywhere and I could never find a colour I wanted to try but then I got lured in by the shimmer inks.
J Herbin is the oldest name in pen inks, the original Herbin was a sailor who brought recipes for inks and sealing waxes back to France from his travels around the world. New inks are still produced – six in 2018, a new shimmer ink (Cornaline d’Egypte) and 5 ordinary inks (Rouge Grenat, Bleu Des Profondeurs. Bleu Calanque, Corail des Tropiques and Vert de Gris).
I recently had the opportunity to purchase some tester sized bottles of Herbin inks (5ml) and thought it was a good opportunity as I wouldn’t end up with more large bottles of ink to add to the growing stack in my office. I could purchase five colours at a ridiculously low price and even with postage from the USA it was worthwhile. Surprisingly the new colours did not appeal apart from Rouge Grenat which I bought but haven't tried yet. Vert olive is one of the older Herbin inks that I chose. As you read it will be quite apparent that though the ink is good I am less than impressed with the colour.
You don’t need to know much French to know that Vert olive refers to the colour olive green, obviously inspired by the colour of olive trees. According to the J Herbin website:
In France, the olive tree is a symbol of the summer holidays, the cicadas and the popular novels of that region (the Mediterranean) from the renowned writer Marcel Pagnol.
Pictures of the ink made it look a darker olive green and this is what I was expecting. I like the colour green and keep looking for a green ink that’s suitable to be used anywhere – this is not a work colour. When I think of olive green I think of green something like these -
They remind me of the shades of an olive tree.
What you get is more of a lime green. I should have thought about the fact there are varying shades of green olives. The most common olive you see is the Manzanilla olive stuffed with pimento and even these vary in shade from light to dark green.
The bottle is a bit deceptive as the ink looks dark but there are hints of the light green. On opening the bottle you start to see more of the lightness and there are definite hints of yellow
My first test is always to drop ink onto absorbent kitchen paper and then swatch on Tomoe River paper and my col-o-ring test book.
The drop on paper – very bright I would say almost a fluorescent green. Definite yellow undertones are seen which to me removes any resemblance to olives.
I tested the ink using a Montegrappa Fortuna Skull FP I had just treated myself to. I am not sure why as I find the Montegrappa pens tend to run dry and I hate altering my pens – I expect them to be perfect at the outset. Surprisingly with this ink the pen was great – no hard starts, no skipping just a really nice writing experience even if the colour was a tad disappointing. I use a medium nib.
On both the Tomoe and cheap copy paper there is a lot of shading. It was amazing to see so much shading on the cheaper paper and it says a lot about the quality of J Herbin inks its just a shame about the colour as it writes far more yellow than green.
As you can see from the brief writing tests above the ink is quite quick drying. It was also a very impressive performer when I did my – hold it under running water test.
This is probably the best ink I have ever tested for waterfastness.
In summary I am very impressed with the quality of the ink but I am glad I only bought a 5ml test pot as this is one of my least favourite colours.
J Herbin inks can be bought just about anywhere. I have listed places I have made purchases from in the past.
Penclassics – 30ml bottle standard ink $21.99, speciality inks $39.99 - $49.99 (postage usually about $3) cartridges available
Inkt – 30ml bottle standard ink $24, speciality inks (e.g. shimmer) $42-$55 depending on what you buy (free postage for orders >$50 in NZ) cartridges available
Zany – 30ml bottle standard ink $24.90, speciality inks $56-$58 (postage unknown) cartridges available
Milligram – 30ml bottle standard ink $19.95, speciality inks $44.95-$59.95
You can buy online and in the Melbourne shop. Inks swatches can be seen in the Melbourne shop I wrote about this in a Kobe ink review. Personally I think they are expensive for the shimmer inks, there are many online retailers in Australia that are cheaper.
Pencity – according to their website they only have the shimmer inks at $44.95.
You can buy online and in the Melbourne shop. I usually go to the shop as they have swatches of every ink they sell and they have a great range.