pens, inks, stores, companies and about the pleasure of owning a fine pen


J. Herbin, a company in Paris that dates back to 1670 with its ink production commencing 1700. It is the oldest name of writing inks in the world. Today, the company is part of  Clairefontaine, the stationery company in France. Herbin uses natural dyes in their fountain pen inks which are known for smooth flow and a neutral pH, so it is a safe choice for all fountain pens.

The famous violet ink was the colour used by students in France during the Third Republic: 1870 to 1940. Herbin even developed a special black ink for the noted author, Victor Hugo.

The first Herbin ink,  La Perle des Encres (the jewel of inks), was created in 1700. Fountain pen users would buy what is known as the "D" bottles. A classic bottle that has been around for a long time. The "D" stands for a French unit of measure, “la Demi Courtine” - between 30 and 40 ml. The "D" bottles sold today hold 30 ml of ink.

Herbin ink is available through a variety of locations in North America. Herbin has more than fountain pen ink. Some specialty inks are for dip pens. Do not use in a fountain pen.

In August 2022 the box listed 32 colours. There are even more colours in cartridge (universal style). Some of the colours I have found to be too delicate -- I tend to lean towards bold vibrant colour of ink, as with a broad or stub nib strong colours look best. But it is not the colour, but the shape of the bottle that has prevented me from using the ink on a regular basis.


Perle Noire - I recently received an email about this ink, a very saturated dark black with a very quick drying time. (Thanks. R. Carpena)

Blue Nuit - P. Johnson provides her review of that colour: "Drab ultramarine with dull purple overtones. Looks like faded watercolor when dry."

Reviews from others are that it is a very good brand of ink that flows reliably with a great colour selection. About those colours:

Rouge Fuchsia/Opera - a true dark red, not a ruby or Bordeaux, and is virtually identical in color to the OMAS Amerigo Vespucci. The Opera is the scented version. This color is to be distinguished from Herbin's attempt at regular red -- Rouge Caroubier -- which, unfortunately, according from comments I have read, is thought to be a bit washed-out.

Rose Cyclamen - an almost fluorescent purplish pink, and is a very noticeable color. It also tends to spread more than other colors on paper. A unique color.

J H erbin ink bottles

The classic D bottle has an ink rest - a memory back to dip pens. My complaint with the bottles is they are relatively shallow and that means filling a pen with a large nib is more difficult in terms of having the total nib submerged in the ink.

Rouge Grenat

Herbin Rouge Grenat

On my search for a great Burgundy ink, I came across Herbin Rouge Grenat. A medium dark red, and depending on the nib (broader) and paper (softer), the brown towns that make up burgundy, come out in the writing. This characteristic nicely sets it apart from others. I have used it in a variety of pens and enjoy using the ink very much.

Good performance. The ink bottle, while classic, is useless, so I put my ink in better designed glass ink bottles. All in fine.