Ink Review: J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche
My introduction to J. Herbin inks was, shall we say, less that impressive. My first two inks, Vert Empire (unsaturated baby-poop green) and Gris Nuage (worthless cloud shadow), were unusable for writing, ugly, and rather dry. The special edition 1670 inks had beautiful bottles, but the ink was problematic as well. Rouge Hematite was a good, bright red color, with an incredible gold sheen; it just had the tendency to clog up pens. The special edition 1670 Bleu Ocean was one of the most boring blues I’ve ever seen, and certainly not worthy of the special edition moniker.
It was, therefore, with a fair bit of trepidation that I approached J. Herbin’s new Bleu Pervenche. And, it was also with a fair bit of surprise that I found I actually enjoyed the ink quite a bit. Who knew, right?
Let’s start with the bottle. The J. Herbin bottles are interesting, but perhaps not in a good way. They are short, squat bottles with a built-in pen rest on the top lip of the bottle. They are also tremendously impractical for actually filling up a fountain pen. The bottle opening is small. Because of the wide base and low height, however, it makes filling pens with anything other than a #5 nib rather difficult. And when it comes to pens with a large nib, like a Montblanc 149, a Sailor King of Pen, or a Pelikan M1000, you might as well just plan on decanting the ink into a sample vial It is, to be frank, exactly the wrong shape for bottle of fountain pen ink.
In addition, the “pen rest” on the bottle is baffling to me. It’s very narrow, so if you’re the kind of person who likes bigger pens, it’s not going to help you very much. Besides, who rests their pen on the bottle itself? Why is this a feature? Better yet, who leaves their ink out on the desk like that?
My confusion over the silly J. Herbin bottle aside, the ink inside of it is actually pretty nice. It’s a lovely cerulean/turquoise color. It’s a true light blue, with only the barest hint on green. It has decently lubrication, and pretty good shading. It has a hind of a dark red sheen on the right paper. The ink flow seems consistent, and the lubrication, while not staggering, was comfortably moderate. It’s a nice writer, with a relatively high color appeal (to my eyes, anyway.)
There are a few characteristics about the ink, however, that are problematic. First, if you are looking for a permanent ink, look elsewhere. It doesn’t take much to lift up the color of this ink. All four tests removed a large amount of the ink. The bleach test, in particular, was staggeringly effective in removing the ink. I’ve never seen a solvent remove ink so completely.
On coated papers like Rhodia or Tomoe River, the big problem is dry times. Even at 30 seconds (the longest I bother testing for), the ink would still smear. The dry times on the uncoated paper is actually quite good, at only 2 seconds for the cheap copy paper from staples.
On the cheap paper, though, there is a fair amount of bleed, even on a dry-running medium nib. As nicely as the ink behaves otherwise on cheap paper, I might consider it a decent option for use when cheap paper is the only thing available, so long as you only ever need to use one side of said paper.
Despite all of these issues, though, I find myself nonetheless liking the color of the ink quite a lot. It’s not an ink I could use in an everyday situation, but the color is unique enough that I could still see myself turning to it occassionally for letters or daily notes.