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Discontinued Herbin Ink


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9 replies to this topic

#1 HandLikeAFist

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 02:28

So this FP stuff started for me when I decided that I want to write the way French schoolchildren did in earlier years the last century. They wrote (by decree?) with a very strong violet ink. That's what I want to replicate.

Some research leads me to believe that the ink, made by J. Herbin, was called “l’Encre des Vaisseaux”. Has anyone ever heard of this? Is there a modern ink that replicates the depth of tone of this long-gone ink? (No Noodler's, please.)

Meanwhile, I am quite happy with my Violette Pensee, in a Kaweco Sport Classic, black, fine nib.

Thanks to any of you who can help with this rather arcane quest.

Yrs, Robert

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#2 ville900

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 14:26

I think you can produce your own violet ink using Crystal violet or Gentian violet (also known as Methyl Violet 10B, hexamethyl chloride, or pyoctanin(e))
See : http://en.wikipedia..../Gentian_violet. Also called violet FX or METHYLROSANILINIUM chloride.

I have never used it but investigated the topic. I think you can buy it for a small price (eg: http://www.allcity.f...icle-813-1.html) from any pharmacist but be careful because it seems to be very volatile, which was confirmd to me by a pharmacist, and also to be staining quite a lot. Apart from that, it's not especially dangerous to manipulate.



Here are some other reference links:

http://www.fountainp...9-medical-dyes/
http://www.drugs.com...m-chloride.html
http://forums.futura...ndelebile.html (in French)


#3 anderl

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 16:08

There are members here who I'm sure could comment on the French school ink from first hand experience, while I can only resort to the web -- but this makes me think that “l’Encre des Vaisseaux” was not the same thing:

In this blog entry by insider Karen Doherty, it is stated that the "ink of ships" was iron gall based, while nothing is said about the colour. If indeed one is looking for a purplish iron gall ink, Scabiosa by Rohrer and Klingner is the (only) one that springs to mind.

On the other hand, there are several sources equating that French school violet with Herbin's Violette Pensée. To start with, there's this remark by Epictete92, in post #11. Then Gueilledebonde suggests the same thing in post #52 here. Similarly post #93 in this thread.
From Herbin-related sites, you get the same impression, see here: "Cette encre violette a couvert les pages des cahiers de nos parents et aieuls...". Moreover, they are actually selling a retro set including some violet ink which is identified as Violette Pensée in this pdf catalogue.
This interesting-looking site also links Herbin to the violet school ink.

See also this thread with a brief remark on the formlation of Violette Pensée.
I found this mention of Gentian Violet in a brief answer to the question "De quoi était constituée cette fameuse encre violette?", which probably tallies with ville900's remarks.

#4 ville900

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 20:13

In the catalogue mentioned by anderl, it says that Herbin was the official provider of the French education ministry until 1967, especially for violet ink.

(Herbin a été, jusqu'en 1967, le fournisseur officiel de l'Education Nationale (en Encre Violette, en particulier).)

It also says that violet ink has been used by pupils from Napoleon as it was the cheapest ink. It was made, among other things of methyl violet, recognized for its disinfectant qualities. This set includes a bottle of Herbin Violette Pensée. This leads me to think that Violette Pensée might be the closest match to the ancient violet ink... although this is not positively specified.

(petit flacon d'encre Violette pensée. Un petit historique de l'encre Violette : Depuis Napoléon Ier, les
écoliers français écrivaient à l'encre violette, qui était l'encre la moins coûteuse. Cette encre était composée, entre autres, de violet de méthyle, reconnu pour ses propriétés désinfectantes. La plume d'acier, inventée par les Romains, n'a été industrialisée qu'au XIX ème siècle. L'encre violette a été utilisée dans les écoles primaires françaises jusque dans les années 1970.
)

Edited by ville900, 11 March 2012 - 20:18.


#5 subbes

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 00:45

Any modern J Herbin ink will, of course, not contain gentian violet or methyl violet, due to health and safety regulations.

"Perdita thought, to take an example at random, that things like table manners were a stupid and repressive idea. Agnes, on the other hand, was against being hit by flying bits of other people's cabbage." (Pratchett, T. Carpe Jugulum.)

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#6 ville900

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 05:47

Why? Is that dangerous? For me this is a substance freely available for sale at any drug store. So it should not be dangerous in normal conditions. Or am I wrong?

#7 HandLikeAFist

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:19

Thank you so much for your fascinating replies. I very much appreciate them.

I am thinking that the long-ago J.Herbin ink called l’Encre des Vaisseaux was probably not the classic French violet school ink; I only found one reference connecting the two. I am becoming convinced that the common violet used after the l’Encre des Vaisseaux era was a J. Herbin product, but that is surmise. I'd love to know more about it.

Gentian! Exactly! I had forgotten, but I now remember being swabbed with the stuff when I was a kid, as an antiseptic. It is now used in tattoo inks. And also gentian is the ink used in surgical settings, in a felt-tipped pen, when surgeons need to mark a patient's skin semi-permanently. So there is gentian ink out there, just probably not for fountain pens.

I wonder why it was discontinued in 1966. Perhaps, and Brian Goulet suggested this, new EU restrictions made it impossible to produce. Or French mamans were tired of trying to wash it out of their kids' clothes. Or schools just gave up on wet-ink pens. Hmm. Now I wonder if this stuff was ever formulated for fountain-pens, or just used for dip-pens in schools. I need a French-educated ink-obsessed surgeon to get to the bottom of this.

I think that gentian, and methyl violet 10 are the same thing, chemically speaking. Ink-making. This way madness lies. I see myself temped towards this alluring rabbit-hole.

Luckily, I love Herbin's Violette Pensee and will continue to use it happily until I can find out more about its predecessor. So any more suggestions very welcome.

Thank you again.

Yrs, Robert

#8 saintsimon

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:48

...

I wonder why it was discontinued in 1966. Perhaps, and Brian Goulet suggested this, new EU restrictions made it impossible to produce. ...
Yrs, Robert

That we can safely rule out. Back in 1966, the European Communities, as the collaboration of merely six countries was called then, wasn't even a custom's union.




#9 Synthy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 17:57

I wonder why it was discontinued in 1966. Perhaps, and Brian Goulet suggested this, new EU restrictions made it impossible to produce. Or French mamans were tired of trying to wash it out of their kids' clothes. Or schools just gave up on wet-ink pens. Hmm. Now I wonder if this stuff was ever formulated for fountain-pens, or just used for dip-pens in schools. I need a French-educated ink-obsessed surgeon to get to the bottom of this.

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#10 HandLikeAFist

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 22:55

Yes, that big dreadful BIC is more to blame for the ink's demise than any government safety concerns, I bet. Thanks for your replies.

Yrs, Robert






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