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Review: J. Herbin Glass Dip Pen

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5 replies to this topic

#1 biffybeans



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Posted 04 February 2009 - 00:58

See the full review with pictures and links here

While I am quite familiar with using both fountain and calligraphy pens, this was my first time using a glass dip pen.

Much like a calligraphy style dip pen, you dip the nib into the ink, and then draw the nib lightly over the rim of the ink jar to remove any excess. Then you just put the pen to paper and start writing. I was quite surprised at how easy it is to write with this pen. The nib seems to write like a wide medium nib if comparing it to a fountain pen. There is a bit of tooth to the nib, but it was not bothersome to me at all.

I tested it with two different J. Herbin fountain pen inks, a number of their pigmented inks, as well as some Cretacolor brand calligraphy ink.

It seemed no matter the ink tested, the line always starts thicker and then gets thinner as you use the pen. How much you are able to write with the pen before re-dipping seems to depend on the thickness of the ink as well as the size of your handwriting. Sometimes I was able to do a sentence, sometimes several. I notice that when the ink flow starts to slow, if you slightly rotate the pen, you can continue for a few more words.

Written on the side of the box:

"Since 1870, J. HERBIN has crossed the oceans. Glass pens were very trendy in the 17th century Venice. Today, J. HERBIN put them on your desks as ornaments and writing instruments. Thanks to the small grooves on the pen, several lines can be written without dipping. Every glass pen is hand-crafted and therefore unique. When the nib is slightly blunt, do not hesitate to use fine sand paper (grade 400). Rub gently the nib and the pleasure of writing will be renewed."

When testing the pen with fountain pen inks, I noticed that they lay down quite a bit more ink than a regular fountain pen, which can make them appear more saturated than they really are.

If you decide to use a dip pen to test fountain pen inks, I suggest writing with the pen until it's out of ink. Look at the color and saturation at about the point where the line starts to thin out from the initial dip. That seems to give an accurate representation of how the color will look in a fountain pen.

All in all, I found this glass dip pen easy to use for both writing and doodling. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to write an entire letter with it, but I do think I'd like it for drawing.

It's easy to clean and most of the inks rinsed right off, with the exception of the calligraphy ink, which needed just a bit more effort to remove it from the grooves. I have a bottle of India Ink, but have not yet tested it with this pen. I'm guessing that too would need a little encouragement to clean the nib.

The smooth handled pen can be found at Hamilton and Brewer

The longer spiral handled pen can be found at Island Blue Art Supplies and also at Hamilton and Brewer

Both can be found at Distinctive Stationery

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#2 Vulcan1066


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Posted 04 February 2009 - 03:42

Ive used several dip pens and find the herbin pen to be as you described. Stay away from authentic model brand name as they write about like a q tip in my experience. I have a few that write like a true fine. I use them to write full letters on occassion as I am just wierd that way.
The only drawbacks I have found for the glass pens is thier fragile nature. Its difficult to take them along when you leave the house.
I like to use the glass pens when gold and silver ink are called for.
"Meddle not in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup"

#3 Ondina


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Posted 04 February 2009 - 14:14

Interesting. Only used one some time back, but the fragility reduces its use to a safe home desk. Herbin makes great inks, no doubt, and the colorful pens are very attractive.

#4 FrankB


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Posted 04 February 2009 - 16:05

Thanks for another excellent review.

Most folks I have talked to who know the name Herbin associate it almost exclusively with ink. Herbin also markets a nice variety of calligraphy items and I wish more people knew about them. The glass dip pens are a case in point.

I like the unique feedback from the glass pen's nib. I have to agree with Ondina that the pen's fragility limits its use to home, but I never carry a dip pen with me anyway. tongue.gif For anyone who likes calligraphy, I think a glass pen is a great experience.

#5 MYU


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Posted 04 February 2009 - 16:59

Interesting review, BiffyBeans! Nice photography too. I have to show some of them off here, if you don't mind. wink.gif

There are a number of different glass nib designs that have been tried. It sounds like this one doesn't quite handle the ink flow very well. It's too bad because they are attractive writing instruments. With calligraphy pens, you have a small reservoir. With this design, there is no reservoir--you need to dip frequently.

Glass tipped fountain pens have been made as well, which solve the ink supply issue. Of course, they end up looking like your usual fountain pen except for the nib part. Some even have the glass tip partially covered, which then makes them look more like markers of some kind. What intrigues me most is that you can't really see the ink on the nib. You touch it to paper and it magically makes a mark. smile.gif Unfortunately, the nibs wear down faster than metal based nibs. But when you think of the cost of the materials, talk about going green!

Edited by MYU, 04 February 2009 - 23:28.

[MYU's Pen Review Corner]   |   "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

#6 Coche_y_bondhu



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Posted 11 February 2009 - 20:52

Hello Stephanie,

I, too, have been experimenting with glass dip pens and have tried a few to compare how they write. I tried the J Herbin like you have, a Rubinato, a Coles Calligraphy Italian pen and a no-name glass pen from The Shakespeare Den.
Tried them all with Waterman ink.

I did not like how the Rubinato and Coles wrote; very thick oozing of ink at the onset and the line variation was too much. The Shakespeare Den had a think nib, twice as thick as the others. It wrote for only a few words with a very thin line.

The one I liked best was the J Herbin. It wrote with a fairly consistent line, no globs of ink at the onset and it wrote the longest, probably a short paragraph. It also worked well with Noodlers Old Manahattan Black. I also found that if you started writing with the pen at almost a 90 degree angle and with very light pressure, you minimized your chances of having the ink glob on the paper. Then as you continue writing (slowly), you gradually reduce the angle of the pen to the paper.

So I bought another J Herbin for variety and will probably stick with Waterman ink for a quick note from time to time and the Noodlers OMB for addressing envelopes. One of these days, I'll order one of those fancy Ernst pens!


Richard in Texas

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