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J.Herbin - Vert Empire La Société Herbin, Maître Cirier à Paris, was established in 1670. This makes J. Herbin probably the oldest name among European ink makers. Today, Herbin produces a range of beautiful fountain pen and calligraphy inks, writing instruments, gift sets and accessories. Herbin inks are made in France, and the finishing touches on the bottles are still done by hand in Paris. Recently, I've been looking into Herbin's "La Perle des Encres" series. I've had my eye on "Vert Empire" for some time now, and decided it's time for a review of this ink. Vert Empire is a terrific grey-green ink, that's right up my alley. Muted, subdued, greyish... yummy! The ink's colour has to be seen to be fully appreciated - the scans in this review don't do it full justice. This ink has the cunning ability to change character with the available lighting: sometimes showing off a more yellow-green hue (under artificial light), and at other times appearing almost as a pure grey. The scans in this review capture reasonably well the way the ink appears in normal daylight. This is an ink that immediately appealed to me. A tranquil colour, full of character, and with heavy grey undertones that give the ink a vintage vibe. The ink looks beautiful on all paper types, with good contrast even with finer nibs. Shading is very present even in finer nibs, but remains aesthetically elegant. I really like the looks of this ink - a prime candidate for my top three of 2019. The ink has quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With my wetter Pelikan pens the ink is very well saturated, and writes like a dream. Vert Empire also has a broad colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This beautifully illustrates the ink's wide colour range. This J. Herbin ink moves effortlessly from a very light grey-green to a very dark, almost black green. On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly with almost no smearing. Water resistance is a bit disappointing though. The ink loses all colour, but still leaves behind a perfectly readable light-grey ghost image of your writing. Not great, but your writings will be recoverable. This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that the grey components of the ink remain on the paper. This is an ink that might still be at home in the workplace. Vert Empire is also a fast-drying ink - with typical drying times in the 5-10 second range with my Lamy Safari (M-nib). I was surprised at this, because it totally feels like a really wet ink. As such, this ink might also be suitable for lefties. I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you: An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib A small text sample, written with an M-nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib) Vert Empire looks really nice on both white and more yellowish papers. On low-quality paper (yes that's you, Moleskine) it exhibits a small amount of feathering, but all-in-all not too bad. With Moleskine paper, there is significant show-through and a bit of bleed-through - not unexpected for this fountain-pen unfriendly paper. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen - a wet Pelikan M120 with an M-nib. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line. As you can see, Vert Empire manages to look really nice in all nib sizes, with great contrast and elegant shading. Nice. Related inks To allow for a good comparison with related inks, I employ a nine-grid format, with the currently reviewed ink at the center. Each grid cell shows the name of the ink, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test - all in a very compact format. Inkxperiment - Mining Tower As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings often present a real challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. For my topic, I went back to the industrial heritage of my home town (Genk, Belgium), where the last coal-mine shut down in 1988. The mining tower is now the centerpiece of a lively cultural complex. I started off with heavily water-diluted ink to paint in the background. I then used mildly diluted Vert Empire to draw the mining tower and foreground. Final highlights were added with a broad-nibbed fountain pen filled with Vert Empire. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Vert Empire is capable of. Conclusion J. Herbin Vert Empire is a truly great ink, that pleasantly surprised me on all fronts: georgeous grey-leaning green colour, beautiful shading, good saturation - and all this even in finer nibs. Even better, the ink is relatively fast-drying and works well with all paper types. Combine all this, and you've got a winner. This ink went straight to my top three for 2019 ! I heartily recommend it. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types