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On The Hunt For "the Good Ink" In Seventeenth-Century France



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My current research led me to a kind of "what's hot"/guide book on the must-visit shops and most notable people of Paris in 1692. There is a very small section on writing and stationery shops and within that section a page that I think many of us would have earmarked back in the day; pen and ink aficionados never change :)

Here's a loose translation of the entire short passage:

At [the house named] 'l'Image Saint François', on rue Saint André next to the bridge Saint Michel, there is a stationer famous for the good ink (la bonne encre), for precision pen knives and for sharpened quills.

I haven't done any reading on ink history, but has anyone come across any literature on this "good ink"?

Herbin isn't mentioned in the section either for his sealing wax or for his inks. The Herbin website notes that he "created 'The Jewel of Inks' in his shop on the Rue des Fossés Saint-Germain in Paris in 1700" and that "by 1700, the company was producing 'l’Encre de la Tête Noire,' followed by 'Perle des Encres,' (The Jewel of Inks) and 'l’Encre des Vaisseaux.'"

 

Could "the good ink" be "l’Encre de la Tête Noire" since it preceded the "Jewel of Inks" and could have launched around then?

 

My research isn't centered on ink, but if I come across any other ink mentions I will post them here!

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white_lotus

Where are rue Saint André and Rue des Fossés Saint-Germain located? Same street, different names?

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They are two different streets and I'd say separated by about a 5 min walk.

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Coincidentally, an extensive exhibit of paintings by the 17th C French brothers Le Nain opened this weekend at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.

 

I wonder if your book may have mentioned Nicolas Blanchet or Nicolas Dumont, both of whom were active harpsichord makers in Paris at the end of the 17th C. The soundboard painting on one of my harpsichords is a copy of that found on a Dumont instrument built just after the turn of the 18th C. Another person to look for is Elisabeth-CLaude Jacquet de la Guerre, daughter of the harpsichord maker Jacquet. She was the prominent woman harpsichordist and composer in Paris at that time, and her music is first rate.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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white_lotus

Based on the information so far, I'd suspect that the maker of "la bonne encre" and J. Herbin are different. Most likely there were a number of ink makers back then. Not sure if in this part of 17th C Paris ink makers and their shoppes congregated.

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Coincidentally, an extensive exhibit of paintings by the 17th C French brothers Le Nain opened this weekend at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.

 

I wonder if your book may have mentioned Nicolas Blanchet or Nicolas Dumont, both of whom were active harpsichord makers in Paris at the end of the 17th C. The soundboard painting on one of my harpsichords is a copy of that found on a Dumont instrument built just after the turn of the 18th C. Another person to look for is Elisabeth-CLaude Jacquet de la Guerre, daughter of the harpsichord maker Jacquet. She was the prominent woman harpsichordist and composer in Paris at that time, and her music is first rate.

I went through the section on harpsichords and he does not speak about makers but he does mention Jacquet as one of the master musicians. As a side note, two names I was happy to see under viola da gamba are: Sainte-Colombe and Marais!

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Based on the information so far, I'd suspect that the maker of "la bonne encre" and J. Herbin are different. Most likely there were a number of ink makers back then. Not sure if in this part of 17th C Paris ink makers and their shoppes congregated.

That sounds like a good hypothesis! I wonder if the marketing/pr team at Herbin has any quick and easy information that they are able to share... :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought that your wife was supposed to make ink for the household: many cooking and medicinal books contain recipes for ink.

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