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J. Herbin - Orange Indien


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J.Herbin - Orange Indien

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. The subject of this review is "Orange Indien" - an ink for which I had high hopes. On first impression, I liked the colour a lot: a muted orange that leans a bit towards the brown. I like my inks non-vibrant, so in this area Orange Indien did not disappoint. One thing I quickly noticed: it's almost impossible to capture this ink's colour with my scanner. It always turns out too brown. So in this review, I mostly use pictures to show off the ink, since these match much more precisely the colour I see with the naked eye.

The tranquil character of this ink appealed to me - this is an ink that is quite pleasant to use for personal journaling. For writing, you do need wet pens to fully enjoy the ink. With dry pens, like the Lamy Safari, the ink feels too unlubricated and doesn't produce a line with sufficient saturation. When combined with a wet pen (e.g. a Pelikan), the ink looks great even in finer nibs.


Orange Indien has a moderate colour span, with not too much of a difference between light and fully saturated parts. To illustrate this, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This accurately illustrates the ink's colour range. The moderate colour span indicates that this is a soft-shading ink. The ink shades nicely, but without too much contrast between the light and dark parts.


On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly, with almost no smearing. Water resistance is non-existent though - some brown-orange smudges remain, but what is left on the paper is no longer readable (well - if you're a forensics expert, you can probably reconstruct the original words, but for daily use Orange Indien should be kept away from water or other liquids).


Orange Indien dries relatively quickly in my Safari test pen (M-nib), taking about 5-10 seconds to dry. 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)

With this test, Orange Indien shows its weakness. It is prone to feathering, even on papers where this is almost never a problem. I noticed slight feathering on Moleskine (no surprise there) and printing papers, but also on Paperblanks Paper. The latter is a bummer for me personally, since I use Paperblanks Embellished Manuscripts as my daily journals. On other papers, feathering didn't seem to be a problem.





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 M101N Bright Red with an F-nib. With this wet pen, the ink wrote smoothly and with much better saturation. Orange Indien loves to be combined with wetter pens and broader nibs. Nice looking ink!


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 – portrait of a blushing lady

With each review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I'm reviewing. This is often quite challenging, but it has the advantage of showing the ink's colour range in a more artistic setting. I enjoy doing these little drawings immensely - it's quite a fun extension of the ink hobby. For this inkxperiment, I really lacked inspiration. So I employed the random-line technique: draw some random lines on the paper, and see if some topic drifts to the foreground. I started out with HP Premium Photo Paper, and drew some random lines using a Q-tip dipped in Orange Indien with the paper completely submerged in water. This gives soft lines, and colours the background of the paper. I then lifted the image of a lady from the randomness, and painted it in with different ratios of water-diluted ink. For her hair, I used pure Orange Indien. Here the ink bled out a bit on the face, creating the blushing effect. So instead of a lady, you get the portrait of a blushing lady ;-) The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that can be obtained with Orange Indien.



Orange Indien is a nice-looking non-vibrant orange, that looks quite well on paper. You should pair this ink with wet pens to get a nice writing experiende. The ink has a tendency to light feathering on a number of papers in my test set. Unfortunately for me, this also happens on Paperblanks paper. Personally, I really like the ink's colour, but the feathering on my daily-use paper kills this ink for me (at least as a writing ink).

Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib


Backside of writing samples on different paper types





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  • namrehsnoom


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I take my hat off to your impressive, immersive and thorough review, Thank you!! :notworthy1: I'm not a fan of JH's regular inks, but a die-hard devotee of the 1670 Emeraud De Chivor which I love deeply and has always been inked since it's release!

If there is righteousness in the heart, There will be beauty in character. If there is beauty in character, There will be harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, There will be order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world. Bhagawan Shri Satya Sai Baba

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Great review as always! Thank you!


Truthfully, I had this ink for awhile. I just don't care for it at all.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today




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I find this color very pleasant, but the feathering is disappointing to hear. I might still get a sample at some point. Thank you for the great review!

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Thanks for another great review; this was one of the first inks I got, still enjoy it. It gets even more interesting in a pen that evaporates more quickly. I've never noticed any feathering, it does produce a little crud in a Lamy Vista witn an M nib; I would probably be concerned but it's nothing compared to another ink I use, the crud machine known as Rouge Hématite.


I think this ink looks particularly nice next to a black ink.

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."


B. Russell

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Nice review of one of my favourite oranges which I have sadly (or not so sadly, if it doesn't work out well in Safaris as you say) only in cartridge format. Sometimes I feel like having parrot colors, but most of the time these calming earth tones really do it for me. Thanks!


Events may be horrible or inescapable. Men always have a choice - if not whether, then how they endure.

- Lois McMaster Bujold

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Superb review, thanks. I used to enjoy this ink and used it quite a bit. Then other took its place but I still have a fondness for it in my memory.

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The nine-frame comparison grid is so useful, and the samples on various papers. Really helpful work. Thank you.

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Very helpful review, thanks! One thing I’ve discovered is that OI is a very close match for orange Rhodia covers.

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Love the blushing lady.

Thanks again for your time and another stonking review that leaves little doubt as to the ink's properties. :)

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