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J. Herbin - Cacao du Brésil



namrehsnoom
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J. Herbin - Cacao du Brésil

This is my first review after the "Fall" - the November 2020 outage of FPN. I wanted to take this opportunity to express a heartfelt thank you for the huge amount of effort by Wim and the FPN Admin team to bring our favourite forum back online. You guys rock!

 

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.

 

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J. Herbin is probably best known for their inks in the “La Perle des Encres” series. In this review, the spotlight shines on Cacao du Brésil, which is one of the stars in this line-up. This ink immediately managed to seduce me — it’s simply a superb writing ink, a gorgeous cool grey-brown colour with excellent saturation even in the finer nibs. Also tons of elegant shading, that starts to appear with F nibs, and really delivers with broads. Definitely my type of ink, and — in my opinion — one of Herbin’s best!

 

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J. Herbin inks come packaged in simple 30 ml bottles. These bottles are merely adequate, and not really well-suited for piston-fillers — they are not very deep, and piston-filling from a half-empty bottle can be a challenge. My trick is to fill an ink-sample vial with ink, and piston-fill my pen that way. Cacao du Brésil makes a great match for my Edison Collier Red Dragon, which is the beauty in the pic below.

 

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Cacao du Brésil writes a saturated line with quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With wetter pens the ink leaves a deeply saturated grey-brown line, and loses a bit of its prominent shading. To illustrate the colour span of Cacao du Brésil, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I totally saturated portions of the paper with ink. This J. Herbin ink shows a medium colour range, without too harsh a contrast between light and darker parts. This translates to elegant shading when writing.

 

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On the smudge test — rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab — the ink behaved perfectly, with only minimal smearing. Water resistance is quite good — the ink survives even longer exposures to water, leaving a light grey residue on the paper which remains very readable. This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography. This makes Cacao du Brésil an ink that is perfectly usable at the office.

 

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Drying times for this ink are in the 5-15 second range, depending on the type of paper (with the Lamy Safari M-nib). With the more absorbent copy paper that you’ll find at the office, it’s close to 5 seconds. With less absorbent paper, drying times are more in the 10-15 second range.

 

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 the Lamy Safari M-nib
  • Source of the quote, written with a Platinum 3776 Century B-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari)

 

Cacao du Brésil looks great on both white and more yellowish paper. I didn’t detect any noticeable feathering, just a hint on the notoriously bad Moleskine paper. With Moleskine and GvFC paper, there is some show-through and a tiny bit of bleed-through — but nothing too bad. Overall, Cacao du Brésil behaves exceptionally well.

 

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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-writing Platinum 3776 Century with a broad nib. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line, which leans towards black-brown, taking away some of the more prominent shading you get in drier pens.

 

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Related inks
To compare Cacao du Brésil with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the centre. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test — all in a very compact format. I don’t really have any close matches to this grey-brown in my collection though. Iroshizuku kiri-same — a grey ink with brown undertones — appears to be a distant cousin. My other browns are just … more brown.

 

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Inkxperiment – The Fall (Last Leaf Standing)
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. These inkxperiments allow me to explore the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. I love doing them!

 

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The grey-brown tones of Cacao du Brésil match perfectly with the autumn season in my part of the world. No need to look any further for inspiration. Dark-brown earth, glistening wetly from yesterday’s rain, and on the trees a last leaf clinging to the branch.

 

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I started with a piece of 300 gsm watercolour paper, that I thoroughly wetted with water to which I added a bit of ink. I then used a broad brush to draw in the outline of the field and the sky. Next I drew in the tree with the last leaf standing. To complete the drawing, I used a fine brush to add the striped pattern that adds texture to the earthen field. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour range that can be achieved when using Cacao du Brésil in a more artistic context.

 

Conclusion
J. Herbin Cacao du Brésil is a great ink: a really special cool grey-brown, that works with all nib sizes and on all types of paper. The ink is also fairly water-resistant, and well suited for the workplace. And it shows some beautiful shading that really gives that extra oomph to your writing. This is an ink that really gives me pleasure — heartily recommended!

 

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

 

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Backside of writing samples on different paper types

 

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  • PithyProlix

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Woowee - wonderful review - thanks!

 

his ink was supposed to be on my order a few days ago but, alas, it was out of stock (for Herbin inks I did score Rouille D'Ancre, Bouquet D'Antan, Gris Nuage, Larmes De Cassis & Vert Olive though). I wish they had it because it's really my kind of ink and I could easily see it in an everyday writer. 

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Great review!

You showed all the subtlety and elegance of this ink so perfect.

I have back up bottles of Cacao du Bresil and haven’t had a pen that didn't like it.

LETTER EXCHANGE PARTICIPANT

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Great review - this is one of my go-to inks, and I love that it works just as well with finer nibs as it does in my stubs, where some of the greyer greys and browner browns don't. I'm reminded that I need to get a backup bottle of it.

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I bought several J. Herbin inks back when I first started hanging out here but ended up giving them all away. This was the only one I sort of regretted and last year I picked up one of the 10 ml bottles to fill out an order. The color really is kind of unique and it isn't plagued by the performance issues I had with the other colors.

It's hard work to tell which is Old Harry when everybody's got boots on.

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inkstainedruth

Interesting color.  On my screen it looks a fair amount like Noodler'sWhaleman's Sepia -- an ink I really wanted to like but it didn't want to flow at ALL in the pen I had it in -- just clung to the sides one the converter for dear life, going "Don't wanna go down to the feed and you can't make me!   Uh uh, nope, not happening...."

Thanks for the review.  And, well, not.... 

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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TitoThePencilPimp

Placed an order just now. Thank you!! I still think Lie de the is superior brown ink from Herbin. But this also looks good.

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This is a great review of a great ink, thank you! The nine ink grid is particularly helpful.

Cacao du Bresil was my first "Taupe", but I obviously really enjoy this color area as I keep a designated pen and have accumulated a whole collection of sibling inks. It is amazing how each variation has its own nuance and character. I have found myself using the more neutral Rohrer & Klingner Sepia most often, but the warmer and more violet Cacao often comes out in the Winter. For my taste, both of these come well ahead of the more colorful Yama Guri.

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2 hours ago, TitoThePencilPimp said:

Placed an order just now. Thank you!! I still think Lie de the is superior brown ink from Herbin. But this also looks good.

 Lie was the first one I ordered. Then someone said it looked like baby poop and every time after when I was using it I couldn't help thinking that, too.

It's hard work to tell which is Old Harry when everybody's got boots on.

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16 minutes ago, chromantic said:

 Lie was the first one I ordered. Then someone said it looked like baby poop and every time after when I was using it I couldn't help thinking that, too.

Oh no!  I am so sorry.  I think I am that someone.  Please forgive me!  

"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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Thank you for another excellent and thorough ink review!

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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On 12/5/2020 at 11:25 PM, namrehsnoom said:

 

(sorry to go off topic here)

 

I've starting being active on FPN only recently and I followed the link to your blog to find that you have done many great reviews, most notably, for me, many L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio inks. May I ask if you have tried any from the 'Encres Classiques" collection and, if so, do you have any impressions you can give us, please?

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On 12/5/2020 at 8:37 PM, chromantic said:

 Lie was the first one I ordered. Then someone said it looked like baby poop and every time after when I was using it I couldn't help thinking that, too.

No problem, baby poop, especially from a nursing baby, is more mustard than brown, nothing at all like Lie de The, one of my all time favourite inks. 

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An excellent review as always. The forum universe thanks you!

 

However, I got a sample of this in some time ago (several years), loaded it into a pen, and I couldn't empty that pen fast enough. I hated the color. No second chance either. I accumulated many other inks that I liked. That's the goal I think.

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