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Jacques Herbin - Violet boréal


namrehsnoom
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Jacques Herbin – Violet boréal

 

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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Like so many others, the company jumped on the premium product bandwagon, and started to release higher-end inks under the Jacques Herbin “Les encres essentielles” label. Nicer boxes, nicer packaging, much higher price (18,50 EUR versus the 7,50 EUR for the J. Herbin inks from the “La perle des encres” series). Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist and decided to test these new inks – are they really better than the standard J. Herbin inks?

 

In this review, I take a closer look at Violet boréal, a violet purple with a spring-time feel to it. A wet and well-saturated ink, that works with all nib sizes. There is some nice shading, especially in drier pens. With a wet pen, the ink has a serious tendency to oversaturate, drowning out the shading. With Violet boréal, I recommend using a dry pen – it will definitely enhance the ink’s appearance on the page. 

 

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The ink has quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With my wetter Pelikan pens the ink is actually too saturated for my taste, it loses its depth and becomes one-dimensional, diminishing its appeal. With stronger saturation, the colour also shifts from a light violet to a much darker purple.  Violet boréal has a medium colour span that ranges from a light violet to a darker violet-purple. Contrast between light and dark parts is fairly low, which translates to subtle shading. To illustrate this, I did a swab on 52 gsm Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This clearly demonstrates the ink’s colour span.

 

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On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – there was lots of smearing. The text itself remains very readable though. Water resistance is fairly low. There remains some text on the page, and with lots of patience you might be able to reconstruct your writing. But if this aspect is important to you, simply choose a different ink. The ink’s chromatography suggests that some ink remains on the paper, but that’s only partly true: what remains on the page is a smudgy mess, not easily readable text. 

 

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Drying times for this Jacques Herbin ink are around the 10 second mark with my Lamy Safari M-nib. The ink prefers the better-quality paper in my test set. With lower quality paper, I see a small amount of feathering, and quite some see-through with a bit of bleed-through. But overall, the ink behaved really well. Violet boréal looks good on both white and creamy paper. 

 

One thing to note is that this ink’s colour is crazy difficult to capture. Scans show it too blue-violet – while in reality it’s more a red-violet. And the photos show it darker than it appears in real life. To my eye, the photos are closest to its real-life appearance.

 

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 M-nib Lamy Safari
  • The source of the quote, written with my F-nib Yard-o-Led Viceroy
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari)

 

 

large.66594500_jacquesherbin-violetboreal-sampletext300ppipt1.jpg.668839b787ddf454dfd5ffcf7bba3898.jpg

large.346994145_jacquesherbin-violetboreal-sampletext300ppipt2.jpg.f5aaa2e889efbe020ebbaa1712bee198.jpg

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large.984489680_jacquesherbin-violetboreal-sampletext300ppipt4.jpg.af3cfe1a9838f5ff5c9ac646979467a4.jpg

 

Since scans alone don’t tell the complete story, I’ve added some photos of the same writing samples to give you another view on the ink.

 

large.2082585240_jacquesherbin-violetboreal-sampletextphotodetail.jpg.f1e736b6146dfd4653a8f5040e591fa6.jpg

 

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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 Yard-o-Led Viceroy with F-nib. With the wet pen, the ink leaves a very saturated violet-purple line, and loses much of the shading. I personally prefer this ink in combination with a dry pen – it simply looks nicer: a light-violet with subtle shading. The wetter the pen, the darker and more one-dimensional the ink becomes.

 

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Related inks
To allow for a good comparison with related inks, I employ my 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. Callifolio Violet from L’Artisan Pastellier looks fairly close – I might do a shoot-out between these two in the near future.

 

large.1728119506_jacquesherbin-violetboreal-relatedinks300ppi.jpg.022e493b82129fcaf6bf2cd3e40cf5fc.jpg


Inkxperiment – multiverse
As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I’m reviewing. With these monochromatic pieces, I get to explore all the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. And I really enjoy creating these little pieces – pure quality time spent with my hobby! Inspiration for this painting comes from an astronomy book I’ve been reading lately, which also covered the concept of a multiverse. This somehow stuck in my head, and I used it as the concept for this drawing.

 

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For this drawing I used a textured Fellowes binding cover. I started by painting the different quadrants using a piece of cardboard and pure Violet boréal. The world circles were created with a small glass bottle: I dipped the bottom of the bottle in ink, and used it as a stamp to create the circles. I next painted in the scenes using water-diluted ink. For the stardust in the background, I splashed some ink on the paper with a toothbrush. I finally added some extra detail to the world circles using a glass dip pen. The resulting piece gives you an idea what can be achieved with Violet boréal in a more artistic setting.

 

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Conclusion
Jacques Herbin Violet boréal is a good-looking violet that I find quite enjoyable. But… you really need a dry pen to make the best of this ink. With wet pens, the ink tends to over-saturate, shows a too dark violet-purple colour, and becomes really one-dimensional. I don’t like the ink in that incarnation (my opinion of course). Overall not a bad ink. But, for a so-called premium product, I had higher expectations. 

 

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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1981087544_colorverse-quasar-sampletextbacksidept4.thumb.jpeg.cab0e880c2eaf2b60f6fbd44f0e98787.jpeg

 

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Excellent review as usual. Thank you so much :thumbup:

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Thanks for posting this. Very complete review. I like Herbin inks, but I haven't branched out into this line, yet. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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Love your Rorschach bug at the start and your mini-drawings! :)  The purple's a nice shade.  Thanks for another review.

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Wonderful review as always - thank you :) 

 

I especially like the drawing for this one too - very clever as well as informative.

 

I've also been trying out a few from this line - I just got the little bottles - and have been surprised at how incredibly saturated they are, especially compared to the regular Herbin line. There had been a tiny leak from one of them (the Bleu de Minuit) and I was astonished at the coverage achieved by less than 1ml of ink - not just over the packaging, but everywhere else when I opened it to clean up - and it took a fair bit of effort to shift it from my hands, though it cleaned up from a pen very easily. I also found them quite 'thick' almost to the point of gumminess in a couple of cases, and some took a long time to dry. This was one of the better ones IMO.

 

They definitely need dry pens, and finer nibs at that - I actually found almost all of them too saturated for my current taste in colours as they are. I may try diluting them to see if I like them better that way. As they stand at the moment, I'm unlikely to buy any of them in the larger size, with the possible exception of Gris de Houle - and even then, I think I have better alternatives.

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Very pretty color, and I am not a purple ink lover by any means.  I wonder, though, is MB Lavender Purple really as red as it seems in the comparison shot?  And is Kaweco Summer Purple equally as brown?

 

In any case, the little world drawings are wonderful.  Thanks for the  review!  

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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Great review, thank you for posting it 

 

 

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

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How does this ink compare to Herbin Violette Pensee (an ink I tried recently and like very much) for color?

And thanks for the review.  And, well, possibly not (my wallet may NOT be thanking you...). :wallbash:

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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Thanks N+ from me too (can't ever diverge here). But what I really liked this time is your asking yourself and then drawing your own conclusion about the real value of Herbin's upper notch offerings. Yes, the boxes, the bottles and the packaging might warrant their higher prices. I'll buy that, too, but only as long as the ink itself is better. I have always found the original 35 30-ml standard packs to be at least slightly too "watered down" and that is something which the Essentielles (along with the 1670s and 1798s) have apparently alleviated.

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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I love the "multiverse" drawings!

 

I'm also curious about how it compares to Violette Pensée - is it like a more saturated version?

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This might help. Obviously this is a different scanner, different paper (I swatch on Clairfontaine 205g cards), different monitor etc, but since the comparison is between inks scanned together it should give a good idea. 

 

large.herbin-violets.jpg.afebf2479bca91b0969f5e6581308b83.jpg

IMO, Violet Boréal is actually closer to Poussiere de Lune than to Violette Pensée. I would certainly get both of the regular line again, particularly Violette Pensée, but wouldn't pay the premium for the Essentielle version. But I like the slightly less saturated 'thinner' inks. 

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Thanks, mizgeorge!  The scans were very helpful (especially since you have writing samples as well as just swabs).  

I didn't particularly like Poussiere de Lune when I bought it, but I like Violette Pensee a whole lot.  Violet Boreal may go into the "get a sample first" category, because I have a number of somewhat red-leaning purples to begin with.  OTOH, their standard inks tend to be well-behaved (if not remotely water resistant) and I wouldn't hesitate to put them into a vintage pen.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA:  Just looked at the price of Violet Boreal and :yikes:!  Yeah, almost definitely get a sample first, unless the place I'm planning to go to in the upcoming week has sample cards....

"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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12 minutes ago, inkstainedruth said:

 OTOH, their standard inks tend to be well-behaved (if not remotely water resistant)

(That seems to vary a lot by particular ink. Perle Noire seems pretty water resistant; Lie de Thé becomes grey but is still readable; Poussière de Lune disappears; etc.)

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21 minutes ago, mizgeorge said:

This might help. Obviously this is a different scanner, different paper (I swatch on Clairfontaine 205g cards), different monitor etc, but since the comparison is between inks scanned together it should give a good idea. 

 

large.herbin-violets.jpg.afebf2479bca91b0969f5e6581308b83.jpg

IMO, Violet Boréal is actually closer to Poussiere de Lune than to Violette Pensée. I would certainly get both of the regular line again, particularly Violette Pensée, but wouldn't pay the premium for the Essentielle version. But I like the slightly less saturated 'thinner' inks. 

 

Obviously influenced by your arrangement, but it almost looks like a 60:40/70:30 blend of poussière de lune and violette pensée.

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What a review! You've outdone yourself with the inkxperiment drawing this time. Absolutely and positively awesome! 👏

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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The ink looks nice. I don’t have a violet and was never especially interested in the colour until I saw this one. I am tempted to buy a bottle. I appreciate you pointing out that it can be over-saturated and rather dark and uniform in a wet pen - so many inks are like that and can disappoint in the wrong pen if you aren’t aware of the characteristic.
 

Love your multiverse artwork too.

 

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Thanks yet again for another exceptional review.

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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14 hours ago, mizgeorge said:

I've also been trying out a few from this line - I just got the little bottles

 

I haven't seen the little bottles. May I ask where you purchased them, please?

 

(I'm grateful for their 10ml bottles of the La Perle des Encres line which I buy from Pure Pens.)

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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2 hours ago, PithyProlix said:

 

I haven't seen the little bottles. May I ask where you purchased them, please?


image.jpeg.20b2232c5e91bb53c9e8523437350732.jpeg
 

In Europe, La Couronne du Comte has them, others probably too. These are small 15ml bottles, good for a try-out, but very unpractical (just looking at them makes me fear they’ll tip over)

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30 minutes ago, namrehsnoom said:


image.jpeg.20b2232c5e91bb53c9e8523437350732.jpeg
 

In Europe, La Couronne du Comte has them, others probably too. These are small 15ml bottles, good for a try-out, but very unpractical (just looking at them makes me fear they’ll tip over)

 

Thanks. I now remember seeing those in sets of five elsewhere. I wonder if La Couronne du Comte is separating the sets in order to sell individuals. (Those do look quite tippy!)

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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