Drop dead red: A short review of J Herbin – 1670 Rouge Hematite ink

I love red inks, there I’ve said it. This has been a fact ever since one of my early school teachers used to spend so much time using one to correct my  school work as a youngster – I even used to misspell things on purpose at times just to see how she would annotate the page 🙂

So I guess that I was already predisposed to liking this offering from the french ink manufacturer J Herbin, even at the £12 ($20) price point per 50ml bottle. Particularly as this ink, along with a deep blue, is something of a special edition produced to celebrate the 340th anniversary of the J Herbin marque. According to the accompanying leaflet the colour was designed to evoke memories of sealing wax used by members of the royal court and the colour of the historic J Herbin logo.

The first thing  to say about this ink is that it comes attractively boxed and in what I think is one of the smartest cube shaped ink bottles around emblazoned with its own 1670 wax seal on the front. It may not turn out to be the most practical bottle when I come to eek out the last few remaining drops of this delicate elixir but that is a concern for the distant future. For now it is a thing of beauty even before the cap is removed…

When finally the ink is dispensed it does not disappoint. This is a stunningly opulent ink that exhibits hugely intriguing shading properties as it dries. Possibly one of the most complex inks I for one have ever come across, the effect this ink displays is to transform this deep red wet ink into an almost two-tone red/terracotta orange with a green sheen that is  both strange and delightful to behold. I had in all honesty been somewhat skeptical about this facet of the ink. I had read comments on both sides of a debate whether this phenomenon is true. All I can say is that in the light of my study where I write the sheen can be clearly discerned.

In terms of its properties this is a very balanced and well-behaved ink that demonstrates all the qualities that you would expect from a premium ink. It has excellent flow, saturation and the drying time even using a broad stub nib was in the 15-20 second range on my standard Rhodia 80gsm dot grid paper. I did three or four test sheets just to extend ny writing pleasure that bit further using different test templates including an excellent one from The Pen Habit website.

All in all I think that this is a really top class ink that deserves a place in my ever-growing ‘essentials’  category.

Foolishly yours


3 thoughts on “Drop dead red: A short review of J Herbin – 1670 Rouge Hematite ink

  1. Hello You Fool.
    Yes, the wonderful colour of iron oxide… or plain old rust. I carry it daily in my Pilot Bamboo, used for accounting… the banks love it on paying in slips…! Rich tones and good drying time in Leuchtturm1917 notebook and glides along Hobonichi Techo paper with superb wet line… slower to dry. However, one problem… the bottle opening is very small and larger pens will not fit. Decanting into an alternative bottle may be the only answer (or use a smaller pen).
    Looking forward to Iroshizuku review… now that’s complex.

    1. Malcolm
      Thanks for the comment, I don’t know much about paying-in slips at the bank, especially since your fine establishment opened 😉 I see your point about the neck of the bottle though, thankfully most of my pens are on the slim side. Love the Pilot Bamboo, always regretted not getting one, love the style. As for Iroshizuku….who knows?

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