J. Herbin, a company in Paris that dates back to 1670 with its ink production commencing 1700. Today, the company is part of the Clairefontaine, the stationery company in France where the inks are manufactured. Herbin is the oldest name in writing ink in the world. J. Herbin uses all natural dyes in their fountain pen inks. The ink is known for smooth flow and tests indicate the ink has a neutral pH, so it is a safe choice for all fountain pens.
The famous violet ink was the colour used by students in France during the Third Republic: 1870 to 1940. Herbin even developed a special blank ink just for noted french author, Victor Hugo.
The first Herbin ink, La Perle des Encres (the jewel of inks), was created in 1700. It was soon followed by L’Encre Des Vaisseaux (the ink of ships) -- a traditional French violet has been used by student in France for many years.
Fountain pen users would buy what is known as the "D" bottles. A classic bottle that has been around for a long time. The "D" stands for a French unit of measure, “la Demi Courtine”. Now a 40 ml bottle.
There is quite the collection of colours. Herbin ink is available through a variety of locations in North America. Herbin has more than fountain pen ink. Some specialty inks are for dip pens. Do not use in a fountain pen.
The fountain pen ink is available in 17 beautiful colors. There are even more colours in cartridge (universal style). Some of the colours I have found to be too delicate -- I tend to lean towards bold vibrant colour of ink, as with a broad or stub nib strong colours look best.
Perle Noire - I recently received an email about this ink, a very saturated dark black with a very quick drying time. (Thanks. R. Carpena)
Blue Nuit - P. Johnson provides her review of that colour: "Drab ultramarine with dull purple overtones. Looks like faded watercolor when dry."
Reviews from others are that it is a very good brand of ink that flows reliably with a great colour selection. About those colours:
Rouge Fuchsia/Opera - a true dark red, not a ruby or Bordeaux, and is virtually identical in color to the OMAS Amerigo Vespucci. The Opera is the scented version. This color is to be distinguished from Herbin's attempt at regular red -- Rouge Caroubier -- which, unfortunately, is a washed-out red like those from so many other brands of ink.
Rose Cyclamen - an almost fluorescent purplish pink, and is a very noticeable color. It also tends to spread more than other colors on paper. A unique color.
Orange Indien - pretty good orange, a bit darker than OMAS Triratna.
In 2010, to celebrate the 340th anniversary of the company, Herbin issued a special dark red ink in a new 50 ml bottle. The ink is a dark red with earthy tones.