Review of the J Herbin Rollerball Pen and Ink Cartridges

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J. Herbin Refillable Roller Ball Pen
Recently, I received a set of J. Herbin Refillable Roller Ball Pens and Orange Indien ink cartridges from Exaclair.  It took me about two minutes using the pen before I realized that I had to have more inks before I could review it.

If you have ever done much with a fountain pen, you know that the inks have 'character'.  Some are very wet, practically dripping from the pen.  Some are scratchy and dry.  Some dry quickly (not many) and some take forever.  Some are fade resistant or water resistant...well, you get the idea.  Fountain pen inks are individuals.

The thing is--so are fountain pens.  It can be very difficult to know what characteristics come from the pen and which come from the ink unless you know your pen well, or have tried several inks in it.

With that in mind, I went out and bought four more J. Herbin ink cartridges.  The pen can also use other short international fountain pen ink cartridges.  As a control, I used a Pen&Ink brand ink cartridge that I already had.

The pen I'm reviewing is not a fountain pen--it's a roller ball similar to those you might buy in the store.  The difference is that most of the pens couldn't handle fountain pen ink.

What I want to get across in this review, above all else--if you want to have a fountain pen experience without using a fountain pen, the J. Herbin Refillable Roller Ball pen and J. Herbin ink cartridge is as close as you can get.  But with some other inks, you get a Roller ball experience.  You choose which by the ink you choose.

I've spent the last month playing with this pen and these inks and I'm so impressed.


Look and feel:
Body: Transparent plastic
Size: 4.6 inches long, 0.4 inches diameter (11.7 cm long, 1.0 cm diameter)
Features: Accepts either J. Herbin Ink Cartridges or Short International Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges; Non-Toxic; PH Neutral; Lightfast; Water-based; All Natural dyes

This is a very short pen.  Without the cap being posted it is as small as some of the minis I've seen.  I have a small hand, and I find it almost too small. With the cap posted, I find it very comfortable.  This may vary if you have large hands.

The pen is transparent so you can see the ink cartridge and will know when the ink is low.

When using the J. Herbin ink cartridges, the flow was wet to very wet, but still easy enough to control  Even with Vert Empire, the flow made for easy writing.  There was no scratchiness or skipping.  After a month of using six different J. Herbin rollerballs filled with six different inks, I had no trouble with flow whatsoever.  In fact, I went through several cartridges (I did a LOT of drawing) and even when the cartridge was on the edge of empty, the flow was good.

When I used the Pen&Ink brand cartridge, the J. Herbin performed similarly to good roller ball pens I've used in the past.  If I'd only used this ink, I would have thought J. Herbin was a good pen, but not that different.

The pen is so light, that I worried that the plastic might crack.  But I've been bouncing them around in my purse and luggage, and I was passing them around during my family reunion, even letting the 3 and 6 year olds use them.  No sign of cracking and the 'J/ Herbin'' printed on the cap hasn't faded or rubbed off.

No instructions were included but it didn't take me long to figure out which end of the cartridge went in first and that I needed to push it in firmly until I heard the feed punch through.  There is a ring that sits between the two halves of the pen, and I think it will be easy to lose if one is not careful.


Overall: All of these inks had long drying times, typical of fountain pen ink. They all had strong show-through and bleed-through, except on the Rhodiarama and Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.  The ink cartridges come in the coolest little metal containers.  I haven't figured out what I'll do with them when they are empty, but I'll use them somehow, because they are too cool to toss!

Vert Empire (Empire Green) Very wet ink.  Flows almost like a watercolor.  Blossoms occur as you draw, but the color tends to even out when dry.  Color changes considerably when dry, more brownish when wet,  changing to a pine green.  Longest drying time.

Larmes De Cassis  (Tears of Blackcurrant Purple):The lightest color and the dryest of all these inks.  Shortest drying time.

Orange Indien (Indian Orange): Lovely color-sort of a pumpkin amber with straw overtones.  Dryer than the Vert Empire, but still wet.

Rouge Opera  (Opera Red): Similar to the Larmes De Cassis but wetter and redder.

Bleu Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not Blue): Beautiful blue color, a mid-tone that works well with both cool and warm colors. About the middle in terms of wetness and drying times.

When I was a kid, my grandmother had a set of books illustrated by  Walter Crane.  I spent most Sundays pouring over these books, and have long recognized him as a strong influence in my work.  When I used the Orange Indien next to Vert Empire, I was so strongly reminded of his drawings.

This post is rather long, so I'm going let the writing and drawings speak for themselves.  All the work was done in Exaclair products with J. Herbin ink cartridges, except for the B&W drawing (done with Pen&Ink Ink Cartridge) and the drawing done in a Stillman & Birn sketchbook.

Exacompta Forum Journal


Life Unplugged Notebook

Rhodiarama Blank Journal

Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook

NOTE: Other than the products I'm reviewing, I did not receive any compensation from Exaclair, and all opinions are my own.  I will be reviewing or have reviewed all the journal/sketchbooks used in this review.

I do get free products or gift certificates from Exaclair and Jetpens.  They did NOT ask me to include them in this giveaway, or give me anything to persuade me to do so.  It was entirely my own idea, and I won't get anything for doing it.

How to get two Extra Giveaway Entries:

First--to get EXTRA entries, you have to be entered in the first place!

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My giveaway is a thank you to my followers, but I also want to thank some of the companies that have sent me products for review, or held fantastic givewaways themselves or that just carry a great line of products at reasonable prizes.  So I'm sending you to visit a few websites that I think you'll find interesting.  I know it's a little extra work, but even if you don't plan to buy, I think you'll find products to dream about and some of you just may find your perfect match!

Extra Entry One
Go to Exaclair Retailer page. Click on either 'Buy Online' or 'Find a Local Store'.  Pick one of the stores.  

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