Friday, March 17, 2017

Fountain Pen Inks Review: J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink Bleu Ocean


In September 2012, two years after the successful launch of the revolutionary ink Rouge Hematite, J. Herbin introduced their second limited edition 1670 Anniversary Ink, Bleu Ocean. This deep blue ink was created to celebrate the adventurous sea voyages of J. Herbin to the Mughal (Mogul) Empire of India, the world's earliest center of production and processing of indigo dye during the time.

After Bleu Ocean, three more inks have been added to the 1670 Anniversary line — Stormy Grey, Emeraude de Chivor, and Caroube de Chypre — all with gold flecks and reminiscent of J. Herbin's experiences during his voyages.

I received a bottle of Bleu Ocean a couple of months after its launch, but I was unable to write a full review for a couple of reasons. The reformulated Bleu Ocean with gold flecks was launched in April 2015, replacing the previous ink without flecks. Now that I have samples of both, it's time for a review!

Two of the same: Bleu Ocean without gold flecks (left), and Bleu Ocean with gold flecks (right).


As a blue ink fanatic, Bleu Ocean has been one of my favorites. It's the only ink I use in my Ocean Blue Lamy AL-star, because their colors (and names) match. I can write with it for legal documents, journaling, calligraphy, and notetaking. When this ink was launched in 2012, J. Herbin followers were not happy with it. Its predecessor, Rouge Hematite, had a successful launch and fans raved about its color and the gold flecks in it. After the announcement for Blue Ocean's release, most people (okay, that included me) expected the ink to have silver flecks — as a follow up to Rouge Hematite, and to match the bottle's silver cord and wax seal as well. When it came out without the flecks, people were disappointed, and branded Bleu Ocean as "just another blue ink."

See the gold flecks in the bottle's opening? Cool! The 1670 bottle has a unique design, but it has a smaller opening than most other ink bottles. Filling big pens requires the help of a pipette or syringe. 


Flecks or no flecks, I love Bleu Ocean. Like its four siblings in the 1670 Anniversary line, it's a collector's item. The box design represents the life of J. Herbin as a French sailor. The 1670 bottle, despite the narrow opening, is lovely. The silver cord, wax seal, and waxed cap are beautiful, making every 1670 box and bottle true collector's items.

Gold flecks at the bottle's bottom.
The 1670 Anniversary inks box represents the life of J. Herbin as a sailor and his voyages to different places.


Although unconfirmed by J. Herbin, the blue color of Bleu Ocean seems to be derived from indigo dye, a natural plant-derived dye with a distinctive blue color. Once considered by the Greeks and the Romans as a luxury product, indigo dye is the color that is often associated with blue jeans.

To test the inks, I wrote on Tomoe River Paper using Lamy Safari and AL-star fountain pens, both with 1.1 nibs. 


Bleu Ocean reminds me of indigo Mediterranean tiles and the blue and white houses in Santorini. This exquisite ink also reminds me of both Van Gogh and Picasso and the depth and poignancy of their work. Van Gogh's Irises and Starry Night; Picasso's The Old Guitarist and The Blue Room.

Bleu Ocean evokes memories from years ago when I used to associate dark blue color with dusk and twilight and their accompanying sounds: crickets chirping, newscast on TV, my mother cooking dinner, our dog snoring, my brothers' banter.

Bleu Ocean has a dark, rich, deep blue color with soft hints of purple. It is a versatile fountain pen ink, and goes from bright purplish blue (Eclat de Saphir) to a dark, almost blue-black shade (Blue Nuit). It is more saturated than most J. Herbin inks, but flows smoothly, and can be cleaned off pen parts very easily. Fortunately, it dries faster than Rouge Hematite, and does not show any of the ugly nib creep in the fountain pens that I have inked with it.
A swab of Bleu Ocean without gold flecks. 
These ink drops took almost an hour to dry. I got this almost blue-black shade in my previous fills of Bleu Ocean in pens with broad, wet nibs.
Dark Bleu Ocean with sheen up close. Do you see this blue in Picasso's The Old Guitarist? I do.



Bleu Ocean with gold flecks was launched in 2015.

These ink drops took longer to dry than the ones without the flecks.

It's a thrill to see the gold flecks up close!


Because Bleu Ocean is a highly saturated ink, it takes longer to dry, around 8-10 seconds more than the regular Herbin inks, depending on the nib and paper. On Rhodia and Tomoe River Paper, it takes a bit longer to dry. It can be prone to smudging and is not water resistant.

It's a big help for fountain pen users to be able to clean their pens easily. Both inks are easy to clean off nibs and feeds of the two pens I used in this review, but I had a hard time taking off the gold flecks in the Lamy Z24 converter that I ended up disassembling it for a full cleanup.

Gold flecks and shading in my writing sample.
Bleu Ocean in Ocean Blue and Blue. Blue on blue.


If you use fountain pens regularly like I do, if you like J. Herbin inks, and if you have any of the 1670 Anniversary inks, I recommend getting a bottle of Bleu Ocean. Make this ink a part of your collection! The one without gold flecks has been out of production already, but the one with gold flecks is a versatile ink with beautiful shading and shimmer. Get one in your ink collection now! 


Both bottles of 1670 J. Herbin Anniversary Ink Bleu Ocean are from Exaclair USA, through the kindness of Karen Doherty, Marketing VP. 

The Tomoe River paper is from Scribe Writing Essentials, the leading distributor of fine writing instruments, specialty paper including Rhodia; fountain pen inks, including J. Herbin; and other fountain pen related accessories in the Philippines. 

J. Herbin products are widely available worldwide. For a list of authorized retailers, visit the J. Herbin website.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review, thank you. It's a lovely shade of blue, even without the gold. I hope they've improved the formula of these glittery inks. I have the Rouge Hematite, and it makes a terrible mess of my pens. It leaves the worst crud and residue on the nib and feed. Any time I've used it, it always required a very thorough cleaning (complete disassembly).

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