Ink Review: J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l'Oural


J. Herbin nearly broke the fountain pen & ink internet when they released their first "shimmering" ink, Rouge Hematite.  To my knowledge, this was the first fountain pen ink that contained glittering flakes, giving the ink a sheening quality beyond that provided by the ink characteristics alone.  Since the release of Rouge Hematite, they added 3 more beautiful shimmering inks to the 1670 Collection, all of which were highly anticipated and sought after.

The company is now releasing a new line of shimmering inks, the 1798 Collection.  These two dates are significant markers in the company's history.  1670 marked the year that J. Herbin, who was then a sailor, traveled through India to gather ingredients which he brought back to Paris for manufacturing sealing wax and inks.  It was in this year that he established his trading and shipping business "Herbin."  In 1798 as steel nib dip pens began to replace quill pens for writing, Herbin relocated and expanded the business into production & influence.

Lovely silver shimmer!

The first ink in this new 1798 line is called Amethyste de l'Oural, which translates to "Amethyst of the Ural Mountains."  The name is inspired by the trading of gemstones in the 16th and 17th centuries.  The ink is a nice mid-to-dark purple with a beautiful silver shimmer.  Though I'm not a huge fan of shimmering inks from a practical everyday-use standpoint, I do appreciate their beauty, especially for artistic applications.  They're fantastic for writing invites, or just a nice letter to a friend who you want to impress.  I've seen some amazing calligraphy work on Instagram using these inks - admittedly something I could never pull off myself!  I've always been a sucker for purple inks, so of all the shimmering inks that J. Herbin have released, I think this one may be my favorite.

The packaging on the 1798 Collection is similar to that of the 1670 Collection, though a few notable improvements have been made.  Most notably, the opening of the bottle is much wider, making it easier to fill your pen when the bottle gets low.  The cap also has a thicker wax coating on it which gives a nice grip when opening the bottle.  The bottle shape is the same, but they've added a small label to the front to indicate the ink's name, which is a nice touch.  They've also changed the ribbon that wraps around the mouth of the bottle to a nice silky silver string versus the somewhat cheap-looking gold string that was on the 1670 bottles.  A nice hidden touch is the J. Herbin logo that's been embossed or stamped into the glass.

J. Herbin logo

The ink itself is very well behaved, even in my heaviest of pens I got almost no feathering or bleed.  There is a bit of show-through on my Rhodia pad with heavier nibs like a Broad or a 1.1 stub.  Unfortunately, the ink does feather quite a bit if you drip or pour it on the page, which made my folded nib work a little difficult.  If you're doing flex nib or folded nib lettering, you may want to use Tomoe River or a heavily ink-resistant paper.  I don't have any BB or BBB nibs in my collection, but I'd venture to guess that those might cause a bit of feathering as well, depending on the paper.  The silver shimmer comes through nicely on the page and it provides a nice contrast against the purple.  The two colors go well together - I'm so glad they didn't choose a gold shimmer for this ink, the silver just looks really nice.

Heavy drops caused some feathering.  Fortunately, only with the folded nib, and not with the actual fountain pen.

The ink is fairly saturated, so you don't get a ton of shading, but I think there's enough going on with this ink that shading would just distract from the color and shimmer.  One thing that struck me as I was writing, is that the ink almost feels lubricated - similar to the Noodler's eel series of inks.  My pen isn't particularly silky smooth, but the ink seems to smooth out the friction between the nib and the page, more so than other inks I've used.  J. Herbin doesn't advertise the ink to be lubricated, but it does feel very nice.

Dry time was respectable, at between 18 and 20 seconds depending on how heavy you write and what nib you're using.  My tests were done with a Lamy M nib.  I had no trouble cleaning it out of my pen after about a week and a half of having it in there.  In my experience, the Diamine Shimmertastic inks are tougher to clean out of pens than the J. Herbin 1670 Collection inks.  That seems to hold true with the 1798 Collection as well.

Chromatography was very interesting - all of the silver shimmer stayed at the bottom with the tiniest bit of brown, and the ink itself shows a light pink tone throughout which ends in a tiny bit of medium purple.  The ink's shade of purple sits somewhere in between Diamine Bilberry and Noodler's Purple Martin.


Overall I was very pleased with this ink.  I think J. Herbin are doing awesome things with their special edition collections, and I'm very excited to see what the next color will be in the 1798 line.  Amethyste de l'Oural will go on sale September 1st, and the recommended retail will be around $26 - check your favorite retailer on that date as I'm sure these will go fast!

Let me know in the comments what you think about the new 1798 Collection and Amethyste de l'Oural!  If you have any questions, feel free to post them below as well.  If you'd like to stay up to date on the latest reviews at The Desk of Lori, feel free to join my mailing list!  Thanks for reading!

(The lovely folks at Exaclair have provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

Accessory Review: Baron Fig Pen Sheath


Baron Fig has made quite a mark on the stationery and productivity communities in the short time since they established their first product, the Confidant notebook. Championing their motto, "Tools for Thinkers," they created a number of unique and refreshingly modern tools for writers, stationery geeks and entrepreneurs alike. Baron Fig launched the Confidant on Kickstarter in 2013, garnering the support of over 4,000 backers. The team delivered thousands of Confidants on time, setting the tone for what would be a great track record on Kickstarter going forward.

Fast forward to 2017 and Baron Fig have since launched 7 unique product lines (with 3 new bags on the way), 3 fully funded Kickstarters, and a new subscription service (unfortunately, just recently discontinued) for their loyal fans - the fans even have a Facebook group! Needless to say all of these things caught my attention, and I knew I had to give Baron Fig a try. One of the more recent products they have released is a companion to their Squire pen, the Pen Sheath. I just picked up the new Experiment Squire (review coming soon!), so I wanted to protect it with the new pen sheath.

The Yellowgold pen sheath (Photo via

The Baron Fig Pen Sheath comes in two different colors: the interestingly named Yellowgold (read: tan) and Slate.  I have to admit I was a little bummed when I realized the Slate is actually a slate blue color and not slate grey.  Being that both Squires are in different shades of grey, I would have expected the Sheath to have a grey option as well (perhaps in the future, Baron Fig? :)).  Regular readers of the blog will know that I have an affinity for grey, so take my gripe with a grain of salt.  Regardless, the slate blue isn't a bad color at all.  The sheath is made of a nice sturdy leather, that is more on the stiff side.  Though it's not as nice feeling on the hands, the stiffer leather does offer more durability and protection for your pen. The packaging is elegant and simple. Just a card stock envelope with a nice tissue paper wrapping on the inside to protect the leather.

The Sheath itself is roughly a half inch taller than the Squire, and is about an inch wide when laid flat.  The front side is stamped with the "mighty sword" logo of the Squire, and the back side has the Baron Fig logo stamped at the bottom.  The stitching is nice and even, with double stitching where the two sides split, which protects from loosening when pulling the pen in and out over time.

When I received my sheath, I was disappointed to find that there was a nick in the leather on the front of it.  Not sure if this was considered an acceptable amount of damage to still let it pass QC (I would hope not) or if it was just a miss - it does bother my OCD a bit, though.  Aside from that, the sheath looks amazing and fits the Squire perfectly.  I have carried it for the past few weeks and it has developed a nice little "pocket" where it has broken in with the Squire inside.  It alleviates my fear of my limited edition Experiment sliding out of my pocket and getting damaged.  I believe the sheath would protect the pen if it fell from a pretty good height, unless it fell directly on the top where the two side could split open and expose the top of the pen.  The chances of it falling at exactly that angle are pretty slim I'd say, so all in all it offers great protection and looks nice to boot.

Nick on the leather

I have a couple other pen sleeves that I carry consistently - specifically, the Aston Leather pen sleeve (the early, soft leather ones from Goulet), and the Kaweco ECO leather sleeve.  In comparison, the Baron Fig is a really good, sturdy quality.  I prefer the feel of the Aston Leather sleeve more, just because it's easier on the hands; but the Baron Fig sleeve definitely outshines the Kaweco sleeve by far, and gives a superior feel of protection compared to both.

I would definitely recommend the Sheath to anyone wanting to carry their Squire outside of a pen case and still keep it protected.  I'll definitely be keeping this in my carry anytime I have my Squire with me.  If you're interested in picking one up for yourself, head over to and snag one for $24.00.

Thanks for reading!
- Lori

(Baron Fig has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

Pencil Review: Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood


Hey guys! Long time no talk!  I've admittedly neglected the blog recently, and to be perfectly honest...lots of cool video games came out, life got busy, and I'm planning my wedding that's coming up this October!  So, things have been a little hectic, but I'm kicking myself in gear and getting back to business here at The Desk of Lori!

I decided that to get back into the swing of things, I'd do my first PENCIL review!  During my hiatus, I started listening to the Erasable Podcast, and though I have never been a fan of wood-cased pencils, they ignited the stationery nut in me and I gave it a shot.  I now have some favies and a decent collection that I definitely want to share with you guys.  I wanted to start out with a pencil that has quite a reputation in the community, and (spoiler) is one of my absolute favorites: the Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood.

One of the first things you'll notice about this pencil is that it has a very unique fragrance.  From what I've seen on the Erasable Facebook group (check it out if you're not a member!), is that about 50% of people love it, and the other 50% of people absolutely hate it.  I'm part of the former group, and LOVE the smell of this pencil!  Most people that don't like it so much think it smells like soy sauce.  I think it has a very unique smell, kind of spicy/earthy and hard to describe.  I also don't eat Chinese food, so maybe that's why I just don't get the soy sauce fragrance.  I love having it in my Nock Co. Chimneytop because it makes it smell amazing!

Another thing you'll notice immediately is that the wood is very dark, unlike most pencils you see.  The Swiss Wood is made from Beech Wood from the Jura Rainforest, which is absolutely gorgeous.  The pencil appears to be a raw wood finish, but it does have a slight lacquer on it.  It's nice and subtle, though, so when I use it I feel like I'm using an non-lacquered pencil.  The pencil features a red dipped end with the Swiss cross on it, and I've found that I much prefer pencils with no ferrule and eraser on them.  The pencil is ever-so-slightly fatter than your standard pencils that you'll find at the store, so be cautioned that this one may not fit in all pencil sharpeners.  I use a Mobius & Ruppert Grenade sharpener and it works perfectly.

I may have borrowed Mr. Dudek's idea of putting shavings into a metal ashtray :)

The "lead" in this pencil is graded as HB, which is the same as #2 for the Americanized grading system.  An HB sits at the insection of darkness and hardness for pencils, so it's a perfect daily use grade.  What I will say about this pencil in particular, is that I find the HB for this one to be just *slighly* lighter than most other HBs that I have used.  As such, it also holds a point forever, which is another one of my favorite features of this pencil.  The graphite is nice and buttery smooth, and a pleasure to write with for long writing sessions.  The Swiss Wood is slightly heavier than most pencils, so you may notice more fatigue with this one than you do with some others.

As amazing as this pencil is, it does come at a steep price tag.  C.W. Pencils sells it for $4.50, and I've seen it other places online for up to $5.  I personally think it's completely worth it, but it may not be for everyone.  There are plenty of other pencils out there that write just as well for significantly less money, but if you like fancy & unique pencils, I urge you to give this one a try.  If you're anything like me, you'll be totally hooked!

The Swiss Wood holds up well in comparison with some of the darker pencils I have.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep an eye out on the blog - I plan on releasing some other pencil reviews, some more pen & paper reviews, and eventually some ink reviews as well.  If there's anything in particular you'd like to see, do let me know.  I love hearing from you guys!  If you'd like to be notified via email when I post, hit the Subscribe button and sign up.

In Memory of Susan Wirth

I wanted to take a moment to express my sadness on the loss of Susan Wirth.  For those of you who don't know, Susan was a mainstay of pen shows around the country - known as the "Queen of Ink," an enthusiastic collector and knowledge bank of pens, she captivated the heart of the pen community over the years.  I was not fortunate enough to know Susan, as I don't have a "local" pen show, but watching Brad Dowdy's YouTube video with her from a couple of years ago, I recall thinking, "this lady seems like she'd be a blast to hang out with!"  Her passion for fountain pens, and quest to help people find the perfect pen and nib for their writing style seemed so evident, even in just a short YouTube video.  The loss of one of our own is never easy, but I think it's fair to say that Susan's presence will always be felt in the community.  I truly wish I'd gotten to meet her, but fortunately the community has many memories to keep her spirit very much alive.

I encourage you to read Ana Reinert's Post on Susan as well.  She is putting together a book for the DC Pen show full of stories, anecdotes, and remembrances for Susan. If you'd like to share yours, you can reach out to Ana and submit those to her at chair [at]  I'd love to hear your stories about Susan in the comments below as well.