This particular J Herbin glass dip pen is part of the largest pen and ink order I placed over a year ago. I haven't reviewed it until now because I've had more important things to review. It turns out that there isn't much to say about a dip pen, especially one as simple as this.
There were two J Herbin glass pens for sale when I bought mine. There's a more elaborate one (which looks more fragile) and then there's this one. I opted for the simpler (and cheaper) one because I was more interested in the functionality than the aesthetics.
At $15.75 this pen isn't exactly cheap (considering that actual fountain pens can be bought for this amount) but on the other hand these pens are supposed to be hand-crafted so I guess that's where the bulk of the cost is. The more intricate pens are more expensive, at $20+.
The J Herbin dip pen is crafted from a solid glass rod with a colored spiral pattern surrounding it. This rod is on the thin side, about as thick as your average pencil. I can't say that it makes for comfortable lengthy writing. The rod (or body of the pen) ends in a transparent glass ball which, I assume, is there to help you grip the pen and also to prevent ink from getting on your fingers. Moving on, we have the tip, which is also glass, twisted tightly to form a series of spiral grooves.
The grooves serve a simple purpose: they trap the ink between them so that you don't have to dip the pen after every word, essentially acting as a reservoir. Thanks to this simple design, you should be able to write a whole line or two before re-dipping.
The tip itself is quite broad, if you will forgive the use of the term. It is not very precise and if you look at it closely you'll see that it resembles a cone, meaning that it is uniform on all sides. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons why this pen doesn't write very well. The other reason is that the part of the tip which touches the paper isn't smooth. Instead, it is rough.
The pen does write, as you can see from the sample below. However, you need to be careful how much ink you "load" on the tip, or else you'll end up with it pooling on the paper, as is the case with the last 3 letters of the word "Darkness". The very nature of the dip pen causes text to be uneven: it starts out thick and saturated and it slowly thins out and fades away as the ink is depleted.
Thanks to the rough tip, the pen feels raspy on paper. Is this design intentional? If you have any information regarding this I'd be happy to hear about it. The roughness doesn't bother me a lot because I'm aware I'm not using a fountain pen with a metal nib.
J Herbin's glass dip pen feels a lot like a novelty pen to me. It is pretty but there are dip pens which cost much less and write a lot better. I have found a good use for this pen. Virtually all my ink reviews have a small sentence written with this pen. The writing itself is ugly (because the pen distorts my already-messy script) but the point is to show the ink's saturation and shading (if available). There's another advantage to a glass dip pen: it cleans incredibly easy. You can use any type of ink on it (even Baystate Blue!) and it will never remain stained. It's glass, after all, and glass is inert in contact with inks.
Would I recommend it? Not really. I find it too expensive for its limited utility. But don't let that stop you from buying it if you are so inclined!
The inks used in the sample are all the bottles I own (alas, only 9 of them) and I have reviewed all of them in the past:
Noodler's Heart of Darkness
Noodler's Polar Brown
Waterman Havana Brown
J Herbin 1670 Anniversaire
J Herbin Vert Olive
Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel
Noodler's Navajo Turquoise