Rouge Hematite: Ink, blood, and sailors

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Image via Biffybeans

As I mentioned yesterday, the word “hematite” is derived from the Greek word for “blood,” which matches the earthy red tones of J. Herbin’s new anniversary ink.

It also points to some nautical associations: according to legend, sailors wrote with blood whenever ink was not available. I can’t seem to find any further information about this idea (the words “ink” and “blood” and “sailors” turn up a lot of stuff about tattoos; there’s also Sailor brand ink), but perhaps others have heard of it?

J. Herbin was a sailor — according to the Herbin website, he brought back new formulas for sealing wax from his many trips to India, and made ink for Louis XIV. The drawings that adorn the Rouge Hematite box were inspired by his life:

The ship, anchor, and palm tree stand for navigation and discovery
The crown is a reference to the red sealing wax that was used in correspondence with the royal courts in Europe

Interesting stuff, eh?

3 thoughts on “Rouge Hematite: Ink, blood, and sailors

  1. I keep wanting this ink the more reviews I see of it. It looks like a beautiful colour. It’s interesting the different colour variations there are for the hematite stone ranging from red to dark grey.

  2. I’ve read about using blood as ink in a literary context (see my Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Alan Poe blogposts).

    Also as I have written elsewhere the flow and viscosity of iron gall ink depended on the amount of gum arabic that was added to it and there were iron gall inks that were made for different seasons of the year and for different surfaces.
    I would imagine that J. Herbin must have taken into account the special conditions at sea and varied the amount of arabic gum accordingly.

  3. I just ordered some of this ink from Brian over at Goulet Pens. I am very excited to try it and love these posts about the history. I have always enjoyed knowing the history behind products that I have. Thanks for the info. Nr

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