This is closer to the real deal. In 2004, J. Herbin discovered an authorization in its archives by the writer Victor Hugo to produce a black ink especially for him. The authorization remains in the archives, but the recipe has since been remade into a couple of bottles of ink. Karen managed to get her hands on one of them, and was then kind enough to pass it along to me.
This is not a fountain pen ink; Hugo wrote with goose quills, though steel nibs were becoming increasingly popular. Personally, I haven’t had much luck with feathers, but that did not put me off from trying it out with a glass pen. And what fun it was! The ink is shiny, dense, and saturated. It pops on bright white Clairefontaine and looks handsome on my ivory Habana, too. Because it’s so thick, you have to be a little more careful about bleed-through, and clean your pen carefully (and immediately) after you’re done. Still, it’s an awfully fun ink to play with. About the only complaint I have is that the bottle cap’s a bit finicky and is tough to get off and on.
There aren’t very many bottles left, but if it’s something that interests you, please let us know in the comments, and we’ll ask Herbin if they’d be willing to make more.
Here’s a picture of the bottle: