J Herbin Fountain Pen head to head. Compact vs Plus

J Herbin Fountain Pen head to head. Compact vs Plus

Herbin Fountain pen comparison


J Herbin fountain pen (Compact) is a true Bureau classic. The new ‘Plus’ model arrived a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to put them head to head. Read on to find out what makes them different…

Herbin Fountain pen Compact (top) Plus (bottom)


The original J Herbin Compact is a cute little fountain pen. Body is made of transparent plastic and clip, top of the cap, ring are finished in metal. On the cap is the J Herbin name written in matching silver. Everything is nicely colour co-ordinated. Body of the pen tapers down – good news for those that use pen loops. Feed is made of black plastic and nib has nice scroll design with ‘Iridium point’ written over it.

New fountain pen Plus has a longer body, materials stayed the same, but the plastic feels a little sturdier. The barrel still tapers down, but ends with a flattened bottom. Inside the barrel is a transparent converter which comes as standard (unlike the Compact version).

Scores: J Herbin Compact fountain pen 8/10. J Herbin Plus fountain pen 9/10

Herbin Fountain pen nib comparison - Compact (top), Plus (bottom)


Both of these pens are transparent and show off ink really well. I have inked bright red Robert Oster Fire Engine Red in the Plus and it looks striking 🙂

The biggest feature difference is the included converter with the Plus version. It holds more ink than cartridges or mini converters. Extra points here 🙂

Both pens can be disassembled easily and therefore are very easy to clean.

Scores: J Herbin Compact fountain pen 7/10.  J Herbin Plus fountain pen 9/10

Herbin Fountain pen Compact (top) Plus (bottom)


What is it like to write with?

Nibs look very similar on both pens. I have used my Compact J Herbin fountain pen for months now and I know how it writes. You can feel some tooth and feedback when writing, but I do like the thin line. The nib on Plus pen feels nicer and smoother, line appears a little wider too.

Both pens can take standard international short cartridges – J Herbin offers 20 colours in cartridge form, plenty of choice!

The Compact pen is usually more comfortable posted, so I’m glad that Herbin addressed that by increasing the barrel size with the uplift. However, I took a point off Plus fountain pen because it doesn’t post very securely. It can be posted, but it’s flimsy. Compact pen on the other hand posts like a pro 🙂

Scores: J Herbin Compact fountain pen 6/10.  J Herbin Plus fountain pen 8/10

Herbin Fountain pen writing sample comparison

Stats corner

J Herbin fountain pen CompactFeatureJ Herbin fountain pen Plus
£8.95 (+£2.50 for converter)price£12.95
9gun-inked weight11g
117mmsize when capped136mm
98mmsize when un-capped117mm
139mmsize when posted155mm
8 - 10mmsection diameter8 - 10mm
9 - 11mmbarrel diameter10 - 11mm

Value for money

J Herbin fountain pen Compact comes with 1 cartridge and currently goes for £8.95.

We also sell them in a compilation with a tin of 6 cartridges for £10.95.

If you would like to use bottled ink, then you’ll need a converter. Mini converters are £2.50 which makes the total with the pen £11.45.

J Herbin fountain pen Plus is £12.95 and comes with a converter. Ready to be filled with your favourite bottled ink.

Both of these are fantastic value for money. Fountain pens under a tenner are winners in my book 🙂 Some people prefer using cartridges, some prefer bottled ink. For that reason the scores in this category are even 🙂

Scores:  J Herbin Compact fountain pen 9/10. J Herbin Plus fountain pen 9/10


New J Herbin fountain pen Plus is a clear winner. It feels stronger, writes nicer. The only flaw is that cap doesn’t post – then again it is already a fairly comfortable length…

PS: Good news for all tinkerers out there – parts are interchangeable between both fountain pens, including nibs and feeds.

Scores:  J Herbin Compact fountain pen 30/40. J Herbin Plus fountain pen 35/40

J Herbin fountain pen Compact scoring chart

Value for money

J Herbin fountain Plus scoring chart

Value for money

Reader Comments

    1. Hi Alison – that’s a great point! Posting happens when you uncap the pen and put it on the other end of the pen 🙂 Take care, Mishka

  1. Dear Mishka. Enjoyed your review as always, this time of the Herbin pens. Also by the way I do admire your handwriting – pleasant to read, with personality AND legible. Mine is so scrappy.
    Anyway, time to tease: I am a little dubious about the stats. The Herbin Plus section diameter is 118mm at widest, and 117mm long when uncapped. So it is wider than it is long! What an unusual pen. The solution seems to be to use it capped when it becomes 155 metres long. That would do it, but how to get the pen into my house? And wouldn’t a plastic tube 155 metres long weigh say 20 kg? Perhaps the Compact version is the one for me.
    Best wishes,

  2. Hi Mishka

    I have had previous correspondence with Dominic regarding the compact and the fact I have 2 where the barrel and cap had cracked (emailed photos). Do you know if this is still an issue or I could buy either the compact or plus with confidence?


    1. Hi Brian,

      I’m sorry about the cracks… New pen seems more solid. We had no returns/cracks just yet… Give it a go – it is a nice writer 🙂

      Warm regards,


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