Okay, so right off the bat, SITB means 'stuff in the bottle'. Just clearing that up.
I posted last week about a problem with Éclat de Saphir, and there have been isolated incidents of problems with Violette Pensée, Vert Empire, and Vert Olive as well. The reports have been some kind of stringy sludge in the inks, which are unmistakable as bad inks. I don't like to say it's mold, because all of the reports I've seen of other ink brands that have mold have it growing on top of the ink, this sludge in the J. Herbin appears on the bottom. I have been in close talks with Exaclair about what could be causing this phenomenon, and we're all mystified as nothing like this has ever appeared in the inks before.
The randomness of accounts and relatively few reports of problems with the inks don't point towards large 'batch' problems from the factory, or problems with any one particular retailer (storage issues). I have even had into consideration the vials I use for my ink samples as a factor, but there are no consistent problems, and the only inks with the issues are ones that also have issues in the full bottles as well. If I believed in any way that my vials were a factor negatively affecting the inks, I'd stop using them immediately. I (and Exaclair) are just looking to be very proactive with the issue.
The main suspect right now is temperature. All of the problems seemed to have appeared with inks that arrived to Exaclair from France in July, which was a month of record-breaking heat. J. Herbin inks are natural inks with a vegetable oil base, and they use no preservatives (similar to the way organic food compares to other 'engineered' foods). This makes J. Herbin inks remarkably safe in your pens, however, they are more susceptible to extreme high temperature and storage issues. What we suspect is that there were some inks that became unstable due to the extremely high heat experienced during shipping via cargo container in that July shipment. However, not all inks appear to have been affected, and none of the inks tested since then appear to have been affected at all. The problem seems to be minimal (and also unpredictable), which is a very good thing.
So what now? Well, until Exaclair can get back the bad inks to analyze exactly what the problem is, we will have no answers. That's where I need your help! If you have any bad J. Herbin ink, please don't dump it! Send it to Exaclair. They firmly stand behind their products, and they will send you a replacement (plus probably an extra notebook or something for the trouble). They really need your help on this, because I haven't been able to find any problems with any of my inks I have on hand (that's a good thing though!!!).
If you DO have any bad J. Herbin ink with this sludge/slime in it, send it to:
Exaclair, Inc./Quo Vadis Planners
143 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001
If you check your ink and everything appears fine, then continue using it as normal. However, if you check it and it seems questionable, you can either send it to Exaclair or shoot me an email and I'll talk to you more about it. The main thing to keep in mind here is that this is an issue that does not appear to be widespread, so you shouldn't go dumping all of your J. Herbin and swearing it off forever. If there's one area where Exaclair is head and shoulders above any other importer, it's that they stand behind their products and care a great deal about the end customer (YOU!). So please, if you have any issues at all, let me or Christine know.
Thanks for keeping on your toes on this one, J. Herbin is a fabulous ink and it breaks my heart to see that an issue like this could affect their sterling reputation. Hopefully you will continue to give the brand the benefit of the doubt.