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A study of ink bottles with low level filling features


Harold

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Since I had a batch of empty ink bottles that needed cleaning, I decided to test the low level filling features to see how effective they are. I also added some extra thoughts that came to me while using the bottles regularly over the past few years, and during the cleaning process.

 

Please click the spoilers to expand the relevant ink bottle sections and click the images or open them in a new tab to see them at their original size; this was done to make the page quicker to scroll through and to reduce browser loading times due to the amount of images. A short description of the methodology used can be found at the end. If you know of any other bottles(between 15-150mL) with low level filling features that aren't copies or differently sized versions of the ones in the table below, please post in this thread and I'll see if I can add them to the table in due time, thank you.

 

Summary Table

 

Name Style Volume(mL) Remnant(mL) Ratio(%) Filling Stability Mixing Cleaning
Akkerman Baby Longneck Reservoir 60 2 97 + o - -
Akkerman Dutch Masters Reservoir 120 1 99 ++ o - --
Bungubox Heel Reservoir 30 3 90 + o o -
Caran d’Ache Chromatics Tilt 50 5 90 o + + ++
Graf von Faber-Castell N/A 75 8 89 - + + o
LAMY T52 Pocket 50 2 96 + ++ - -
Montblanc Shoe Reservoir 60 3 95 + + ++ -
Noodler’s Square Manual 80 <1 >99½ -- -- + +
Pelikan 4001 Large Tilt 62½ 4 94 o - + +
Pelikan 4001 Small Tilt 30 2 93 o - + +
Pilot Iroshizuku Pocket 50 1 98 + o o -
Robert Oster Manual 50 <1 >99½ - - + -
Sheaffer Modern Bird’s Nest Reservoir 30 1 97 + + - +
S.T. Dupont N/A 70 13 81 - + + o
Van Dieman’s Tilt 30 6 80 - - o -
Visconti Hourglass Reservoir 50 4 92 + + -- -
Waterman Tilt 50 2 96 o o + +
-- worst   - weak point   o neutral   + strong point   ++ best            


Bottle Notes


Below is a short explanation of how the low level filling features work and some notes on the more salient aspects of each bottle. There are also pictures of the empty bottle, the low level filling features and the remnants left after filling.

 

Akkerman Baby Longneck

Spoiler

Akkerman Baby LongneckAkkerman Baby Longneck Cap PostAkkerman Baby Longneck FillingAkkerman Baby Longneck RemnantAkkerman Baby Longneck Cap & Marble

 

Both Akkerman bottles work by separating the main ink chamber from an antechamber by way of a pinched neck, in which a marble sits. Invert the bottle so the marble drops towards the cap to let ink flow from the main chamber into the antechamber, then flip the bottle back up so the marble falls into the neck to stop the ink from flowing back into the main chamber. There is also a post moulded into the cap(see pictures), which ensures that the marble always reaches the neck before the vast majority of the ink gets a chance to escape the antechamber.


+    Ink level is always near the top of the neck, so you can see exactly how far you're dipping your grip into the ink, which makes for a very clean filling experience.
+    You can hold your pen between your thumb and index finger while using the rest of your fingers to grab the neck of the bottle, which frees up your second hand to operate the filling mechanism without your pen wobbling all over the place.
+    Classic shape, like a faceted Art Deco laboratory flask.
+    It's fun and interesting, though that is of course highly subjective.
o    While ink can get stuck around the aforementioned post in the cap, you can easily remove the rubber cap seal to clean everything thoroughly.
o    The bottle is a bit tall and narrow, though most of the weight is at the bottom and shaped like a cone, so I still think you're unlikely to knock it over.
-    While doable, it's a bit of a pain to homogenise the ink because you need to let the ink dribble back down the neck a couple of times to get everything properly mixed, especially with shimmering inks.
-    You're going to need an exceptionally long cotton swab with a hook on the end of it if crusty ink should happen to get stuck on the walls.

Akkerman Dutch Masters(personal favourite to fill from)

Spoiler

Akkerman Dutch MastersAkkerman Dutch Masters FillingAkkerman Dutch Masters Remnant

 

Everything that applies to Akkerman's Baby Longneck bottle also applies to its bigger brother. Please note that even though both bottles work identically, I ended up with a smaller remnant in the Dutch Masters bottle because Akkerman seems to have used slightly differently sized marbles over the last decade, and the one in the Dutch Masters bottle happens to fit more snugly against the feed of the pen than the one in the Baby Longneck bottle.


+    Quite simply the only ink bottle with a low level filling feature that will swallow an entire bottle of ink over sixty-five milliliters with grace.
+    Because of the largest volume and the tied smallest remnant, this bottle has the best ratio of accessible ink to total stated volume.
-    Good luck cleaning this one, you're going to need an even longer cotton swab than you'd need for its little brother mentioned above.

Bungubox Heel

Spoiler

Bungubox HeelBungubox Heel ReservoirBungubox Heel FillingBungubox Heel Remnant

 

This bottle works by pinching the glass to create two ink chambers, one of which is situated below the neck of the bottle. It must be said though, this design would have worked much better and looked much more like a pair of heels if the cap were shifted over to the smaller of the two chambers and the hump was as pronounced as it is on a pair of stiletto shoes.


+    Cute bottle design.
o     Slightly difficult to clean, though the bottle is quite small and the neck is relatively wide in comparison, so your mileage may vary.
o    Seems like it would easily get knocked over because it's relatively narrrow, but it seems to want to spin instead of tipping over.
-    Eye-wateringly expensive for the volume of ink you receive.
-    The low level filling feature is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It feels like they were just trying to design a pretty bottle and created a low level filling feature by sheer happenstance.
-    Small volume.

Caran d’Ache Chromatics

Spoiler

Caran d'Ache ChromaticsCaran d'Ache Chromatics TiltCaran d'Ache Chromatics FillingCaran d'Ache Chromatics RemnantCaran d'Ache Chromatics Cap

 

The entire bottle leans to the side, which lets you angle your feed closer to the bottom of the bottle.


+    Particularly easy to clean; there are no sharp corners on the inside and the bottle isn't very deep.
+    It looks like the clear plastic insert in the cap(see pictures) would be difficult to clean, but it is simple to remove and reinstall if you hold the cap upside down. The added benefit is that ink never comes into contact with the cap itself, it only ever touches the insert, so you don't even need to clean the cap itself.
+    Heavy metal cap.
+    Angular Art Deco gravity taunting design.
-    The low level filling feature isn't particularly effective compared to some others, even among tilt-style ones.

Graf von Faber-Castell(personal favourite for aesthetics)

Spoiler

Graf von Faber-CastellGraf von Faber-Castell FillingGraf von Faber-Castell Remnant

 

I included this one as a control, it has no low level filling features.


+    Distinguished enough to grace the desk of any head of state.
+    Large ink capacity.
-    No low level filling feature.

LAMY T52

Spoiler

LAMY T52LAMY T52 FillingLAMY T52 RemnantLAMY T52 DimpleLAMY T52 Base & Paper

 

A flying saucer of ink with a dimple in the middle to let your nib sink into, getting your feed closer to the bottom.


+    Tremendous stability; even if you knock it, the ink will just slosh around inside the walls of the bottle.
+    Included miniature bog roll to wipe your grip section with.
+    Nib goes straight down into the ink, no acrobatics needed to use the low level filling feature.
o    Bauhaus design seems to divide people; I personally really like how unique and unassuming this bottle is.
-    Difficult to clean the sides of the bottle because the top and bottom are so close together.
-    Doesn't mix particularly well, because there is almost zero turbulence when turning the bottle.

Montblanc Shoe

Spoiler

Montblanc ShoeMontblanc Shoe ReservoirMontblanc Shoe FillingMontblanc Shoe Remnant

 

Much like Bungubox's Heel, Montblanc's shoe has a hump in the bottle(moulded instead of pinched in this case), dividing it into two chambers. Unlike Bungubox's Heel though, this one actually has the smaller of the two chambers situated underneath the neck, which produces a much more favourable ratio.


+    Homogenisation is very fast, because the hump essentially creates a bunch of turbulence as you slosh the ink back and forth between the two chambers, much like a weir.
+    Three tone cap, very stylish.
+    Unique shape.
+    Low centre of gravity and tends to spin around instead of tipping.
o     The hump could have been a bit higher and a bit further forward, but it still works well enough.
-    Very difficult to clean the main ink chamber thoroughly.

Noodler’s Square

Spoiler

Noodler's SquareNoodler's Square FillingNoodler's Square Remnant

 

I decided to include a bog standard square bottle held on its corner with the walls hugging the feed(see pictures), just to check how much ink you can get out of a square bottle if you're willing to get fiddly. Please note that I adjusted the stated volume down to eighty milliliters because Noodler's bottles are filled to the brim, whereas the other bottles are about five milliliters short comparatively. This is a bottle design test after all, not a test to see which manufacturer can fill their bottles the fullest(in which case Noodler's would most definitely take first place).


+    Good value.
+    Space efficient for the volume, even when adjusted for not being filled to the brim.
+    Mixes well.
o    No visual design elements.
-    You have to use one hand to hold the bottle when the ink level gets low, and it will tip immediately if you let go.

Pelikan 4001 Large

Spoiler

Pelikan 4001 LargePelikan 4001 Large TiltPelikan 4001 Large FillingPelikan 4001 Large RemnantPelikan 4001 Large Cap

 

Both Pelikan 4001 bottles have flats and extra space either side of the cap, which allows you to rest the bottle on its side, effectively turning the side of the bottle into a narrower bottle, which causes the ink level to rise.


+    Large volume.
+    Who doesn't want a mother and baby pelican moulded into their bottle caps?
-    Somewhat fiddly to get your pen into the right position without sliding the bottle all over your desk like a boat dragging around a waterskier, or accidentally pushing too deeply while filling and knocking it back onto its bottom.
-    While the bottle is easy to clean, There is a post in the centre of the cap(see pictures) around which ink collects; the inside of the hollow post is easy to clean, the outside is not. The cap seal cannot be removed without breaking it, so you're going to need an ultrasonic cleaner to remove every last little bit of ink.

Pelikan 4001 Small

Spoiler

Pelikan 4001 SmallPelikan 4001 Small FillingPelikan 4001 Small Remnant

 

Chick and mother bird function the same way(including the difficult to clean cap), this bottle is just smaller.


o    Stability is a bit better than it is on the larger bottle.
-    Small volume.

Pilot Iroshizuku(personal favourite for use with syringes)

Spoiler

Pilot IroshizukuPilot Iroshizuku DimplePilot Iroshizuku FillingPilot Iroshizuku Remnant

 

Much like LAMY's T51 and T52, this one has a cubby hole in the bottom for your nib to sink down into, getting your feed closer to the bottom. One thing to note is that there is quite a bit of variability in the depth of the hole between bottles, so I selected one of average depth among my Iroshizuku bottles for testing.


+    100% of the ink collects into the point of a cone. Exceptionally efficient for use with syringes.
+    Calm Japanese design. The shape could just as well be Scandinavian in origin if I didn't know better.
+    Dunk your pen in the hole and fill until the bottle is empty, no explanation needed.
o    Tassle(not of the nipple variety) around the neck of the bottle that catches ink. However, I find it extremely bad practice to leave ink on the neck and inside the cap of your bottle before closing it to begin with, because that's how caps get stuck and mould gets started, so this is a neutral point for me.
o    While the bottle has a very heavy base, it is also narrow, so a good knock could see it tip over.
o    Mixes alright, though shimmer will collect in the cone and require some vigorous sloshing to dislodge.
-    Difficult to clean the top corners of the bottle should ink encrust itself up there, but the dimple is easy enough to clean with a standard cotton swab.
-    Cap is not the sturdiest, so best not overtighten.

Robert Oster

Spoiler

Robert OsterRobert Oster FillingRobert Oster Remnant

 

Like the Noodler's bottle, I decided to include this one to have a standard round bottle in the line-up as a sanity check. Held on its side(see pictures) for low level filling.


+    Unlikely to crack, so this is one you could travel with.
+    Ink mixes quickly if you do it properly like with any regular bottle you've ever used in your life.
o    Plastic fantastic, which does have the benefit of low mass.
o    It's just a plain cylinder.
-    Rolls when on its side, though I guess it does sit nice and flat if you have your hand on it.
-    You have to use one hand to hold the bottle when the ink level gets low.

Sheaffer Modern Bird’s Nest(personal favourite for use with dip pens)

Spoiler

Sheaffer Modern Bird's NestSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Shelf TopSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Shelf SideSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Filling FrontSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Filling AngledSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Filling SideSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest RemnantSheaffer Modern Bird's Nest Cap

 

A little slanted shelf is moulded into the glass that you can tip ink into from the main chamber while the bottle is capped, creating a separate reservoir you can stick your feed into.


+    Intuitive to use.
+    Ink level always stays near the top of the neck, so you can see what you're doing.
+    Fantastic for use with dip pens.
o    Seems difficult to clean, but you can actually reach everything easily. If you have sausage fingers, maybe you'll need a cotton swab for the shelf.
o    It would seem like this cap seal(see pictures) has the same cleaning issues as the Pelikan 4001 cap, but it can actually be removed and reinstalled without breakage by slipping something thin underneath the side of the seal.
-    Ink will not mix that quickly, especially those with shimmer, because you can't really get ink to slosh around in the shelf area very easily.
-    Small volume.

S.T. Dupont

Spoiler

ST DupontST Dupont FillingST Dupont Remnant

 

Another control bottle, this time a flat one, no low level filling features.


+    If you'd like to bludgeon someone to death with an ink cap, this should be your weapon of choice. Outside of just being heavy, the cap is also extremely well constructed. They used to infill the capital D on these caps with enamel in the past, which was even more luxurious.
+    Flat and heavy, so you're not knocking this one over.
+    Unique shield shape, reminiscent of heraldry.
+    Generous ink volume.
-    Difficult to get your fingers in around the sides, similar to the LAMY T52.
-    Because it's such a wide bottle, it's that much harder to fill from once the level gets low.

Van Dieman’s

Spoiler

Van Dieman'sVan Dieman's TiltVan Dieman's FillingVan Dieman's Remnant

 

A flat at the front of the bottle allows the bottle to tilt forward, which should in theory allow you to get your feed closer to the bottom of the bottle and the ink to collect into the more constricted wedge shape. In practice, however, the neck of the bottle is too narrow to reach the ink. I've seen these bottles from other manufacturers as well, they don't seem to be unique to Van Dieman's.


+    The only positive thing I can think of is that the grip ridges on the cap make a nine-pointed star shape, which looks quite nice.
-    Oversize pens are not going to fit in the neck.
-    Low level filling feature doesn't work.
-    Easily knocked over while tilted.
-    Small volume, most of which is inaccessible.

Visconti Hourglass

Spoiler

Visconti HourglassVisconti Hourglass NeckVisconti Hourglass Cup InsertedVisconti Hourglass FillingVisconti Hourglass RemnantVisconti Hourglass Cup

 

These types of bottles(which are not unique to Visconti; the Japanese manufacturers often use them) work by having a little cup/miser in the neck of the bottle with holes in the sides(see pictures) that fits snuggly around your nib and feed. Invert the bottle and ink will run through the holes in the cup and into the neck of the bottle. When the bottle is turned back up, the ink in the neck should in theory fall into the little cup. In practice, I've found that not much ink falls into the cup and you can only get a partial fill should your pen have a large ink capacity.


+    Nice geometric shape reminiscent of an hourglass or perhaps a cotton bobbin.
+    Coloured cap medallion that reminds me of bakelite items.
+    Cone shape, so no danger of knocking it over.
o    Very simple to fill from in theory, though not in practice.
-    Internal ink misers are about as useful as diarrhea, they just don't work unless you have a giant space in the neck of the bottle above the miser. The Akkerman bottles should in theory have the same issue, but they compensated for this with a long neck and the additional post moulded into the cap.
-    Keep your shimmer away from this one, it's highly impractical to get particles to dispurse evenly throughout the bottle and back out of the miser once they've settled.
-    Rather narrow neck and very hard to reach corners, difficult to clean.

Waterman(personal favourite for best value)

Spoiler

WatermanWaterman TiltWaterman FillingWaterman Remnant

 

Another bottle that has flats on its side so you can tip it over and get your feed closer to the bottom of the bottle. This one also has a second set of flats, which allows you to tilt it down even further when you're down to the dregs, but I find it so wobbly and difficult to see what I'm doing that I think this wasn't an intentional design element. I had to use a full bottle for the capped picture because the cap on my empty bottle came broken out of the box.


+    Probably the cheapest and most readily available bottle with a low level filling feature.
+    Cheap, but in no way ugly.
+    Easy to clean, maybe you'll need a cotton swab to get into the bowed corners at the bottom, but I didn't find it necessary.
+    Nowhere for ink to get stuck, homogenises well.
o    Substantially more stabile and less fiddly to fill from than the other bottles that sit on their sides, though it's obviously still balancing on its side.

 

Methodology

 

Each bottle was cleaned and left to dry completely for several weeks, after which each bottle was weighed and exactly thirty milliliters of distilled water and a drop of Diamine Cornflower were added to each. The contents were then immediately homogenised as one would do before opening a bottle to fill from normally. A Pilot Custom 823 was then used to remove the demonstration fluid until air, and nothing but air, was being sucked in. A second weighing then gave me the difference in mass between the empty bottle and the bottle with the dregs of fluid after filling, from which the remnant of fluid remaining in the bottle and the ratio of accessible ink in regards to the stated total volume on the label were derived. While I did take more accurate readings, I rounded the results in the table to the nearest milliliter and percentage point, because there are so many factors that could affect these measurements that it would be beyond pointless to use a higher number of significands. Apart from the rather large variance between "identical" bottles inherent to the production process, the amount of time you wait to let the ink settle, the adhesion of the specific ink in question to the walls of the bottle and the amount of skill/patience you have with filling can all throw off the results far beyond a singular milliliter or percentage point; let alone a tenth of one. I didn't include low level filling features incorporated into the box designs, because boxes get lost, they tear over time and they get permanently dirty, unlike the bottles.

 

As for the four more subjective aspects listed in the table, these are based both on my experiences using the bottles until they were empty and on my experiences cleaning them afterwards.

 

  • Filling describes how comfortable I found the low level filling features to use.
  • Stability is a rough estimation of how easy it would be to knock the bottle over and make ink splash out, specifically while the bottle is placed in its low level filling position.
  • Mixing is a measure of both my experience using the bottle and how quickly the drop of Diamine Cornflower homogenised with the distilled water while inverting the bottle, as well as my general experiences of putting shimmering ink in all of the bottles I suspected would be troublesome.
  • Cleaning was assessed by asking myself the following questions: "Can I comfortably fit a finger in the bottle and reach every nook and cranny?" and "If I can't, can I reach everything with a standard length cotton swab?". I found that cleaning caps is actually irrelevant(unless otherwise noted in the specific bottle's extended notes), because the ink only gets stuck in places that are outside of the rim of the bottle, so it will never come into contact with the ink inside the bottle if you wipe your cap and neck like the civilised person you undoubtedly are, dear reader.
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Wow! Thank you so very much, it is a lot of work and even much, much more useful.

If you are to be ephemeral, leave a good scent.

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What a huge investment of time, effort, and care that must have involved! Thank you so much for your contribution, @Harold.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Superb work @Harold!
Bravo! 👏 👏 👏

 

When trying to fill pens from bottles that I have canted because of low ink-levels, and wishing to avoid slips and spills, I have found it useful to temporarily-stick the bottle to my table using Blu Tack.

Foul in clear conditions, but handsome in the fog.

mini-postcard-exc.png

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Probably, the most significant finding is that bottles without any special low level filling feature (like Noodler's or Robert Oster) can be as effective as bottles with them.

 

Personally, I find that the wide mouth of Noodler's or OS bottles helps a lot in the filling process and feel often deceived by tight mouthed bottles.

 

A second consideration, if I may, is that the ink can, in some cases, be further squeezed depending on the filling practices. In my case, with MB shoe bottles, when they are running low, I tilt them by posing the rear/reservoir part over a notebook. That decreases its stability, but with its wide mouth, eases further squeezing the last ink.

 

Still, probably the Sheaffer bottles are (for me) the best: very wide mouth, very efficient reservoir and as you say, its placement high in the bottle eases use, cleaning and seeing ink.

 

Finally, after your ending observation, I would surmise that using a tiny little bit of silicon grease on the bottle threads (or rim) may go a long way in helping keep the contents airtight and easing opening. But it might affect the ink, I do not know, has worked for me so far, but I may also be so dumb I have not noticed (I always store them upright just in case).

If you are to be ephemeral, leave a good scent.

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Thank you for the kind words everyone, I thought it would be worth taking pictures and making a forum post if I was going to do the testing for my own curiosity anyway. In all honesty, fiddling with the forum formatting is by far the most work, and even then it is going to be far from perfect unless you're using a large resolution screen. That, and figuring out what the hell "3oz" means on a Noodler's bottle; turns out it refers to the filling mass... They're not liquid ounces!

 

12 minutes ago, Mercian said:

When trying to fill pens from bottles that I have canted because of low ink-levels, and wishing to avoid slips and spills, I have found it useful to temporarily-stick the bottle to my table using Blu Tack.

I've used kneaded eraser in the past, myself! Great minds think alike.

 

5 minutes ago, txomsy said:

Personally, I find that the wide mouth of Noodler's or OS bottles helps a lot in the filling process and feel often deceived by tight mouthed bottles.

Absolutely right, you can even see that reflected in the fact that the Van Dieman's bottle simply couldn't make use of its low level filling mode, all because of the tight neck.

6 minutes ago, txomsy said:

A second consideration, if I may, is that the ink can, in some cases, be further squeezed depending on the filling practices. In my case, with MB shoe bottles, when they are running low, I tilt them by posing the rear/reservoir part over a notebook. That decreases its stability, but with its wide mouth, eases further squeezing the last ink.

While this is true, I decided to only test the bottles as intended, because as you mentioned, one might as well use a Noodler's bottle if willing to get fiddly. To me, the point of the low level filling features is not just that they allow you to get more ink out of the bottle, but also the fact that they make low level filling less cumbersome; which is why I love the Akkerman/Gimborn/Waterman design with the marble so much.

9 minutes ago, txomsy said:

Finally, after your ending observation, I would surmise that using a tiny little bit of silicon grease on the bottle threads (or rim) may go a long way in helping keep the contents airtight and easing opening. But it might affect the ink, I do not know, has worked for me so far, but I may also be so dumb I have not noticed (I always store them upright just in case).

Great minds think alike a second time in one post. I found that the rubber cap seal on the Akkerman bottles of years past stuck to the rim of the bottle and came out of the cap entirely quite easily(this also happened on one of my three Sheaffer bottles), so I too took to lightly touching some silicone grease and then rubbing my finger along the rim of the neck of the bottle. You don't need much and it does indeed make all the difference. I've not had an ink get mouldy or be otherwise affected over the past decade since I started wiping the cap and neck with a damp tissue(which I'm using to clean my grip anyway) before closing the bottle, so it should be just fine for the life time of the ink in the bottle.

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Thank you @Harold - what an excellent reference.

 

The bottle shape (and ease of use) plays a huge part in my ink choices - to the extent that there are a couple of brands I actively avoid, even when I quite like the look of a colour. I hadn't really thought about low level filling that hard before - despite it being very much a feature of some of my favourite bottles, so it was particularly interesting to have this focus. 

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Thank you for the detailed, gorgeous photographs. 🙏

I'm amazed that someone has emptied so many bottles of ink ;) I wish I could say it's true for me :D

 

I often use a 10 ml Herbin bottle to syphon stubborn ink, mostly from the hard to reach 30 ml bottles. 😛

 

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Wow, what a great piece of work! Great photographs and fantastic, detailed writing. Thank you!

...............      .................    

This post made with recycled electrons.

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Great work! If I may, I think you should put the other Japanese fill cups against the one that you tested, as in my experience, particularly with the PIlot 70ml bottles and the Platinum 60ml bottles, the cups have worked better than anything else that I have for pens with #6 style nibs. In particular, both of these bottle types have the internal reservoir with a larger upper cup and an elongated section for the nib to rest in. This design intentionally restricts the lower section below the diameter of the fountain pen nib section, so you can rest the pen directly on the shelf of the filling cup, and that makes it *much* easier to fill without needing keep things held steady. For the 823, the 70ml bottle is intentionally designed to hold enough liquid in the filling cup for the pen to get a good fill, and you can "plunge" the pen off the shelf of the cup without worrying about damaging the nib, which makes it much easier to use the vacuum filling system on that pen. 

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24 minutes ago, arcfide said:

In particular, both of these bottle types have the internal reservoir with a larger upper cup and an elongated section for the nib to rest in.


This description reminds me of the design of the plastic ‘Erka-rapid’ inserts that Rohrer & Klingner sell for use in their 50ml ink bottles.

 

I bought a set of them from the following website, which has decent photos of them:
https://www.thewritingdesk.co.uk/writing-accessories/inkwells/rohrer-klingner-erka-rapid-ink-reservoir.html

 

The Writing Desk says that they will also fit into the necks of various other companies’ ink bottles. That said, I found that I made a mess when I tried to use one in my bottle of Waterman ‘Serenity Blue’, and I have not yet tried them in my Edelstein or Noodler’s bottles.
They do work flawlessly in my R&K bottles.

Foul in clear conditions, but handsome in the fog.

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4 hours ago, Mercian said:


This description reminds me of the design of the plastic ‘Erka-rapid’ inserts that Rohrer & Klingner sell for use in their 50ml ink bottles.

 

I bought a set of them from the following website, which has decent photos of them:
https://www.thewritingdesk.co.uk/writing-accessories/inkwells/rohrer-klingner-erka-rapid-ink-reservoir.html

 

The Writing Desk says that they will also fit into the necks of various other companies’ ink bottles. That said, I found that I made a mess when I tried to use one in my bottle of Waterman ‘Serenity Blue’, and I have not yet tried them in my Edelstein or Noodler’s bottles.
They do work flawlessly in my R&K bottles.

 

Those are another good design, but I can see why they might end up creating a mess if you aren't careful. I think the Platinum and Pilot filling cups probably still have the edge for the following reasons:

  • You can directly rest a long nibbed pen directly on the cup without concern for putting any pressure on the nib itself. 
  • The cup sits inside of the bottle, rather than having to sit on the rim.
  • The cups self-stabilize inside of the bottle or with a gentle nudge.

Now, the disadvantage of Pilot or Platinum's designs is that they are very well optimized for their own pens. That means that you might not like to dip your pen as deep as the Pilot 70ml cup will go, given that it was designed to fill the large capacity 823. Likewise, if you try to fill the 823 from the Platinum cup, you won't get a full fill because they design it to fill the Platinum converters and 3776/President nibs almost perfectly. This specialization means that they are more efficient in doing what they were designed to do (such as getting the last drops of ink out of the bottles), but it also means that they don't work as well in bottles or with pens that they weren't designed for. Both of the cups, I think, are designed to be used in the Pilot/Platinum bottles they come in, and that means they use the neck of the bottle to help them get the ink levels they need to fill the cup. Things like the above R&K cup don't have that same limitation because they fill differently. 

 

All that being said, I still have the easiest time rapidly and cleanly filling a pen using Platinum or PIlot's bottles with their respective pens. The next easiest might be Platinum's Procyon with their clever little pseudo-snorkel feed, since the small, narrow nib and relatively medium sized grip section makes that pen easy to insert into almost any bottle and easily allows it to get all the ink it wants from just about any bottle. Outside of those, I think Waterman and Lamy are two of the other more functionally easy bottles, but only if you are working with smaller, standard sized nibs (#6 and larger nibs would be less easy, IMO). For instance, if you're using any Lamy, the T52 ink bottles are a dream to use, second only to those of Pilot and Platinum, IMO. Likewise, the tilt on the Waterman bottles is much easier to use than the Pelikan bottles, and the smaller Waterman nibs fill very cleanly from those bottles, and easily. In fact, the Waterman Exception that I have is possibly one of the least messy pens that I have to fill (maybe tied with the Lamy 2000), because it has internal fins rather than external fins, to mimic the old feed style. Combined with the small section diameter, almost no ink collects on that pen's exterior, and so filling it up from the native Waterman bottles requires almost no wiping. 

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The old Parker Penman inks had a similar built-in plastic reservoir, it filled when you inverted the bottle. Levenger inks also have a  "well" and are very nice to use.

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Thank you, @Harold, for this comprehensive and wonderful bottle test! I love your measurements, makes it a great source! +1 👍

I didn't know about the Shaeffer bottle - it looks simply great!

 

The Parker Penmenship bottle of old was already mentioned. They were great, however, they are (almost) unobtanium now.

 

I would like to mention the Rohrer & Klingner Erka Rapid insert you can buy separately (in package of 3) and transform the standard bottles of R&K, Pelikan 4001, Pelikan Edelstein (and others?) into something similar to Parker penmanship or Modern Shaeffer Nest.

 

You never go wrong with an ink bottle that looks good AND is perfectly designed for daily use! :) 

One life!

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17 hours ago, yazeh said:

I'm amazed that someone has emptied so many bottles of ink ;) I wish I could say it's true for me :D

Pelikan M800 3BPlatinum President CSailor 21K ZParker Duofold Centennial EEBPilot #15 C

Considering this is the average type of nib I use, it's not quite as amazing as one might think! I have averaged 8.4 bottles a year over the past decade if we count the Dutch Masters bottles as two individual ones.

17 hours ago, yazeh said:

I often use a 10 ml Herbin bottle to syphon stubborn ink, mostly from the hard to reach 30 ml bottles. 😛

I had actually wanted to include one of those Herbin D bottles, because that is probably the single worst bottle in existence for low level filling, but I always empty two of them into an Akkerman bottle so I can get the Herbin bottles out of my house as quickly as possible. As a consequence, I didn't have one at hand to test.

 

As for the other bottles with ink misers mentioned by @arcfide@Mercian@OCArt and @InesF, my animus towards these things certainly won't stop me from adding them to the table, it's useful information. However, I always banish the misers to the seventh circle of hell as soon as the bottle is ready for its first cleaning, so I actually don't have the misers for any of my Japanese bottles anymore. I do have a 60mL bottle of Platinum ink that is still 95% full, which I can certainly add in due time. Keep in mind, I channel my deep-seated hatred for these things not just from my experiences with the Visconti bottle; I have used both Pilot's 60mL flying saucer and their 70mL Marmite jar, and I've emptied two of Platinum's 60mL bottles in the past.

 

The misers work just about well enough when the bottle is still over 30% full, but at that stage a miser isn't required in the first place. When the ink level starts to get to the stages where you'd want to use one, half of the ink always seems to fall out of the cup and I can't get a proper fill. #8 nibs are even worse, especially if they're on something like a Conid Kingsize with a big ink capacity. I've already failed to fill that pen properly from my recently acquired Platinum 60mL bottle, so I don't think I'm misremembering why I can't stand these things. It obviously does depend on the types of filling systems and nib lengths you use, but none of the other low level filling features have issues accommodating #8 nibs or large ink capacity fillers.

 

I have found that Rohrer & Klingner's Erka-rapid works leagues better, but let's be clear: it's not comparable to the ink cups in the other bottles mentioned. If you take a closer look at it, you'll see that it essentially transforms the bottle into a Sheaffer Bird's Nest design. However, this is a filling accessory to be bought separately, not a feature included in the bottle. It also makes it impossible to properly wipe the neck of the bottle, which you can probably tell I'm not a big fan of. I have plenty of bottles that fit the Erka-rapid though, so next time I need to order something from a store that sells it, I'll include one in my order. I inconveniently gave it away because I thought I would never be using it again, considering I have literally dozens of other bottles with low level filling features that I enjoy using more.

 

Once again, thank you for all the kind words and making suggestions for things to add.

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4 minutes ago, Harold said:

I have found that Rohrer & Klingner's Erka-rapid works leagues better, but let's be clear: it's not comparable to the ink cups in the other bottles mentioned. If you take a closer look at it, you'll see that it essentially transforms the bottle into a Sheaffer Bird's Nest design. However, this is a filling accessory to be bought separately, not a feature included in the bottle. It also makes it impossible to properly wipe the neck of the bottle, which you can probably tell I'm not a big fan of. I have plenty of bottles that fit the Erka-rapid though, so next time I need to order something from a store that sells it, I'll include one in my order. I inconveniently gave it away because I thought I would never be using it again, considering I have literally dozens of other bottles with low level filling features that I enjoy using more.

 

Once again, thank you for all the kind words and making suggestions for things to add.


That’s a good bit of extra perspective about the Erka-rapid. Thank you :thumbup:


Also, if you are a habitual user of a Pelikan 3B nib, one can easily understand how you get through ink so quickly, and how you came to develop your comprehensive understanding of which companies’ ink bottles enable one to get the most ink out of them, and are easiest to fill from 😁

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27 minutes ago, Harold said:

When the ink level starts to get to the stages where you'd want to use one, half of the ink always seems to fall out of the cup and I can't get a proper fill. #8 nibs are even worse

 

Huh, I've been surprised by how well the Platinum cups seem to work with very low amounts of ink. I think Platinum quotes theirs as working down to 5ml or something close to that. For my own testing, it seems to do at least that well. I turn the bottle over, make sure the cup is level with the cap and not tilted, then rapidly flip the bottle back upright. If I do this, I seem to consistently get enough to easily get a full fill of a #3776 with converter, which is what it was designed for, I think. Of course, the weakness of these cups in the Japanese designs as far as I can tell is that they aren't going to work well for anything that isn't closer to the size and capacity of the pens they were made for. I don't even try with #8 nibs, but then again, I haven't found *any* bottle that makes filling from a #8 nib easy. For those nibs, I just pour the ink into an external Ink Miser and fill from that, because I quickly get to the point where I can't use any of the bottles, at least if the pen is one that requires the nib to be fully submerged to fill. 

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27 minutes ago, Mercian said:

Also, if you are a habitual user of a Pelikan 3B nib, one can easily understand how you get through ink so quickly, and how you came to develop your comprehensive understanding of which companies’ ink bottles enable one to get the most ink out of them, and are easiest to fill from 😁

And, perhaps surprisingly, that's not even close to being the wettest one! I strapped the Pilot Coarse nib onto a Flexible Nib Factory triple slit feed and stuck it in a JoWo #6 converter housing screwed into an Opus 88 Omar, because I would run out of ink within three sheets of B5 paper using a CON-70 converter.

8 minutes ago, arcfide said:

I turn the bottle over, make sure the cup is level with the cap and not tilted, then rapidly flip the bottle back upright.

That is also my method for filling the cup; I even make sure that the holes aren't lined up with the axis I'm turning the bottle through, in case it would fling out some of the ink.

13 minutes ago, arcfide said:

I don't even try with #8 nibs, but then again, I haven't found *any* bottle that makes filling from a #8 nib easy.

I don't know where you are located, but the Akkerman bottles work absolutely flawlessly with #8 nibs down to the last dribbles of ink, no matter the ink capacity required. If you get a Pilot Iroshizuku bottle at a store, you can also try to select one that has a particularly deep hole in the bottom, and that will also do well with #8 nibs.

26 minutes ago, arcfide said:

For those nibs, I just pour the ink into an external Ink Miser and fill from that, because I quickly get to the point where I can't use any of the bottles, at least if the pen is one that requires the nib to be fully submerged to fill. 

I've found that pens will keep filling regardless of where the air channel opening is located, as long as some of the fins on the feed are being saturated with ink and you are operating the filling mechanism with some fervour. Air channels always seem to terminate before they reach the back of the feed, so I assume they exchange the air through the internal fin structure rather than doing it through a direct channel connected to the ink reservoir in question. You do of course draw half ink and half air at that point, but a couple of cycles seem to get the job done.

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34 minutes ago, Harold said:

I've found that pens will keep filling regardless of where the air channel opening is located, as long as some of the fins on the feed are being saturated with ink and you are operating the filling mechanism with some fervour. Air channels always seem to terminate before they reach the back of the feed, so I assume they exchange the air through the internal fin structure rather than doing it through a direct channel connected to the ink reservoir in question. You do of course draw half ink and half air at that point, but a couple of cycles seem to get the job done.

 

I don't have to fully submerge my 149, but my Santinis with Giant 8 nibs and ebonite feeds definitely require full submersion. Other pens are somewhere in the middle. I'm also rather impatient if I am not getting a "clean fill," and so I don't tend to tolerate the ink level going any lower in a bottle than I can easily get a clean fill without having to do lots of "noisy ink slurping" with my pen. 

 

That was why I at first didn't understand how you were getting the ink out of the bottles so well, until I read your description and understood that you were allowing for *any* ink getting into the pen to still count, whereas I would have cut off the measurement the moment that the pen stopped filling cleanly and without sucking in extraordinary amounts of air (that is, more than you would get with a fully submersion). 

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