Fountain pen inks come in a huge variety of colors. Although not quite as varied as the inks themselves, ink bottles come in many different shapes and sizes. While most people buy a bottle of ink for the ink that’s inside of the bottle, bottle design can also play a part in which ink a fountain pen user ultimately chooses to purchase. Today I want to take a look at a variety of fountain pen ink bottle designs and explore the role that the bottle plays in the world of ink.
Fountain pen ink bottles come in a variety of sizes and volumes. On the small end of things, the size is going to be limited by the fact that a fountain pen nib needs to fit inside of it. Because of this, most bottles hold at least 10ml of ink. The J. Herbin 10ml bottles are some of the smallest ink bottles currently available.
Fountain pen ink color is a big deal, but the way that an ink bottle looks can really sell it. Imagine that the same color of ink was available in two different bottles. One bottle is ordinary and doesn’t stand out in any way, while the other bottle is visually interesting and beautiful. Which bottle do you think you’d choose? Most people will choose the bottle that looks better, even if it costs more yet has the same ink. It’s because of this that there are so many interesting fountain pen ink bottles on the market today.Many different things can influence the overall visual aesthetic of an ink bottle. The shape of the bottle is one of the main ways to differentiate between different brands of ink. Manufacturers want to make a unique bottle that people will want to purchase and at the same time will identify with their brand. While ink bottles are traditionally round, you’ll find a huge variety of shapes including triangle, teardrop, square and more. The amount of glass that’s used in a bottle can also help to set it apart from other inks. Bottles with additional glass on the sides or bottom of the bottle appear to be more luxurious and substantial. They also appear to be larger, even though the actual amount of ink that they hold is probably no different than a smaller ink bottle made with less glass. Still, the visual appeal of some of these bottles can’t be denied. Another part of the visual aesthetic of a bottle is the bottle lid! This essentially takes something that’s functional and turns it into a design element. Bottle lids are typically made of plastic, but some are made of metal. Not only do these look good, but they also weigh significantly more than a plastic lid, again giving the impression of luxury. Even some plastic lids have specific shapes or patterns molded into them, adding to the overall look of the ink bottle.
With so much variety in the size and visual aesthetic of ink bottles, it can be easy to forget that they also need to be functional. Filling a fountain pen, while not difficult, does at least require the entire nib to be submerged in ink. If a portion of the nib is not submerged, the pen may not fully fill. With varying bottle sizes and shapes, some pens may have trouble filling from some bottles.
Fortunately, many ink manufacturers have found a way to make their bottles both attractive and functional. One of the best examples of this are the inks from P.W. Akkerman. The bottle is tall and has a narrow neck, which would make it impossible to fill directly from the bottom of the bottle. What makes this bottle design work is a small glass marble inside of the neck that allows you to fill it with ink and then stop the ink from going back into the bottle with the marble. Once your pen is filled from the ink that’s trapped in the neck of the bottle, you can then tilt the bottle to move the marble and drain the ink back into the bottom.Here are a few other examples of functional bottle design:
- Pilot Iroshizuku: Has a pointed divot in the bottom of the bottle so that your nib can dip below the surface of the ink.
- Waterman: Has facets on the sides of the bottle which allow you to tip the bottle on its side, making filling easier.
- Montblanc: Montblanc’s classic colors come in a “shoe” bottle that has a small reservoir where you fill the pen from, allowing you to use all of the ink in the bottle.
Not all bottles are going to have a design that stands out. Most are simply containers that hold ink. It’s not that they are ugly or poorly designed, they just follow the tried-and-true design that ink bottles have had for centuries. Maybe that’s what makes a well-designed ink bottle really stand out from the crowd. Most people like beautiful things and some ink bottles truly are beautiful. As long as the functional aspect of the bottle isn’t defeated by the actual design of the bottle, most of us would probably prefer an attractive bottle to hold our fountain pen ink.