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Filling systems for fountain pens
Fountain pen filling systems

On this page you will find information on several filling systems for fountain pens. La Couronne du Comte is happy to advise you, please do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions

Ink cartridges

The system consist in a disposable reservoir called cartridge. Easy and fast, it is the simplest way to fill a fountain pen. Filling can be done by unscrewing the gripping section from the barrel and placing the cartridge in the pen.
Ink cartridges are available in several sizes. Many brands use a standard international size, but some brands use their own specific refills, like Waterman, Parker, Lamy, Sheaffer, Cross and Sailor. Most of te times a converter can be substituted by a converter (see below), so you may also be able to use an ink bottle.


The converter (or convertor) is a refillable cartridge with a small piston mechanism (see below). The converter can be removed and substituted by a disposable cartridge.
Fill a pen as follows: unscrew the gripping section from the pen and turn the piston of the converter counterclockwise (the piston goes down). Then, place the nib in the ink bottle (submerged) and turn the converter clockwise making the piston come up: you will see the reservoir filling with ink.
This procedure may be repeated until the reservoir is full enough.

Some converters do not have a piston mechanism, but have a rubber sac with push mechanism. The principle is the same: when pushing on the designated space on the converter, whilst the nib is submerged in the ink bottle, and releasing the pressure the converter will be filled.


The piston (or plunger) filling mechanism is one of the oldest techniques used to fill fountain pens. Originally developed from German brands and from the U.S. Conklin "Nozac" , it consists in a piston activated from a non-ending screw under the blind cap or directly connected to the blind cap. This "internal" filling system works as follows: unscrew the cap of the pen and the prospective cover at the bottom of the barrel (it may also be that the knob does not come of, turn then until it blocks but do not move it), turn the knob at the bottom of the barrel counterclockwise to empty the ink reserve and then turn the knob clockwise to fill the pen holding the nib completely immerged in the ink.
This procedure may be repeated until the reservoir is full enough.

Lever Filler

The lever filler system is also an older technique. In the pen a reservoir is hidden (usually a rubber sac), which is filled by pulling the lever on the barrel, submerging the nib in the ink bottle and pushing the lever back.

Power Filler

This internal system causes sometimes confusing when filling. From the back end of the barrel, unscrew the blind cap and pull the rod all the way out stopping when you meet resistance. Submerge the nib into the ink until the front end of the section is covered and depress the plunger downward with one single stroke. Count to ten (allowing the pen to fill) and then remove from the ink and screw the blind cap back into the barrel end.

Push Button

A button filler fountain pen has a button hidden beneath a blind cap on the end of the barrel; when pressed, it acts on a pressure bar inside to depress the ink sac; when holding the nib submerged and releasing the button, the ink sac will fill itself.


An Eyedropper fountain pen most of the times can hold an enormous amount of ink: the barrel can often completely be filled with ink. Unscrew barrel and gripping section, fill the barrel section with ink using an eyedropper and screw both sections again: you are now ready to write with the pen.

Ink cartridges or ink bottle?

Using pens with an internal filling system (like an eyedroper or piston fountain pen) means most of the times your pen can bear a lot more ink than cartridge/converter pens. Using an ink bottle also means you will get more ink for your money than with the same money spent on cartridges (cartridges tend to be more expensive). Also, using an ink bottle is more environment-friendly and you have a lot more choice on colours and brands.
Using ink cartridges means ease of use, bringing these with you is easier than bringing an ink bottle and also filling a pen is simpler.

This overview is not complete: pen producers are still inventing new filling systems and there are also many vintage pens, which use different filling systems. Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you have questions about filling systems or would like our advice.