When I received this shipment from Foresta in Italy, a thought occurred to me. We all know the essentials of a pen collection. First of all, you need the pen itself. This can be anything, from a simple plastic Safari, to a silver Yard-o-led, an artful Nakaya or even a piston-filling demonstrator, like the Pelikan M1005. But perhaps we spend too much time thinking about the pen, and forget the other modest ingredients needed for every good pen collection. The first that comes to mind is a good quality paper to write on. Then, the ink that you’re writing on. Maybe even a case to carry or display your pens. We all have these, and they’ll all get reviews in their own time. But today, I want to talk about perhaps the most underappreciated necessity for any pen aficionado – the ink bottle!
Foresta is a leading manufacturer of glassware, and produce ink bottles for celebrated names such as Omas and Caran D’ache, amongst others. All of you have handled one of their works before, even if you overlooked it. An ink bottle is an unassuming thing, and it takes no stabs at greatness. You never see an ink bottle with a guardy gold plating, or painted by the finest artists – they’re pure functionality. But this doesn’t mean they should be ignored – a good ink bottle is the making of a pen collection.
The primary purpose of an ink bottle is, of course, to carry ink, and these bottles do exactly that. There’s a massive range of shapes and sizes, but the essence of each bottle is the same – they’re designed to hold as much ink as possible, in the most aesthetic way. No ungainly industrial cubes (I’m looking at you, Cross). Instead, these bottles seem to carry every organic shape possible, from rounded-off octagons to what looks like it could be an elongated UFO from a 1960s sci-fi film. This is complimented by the vibrant colours on the caps, which seem to give life to the bottles – and would look perfect if combined with the same colour ink.
The most common complaint with ink bottles is the difficulty of filling up a piston filler, especially with a large nib, as they inevitably are. However, this problem seems thankfully absent here, as the mouth is exactly wide enough to allow even the largest nibs (tested with my MB149 – the large-nibbed-pen of choice for many) to suck up every last drop of ink. The glass is high quality, thick and well-made, so that they’re unlikely to easily smash (not that we carried out any tests!).
Foresta has done an exceptionally good job with this bottles, precisely because there’s nothing exceptional about them. They’re perfectly functional, and would look great displayed on a shelf. Although I personally prefer the more squared designs, I can definitely see the elegance of the circular ones. Between the range of colours, sizes, shapes and designs, there’s definitely something for everyone in this cohort, and they are available here. The moral of this story is – remember to look past the pen, and remember the unsung hero of the hobby – the humble ink bottle.
By Oliver Bennett