Three Swan pen. The first one is a lever filler Mabie Todd made in the US; the second, a British eyedropper; the third, a Japanese eyedropper with safety valve.
Such was the filling mechanism –by the way, is that a self-filling system?— in most pens by the end of the nineteen century. Further technical evolution changed the filling procedures into either piston systems or sac-based devices. However, eyedropper pens have survived all these years, especially in Japan.
A Japanese jumbo pen with Nakaya nib. An eyedropper with safety valve. Some more modern jumbo eyedroppers can be seen on the chronicle entitled Ink Tankers.
On top of that, lately there seems to be a revival of eyedroppers. A common complaint among pen users is the small capacity of cartridge and converters –the system of choice in modern pens—, and of many self-filling systems. As a result, many of us turned our eyes to eyedroppers, new and old. And to possible conversions of cartridge/converter pens into the old unsophisticated system.
Little is needed for such transformation: A barrel without holes, a good fitting thread between barrel and section (more on this, later), and the absence of metallic parts in direct contact with the ink other than the inevitable nib. This last point, that some consider of little relevance, is demanded by those afraid of the possible corrosion the ink might generate on those metals.
Elastic gaskets (synthetic rubber and silicone o-rings) and water-insoluble grease (petroleum jelly, for instance) come in handy to seal the threads closing the barrel against the section, thus avoiding embarrassing problems.
A plastic Kaweco Sport. It has no metal parts inside the barrel. There is a demonstrator version particularly well-suited to become an eyedropper.
There are a number of pens on the market apt for this conversion. The lack of metal parts is often associated to inexpensive writing tools, and, therefore, not much is lost in case the conversion went terribly wrong.
A Platinum Preppy. With the help of an o-ring, this pen was transformed successfully into an eyedropper.
A Pilot Calligraphy (Plumix in other markets). Another pen suitable for transformation into an eyedropper.
Pilot’s Petit-1, Plumix/Calligraphy, Vortex, and even Parallel Pens; Platinum’s Riviere and Preppy: Kaweco’s plastic Sport model; Daiso’s mini model; are all suitable candidates for this experiment.
The benefits? An enormous ink reservoir. And a fun time.