Fountain pen ink cartridges

Fountain pen ink cartridge guide

Fountain pen ink cartridges

Let's talk about cartridges...

We love to get people into fountain pens (and ink), so I have decided to come up with something that would answer some basic questions about ink cartridges.

Cartridges are fountain pen refills and contain fountain pen ink. Most of the fountain pens which we sell will come with one. There are currently around 100 different colours available from 6 manufacturers in stock. Choosing the right cartridge can be tricky…

Compatibility - do you have the right cartridge?

Fountain pen ink cartridge size

Not all cartridges are the same, so let’s dive into the compatibility first.

There are generally 2 kinds of cartridges: International standard and proprietary.

Proprietary cartridges are made by brands (for example Lamy) and will fit only their own pens. They are incompatible with pens from other brands. If your pen is made by one of the brands listed below you will need a cartridge made by the same brand:

Aurora, Cross, Lamy, Namiki, Parker, Pilot (some) Platinum, Sailor, Sheaffer, Waterman (some).

International standard cartridges do fit a lot of fountain pen brands – the ones which we stock are: Caran d’Ache, J Herbin, Kaweco, Pilot and Viking.

Here is a fairly long list of other fountain pen brands that use International short cartridges: Bexley, Centropen, Conklin, Delta, Diplomat, DuPont, Edison, Faber-Castell, Inoxcrom, Italix, J Herbin, Kaweco, Montblanc, Montegrappa, Monteverde, Ohto, Omas, Online, Pelikan, Pilot (some), Porsche, Recife, Retro51, Rotring, Schmidt, Schneider, Sigma, Stabilo, Stipula, Super5, Tombow, Viking, Visconti, Waterman (some), Yard-O-Led.

To make this a little bit complicated International cartridges come in long or short version. As a general rule short cartridges will fit all pens which take international cartridges. There are pens which will fit one long or two short cartridges at the same time – one in use and one spare in the barrel.

We have the pen and correct cartridge. Next up - how to install one...

Insert fountain pen ink cartridge

Here is how to install a fountain pen cartridge. If the pen parts scare you check out our anatomy blog posts of Lamy Safari & J Herbin pen 🙂

  1.  Disassemble the pen by taking the cap off and unscrew the pen barrel.
  2.  Place the cartridge on the desk, lip (the part with little ball) facing up.
  3.  Support the cartridge in one hand and push the front piece of the pen (grip, nib facing upwards) on the cartridge until it gets pierced.
  4. Reassemble the pen. Nib should be pointing downwards.
  5. Wait for the capillary action to do the job of distributing ink. You can also gently tap the nib on paper until you see ink coming out.
  6. Pen is ready to write 🙂

Please note there are different ways of doing this (let us know in comments what works for you) – some pen bodies allow you to insert the cartridge inside and screwed the barrel back on which pops the cartridge too. You can also just push the cartridge into the front part of the pen…

We also recommend to clean your pen before installing a new cartridge – especially if you plan to use a different ink.

If it doesn't fit...

  • Have a look inside the barrel. Most pens (Kaweco) come with the cartridge inside the pen.
  • Some manufacturers put a blunt cartridge/spacer in the pen barrel to prevent cartridges from rattling around during shipping. These items may become stuck inside the pen if you try to install a cartridge without removing them. Check for cartridges and spacers (Lamy uses paper ring) in a new pen by unscrewing the barrel and giving it a firm tap to dislodge anything that’s inside.

Monteverde – belongs to a special category because their cartridges actually work 2 ways. It is a double sided cartridge which can fit Lamy pens (wider end) or pens which take International standard long cartridges (slimmer end). If it doesn’t fit try using the other end 🙂

Cartridge or converter?

That is a very good question.

Converters do open the doors to the world of ink, so you can use any ink you like. There are more colour options and brands to choose from. It is also more economical and environmentally friendly. We blogged about the price of fountain pen ink price here…

Cartridges are convenient, portable, clean, easy to use. You can take a few spares with you when you travel and don’t ever have to worry about them leaking. If you get a syringe and blunt needle you can even refill them (couple of times).

Cartridges have less ink capacity than other filling systems. Personally I don’t mind it because I like changing colours a lot 🙂 Anyway, here is a quick info about the capacity of cartridges. I measured what I could and researched the rest. Please bear in mind that the cartridges are not  completely filled, there is a small air bubble so there is a slight variance in capacity.

Sheaffer 1.5ml
Parker 1.4 - 1.5ml
International standard long 1.2 - 1.45ml
Lamy T10 1.1 - 1.3ml
Sheaffer slim 1.2ml
Monteverde 1.1 - 1.2ml
Platinum 1.1ml
Pilot/Namiki 0.9ml
Cross - 0.8ml
International standard short 0.6 - 0.8ml
essential summer top 10 stationery items

Top 10 Essential Stationery Items For The Summer

From Bureau exclusives to great offers, from exotic imports to reinvented cult classics, even something not really stationery at all.


Rhodia Heritage Notebooks

Rhodia Heritage notebooks

A brand new range of books that harks back to older ways of making things. We especially love the Raw Binding notebooks with their spine that has a…well, a raw feel to it. Sturdy, with the classic Rhodia 90gsm paper. One of the beauties of this binding is that it lies flat no matter where in the book you are.

Why you need this item:

It’s a notebook but so much more. Retro styling has been used for a great purpose meaning this notebook will last the course, can handle all the ink you throw at it and it will be a pleasure to use each time you get it out. What’s not to love?


Field Notes Campfire Edition Notebooks

Field Notes Campfire notebooks

Field Notes produce four limited editions a year, one for each season. The summer edition this year is the Campfire edition and it’s one of their best in a longtime. A set of 3 books, each with a different stage of campfire print on the cover (from dusk to night to dawn), plus a ‘campfire master’ sew-on patch. Release your inner scout.

Why you need this item:

A set of rugged little notebooks that you can sling in your bag or your pocket and it means you will always be able to jot down some important thought or note.


Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks

Fjallraven Kanken backpacks

If you haven’t already spotted them around you soon will. This Swedish staple from 1978 is now a bone-fide classic on the streets here. And why? It does a simple job very well – unzip it fully and you’ll find everything you need, no rumaging around in endless pockets.

Why you need this item:

It strips back a backpack to its core function and does it very well. It is waterproof (Fjallraven are Swedish outdoors experts) and then there’s the colours – so many to choose from, whether bright or muted.


Lamy Safari Special Edition Fountain Pen 2017 - Petrol

special edition lamy safari fountain pen

Each year this pen is released with a new colour and it was always a big ask to follow on from last year’s purple. Who would want to be David Moyes to follow Alex Ferguson? (it’s a football reference, don’t worry). Lamy actually pulled it off though with the petrol pen, an unusual but smart teal-petrol green colour. Special editions sell out so when they’re gone they’re gone.

Whilst stocks last we have put this pen on promotion – grab it now for just £14.95

Why you need this item:

The Safari is widely regarded as an exceptional pen – it writes fantastically, is an easy pen to use for everyone and yet costs a fraction of many a more expensive pen. In other words, it’s worth every penny.


Kyoto Inks

kyoto inks from japan

A new ink range just in from Japan, and looking the part. Five colours, all lovely from a black-with-sheen to a dusky blue and a vibrant pink-red.

Why you need this item:

Sometimes you buy things because the sum of it is so much more than the parts. These inks just tick all the boxes, from the packaging to the bottle to the colours to the inks. Worth that indulgence once in a while to treat yourself.


Walk With Me Maps

Walk With Me maps

We all want to decorate our homes with something a little different and these are just that. Beautiful maps-as-artwork from a series of artists covering different neighbourhoods of London, Madrid and Barcelona.

Why you need this item:

Because maps let you dream of places and these are also beautiful to look at – hang one on your wall and it will transport you somewhere.


Taroko Breeze Notebook With Tomoe River Paper

Taroko Breeze notebook with Tomoe River paper

An exclusive notebook to Bureau, this book has it all. Right size, dot paper with an index and page numbers, and even with ink charts to record your favourite inks. Oh, and it has Tomoe River paper.

Why you need this item:

So many reasons but it’s the paper that does it – Tomoe River paper is lightweight Japanese paper that handles ink better than heavier papers, so it’s great to write with and yet packs in more paper for less weight.


Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pens

Caran d'Ache 849 fountain pen

The 849 pen is a classic, around since 1969. The addition of a fountain pen to the 849 range just means you can have an ink pen in the classic 849 hexagonal shape.

Why you need this item:

Those bright fluorescent colours were just made for summer.


Limited Edition Blackwing Vol.73 Pencils

Blackwing limited edition Volume 73 pencils

The limited edition Blackwing pencils always have a slightly convoluted naming convention, and this one is no exception (it has something to do with the measurement of the water clarity of Lake Tahoe, but please don’t ask). What is quite certain is that these pencils are a winner. The intense blue is inspired by the waters of Lake Tahoe and the nice touch of the topographic map etched onto the barrel works.

Why you need this item:

Blackwing are widely regarded as the best of all pencils, and so if you haven’t tried them yet then take the plunge and get yourself some. Time to find out why they are so highly rated.


Observer's Astronomy Notebooks

Astronomy notebook

An unusual mix of night-sky infographics and unusual paper rulings might make this book seem a bit too quirky for its own good, but it’s not. It’s really good fun, informative and refreshingly different.

Why you need this item:

Doesn’t everyone love to learn a bit more about the night skies above?

London Pen Show

KWZ Inks at London Pen Show 2016

London Pen Show

Hi folks,

It’s that time of the year again… First Sunday in October means two things: Marathon in my home town and the London Pen Show 😀
I went completely bonkers at my first visit two years back – had a great time, made lots of new friends and luckily my caddy was holding the wallet so I didn’t spend more than I wanted 😛

With help of few good friends Bureau Direct got two tables at The London Pen Show!


You probably know that my favourite ink  brand is KWZ because I brag about it a lot. Drumroll please – we have convinced KWZ Ink makers to come and introduce their brand. Shout out to Konrad & Agnieszka! They are bringing colour charts and a lot of inked pens, so everyone can try their liquid gold (I mean ‘honey’). We will bring some Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Tomoe River etc and of course KWZ Inks (please note that Bureau will not sell Iron Galls initially – I feel like we need to educate ourselves and others before we can sell IG. Spending some time with Konrad and learning everything from the master will be absolutely essential).

Okay, so now when I got that off my chest, lol let’s talk about what the show is like. Hopefully I will be able to convince people who live near by to go 🙂

Show is open from 10am till 4pm.

The address is:
Holiday Inn London – Bloomsbury
Coram Street, London WC1N 1HT

Tickets are £5.00 for 10:00am entry.
£15.00 for early bird 09:00am entry.

Expect lot of collectors and vintage pens. Do you want to see Nakaya or Parker 51 in real life? This is your chance. (make sure to stop by Visconti and check out Homo Sapiens – lava material feels incredible in hand. No photo or  video does this pen the justice…) Vendors will often let you dip&try the pens, so it is a very hands on experience and you can ‘talk pens’ all day 😉

If you do want to get some work done with your fountain pens – John Sorowka is your man. Please bear in mind that his table is always busy and you may need to queue. Trust me, it is worth it.

You will get a wristband, so it’s perfectly OK to go out for a coffee/lunch and come back 🙂 The show is very busy, so travel light and bring some water. Take pen and paper too.

Making a shopping list is always a good idea – browsing is fun, but treasure hunt takes it to another level:)

Bring cash – not everyone takes card payments.

Looking for spare parts? Bladders, nibs, jewels…this is the perfect place to find those – bring your pens and loupe.

You can also get ink, notebooks, pen cases, books, stands and accessories.

And finally – don’t be shy to say hi! 🙂

I can’t believe we are going, this is going to be so much fun 🙂

See you at the pen show!

Mishka (^_~)

ps: you can find us at tables 16-17 which on the left after the first turn


Through the Looking Glass Pen

Not satisfied with just one picture of the fabulous marbleised glass pens from J Herbin we went and took these rather nice close ups which show just how pretty these things are. In particular I love how the ink flowing down the grooves mirrors the marble pattern of the pen. We’ve also got a video of glass pens being made and a quick review after the jump.

The close-ups:

blue glass pen



How to make a glass pen and more

We also found this video by Steveokroma featuring glass worker artisan Janelle who shows how a glass pen is made and has some very interesting ideas for using them with products other than ink; it’s a great look at what goes into making a glass pen like this.

If the video is too long…

If you didn’t see the video, there are two very interesting ways in which you could also use the glass pen, either dipping it in drawing gum, which is basically a very thin liquid latex (art masking fluid), then writing something out, brushing on some ink, and then rubbing the latex off just with a finger once its dried, picks the writing out off the background. She also used a thin adhesive, such as that used for metal leaf to apply pigment powders or metal powder for some very cool writing effects.

Be careful though, we have not personally tested any of these methods, and there may be some products out there that won’t be good for the glass pen or hard to remove. With that said, experiment, and let us know if you have any ideas for ways to use these cool pens.

Our quick review:

glass pens

A pen that has been around since the mid-17th Century and still has its uses today, using one really does make you feel transported back in time. Beautifully marbleised these pens make a fantastically elegant addition to any stationery collection, and with its curves it’s actually quite a comfortable pen to hold.

A fluted nib

The pens have a spiral fluted nib, which allows the ink to sit in the pen’s nib letting it last a bit longer as it moves down to the end. Also when inked it provides a nice contrast with the marble effects in the pen itself. You can get at least a few lines out of it with each dip, but there will be a contrast in colour between the first word and the last.

Change colours quickly

Great for testing out lots of ink colours, doing drawings with several colours or doing invitations or letters in nice calligraphy and more. All you have to do to change colours is take a wet paper towel and wipe it off, or you can dip it in water, rubbing alcohol or ink remover and then wipe it off. This speed in changing between a lot of different colours is one of the main attractions of a pen like this.

If it feels a little rough

Writing with the pen itself might seem a little different at first, and it might take a little practice to get used to it. Sometimes the pen end might seem a little rougher than you like at first, this might be because they are handmade. However, if you want to you can take a bit of fine sand paper and give the tip a little rub to adjust the smoothness to your liking.

The glass pens also fit perfectly in the little groove that Herbin puts on their ink bottles to rest the pen on.


Overall these make a great indulgent addition to anyone’s collection, they’re fun to write with and perfect for trying lots of inks. For something quite so unique the price is also very reasonable too: click here to go to their page.


Mishka and Faisal team-up for a staff review. 

For our first team-up we have decided to look at ALL Lamy Inks and how they perform on different paper.


All of these 8 colours are available as T10 ink cartridges. Lamy cartridges are proprietary cartridges and will only fit Lamy pens. Interesting fact-each cartridge has it’s own ink backup reservoir, flick the end of it when you are running on fumes. Blue, Green, Red, Black, Blue-Black & Turquoise come in big 50ml T52 bottles. These bottles are designed to perfection – the UFO shape allows you to use very last drop of ink and it comes with it’s own blotter paper tape (use to wipe pens and nibs after filling). Blue, green, red and black are also available in smaller 30ml T51 bottles.

Here is a quick review of the ink colours followed by pictures:

  • Red- not too dark/saturated. Surprisingly close to Coral.
  • Blue- decent blue, washable, can be erased with Lamy Ink-X correction pen (handy)
  • Black- nicely saturated solid dark black
  • Blue-black- perfect every day writer
  • Green- one of less exciting colours, possible candidate for Christmas cards.
  • Coral- perfect match for coral safari, bright colour, no shading. We need this ink in a big bottle!
  • Turquoise- Mishka’s favourite “one of the best turquoise inks out there.” Bright, great shading ink. Looks ace on white and ivory paper.
  • Purple- Faisal’s favourite. Surprisingly good saturated colour, strong shading.

Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like us to take more pictures of Lamy ink.


Mishka & Faisal

Macro shot of Purple Lamy ink on Rhodia R
Lamy inks on Quo Vadis Habana
Lamy inks on Leuchtturm1917
Lamy inks on Rhodia R
Lamy inks on Rhodia Dotpad

J Herbin Inks

Fine inks for fountain pens

Herbin ink cartridges

We have just taken delivery of the wonderful Herbin inks. We used to sell these many, many years ago in our Covent Garden shop and for some reason they fell by the wayside. It’s a great shame as they are both good quality inks and beautifully presented.Still, we have made good the error of our ways and now offer J Herbin inks.

The universal cartridges come in little tins that you just know you want to own, and the inks come in a choice of wonderful colours. We also offer amazing scented inks that we can’t even begin to do justice to – the intense scent of the rose ink is like the most amazing turkish delight, and the violet has a rich and deep aroma.

Herbin ink chart