There’s nothing like taking a good thing and making it better. The sample vials I’ve been using for ink samples at and the Ink Drop were always good. They’re light, durable, have a wide mouth to fit most pens into, and best of all they’re the same vials that Fountain Pen Network members have been using for years so the writing community is very familiar with them. So why change? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Even though the old vials were good, I was told about some that were even better. I called the company, got some samples, and tested them out for myself. They rock! They’re a bit more expensive than the old ones, but totally worth it, in my opinion.

Here’s a side-by-side of the two, old on the left, new on the right:

Here’s the breakdown of the old ones:

  • They’re clear, but somewhat hazy. You can see if there’s ink in them, but it’s sometimes hard to tell the color. There are no markings of any kind on the bottle.
  • The bottom is flat, so you have to tilt it and hold it to get your nib down in the corner for the last few drops of ink.
  • The opening is 14.3mm.
  • The cap is a half-twist lock, which is okay, but can loosen up over time, especially in shipping.
  • There are no markings of any kind on the bottle. It holds 7ml topped off (GP samples are 2ml).

Here’s the breakdown of the new ones:

  • They are remarkably clear, making it easier to tell the color (though I always label them, you may choose to reuse them after you get them from me).
  • The bottom is conical. This helps specifically for the use of filling a fountain pen because the nib gets all the way down into the ink.
  • The opening is 14.3mm, exactly the same as the old ones.
  • The cap locks tighter and is threaded in such a way that it’s much more secure, especially in transit. It’s much easier to open and close with less effort.
  • There are markings by the ml on the side for easy measuring. It holds 7ml topped off (GP samples are 2ml).

It’s pretty obvious what the differences are just from looking at the pictures. My favorite feature (since I usually have to ink up a few hundred of these at a time!) is that the cap go on, and more importantly stays on, much better. You can tell the difference in the threads:

Check out the bottom close up:

When you go to fill your pen, it’ll be even nicer now than it was before. Here’s a pic with ink in the bottle:

Pretty cool, huh? I know how big of a deal conical bottoms are in the fountain pen world, so this feature alone will excite a lot of people. But the most exciting part? Even though they’re more expensive I’m keeping the prices on all my ink samples the same. I’m absorbing the cost increase and switching to these better bottles simply because I’m an avid fountain pen user and I recognize the value of a better sample bottle.

We are transitioning to these new bottles. We plan to standardize on these for all of the new samples we do (including Ink Drop), but we still have a lot of the old style already made up. So for a while, you can expect to see a mixture of the two when you order samples from It’s not a mistake, don’t be concerned. It’s simply going to take some time for the old bottles to ‘flush out’ (pun intended!).