We all know the good old days are gone, when Fountain Pens were the premier writing mode, manifolding was still uncommon and flex nibs ruled the roost. Now, people switch from Gel to Ballpoint to Fountain Pens, leaving the pen companies no choice but to make hard nibs that will withstand extreme pressure from the writer's hand.
Modern nibs with Flex do exist, like the Pilot Varsity or Vanishing Point. However, these are only semiflex, and only give half the flex than the one most people want, leaving much to be desired. Nibmeisters may make you a flex nib, but 14k Gold, the optimum gold content for flex, is hardly used today, thanks to laws restricting the usage of 'Solid Gold' to 18k and above. Palladium is hardly used, and Steel is already hard to machine, adding flex would make manufacturing ten times worse.
The basic characteristics to spot in a flexible nib are:
1. Thin tines- The tines are thin from the sides, thinner than your average nib. Keep in mind that it may or may not be an indicator of flex.
2. Very thin undersides- The undersides of the nibs are thin and fragile, and not for daily use.
3. Made of 14k Gold- Many metals like palladium or Steel are also used, but Gold of 14 karatage is the optimum metal of the age, as the inks used to be very corrosive those days. Plus, it LOOKS pretty
4. Pretty much plain- As these nibs are of very thin Gold, they do not have much engraved or stamped on them.
That pretty much rules out your big, glowing 18k nibs, as these may offer springiness or tiny line variation but not true flex, being too soft or too hard and being sprung (bent and staying that way) by too much applied pressure.
To test 'flex', you can apply pressure on the nib's front on the underside, applying the slightest of pressure. If it bends, you've got yourself a flex nib! Congrats!
Now, you can safely put the nib on paper, and apply more pressure. These are the grades for flexible nibs:
Semiflex- Provide some form of line variation, easy to use. Examples- Parker Sonnet(though be careful with this one!) Namiki VP, Pilot Varsity.
Flex- Provide great line variation. Be careful with these! Example- Parker Jack-Knife, Wahl-Eversharp Skyline.
Wet Noodle- These are the kings of flex. Very fragile, extremee practice required for optimum use. Once you get the hang, though, your mind will be blown away! Example- Many Waterman nibs of the period
Please note, this article is not authoritative, but merely a guideline. More information will be appreciated
Edited by PenFan95, 07 March 2011 - 15:44.