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Question About Nib Numbering

nibs nib numbering number

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6 replies to this topic

#1 nigeldsouza


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Posted 07 August 2013 - 08:04

Hi FPN'ers,


While browsing through various posts and writeups I noticed people referring to nibs using numbers like #5, #6, etc.


I would love if someone could shed a little light on the reason, use  and meaning of this numbering.


Thanks in advance,



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#2 pokermon



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Posted 07 August 2013 - 08:47

The numbering is to denote size, but different companies have different sizes for the same number. A Waterman #5 nib is not the same as a Wahl Eversharp #5. The only way you can really know the size is to see it in person or a picture comparing sizes since the numbers are only relative to the same company.

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#3 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:55

1 is real tiny, 2 is small...normal starts at 3-4-5, six is large, 7 big...8 real real big.

I don't know if a nib & pen I gave to a school kid, was a 7 or an 8.

It was defiantly much bigger than what I'd envision a 6 too be.


I still have a single vintage very large nibbed pen, but am not going to be opening that pen soon, where I could take a knock out block and see how big it is a 6 or more than likely a 7.


If that is a 7 the other was an 8...it was real huge.

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#4 jar


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Posted 07 August 2013 - 13:05

There are several possible answers to your question.  Historically most manufacturers used numbers to denote the size (overall size) as opposed to style of their nibs and usually as the number increased the size increased.  But as pointed out above the sizes were unique to each company.


Today, as more and more fountain pen makers buy nibs from fewer and fewer sources the numbering system may tell a little more.  A basic Bock nib of a given number will be pretty close to the same size regardless of the manufacturer of the fountain pen.


BUT...this is not and has never been hard and fast rules.  For awhile Sheaffer used numbers on their nib to indicate the style (F, M, B) instead of size and even today many manufacturers process nibs in-house which can change the overall shape and size of an outsourced nib.

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#5 Runnin_Ute


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Posted 07 August 2013 - 14:16

And Esterbrook used 4 digit numbers to denote nib size/shape. For example, I have a 9550 on mine - an Extra Fine posting nib (used in posting in a bookkeeping/accounting ledger) but they have 1xxx, a 2xxx and one or two other series of nibs - each denoted something slightly different. (They had about 40 different nibs which an owner can change easily) Here is a nib chart: http://www.esterbrook.net/nibs.shtml


And that is just one manufacturer. Of course not all manufacturers have that many options......


And that is in addition to the size numbering referenced by others above. I have seen it referred to say for a #6 is 6 mm (my Noodler's Konrad is a #6 and is 6 mm across) I can buy a #6 from Goulet Pens and it will fit. 

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#6 Dillo


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Posted 07 August 2013 - 16:15



It's almost like shoe sizes in a way (especially if buying shoes internationally). Each manufacturer has their own sizes. Bock and Jowo seem to have a fairly standard size, and I think the size refer to the diameter of the feed the nib is designed for. Others like Waterman and Sheaffer have other designations.



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#7 pen_addict



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Posted 08 August 2013 - 14:40

+1 to Dillo's comment about almost being like shoe size especially with the vintage pens...

They seem to be much more standardized on modern pens as far as I can tell...but not an expert on the matter so I'll let others confirm/deny that comment!
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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: nibs, nib, numbering, number

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