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Beginner In Script, Difficulties

copperplate left handed beginner

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#21 kenfraser

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 06:58

 I would agree with you, with one reservation, that being that the modern 303 is a pig of a nib.

 

Sorry Mickey, I hesitated to question the judgement of a nibmeister, but I just couldn't resist it! ;)

 

After a particularly good writing session a few years ago, I was sufficiently delighted and wrote out this little appraisal.

 

I've no doubt you're right ....... I was probably just lucky. Certainly, my nib of choice nowadays is the Esterbrook 357 which you recommended

 

fpn_1396939841__gillott_303.jpg


Edited by Ken Fraser, 08 April 2014 - 11:18.


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#22 ac12

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 17:36

Wow

Maybe in 15 years I might get half way there...


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#23 samsonkeane

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:05

More great tips I will put focus into this weekend!

If your aim is to learn Spencerian...

I think It really depends on whether ones primary goal is handwriting or Ornamental Penmanship and on the beginning state of ones technique.


To clear that up, my goal is most definitely to develop skills in writing Copperplate and/or Engrossers Script

#24 dhnz

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:18

 

I think It really depends on whether ones primary goal is handwriting or  Ornamental Penmanship and on the beginning state of ones technique. If OP is the primary goal and ones beginning skills are not too suspect, I would agree with you, with one reservation, that being that the modern 303 is a pig of nib.

 

I see no reason to use a slightly flexible nib for Spencerian and I don't recall seeing such advice in any of the old writing manuals, so my opinion remains unchanged on that score. My opinion on the 303 is also different from yours – I've always found the modern 303 to be a very good modern nib. It's as well made as any of the current US or English nibs; it's very fine and very flexible; it gets its flexibility from its design, not from thin tines; and it's relatively cheap. If someone were to offer me a bunch of free nibs and gave me the choice of any of the G nibs, the Esterbrook 358, or the 303, I'd take the 303 every time.



#25 dhnz

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:19

More great tips I will put focus into this weekend!


To clear that up, my goal is most definitely to develop skills in writing Copperplate and/or Engrossers Script

 

 

In that case, I recommend sticking with what you have, rather than switching to a less flexible nib.



#26 Mickey

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 04:25

 

I see no reason to use a slightly flexible nib for Spencerian and I don't recall seeing such advice in any of the old writing manuals, so my opinion remains unchanged on that score. My opinion on the 303 is also different from yours – I've always found the modern 303 to be a very good modern nib. It's as well made as any of the current US or English nibs; it's very fine and very flexible; it gets its flexibility from its design, not from thin tines; and it's relatively cheap. If someone were to offer me a bunch of free nibs and gave me the choice of any of the G nibs, the Esterbrook 358, or the 303, I'd take the 303 every time.

 

I'm perfectly happy using an utterly rigid nib for Spencerian, - not everything is shade and hairline - not that the 358 is a rigid nib. It's simply not as flexible as 303, nor is it as sharp. It's a safer, less frustrating general purpose point, one I believe better suited to beginners than the most challenging points. On those rare occasions when I want more flexibility and a finer line, I'll change to a 357 or the modern Principal, both of which suit me better than the 303. While I sometimes have recommended G nibs for beginners (mainly because they are easy to find), I use them mostly for opening up flanges.

 

I don't know that any of the old manuals discuss or recommend any flavor of nib, but certainly the variety of nibs available during the 'golden age' suggests (to me) that one chose a nib which suited ones taste and skill from the 100s of choices then available. This variety, some of which persists, allows for you to like the 303 and me the 358. (I seem to remember Bill Lilly telling me he was fond of the 1068 A Rigid.)


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#27 dhnz

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 05:20

 

I'm perfectly happy using an utterly rigid nib for Spencerian, - not everything is shade and hairline ...

I don't know that any of the old manuals discuss or recommend any flavor of nib, but certainly the variety of nibs available during the 'golden age' suggests (to me) that one chose a nib which suited ones taste and skill from the 100s of choices then available.

 

Spencerian is a shaded script. If it's not shaded, it's not Spencerian. It may be business hand or some other similar script but it's not Spencerian, so I don't see how you can write Spencerian with a rigid nib.

 

As for the old manuals, they certainly did recommend nibs. For example, Zaner's Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship and Bloser's Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship share not only the same name but the exact same advice on nibs: "We would recommend the use of the Zanerian Ideal or Zanerian Fine Writer pens, the latter being finer and more flexible than the former." Ames's Guide to Self-Instruction in Practical and Artistic Penmanship notes "For script writing, use Gillott's '303,' or Spencerian Artisitic No 14." Gaskell's Compendium Of Forms says: "It must have a fine, true, well-tempered point; it must be elastic, and, besides these qualities, it should be durable." And, though I do not have them in front of me, Tamblyn's guides specifically name pen points. But my point was that in no manual have I seen the advice to start to learn shaded script by using a slightly flexible nib, later progressing to a flexible nib.


Edited by dhnz, 09 April 2014 - 05:21.


#28 mvarela

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:06

 

Spencerian is a shaded script. If it's not shaded, it's not Spencerian. It may be business hand or some other similar script but it's not Spencerian, so I don't see how you can write Spencerian with a rigid nib.

 

As for the old manuals, they certainly did recommend nibs. For example, Zaner's Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship and Bloser's Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship share not only the same name but the exact same advice on nibs: "We would recommend the use of the Zanerian Ideal or Zanerian Fine Writer pens, the latter being finer and more flexible than the former." Ames's Guide to Self-Instruction in Practical and Artistic Penmanship notes "For script writing, use Gillott's '303,' or Spencerian Artisitic No 14." Gaskell's Compendium Of Forms says: "It must have a fine, true, well-tempered point; it must be elastic, and, besides these qualities, it should be durable." And, though I do not have them in front of me, Tamblyn's guides specifically name pen points. But my point was that in no manual have I seen the advice to start to learn shaded script by using a slightly flexible nib, later progressing to a flexible nib.

 

As with all matters of personal preference, there's latitude here for each person to make up their own mind... I agree with Dominic, and don't really see the point of learning with a stiffer nib; you're just postponing the inevitable need to develop a light touch by relying on stiffer nibs. On the other hand, for writing quickly, something like the 358 is probably a better choice than a sharper nibs, as it really glides on the paper and still allows you to shade. 



#29 Mickey

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 13:56

 

As with all matters of personal preference, there's latitude here for each person to make up their own mind... I agree with Dominic, and don't really see the point of learning with a stiffer nib; you're just postponing the inevitable need to develop a light touch by relying on stiffer nibs. On the other hand, for writing quickly, something like the 358 is probably a better choice than a sharper nibs, as it really glides on the paper and still allows you to shade. 

 

You get my point regarding the 358, 404, et al., which I see as superior solutions to starting with the pencil, often recommended for beginners. As for Spencerian being solely a shaded hand, I thinks that's nonsense or, at the very least, myopic. Does one really believe P. R. Spencer expected people to write some other hand when forced by circumstances to use a pencil or crayon? What are most 'business' hands if they aren't unshaded Spencer?

 

Somehow I'm not surprised that Zaner endorsed Zanerian products, nor would it surprise me if other publishers of educational books had connections to nib manufacturers, such as the connection between Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor, & Co and The Spencerian Steel Co (which had no factories) and thus Perry & Co. in Birmingham (which did). By the time many of the method books were published, handwriting had become a vertically integrated (and to some degree horizontally integrated) business, encompassing pens, schools, holders, ink, method books, instructors, etc.

 

By way of very rough analogy, golf is typically taught with cast, perimeter weighted irons, while most scratch and pro-level golfers use forged, 'muscle back' irons. The shot shaping 'flexibility' of the pro-level club is generally understood to be a profound barrier to beginners learning the game or ever playing with any consistency. The vast majority of golfers never graduate to forged clubs. There are, however, a very few die-hard purists or dilettantes (bless them) who play the game with featheries and wooden clubs on unmowed sheep meadows. (Playing it where it lies has an entire different meaning for these hearty souls.)


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#30 ac12

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 17:25

Golf ???

.... oh do you mean my hacking  :D 


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#31 dhnz

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 23:37

 

You get my point regarding the 358, 404, et al., which I see as superior solutions to starting with the pencil, often recommended for beginners. As for Spencerian being solely a shaded hand, I thinks that's nonsense or, at the very least, myopic. Does one really believe P. R. Spencer expected people to write some other hand when forced by circumstances to use a pencil or crayon? What are most 'business' hands if they aren't unshaded Spencer?

 

Where was I – or anyone here, for that matter –  talking about using pencils? My post, which you replied to, concerned only the advice (often given on this forum) to start off by using nibs with limited flexibility, before moving to the truly flexible nibs later on. I have no problem with beginners using rigid nibs or pencils to practise letter forms but do not see the point in telling them to use nibs of limited flexibility when the problem they are encountering (nibs digging in) is largely due to a heavy hand. You seemed to agree with the advice to use less flexible nibs when you wrote "It's [the 358] a safer, less frustrating general purpose point, one I believe better suited to beginners than the most challenging points", so why are you now reframing the issue as one of pencils instead?

 

As for what constitutes Spencerian script, you may call it nonsense to describe it as a shaded hand, but that is what I have consistently and (to the best of my memory) without exception seen it described as. I cannot recall ever seeing an unshaded exemplar described as Spencerian script, and in the many discussions I have read online, I cannot bring to mind one in which the writer used "Spencerian" to describe an unshaded hand, except for you above. Usually, the shades are highlighted (along with the ovals) as being a defining characteristic of Spencerian writing. Such an example may be found in the Spencerian Key to Practical Penmanship:
 

"the circumstances in which we present it [the Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship] to the public render it proper that we should briefly allude to some of the features which mark it as peculiarly "Spencerian."
These are:
..
Seventh.—In the shading. The natural as well as artistic distribution of light and shade upon the letters in the Spencerian writing is, indeed, one of its most prominent claims to originality."

 

As for what Spencer thought, he found beauty in the contrast between the shades and the hairlines, writing that,

 

"Were all writing executed with heavy downward lines, as in the old-fashioned round hand, it would possess no more beauty than if the lines were uniformly light, since excess of shade as effectually destroys the contrast as its entire omission.


"It is the graceful blending of light and shade which gives light and beauty to the productions of the artist, and renders paintings fountains of delight, from which the eye of the beholder may drink and never weary. And what is writing but the picture-work of thought?"

 

Seems to me that if he had wanted a script to bear his name, he would have wanted it to be a shaded script.

 

But I'm open to being convinced that I've just somehow missed all the discussions and exemplars wherein unshaded script was clearly and unambiguously described as Spencerian script, so I would be grateful if you could furnish examples of this usage.



#32 Mickey

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 00:12

 

Where was I – or anyone here, for that matter –  talking about using pencils?

 

We were talking about the advisability of beginners using something other than the sharpest and most flexible points. The rest is diversion and refutation by column inch. If the student is utterly defeated by an over sharp, over flexible point, continuing stupidly with it will avail the student not. Perhaps we allow them to learn how to not snag a 1068 A (pick your less challenging nib), then graduate to the 303 or whatever the goal nib is.

 

Possibly on a different subject, what is the purpose of nibs described as student pens?


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#33 dhnz

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 05:19

 

We were talking about the advisability of beginners using something other than the sharpest and most flexible points. The rest is diversion and refutation by column inch. If the student is utterly defeated by an over sharp, over flexible point, continuing stupidly with it will avail the student not. Perhaps we allow them to learn how to not snag a 1068 A (pick your less challenging nib), then graduate to the 303 or whatever the goal nib is.

 

I was querying the wisdom of advising beginners to change to a mildly flexible nib, which requires a heavier hand, to cure a problem largely caused by having a heavy hand. To me, at best it just postpones the inevitable, and, at worst, is a complete waste of time. I was not talking about using pencils or "something other".

 

I do wonder why you saw the need to quote me at all in your posts because you first claimed that the nib choice depended on whether one's goal was handwriting or OP, when I had already made it explicit that I was talking about Spencerian, then you introduce pencils, which I had nowhere spoken of, and now you broaden the subject to "something other the sharpest and most flexible points". You're also talking now of someone being "utterly defeated" by an "over sharp, over flexible point" and implying that I suggest that they continue "stupidly" with such a nib. Are you suggesting that SamsonKeane is "utterly defeated" by the 303 and Principal? I didn't see that in his video, and I don't see why you would describe those nibs as "over sharp" and "over flexible". If anything, they're less sharp and flexible than the Princpaility and its clones, which were specifically designed for Spencerian writing. They may be "over sharp" and "over flexible" to you, but there are plenty of people practising Spencerian who find them just right or even not flexible and sharp enough. I have also never suggested that people should continue "stupidly". I propose that they go back to the original manuals, written by masters of the script, and follow their advice as to posture, paper positioning, grip, nibs, and so forth.

 

By all means, post your views on a topic, but please don't use my posts to create a strawman.

 

As for "diversion and refutation by column inch", to what do you refer? I suspect the "column inch" bit is a reference to my response to your claims that the old manuals didn't recommend nibs and that Spencerian is not a shaded script. I guess I could just have asserted that I am right and left it at that with no evidence to back me up, but I think I'll leave the unsupported statements to you. As for "diversion", that's a bit rich, coming from the master of diversion. After I show that nibs were recommended in old manuals, you don't admit you were wrong, instead sailing forth on a discussion of the vertical integration of the teaching of handwriting. And when I provide evidence to back my statement on Spencerian being shaded, you drop the topic, try to change the subject to student pens, and accuse me of diversion. It sort of feels like the Mickey equivalent of a teenage girl's "whatever!" when she can't sustain her argument anymore.



#34 Mickey

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 16:15

 

I was querying the wisdom of advising beginners to change to a mildly flexible nib, which requires a heavier hand, to cure a problem largely caused by having a heavy hand. To me, at best it just postpones the inevitable, and, at worst, is a complete waste of time. I was not talking about using pencils or "something other".

 

 

I will admit to not reading the rest of your post (I did skim), because you immediately mischaracterized my side of the discussion. Let me be more clear. I never stated that using a 'mildly' flexible nib was anything other than a starting point or teaching bridge (or a good, everyday writing pen), something with which a beginner might learn the basics without the dramatic failures attendant beginning with nibs such as the 303. Even a 404 will snag and spit, but, being more rugged and less prone to catastrophic failure, they will disrupt practice less, while still providing a measured amount of feedback. When errors with a 404  becomes rare, the student might then move on to more flexible points. Mildly flexible points aren't a cure in and of themselves, and I never suggested that they were.

 

To my understanding, your pedagogical approach would put a 12 gauge in the hands of a novice shooter to help them learn how not to flinch and how to squeeze rather than pull the trigger, all the while learning how much to lead the target. My instructor, to my mind, quite sensibly put a 410 in our hands till we absorbed the basics. Negative feedback in education is only effective to the point where it begins to discourage study. Do you get my point?

 

My other question, however, was still not addressed. It was not posted as diversion. You seem to know a lot about the older hardware. I wished nothing more than illumination. So I repeat, "what is the purpose of nibs described as student pens," and add to that, "what about them is particular?"


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#35 dhnz

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 01:15

 

I will admit to not reading the rest of your post (I did skim), because you immediately mischaracterized my side of the discussion. Let me be more clear. I never stated that using a 'mildly' flexible nib was anything other than a starting point or teaching bridge (or a good, everyday writing pen), something with which a beginner might learn the basics without the dramatic failures attendant beginning with nibs such as the 303.

 

No worries about skimming. I always skip completely over your opera analogies, to which I'll now have to add your golfing and shooting analogies.

 

But where did I mischaracterise your side of the discussion? Nowhere did I claim that you or anyone else was suggesting that using less flexible points was an endpoint. If you read my posts, you would see that I have always understood that the advice was to switch to a less flexible point before moving back to what you call "over sharp" and "over flexible" nibs (though calling them that does seem to indicate that you don't see them as suited to Spencerian).

 

My argument has always been that I don't see how moving to a point that requires a heavier hand will help a beginner develop a lighter hand, that lighter hand being needed for the original nibs. I had the same problems as many when I first started learning Spencerian, with my nibs snagging, but I didn't change nibs and it didn't take long for me to develop the requisite light touch. I don't think I had any more natural ability at picking this up than the average person, in fact I would say I had less, so I see no need for people to buy more nibs and delay the inevitable (that being the return to the 303s and EF Principals and their like). So, please point out where exactly I wrote that mildly flexible points are a cure in and of themselves. (I suspect that you won't even try though, as this seems to be another of your attempts to recast the discussion and paint yourself as misrepresented.)

 

It's funny that you come back to your question: "My other question, however, was still not addressed." How about first admitting that old manuals do contain recommendations for nibs and then produce the evidence to back up your contention that "Spencerian" also refers to non-shaded script (or admit you were wrong about that)? After all, I've been waiting longer for your answers on those points than you have on your question about student points, which I still think should be a new topic.


Edited by dhnz, 11 April 2014 - 01:15.


#36 Mickey

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 01:31

It's funny that you come back to your question: "My other question, however, was still not addressed." How about first admitting that old manuals do contain recommendations for nibs and then produce the evidence to back up your contention that "Spencerian" also refers to non-shaded script (or admit you were wrong about that)? After all, I've been waiting longer for your answers on those points than you have on your question about student points, which I still think should be a new topic.

 

Do we need a translator here? When I said I was not surprised that Zaner recommended Zanerian product, any rational person would have considered that an admission that some of the manuals did indeed recommend particular nibs. Do you utterly lose context between posts?  As for the question about Spencerian absolutely requiring shades, I direct you to this interview with Michael Sull  http://www.homeschoo...wspencerian.php. I'm sure you will find a way to interpret your way around the obvious. Hey, I'll make easy for you. It doesn't become Spencerian until you give that 12 year old his first 303 (in lieu of that MontBlanc for his bar mitzvah).

 

Now stop ducking.


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#37 dhnz

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 04:58

What am I ducking? Anyone who has read this thread will see that you are the one who has kept ducking my questions. Even though you said that you were not surprised that Zaner recommended Zaner product, I wanted you to come out and admit you were wrong explicitly, because you seemed to be trying to say that you knew all along that nibs were recommended in old manuals even though you'd denied that previously. Thank you for finally coming up with a source to back your position that Spencerian can be a non-shaded script but what bit are you relying on exactly? The bit where Michael Sull says, in answer to the question "Why was the teaching of Spencerian discontinued?"

 

Spencerian Script was discontinued because it was supplanted, or replaced by a more contemporary style of handwriting developed by A. N. Palmer. This occurred around 1900. By that time the steel pen point was readily available throughout America, and the use of quill pens had all but vanished. Palmer felt that it would be easier for children to learn handwriting without the vintage shaded letters and (he felt) excessive loops and curved lines. [My emphasis.]

 

Or are you relying on his answer to the question "What is the difference between Spencerian and the writing used by our Founding Fathers?"

 

Furthermore, Spencerian is not fatiguing, is rapidly written, has fairly wide letter-spacing, little shading, and is quite spontaneous in action. [My emphasis.]

 

Note that he does not say "no shading" or "absence of shading" but "little shading" which clearly means there is shading.


Edited by dhnz, 11 April 2014 - 04:59.


#38 HDoug

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 07:21

With my moderator's hat on I'll say that I'm not averse to letting this discussion continue as long things remain polite. I only mention this because it seems to me that things are heating up. 

After a certain point, one can only make a presentation of ones position. There can be no adjudication of the issues in a social forum like this. Unless, of course, you are requesting the moderators render a decision of the issues, a judgement for which there will be no appeal, or even open disagreement.

 

Just trying to evoke a bit of caution here.

 

Doug



#39 Mickey

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 16:23

 

Sorry Mickey, I hesitated to question the judgement of a nibmeister, but I just couldn't resist it! ;)

 

After a particularly good writing session a few years ago, I was sufficiently delighted and wrote out this little appraisal.

 

I've no doubt you're right ....... I was probably just lucky. Certainly, my nib of choice nowadays is the Esterbrook 357 which you recommended

 

fpn_1396939841__gillott_303.jpg

 

In fairness, I must admit my prejudice against the 303 stems from what I perceived as a lack of uniformity. A couple of years ago I bought a couple of dozen 303s and found only 3 that suited me. The rest exhibited the deficits often attributed to this nib, over-challenging sharp and prone to near suicidal snagging. Perhaps I got a bad clutch of eggs - who knows? - but there you have it. (Thank goodness there are still a good range of nibs from which to choose.) The 3 good nibs in that batch, however, were quite good, - near stellar - but I felt at the time a 1 in 8 success rate was unacceptable. Again in fairness, those 3 may have been the 'bad' nibs, out of spec., and I am just not a good candidate for this particular point. I do, though, like the modern Principal. (Yesterday I pulled 1 of the 3 'good for me' 303s out of mothballs for a test spin, and its performance suggested I might be willing to accept a 1 in 8 success rate, were I a serious calligrapher.)

 

BTW, Ken, I still protest the accolade nibmeister. Snagmeister or blotster would be more apropos. I was born to do QC.


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries






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