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What's This Obsession With A Flexible Nib?

flexible nib handwriting

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69 replies to this topic

#1 ToasterPastry

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 06:26

Over the last 8 or 9 years since I have been collecting fountain pens, I have changed my viewpoint on flexible nibs at least several dozen times. At first, I had to have the wet-noodle because this was a coveted nib that only few had experienced. I have never found a nib that flexible, but I have purchased several pens with very flexible nibs. Over time the novelty wore off. I found I preferred a nib with a little spring to it, but the super-flexible nibs were just not convenient to write with.

 

Then I realized I was writing the wrong way. Instead of trying to produce width and shading with every letter, flexible nibs were meant to distribute ink with the lightest of light touches. If you look at correspondence from the 19th and early 20th centuries, people were not mashing down on the nibs getting them to bend into outrageous proportions, producing broad shades followed by razor point lines. This kind of activity was reserved for the professional penman who used a steel nib with a nib-holder to create a decorative business script. Break a steel nib, replace it with another one. They usually came in a box of 30.

 

So what is this obsession with the flexible nib? Why, when we see some demonstration of the pen are we automatically drawn to the flexible nib, when in fact, it doesn't represent the way anyone writes on a regular basis, nor should it represent the way the nib should be used.


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#2 AllenG

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 08:01

14755242285_ddd2c5fa46_c.jpg

#3 rochester21

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 10:46

By definition, an obsession is a fixation that has no logical bearing.   Many of the people who i knew that were looking for flexible nibs actually had no idea how one feels like during writing, they just liked the pretty lines they saw on pictures found online.


Edited by rochester21, 27 July 2014 - 10:46.


#4 Berelleza

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:13

The holy grail. Unattainable,long search, spend your wealth on the search ,deceptions, obsession; yes, practical? No¡

#5 WilsonCQB1911

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:23

If it's no longer made and hard to obtain it must be better. In this instance, I think that rarity increases the perceived desirability.

I don't mind a flexible nib. It's interesting. Like you, I don't have a lot of use for them though.

#6 Charles Rice

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:31

If I had any artistic talent, I'd use one for something different - but not very often.

 

I suppose we'd all like to have a signature like John Hancock.


Edited by Charles Rice, 27 July 2014 - 11:33.


#7 Sasha Royale

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:35

I like the line variation of word written with a flexible nib.  Unfortunately, my handwriting does not benefit much from 

flex.  I don't believe my list of self-diagnosed neurosis-sssssss (?) includes "obsession".  (Trying to cultivate, though.)  

 

It all adds to the joy of writing.  


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#8 mrchan

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:51

I used to enjoy flexible nibs, and will probably still do from time to time, but my interest is in improving my penmanship with the regular fountain pens, trying to make it as beautiful as possible..


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#9 tonybelding

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 12:40

On the one hand, I have to defend flex nibs.  They are nice to write with, and they do lend a subtle flair to my writing that appeals to me.  That's enough reason to want one.  If you add the fact that they're hard to come by, then a certain amount of fascination is understandable.

 

On the other hand...  I agree that many, many people are chasing flex nibs for the wrong reasons and are using them improperly.  That's the unhealthy obsession, and it does end up ruining some good nibs to no purpose.

 



#10 ArtsNibs

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 14:09

They provide a delicious writing experience that is unlike any writing instrument many of us had ever known, that is, until we found FPN :-)
@arts_nibs

#11 discopig

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 14:16

They are great to draw with, however I don't have much interest in using them to write with.



#12 Paddler

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 14:36

I found a couple of flexible fountain pens at a flea market, a couple of years ago. I don't know how their flex measures up to your standards, but the crazy things write like a couple of pogo sticks. Very distracting and not fun.

 

I also have some Ivison and Phinney No. 1 dip nibs. These are listed by nibs.com as one of the five "dream nibs" because of their sharpness and flexibility. They are no better than Eagle Pencil Co.'s "College Pen No. 370". They all require smoothing, coming out of the box. The only dreams these nibs could give you would resemble those resulting from a surfeit of mince pie.

 

If you want real flex, try tipping a quill with a couple of cat whiskers.


Can a calculator understand a cash register?

#13 playtime

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 14:47

for me, vintage flex nibs (at least those from the 60s and back) provide an experience that truly set them apart from more modern nibs - permitting downstroke flourishes and contrasts when the penman sees fit. Its appeal lies in something beyond merely an antiquarian interest. an obsession, no doubt, but an obsession with no modern equal (stubs/italics/obliques leave contrast at every up-and-downstroke).......


Edited by playtime, 27 July 2014 - 15:20.

"Writing is 1/3 nib width & flex, 1/3 paper and 1/3 ink. In that order."Bo Bo Olson

"No one needs to rotate a pen while using an oblique, in fact, that's against the whole concept of an oblique, which is to give you shading without any special effort."Professor Propas, 24 December 2010

 

"IMHO, the only advantage of the 149 is increased girth if needed, increased gold if wanted and increased prestige if perceived.  I have three, but hardly ever use them.  After all, they hold the same amount of ink as a 146."FredRydr, 12 March 2015

 

"Surely half the pleasure of life is sardonic comment on the passing show."Sir Peter Strawson


#14 CraigR

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 15:24

If you want real flex, try tipping a quill with a couple of cat whiskers.

Makes me chuckle thinking about it.

 

Craig


A consumer and purveyor of words. 

 

Co-editor and writer for Faith On Every Corner Magazine

Magazine - http://www.faithonev...m/magazine.html

 

 

 


#15 Cowboy

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 15:24

I'm totally in love with flex nibs <3

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#16 Sandy1

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 15:40

Hi,

 

In my case, it is a matter of curiosity aka perceived need. Much as I have nibs of different material, shapes and widths, flex is another nib property that I wanted to explore.

 

It became apparent painfully obvious that I need to modify my manner of writing to make the best of high flex nibs, so now I am quite happy to write with those that are soft to slight flex, which are firm enough that I can write at pace with a light hand. I won't be selling my pens with high flex nibs, as I just might rise to the challenge or have a hand writing epiphany.

 

Certainly I would like to develop the calligraphers' skill to write a brief document in a fair hand, but my best means of achieving that may be use of a Stub/Italic nib, rather than a flex nib.

 

Bye,

S1


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#17 Mickey

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 15:56

It's a symptom of an age in which people believe they can buy personality at Neimann Marcus or that the acquisition of a flexible (or edged) nib automatically makes one's handwriting better, more interesting, thus proof that the former scribbler is now a person of substance and discernment. No other effort is required. This is canard. With a few notable exceptions, the 'flex writing' I've seen on FPN is wretched, blobby, and undisciplined looking. J. Fred Muggs with a Guanerius del Gesù is not a plug in replacement for Pinchas Zukerman.

 

I spend about 20 minutes a day on penmanship, and though my handwriting is still nothing to write home about, it is not for lack of effort. (I learned the rudiments of Round Hand before purchasing my first flexible pen.)


Edited by Mickey, 27 July 2014 - 15:56.

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


#18 WilsonCQB1911

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 16:27

It's a symptom of an age in which people believe they can buy personality at Neimann Marcus or that the acquisition of a flexible (or edged) nib automatically makes one's handwriting better, more interesting, thus proof that the former scribbler is now a person of substance and discernment. No other effort is required. This is canard. With a few notable exceptions, the 'flex writing' I've seen on FPN is wretched, blobby, and undisciplined looking. J. Fred Muggs with a Guanerius del Gesù is not a plug in replacement for Pinchas Zukerman.
 
I spend about 20 minutes a day on penmanship, and though my handwriting is still nothing to write home about, it is not for lack of effort. (I learned the rudiments of Round Hand before purchasing my first flexible pen.)


Yikes

#19 inkstainedruth

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 16:48

I like the idea of having a variety of nibs available to me -- from manifolds to flex.  Do I have any wet noodles?  No.  Do I normally write with flexing?  Not really.  I don't really use broad italic stubs either -- but I have a couple of pens that have those types of nibs (again, just to give myself that option if I so choose).

Truthfully, I mostly write with F nails most of the time think_smiley_24.gif after starting out with M nibs.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

edited for typos


Edited by inkstainedruth, 27 July 2014 - 16:48.

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#20 Mickey

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 16:52

Yikes

 

Don't confuse an indictment of contemporary marketing practice with a censure of its victims. As a society, we are constantly bombarded with messages that we can buy ourselves into superiority. (Also, don't mistake this with an indictment of the profit motive, of which I'm a unabashed fan.)


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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