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Nibs - How Many, Which Do You Have Or Love?

esterbrook nib

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29 replies to this topic

#1 jbelian

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 16:21

I have long been fascinated by the way sellers of Esterbrook pens include a nib - often, on the bay, including the number of the nib in the item title as if that is somehow inherent to the pen itself.  Somewhere in my 40 years of collecting, I lost that association and always think of the pens, on the one hand, and of the nibs, on the other hand, but not really as essentially linked.  If I am shopping for a pen, I want a particular pen and am not really concerned about the nib that comes with it; if I am shopping for a nib, I'll even weigh buying a pen I don't want if that's the only way I can get that nib. 

 

I doubt I can ever do it, but one of my Estie fantasies is having a good (if not NIB) example of every Renew Point that Esterbrook ever made.  As it is, I have about 45 individual nibs, but that includes a lot of duplicates (once you get obsessed with nibs generally, the next stage of the illness is becoming obsessed about individual examples of each nib; alas, "new in box" doesn't really mean anything except that there is a box; if you can't inspect the pen in person before purchasing, you may or may not be getting a "new" point); I seem to have about 16-20 different model examples (the exact quantity depends in part on whether I should count perfectly functional points that have some damage to the feed, and in part on how many I have tucked unthinkingly into a drawer and might find again some day when cleaning).

 

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- all that, I can't tell you my favorite.  Because so many of those being sold have been heavily (and, I presume, lovingly) used, they are all different, and each also works slightly differently in different pens.  I am almost amazed Esterbrook was able to sell them as they did - if I could go back in time, I'd want to grab 10 truly brand new nibs of any single number and a Dip-less pen and sit down to see how standard they were back when you had no doubt they were "NIB."

 

That said, I write small and therefore like the finer points much better, usually those in the 40s and 50s (e.g., 1421, 1550, 1551, 2048, 9051, etc.).  Oddly (to me, anyway) I find I often like the 1000 or 2000 series better than the 9000s. 

 

So, which do you have, and which are your favorites?  How often do you interchange them?

 

Julia



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#2 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 16:52

I do a fair amount of writing with 2560, 2668, 9668 and 9641s, nibs that I have to go into sales pens if needed.

 

For personal use, it's hard to get away from my 2 or 3 Pendleton Point ground CI 9668s.  (I say 2-3 because one of them is a Pendemonium/Letta ground 9668.)

 

Any NOS 9 series Fine or Medium should make most people pretty happy.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl



#3 Carl Fisher

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 18:44

Funny, I just did a quick inventory on my Estie nibs the other day.  I'm woefully short in the ones I really want and have crossover in some of the others.

 

I have several 2668, 1551, 1554, 2556, 9556 and a 9460



#4 gweimer1

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 22:40

I've got a number, and haven't tried them all.  With my limited experience, I can at least say that the 9668 is a really smooth medium nib.  One of my favorites among the pens I have.  My personal daily nib is the 9461, which suits me best.  I haven't found any 2556 that I like yet, and the 2668 is pretty nice.  I have a couple that I haven't even tried - 9128 and 3556.



#5 estie1948

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:10

My favorite nib is the extra fine 9550. I have one in each of my six Js that are in my current rotation. I have a few extra 9550 nibs, just in case I have a mishap or, better, locate another J. I also like the 9450 and have a few in some Js and two LJs. I have one 2550 which is almost as smooth as my 9550s, just needs a little work. I have a three 2556s, four 2668s, one 2314 M (just found and am in the process of cleaning), and one 9668.

 

Julia, I share your desire to go back in time to find these nibs new in stores. It is a fantasy and a very pleasant, recurring dream of mine. I am suddenly walking down a street with three or four stationery stores, a drug store or two and all with brand new Esterbrook displays loaded with new dip pens and nibs and new fountain pens with all the nibs that were ever produced. Ahhh . . .

 

-David.


Edited by estie1948, 02 October 2014 - 05:28.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery. -Anon.
A backward poet writes inverse. -Anon.

#6 bfg

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 06:44

My favorites are the 9788 - flexible medium and the 9048 - flexible fine. This is surprising because as a lefty i don't do extremely well with flex nibs. For some reason those particular Estie nibs work for me. I definitely find the  master durachrome nibs to be far superior to the others. What I find overwhelming are the number of choices among the dip pen nibs. It seems like there must be dozens of different styles. I can't imagine how people chose.



#7 Hobiwan

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 08:01

My favorites are the 9788 - flexible medium and the 9048 - flexible fine. This is surprising because as a lefty i don't do extremely well with flex nibs. For some reason those particular Estie nibs work for me. I definitely find the  master durachrome nibs to be far superior to the others. What I find overwhelming are the number of choices among the dip pen nibs. It seems like there must be dozens of different styles. I can't imagine how people chose.

 

I think people chose according to what they were doing, both at work and at home.

 

There was a lot more going on with the pens during the dip pen era.  In school, all assignments other than math required pen and ink writing, WITH good penmanship, which was part of the grade.  So all desks through high school (and, I presume, college as well) had a well built into them for an ink supply.  Even first and second graders had to use them to learn writing skills. Hence all the various "general writing" and "student" points.  I myself caught the tail end of that era in 1st and 2nd grades.  And when writing class came around, there was no telling what kind of point Sister Mary would drop on my desk.  To me, they ALL seemed awful!  Scratchy, tore into the toilet paper she provided to write on, left big blots as the paper absorbed the ink, etc.  Looking back, I think that if the good Sister had just told us to "write lightly, don't press too hard" things would have gone much easier ... but I digress...

 

In the office, all departments used pens, from the executive to bookkeeping, so there were those special "signature" nibs for signing papers, "manifold" nibs for making notes on paper with carbon copies, fine accounting points, correspondence, and shorthand which, I've been told, was sometimes done in longhand, by those who didn't know or eschewed the Gregg and Pitman shorthand methods....

 

Illustrators used different widths and styles for drawing comics, political cartoons, sketching during trials, police sketches, etc., so all those "drawlet" type of pens.  Many illustrators still use the dip pen today, although I'm sure that some, like our own FPNer CedNocon, are seeing the advantage of an Esty armed with a 9048 or 9128 nib ....

 

Calligraphy was all hand-done, like those large stylized First Letters of the first paragraph of a chapter you see in old books, so all the specialized calligraphy points ...

 

Then, there was simply personal preference, just like today.  Some people liked the 048, others, the 312 stub, and still others, the 668 just to write letters with. 

 

So I guess Richard & Co. decided that if they were gonna make pen points, they might as well just take care of everybody's needs while they were at it. And remember, at the whoppingly huge price of dime a dozen, it didn't cost much to experiment, and the points were even easier to swap out then, than the Renew Points are today, eh?


Best Regards
Paul


“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein


#8 kharrisma

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 11:23

Not many so far: two 2442s, two 9550s, a 2048, a 2314-M, and a 9668.  My order of preference would be: 2048, 9550, 2442, 2314, 9668.  

 

I love the 2048; once you get used to it's quirks, it's a lot of fun to write with; it actually improves my handwriting.  The 2442's have a charm all their own, as well; like a fine italic nib.  I use the 9550 in my Journal and day planner.  I'm not wild about the 9668; it isn't a fine line, there's no line variation at all, and it has a startup issue even after multiple ultrasonic cleanings and guitar-string reamings.

 

I'm searching for a 9128 that I can afford, and that would be my "Holy Grail" nib.  Other "nibs-of-interest" would be a 1314 flexible stub, a 9284 signature stub, a 9312 italic medium, a 9788 flex medium, and any 3xxx series.  I'm also onboard with the "back in time" trip to score a full collection of renew points.  Where do I sign up? 



#9 Carl Fisher

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 11:38

To go along with Paul's post above on the difference in some nibs, I have a 9450 on my current desk pen which is listed as "Posting" in the charts.  What exactly is posting in this context and how does the nib differ from say a normal firm fine which is kinda what it feels like to write with.



#10 chad.trent

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 12:49

I have a bunch. Probably 75 or so I'd say. The ones that get the most use however are my 9968s. I just love the way those write.



#11 gweimer1

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 13:09

I tried the 3556 nib in my girlfriend's pen that I'm restoring for her Christmas present, and I really like it.  The nib looks like it's either slightly bent, or worn, on one tine, but it writes really nice.  I think she will be getting this instead of the 9550.



#12 jbelian

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 17:42

Re "posting," I got this from the Merriam-Webster website:

 

"the act of transferring an entry or item from a book of original entry to the proper account in a ledger."

 

This is a good example of the question I wish I knew how to answer.  I know what "posting" means, and I know what "manifold" means, and I know what shorthand is; that is, I understand the difference between the stated purposes of a, say, a 1550, a  1551, and a 1555.  But I can't necessarily articulate the differences in the performance of those three points.  And even when I can feel a difference, unless I have multiple examples of each point, I have no idea whether I am observing a difference between the models or only a difference between these two individual examples of the model.

 

I don't even know whether I know all the factors that might be involved.  Assuming same paper, same ink, same pen, and all brand-new nibs, I would say that performance differences arise from the sizes of the tips; the tipping material; the flexibility of the nib material; the spacing and length of the tines; the shape and dimensions of the entire nib itself; the mechanics of the feed .... sheesh.  Shoulda been an engineer, I guess.



#13 Carl Fisher

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 18:09

LOL.

 

Esterbrook felt a need to differentiate the purpose of the nib from lets say a 1550 or 2550 vs 9450 beyond the tipping material of the between series.  Bookkeeping vs Posting. Just can't quite figure out what their intent was.

 

Now the search continues for a flex nib and a nice italic.



#14 Hobiwan

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 18:15

 

I don't even know whether I know all the factors that might be involved.  Assuming same paper, same ink, same pen, and all brand-new nibs, I would say that performance differences arise from the sizes of the tips; the tipping material; the flexibility of the nib material; the spacing and length of the tines; the shape and dimensions of the entire nib itself; the mechanics of the feed .... sheesh.  Shoulda been an engineer, I guess.

 

... not to mention "what day of the week that particular nib was finished off and by whom"... was it Melvin Flebnish on Monday, still working off a weekend hangover, Percy Dockweiler on Wednesday, fully awake and looking forward to his promotion as Chief Lever Installer, or Maristella Spots on Friday, anticipating Saturday's date with her beau on leave from the Navy.... ;)  


Best Regards
Paul


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– Albert Einstein


#15 pajaro

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 18:40

2312  --  italic and nice.  Good line variation. 

 

9312  --  italic and also nice.  This has real tipping, but I see less need to go with the 9312 over the 2312 than with any other 9xxx vs. 2xxx nib choice.  With all the other choices I go the 9xxx, but the 9312 and 2312 seem closer and there's less advantage with the 9312.  I have two of each.  Some people don't like these italics.  They are a little sharp sometimes, and some people have no use for italics anyway.  These nibs are the best reason I have found to use an Esterbrook, period.  They are in my favorite pens.

 

2442  --  I have tried several of these NOS, and they are a sort of nice fine nib, but not that nice.  All are gone, unregretted.

 

2048 and

9048  --  The extra flexible fines.  Flexing needs a power assist, but these make superb fine nibs.  I have one of each, at least.

                Worth having if the price is attractive.

 

9314  --  These come in 9314-f fine, 9314-m medium and 9314-b broad.  These "Relief" nibs are left obliques, and I like the         9314-f fine the best.  I do not get warm fuzzies from medium and broad obliques normally.  These are oblique stubs, though, and they good and cheaper than the 9284 stub.

 

9284  --  Broad signature stub, pretty good with some line variation sometimes.  2284 is also good and fun.  I have a few of each.

          

 

I have a number of the other nibs, and the ones I have liked are 9460, 9550, and 9556.


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#16 jbelian

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Posted 05 October 2014 - 02:06

I've been thinking about this all day, especially the possibility (probability?) of production variability. Seems to me there are two ways to deal (successfully) with variable outcomes: try to prevent them, or plan on them occurring. Maybe if we took that trip backto 1935 or so, we'd find ourselves having the exact same discussion. Maybe the extreme variety made variability impossible to detect. Mind you, I'm not criticizing in any case. Pretty dang brilliant, I'd say.

Edited by jbelian, 05 October 2014 - 02:06.


#17 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 05 October 2014 - 21:22

I have the following:

 

*1555 Gregg (F)

*9550 Posting EF

*Venus F

 

Right now my J has the 1555 installed. I need to perhaps install one of the others - the 1555 has been installed for quite a while.


Brad
 
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#18 pajaro

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 17:17

I've been thinking about this all day, especially the possibility (probability?) of production variability. Seems to me there are two ways to deal (successfully) with variable outcomes: try to prevent them, or plan on them occurring. Maybe if we took that trip backto 1935 or so, we'd find ourselves having the exact same discussion. Maybe the extreme variety made variability impossible to detect. Mind you, I'm not criticizing in any case. Pretty dang brilliant, I'd say.

 

So, how much production variability have you noticed?  I have not found much in these steel nibs.  I have found more variation in gold nibs I have had from Pelikan, Parker and Waterman.  I haven't seen enough difference in Esterbrook nibs for the idea to have occured to me that there were production variances.  For example, a 9556 is a 9556 is a 9556, but a fine or extra fine from Parker or Pelikan might range from EF to medium.  Waterman also has a minor variance in their fine and extra fine nibs.  I think Esterbrook is remarkably constant.


Edited by pajaro, 06 October 2014 - 17:17.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
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#19 jbelian

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 00:26

pajaro, I don't even know / remember with enough precision to tell you without working on it a while - quite possibly none. I know I have on more than one occasion put a recently acquired nib into a pen I've been using and it has been utterly different from another nib of the same number. I've had it happen with nibs sold as NOS. But sellers are sometimes mistaken, a nib does wear with every use, and it's possible none of it was caused by production variability. That's what started me on this thread: I don't know ....

#20 amberleadavis

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 23:09

So, am I the only one fascinated with the broad and stub nibs?  


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