Rats, I don't have a Steno nib. Got to get one someday.
My advice is to get a Pelikan 140. It is a medium-small pen, like a Geha 760 or a Kaweco Dia. It was a very popular size back then in the '50-60's. A great pen to fit the modern short shirt pocket. (Once shirt pockets were longer than today's.)
It posts long, as long as a 400. Has good balance.
It is a semi-flex nib, unless you look hard for a H (semi-nail to nail) or a D nib, (nail's nail...good for opening up Sherman tanks.)
A 120 is a nice springy regular flex nib. The 140 is semi-flex.
Of the '50-65 Pelikan nibs that is all you can count on.
For the 400, 400n, 400nn,500's, the OP went to the corner pen store and decided if he wanted a semi-flex or a 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex nib. So you have to guess or hope when you buy wild. It is worth extra to make sure your nib has the degree of flex rate you wish. If you have a semi-flex 140, you would want a 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex 400, 400n or 400nn.
I suggest buying a 140 first. In it takes some three months for the normal Ham Fisted writer to lighten his Hand, so he can be Slightly Ham Fisted and be ready for the 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex.
True regular flex....I call that so, in today most pen companies are selling semi-nail as regular flex, in it costs less in repair because of the invasion of Ham Fisted Ball Point Barbarians.
Regular flex, semi-flex and 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex spread their tines only 3X a light down stroke. To force them to do Olympic splits, will spring the nibs. They are not Superflex/"Flex" nibs.
Flattish bottomened-stubbish Semi-flex and 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex give you natural line variation, with out having to do anything.....it's built in.
First buy a true regular flex nibbed pen.
You need to really mash it to get the tines to spread to 3 X a light down stroke.
Semi-flex takes half that pressure.
'Flexi'/maxi-semi-flex takes half the pressure of semi-flex or 1/4th the pressure needed to spread the tines of a regular flex.
Please read my signature.
Semi&Maxi add flair and are not Copperplate or Spenserian nibs. You can fancy a first letter, put some flare in a descender or make the final e or a word, or a T crossing look nice.
Semi&Maxi-semi-flex gives you some of that old fashioned fountain pen look, with out doing anything.
'50-65 Obliques are the only obliques to buy. Period!!! The modern ones are just for left handers or folks with left eye dominance who always cant their nibs. Modern Obliques are such a waste of money. Even the 200's oblique is not worth buying. They don't have that bit or tad of flex, to make them work.
I was ever so lucky my first semi-flex was a 140 OB.
First the size of Vintage Pelikan nibs is 1/2 a size narrower than modern.
So a B-OB is like a fat M. It is a writing nib, not a signature nib like modern B-OB nibs. It has a wide enough foot print that one can learn to use Obliques with a bit or a tad of flex easy. You don't have to be as precise in nib placement like an OM or OF.
In the modern nails and semi-nails have no line variation therefore are great to make stubbed or into a Cursive Italic nib. They are as a fine poster said, Maxed line variation always. Semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex are more line variation on demand. The nibs of the '50-65 era are flat-stubbish on the bottom, there is no American Bump Under....except on the 120.
Add that stubbishness, the bit or tad of flex, and the Oblique grind, gives you a nib with great line variation.
For years we had a running conversation on some folks were disappointed with their vintage Obliques.
Obliques have 2 grinds @ 15 and @ 30 degree grinds. The idea is to place the nib flat on the paper, and write.
I came up with a trick. Look to see which grind your Oblique has 15 or 30 degree.
If it is a @ 15 degree grind, post the cap so the clip is half way between the nib slit and the right hand edge of the nib. Ignoring the nib, using the clip as a guide, just place the pen to the paper and write.
For 30 degree, align the clip with the right hand edge of the nib, ignoring the canted nib, and write.
Don't twist your fingers, hand or arm trying to make the nib do something(what I don't know...but some folks wish to make an Oblique do something, instead of letting it write)....and hanging off the chandelier; is only of minor help. Just write, if there is somewhere you want a bit more line variation, you need only to press a tad harder and it is there.
We still had problems with certain folks. Sigh.
Richard came up with the next and final step in solving this problem.
Some folks need to place the paper at 90 or 180 degrees instead of 45 degrees.
I never had any problems like many at writing at a 45 degree angle....but some did.
NO! Writing with an Oblique in semi or Maxi is not really a problem. It is .
I have some 30 semi-flex, 15 maxi-semi-flex.
I have some 15 Obliques, in a mix of semi&maxi....and was pure lucky enough to get 15&30 degree grinds in OBB, OB, OM & OF.
I decided OEF was too small to waste money chasing in for my eyes it was way too small...for the line variation I could see.
I suggest a 140 and in B or OB. Yes, you can learn to write larger if you wish, and when you see the line variation you will want to use wider lines to enjoy what the nib will give you.
Right now I have my semi-flex 400n Tortoise B nib in my 605. Defiantly has that old fashioned fountain pen flair.
You do need then a good shading ink.
Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 17 July 2015 - 10:28.