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Obliques In Germany, Why Were So Popular?

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#1 iiiiiii

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:21

For long time I thought that left foot oblique nibs were mainly for left hand writers, which somehow makes sense but doesn't explain the great number of such points in Germany. Is it more to do with handwriting styles then?

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#2 OilMugs

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:20

It is my experience that a left foot oblique best suits a right handed writer, and that works well for me. Another FPN person who writes with his left hand says that it doesnt particularly matter to him although that might be his particular grip. I have seen him write and he holds the pen square on to the page.

 

Generally speaking, right foot obliques are thought to be better for left handed writers.

 

I agree with your summary, I collect MBs 1945 - 1960 and most are OM/OB. quite why this should be, unless the MB testing tray was widely used and an oblique nib is a very attractive visual feast. Customers selected bought what they liked as opposed to a standard Medium off the shelf pen.



#3 Arcadian

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:35

I read somewhere on FPN that obliques have less to do with creating line variation than with counteracting the propensity of some users to turn the pen in their hand as they write. Don't know if it is the case. Even if it is, it would raise the question why so many Germans would be turning their pens while writing :rolleyes:

 

 - P.



#4 the_gasman

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 09:59

I read somewhere on FPN that obliques have less to do with creating line variation than with counteracting the propensity of some users to turn the pen in their hand as they write.

 

That describes why I like oblique nibs, although I do love a bit of line variation too. If I use a squared off stub/italic, I find it unnatural to angle the pen at 45 deg to the paper, whereas with an oblique nib I find that the optimal angles and rotation just seem to arise without me making any special effort. I dare say that that is because I am a pen rotator, not an angulator (if there is such a word)! However,  I'm not German, so it doesn't answer your question.

 

Hmm, on reflection I can see that I was wrong to be so categorical about my ethnic composition — the British are the product of such a centuries-long mongrel mixing pot that I can't be certain that a significant portion of my DNA isn't of Germanic origin after all! Perhaps proclivity to obliquity has a deeply enmeshed genetic influence.

 

Still no nearer an answer!

 

Cheers,

David



#5 qsnc

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 12:55

For long time I thought that left foot oblique nibs were mainly for left hand writers, which somehow makes sense but doesn't explain the great number of such points in Germany. Is it more to do with handwriting styles then?

 

Is your statement of "great number" based on empirical data or how do you come to that conclusion, if I may ask? :) Left foot obliques fit best for a right handed writer, if you would ask me (I presonally do like using them). However, I don't see how that would be more common a thing in Germany than other countries?



#6 OilMugs

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 13:22

Until there is some good data on the number of oblique nibs sold in Germany when compared to Medium nibs it is difficult to give a hard and fast rule. My own experience is that most of my 50s MBs are OM/OB, and I chose to buy the pen rather than I bought the nib.

 

I still stand by the idea that German factories made oblique nibs available at the pen store, but this is just an assumption based on the testing trays that we see at MB today.



#7 Mercian

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 13:26

My own total guess would be as follows:

Perhaps German companies initially offered more Oblique nibs than e.g. British pen companies did, because Germans are (stereotypically) thorough - people will buy them, so let's make them.

That thoroughness also led to school pens being made in Germany (e.g. Pelikano, Safari) that had prescriptive grips; grips designed to make their users hold their pens correctly - which process of instruction may have reduced the subsequent need for Oblique nibs.
Pelikan's recent decision to stop making Obliques makes me think that German schools' use of pens that have prescriptive grip sections may have reduced the demand for Oblique nibs

As such, the once-common Oblique nibs may have been used less as time went on and more and more FP-users had been trained to hold their pens 'correctly', and so more of these nibs will have survived down to this day (instead of having been worn-out over time).

As I said though, all of the above is nothing more than total guessswork; it is not based on any analysis of objective evidence.

[Edited for FFEs & auto-'correct' snafus :-( ]

Edited by Mercian, 20 March 2017 - 19:46.

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#8 OMASsimo

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 19:43

That's an interesting question to which I have no answer either. But it seems that Germans love engineering solutions to almost every problem. Oblique nibs might be just one of such solutions. Also, the competition was extremely fierce with literally hundreds of manufacturers and it might have been an advantage to offer a broader range of nibs. I'm not even aware that the big US or UK producers offered such nibs. But this could be just my ignorance.

 

Peter



#9 iiiiiii

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:07

I read somewhere on FPN that obliques have less to do with creating line variation than with counteracting the propensity of some users to turn the pen in their hand as they write. Don't know if it is the case. Even if it is, it would raise the question why so many Germans would be turning their pens while writing :rolleyes:

 

 - P.

 

I've always thought that my pen rotation is something natural and everyone else does it :) Like David (the gasman) I seem to adjust the pen by rotating not changing the angle. I'm a rotator, a scary thought!

 

I think I read about the counteracting too.

 

 

 

Is your statement of "great number" based on empirical data or how do you come to that conclusion, if I may ask? :) Left foot obliques fit best for a right handed writer, if you would ask me (I presonally do like using them). However, I don't see how that would be more common a thing in Germany than other countries?

 

No, sadly I can't provide any empirical data. It's just an observation and possibly incorrect generalisation. I collect Mabie Todd pens and although there are some obliques among my pens, they are very few. Similarly, one can find obliques among Waterman's and Parker but this requires a good deal of luck. For some reason, they are much easier to find in Germany.

 

 

Until there is some good data on the number of oblique nibs sold in Germany when compared to Medium nibs it is difficult to give a hard and fast rule. My own experience is that most of my 50s MBs are OM/OB, and I chose to buy the pen rather than I bought the nib.

 

I still stand by the idea that German factories made oblique nibs available at the pen store, but this is just an assumption based on the testing trays that we see at MB today.

 

This is my experience too. I have some Kaweco and Pelikan pens, and especially with Kaweco I went after particular models rather than nibs and ended up with almost third being obliques. My another assumption is that obliques are harder to find in pens which were exported.

 

 

My own total guess would be as follows:

Perhaps German companies initially offered more Oblique nibs than e.g. British pen companies did, because Germans are (stereotypically) thorough - people will buy them, so let's make them.

That thoroughness also led to school pens being made in Germany (e.g. Pelikano, Safari) that had prescriptive grips; grips designed to make their users hold their pens correctly - which process of instruction may have reduced the subsequent need for Oblique nibs.
Pelikan's recent decision to stop making Obliques makes me think that German schools' use of pens that have prescriptive grip sections may have reduced the demand for Oblique nibs

As such, the once-common Oblique nibs may have been used less as time went on and more and more FP-users had been trained to hold their pens 'correctly', and so more of these nibs will have survived down to this day (instead of having been worn-out over time).

As I said though, all of the above is nothing more than total guessswork; it is not based on any analysis of objective evidence.

[Edited for FFEs & auto-'correct' snafus :-( ]

 

So you are saying that I may need to rethink my pen grip :) This can only mean a pen fight!

 

 

That's an interesting question to which I have no answer either. But it seems that Germans love engineering solutions to almost every problem. Oblique nibs might be just one of such solutions. Also, the competition was extremely fierce with literally hundreds of manufacturers and it might have been an advantage to offer a broader range of nibs. I'm not even aware that the big US or UK producers offered such nibs. But this could be just my ignorance.

 

Peter

 

I'm not sure if the obliques were introduced by Germans, although they seem to use them consequently the most (again judging by the number still available around). II have some factory made Mabie Todd pens from early 20s but oblique dip nibs certainly were present much earlier. However, I do agree with the argument about the advantage in offering a broader range of nibs.

 

I have just digged out some old Soennecken's Roundshrift workbooks from the late 19th century and it seems that the script relied heavily on the use of broad nibs. When I have a moment I'm going to scan some pages, but I'm starting to believe that there is connection between common traditional German writing styles and broad nibs (obliques could minimise the need of pen and paper rotation), similarly in the way some of the Anglo-American writing methods made use of the nib flexibility.

 

9cLfUQ6.jpg

 

This effect can only be achieved with a broad nib. I can imagine that an oblique nib eventually helps to normalise the position of a hand and pen against the paper. The line variation is consistent with what I get using my obliques. However, I don't really know much about later handwriting systems and if there is any possible connection with the use of oblique nibs.


Edited by birchtine, 21 March 2017 - 11:37.


#10 Mercian

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 14:15

Pax birchtine - before, good sir, you quick-draw your snorkie and give me a well-earned drenching of LAMY Green, I must protest that my intent was never to cast aspersions on your writing technique!

My own is execrable - I can't even sit still while writing, let alone maintain a constant wrist angle, angle of inclination to the page, or angle of rotation.
As a consequence, my handwriting tends to appear worthy of the comment "all the school's teachers think that your ten-year-old may suffer from ADHD" :-o

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#11 qsnc

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 14:46

Ah, you meant obliques being offered by German companies, I had that confused with "distribution of obliques in Germany". Well, of course that's a guess, but I guess they wanted to give their customers more choice? Rather famously, Pelikan actually stopped offering obliques, which leaves Montblanc and Faber-Castell, off the top of my head.



#12 OMASsimo

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 00:02

 

 

I'm not sure if the obliques were introduced by Germans, although they seem to use them consequently the most (again judging by the number still available around). II have some factory made Mabie Todd pens from early 20s but oblique dip nibs certainly were present much earlier. However, I do agree with the argument about the advantage in offering a broader range of nibs.

 

I have just digged out some old Soennecken's Roundshrift workbooks from the late 19th century and it seems that the script relied heavily on the use of broad nibs. When I have a moment I'm going to scan some pages, but I'm starting to believe that there is connection between common traditional German writing styles and broad nibs (obliques could minimise the need of pen and paper rotation), similarly in the way some of the Anglo-American writing methods made use of the nib flexibility.

 

9cLfUQ6.jpg

 

This effect can only be achieved with a broad nib. I can imagine that an oblique nib eventually helps to normalise the position of a hand and pen against the paper. The line variation is consistent with what I get using my obliques. However, I don't really know much about later handwriting systems and if there is any possible connection with the use of oblique nibs.

 

This Soennecken pamphlet is certainly interesting and I'm very curious about it. But I'm afraid it won't explain why obliques were so popular in Germany. By the way, I kind of agree with your observation that they're quite abundant from German makers.

 

But the thing with script styles is much more complex. If you go back to the 18th and early 19th century, the quill was the only reasonable writing instrument. And if you've ever seen or written with a quill you know that this typically writes comparable to what we now call a stub. And it was a mess and a pain. Then the steel nib was introduced, which typically had a fine point. Here my guess work starts. I think that people were so used to the line variation that was unavoidable with a quill that they learned how to use flexible nibs to achieve a similar effect. In German documents of the 19th century you can see how the old kurrent script was getting more and more standardized. Soennecken, as a leading producer of steel nibs for dip pens, was at the forefront of this development and helped to develop a script that could be written more fluently. With a then modern steel nib one could draw a line in any direction which was not easily possible with the older quill. And one could write with a much finer line and save paper which was expensive. When I see old documents from around 1900 I'm always amazed how small and how perfectly accurate many people wrote. Most of it was written with a very fine line but certain things were obviously flexed to give the writing a special expression. This style of writing seems to have disappeared with the modern fountain pen getting more popular starting in the 1920s.

 

To me it seems that especially in Germany people liked the possibility to get line variation and therefore the broader nibs, which apparently were reasonably popular, were chisel shaped unlike today. This type of nib requires a certain angle of your wrist to yield the wanted effect. A broad oblique nib would achieve the same effect with a different angle of the wrist. I easily can imagine that people would love to have this choice rather that getting used to another way of tilting the wrist. And by the way, this has nothing to do with pen rotation, which wouldn't work with either type of nib. German companies offered the "K" nibs for this type of problem. The one thing that confuses me is that you can even find "oblique fine" nibs where all what I wrote above wouldn't make much sense. But at least it might explain part of the phenomenon or can be taken as a starting point to think further.

 

Peter



#13 gistar

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 19:32

I do not tend to rotate my pens so in theory I should not use oblique nibs. However when I obtained a Conway Steward with a very nice stubby OB nib I discovered that for the way that I align paper and pen (paper parallel to my shoulders with the pen at an angle of about 30 degrees with a classic three finger grip) the oblique stub nib was much more easy to lie flat against the paper and write smoothly than a normal stub or italic. I tested that with a GvFC OB and now I have three more obliques which give me a nice line variation while writing smoothly with almost no thought. My straight stubs are a bit more difficult to control. YMMV but this is my experience.
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#14 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 15:42

Soennecken did dominate the school writing, with free charts.

 

First, the '30-65 nibs I have are if there is a bit of flex, a stubb nib was normal. (Lamy and nail nibs of course had the American Bump Under.) So did the 120 Pelikan School pen and the Geha school pen of the '50-60's also, had the kugal/ball tipping under for school kids.

 

Second. It could well be that many were taught to cant the nib in school for Roundschrift . But back then all or most left handers were forced to learn to write right handed.

Therefore still left eye dominate would still automatically cant their nibs.

 

I don't see left handers getting any benefit from semi-flex right foot obliques. Nails like my Lamy 27 I think it was, OM..with the proper slant could be pushed through the writing; where a semi-flex would be bending the wrong way....depending on left hand style. 

 

Third, Oblique gave a nice pretty script with out doing anything....just like the regular regular flex.

 

The US like with Parker offered a nail Stub....like my '36 BB factory stub, on my Vac. The Germans offered a stub with some flex....because of the flex, Oblique works well.

I always rant against  'true' regular flex, semi-nail, and nail oblique nibs as a waste of money unless left eye dominate, or one of the left hand styles of writing. 

 

I have owned oblique pens without  semi-flex nibs....that were only good for left eye dominant writers who automatically cant their nib......and some Left Hand styles.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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#15 jar

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 15:46

Oblique nibs are more common in German pens because Germany was part of the axis.


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#16 Astron

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 17:01

Oblique nibs are more common in German pens because Germany was part of the axis.

Yeah. All we did was rotating over Europe.



#17 ac12

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 05:53

I don't know about a left foot oblique being for a right hand person.

I personally do NOT like the line of a left foot oblique; thick horizontal stroke, thin vertical stroke.

I would rather have a right foot oblique; thick vertical stroke, thin horizontal stroke.

I had 2 left foot obliques, a Lamy and a Pelikan.  I replaced both with a standard ball tip F nib, which I liked better.

 

But I have a RH friend who loves her left foot oblique.

 

But I also just as well write with a straight CI nib.

 

So personal preference.


Edited by ac12, 03 April 2017 - 05:55.

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#18 Misfit

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 00:23

An excellent discussion of oblique nibs can be found at http://www.richardsp...om/index_m.html
then type nibs in the search bar. Select Nibs 1: the Basics. Obliques are discussed right after Italics.

Edited because the link did not go where I wanted it to go.

Edited by Misfit, 16 April 2017 - 00:28.

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#19 carlos.q

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 00:44

Another total guess: German Gothic script such as Fraktur or Blackletter is easier to write with oblique nibs.

 

 

fpn_1492303356__blackletter.png



#20 OMASsimo

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 17:20

Nice try, but no one wrote like this with a fountain pen in everyday's life. This is print typography.

 

Richard Binder's article on nibs that Misfit quotes is an excellent introduction. Here is a direct link to the series of three article.http://www.richardsp...nibs/primer.htm







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: oblique nibs, germany, pelikan, kaweco



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