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Advice Re: Nibs


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#1 TheCrustyOne

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 21:03

Hello all,

 

I'm a newbie here and relatively in the dark when it comes to the finer aspects of fountains and nibs. I am a pen turner and craft custom pen, including fountains. I have a client who wants a custom fountain pen with a solid gold nib. Her perspective is that only a solid gold nib can provide the flexibility and feel that her husband wants in a pen. I've talked to lots of penturners who think this is just "gold fever", but I'd like to know (from those who DO know) if her perspective is valid? Is a solid gold nib the apex of nibs? Are there decent, reasonable alternatives to a $300 nib that can deliver the flexibility and feel she's looking for? Does ANY pen kit supplier sell fountains with great nibs?

 

Thanks in advance and my apologies if this is an oft-repeated post.

 

JP



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#2 LizEF

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 21:08

I'll let someone else speak to where to buy a good gold nib to fit into a custom pen.

 

As for using one - it took me several months, perhaps a year, after leaving other pen types and going primarily to fountain pens before I could distinguish the feel of a gold nib from a steel nib - in other words, it's a learned skill.  I much prefer the soft give of a gold nib over a steel nib.  (NOTE: Some gold nibs may not have that give, and perhaps it's possible for a steel nib to have it - certainly some of my steel nibs are stiffer than others.  But regardless, there is a certain give from a gold (or palladium) nib, and I prefer that.)



#3 linearM

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 22:06

One thing you might consider is finding a section and feed with a gold nib from a vintage pen.  If you match the threading on the vintage section and make a nice transition to the barrel diameter you could have a very nice pen.  I am having Renée from Scriptorium Pens do that for me using a Carter Inx nib, feed, and section and will have the pen after Christmas.

 

A good share of my pens are vintage with flex nibs almost all 14K gold.  The gold vintage flex nibs from the 20"s and 30's are wonderful. The nibs don't need to be name brand some of my best nibs are warranted nibs, sometimes you are paying for the brand name. If the customer just wants a nib that gives some line variation and isn't going for copperplate or Spencerian script a semi-flex nib should work fine.  You might see if someone who repairs pens might have something for you, perhaps at a pen club, otherwise I know Five Star Pens has section, feed, and nib units available.  Another source might be: https://www.nibs.com...ition/pre_owned.


Edited by linearM, 07 December 2017 - 22:16.


#4 TheCrustyOne

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 22:26

I'll let someone else speak to where to buy a good gold nib to fit into a custom pen.

 

As for using one - it took me several months, perhaps a year, after leaving other pen types and going primarily to fountain pens before I could distinguish the feel of a gold nib from a steel nib - in other words, it's a learned skill.  I much prefer the soft give of a gold nib over a steel nib.  (NOTE: Some gold nibs may not have that give, and perhaps it's possible for a steel nib to have it - certainly some of my steel nibs are stiffer than others.  But regardless, there is a certain give from a gold (or palladium) nib, and I prefer that.)

 

Thank you for that response. It helps me know that some do have distinct preferences. I suspected as much, but wanted to hear from others.
 



#5 Chrissy

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 22:28

I've seen 14ct and 18ct gold nibs and I suspect you could get one to fit in a custom made pen. Many would say that there are some steel or Titanium nibs that give just as good a writing experience as gold versions.


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#6 TheCrustyOne

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 22:28

One thing you might consider is finding a section and feed with a gold nib from a vintage pen.  If you match the threading on the vintage section and make a nice transition to the barrel diameter you could have a very nice pen.  I am having Renée from Scriptorium Pens do that for me using a Carter Inx nib, feed, and section and will have the pen after Christmas.

 

A good share of my pens are vintage with flex nibs almost all 14K gold.  The gold vintage flex nibs from the 20"s and 30's are wonderful. The nibs don't need to be name brand some of my best nibs are warranted nibs, sometimes you are paying for the brand name. If the customer just wants a nib that gives some line variation and isn't going for copperplate or Spencerian script a semi-flex nib should work fine.  You might see if someone who repairs pens might have something for you, perhaps at a pen club, otherwise I know Five Star Pens has section, feed, and nib units available.  Another source might be: https://www.nibs.com...ition/pre_owned.

 

Thanks for the info and suggestion. The word "custom" has different meanings for different people; Most of the custom pens I craft start as kits. Certainly, they are high-end kits, but kits nonetheless. The vast majority of pens I sell come with a relatively vanilla #5 nibs/feeds by Bock, Wojo, Heritance, etc. By and large, a Bock feed is most common. Obviously, most of my customers are not purists. Upgrading that vanilla nib by purchasing a new higher quality nib is a reasonable effort from my perspective; I can simply replace the nib, tune it, and deliver it. I am not yet ready (and not sure if I wish to) make the leap to crafting customized nibs from vintage parts. It is something to think about, however.


Edited by TheCrustyOne, 07 December 2017 - 22:29.


#7 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 22:48

Often I think someone is comparing a steel nail with a gold semi-nail....when a nail's a nail....and the same be it gold or steel. I've had a gold 18 K nail....and a steel nail....a nail's a nail.

 

A semi-nail like a 14 K P-75 when mashed spreads it's tines out to 2X a light down stroke....That would be much softer than a a gold nail......but how can one say gold is softer....when the 18K one was a pure nail????

Myth and BS.

 

Regular flex be it steel or gold will be 'softer' than semi-nail.

Semi-flex softer than than Regular Flex.

 

 

I'd suggest a gold vintage '50-60's) semi-flex nib and both Geha and Pelikan screw out....but for that you need some machinery. Then you must know the nibs are thinner back then by @ 1/2 a width over a modern Pelikan or even a bit more.

But I think that would be too much nib for them....they'd end up turning it into a pretzel....being nail users......

Look for Pelikan regular flex nibs of the '82-97 era....would be safer for the nib.

 

 

 

I have a '50's-60's Geha semi-flex steel nib that is as good as the gold semi-flex ones on my 790/760's, I have steel nibs on my Osmia pre & after war where the gold nib is as good as the steel nib in either semi or maxi-semi-flex....and Osmia is the only company where you can chose between semi-flex...the Diamond nibs...or Maxi-semi-flex the Supra nibs.

 

Regular flex...Pelikan, my steel 200's and Celebry nib are as good as the regular flex gold 400, 381 & Celebry nibs of the '82-97 era.

 

Poor steel is not as good as good gold nibs.............nothing says gold much be better made....so good steel is better than poorly made gold nibs...and there are enough of them...........Good Steel is as good as Good Gold.

 

Was my 18 K Lamy Persona Nail a good nib????????? No, it's a nail....not give, no softness and that at 18 K..............I have a Townsend that I seldom use....in it's a steel nail. A nail's a nail.

The Persona is now a CI. :thumbup: :bunny01: :happyberet: ...........nails are good for making stubs and CI's out of...IMO. Perhaps XXXF

 

You could offer them a semi-flex but need that ebonite feed to supply ink at a faster rate needed.


www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

Due to Mauricio's improved definition of Super-flex, I try not use the term Easy Full Flex, but fail...sigh.

 

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing with a touch of flair. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For bit more of that get a maxi-semi-flex. Both spread tines 3X.  Those are not "Flex" nibs. 

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens and inks only; not the users or inks of other companies pens. The size you grind a nib to, is your standard only. Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#8 Phil_Dart

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 23:57

Hi, I'm from Beaufort Ink. Perhaps I can help here as we sell both solid gold and steel nibs, and pen kits, and we understand both. I'm also a pen maker myself.

I would say firstly that if your customer has decided that nothing short of a solid gold nib will suit her husband, you should go with the wishes of the customer. Nibs are a subjective thing, and the opinions of either other pen makers or of pen users here, really count for nothing. The customer wants solid gold, so give her solid gold.

Secondly, we design and manufacture high end pen kits here, and any of the size 5 Bock nibs on our website, in a "kit compatible" housing, including the solid gold ones, will screw straight into our kits as a direct replacement, so that opens up the possibility of making your customer a custom pen from components that compete with the best on the world market, and fitting it with the nib of her choice. I'll even through in a trial pack of our own inks, to pass on to your customer.

Alternatively, if you choose to make a pen from components you obtain elsewhere, we have housings to fit a great many of the kits available on the international market, in both sizes 5 and 6.

http://www.beauforti...uk/mistral.html

http://www.beauforti...k/bocknibs.html

I hope that helps a bit, but feel free to get in touch if you'd like to chat about it


Edited by Phil_Dart, 08 December 2017 - 00:00.

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#9 TheCrustyOne

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 01:14

Hi, I'm from Beaufort Ink. Perhaps I can help here as we sell both solid gold and steel nibs, and pen kits, and we understand both. I'm also a pen maker myself.

I would say firstly that if your customer has decided that nothing short of a solid gold nib will suit her husband, you should go with the wishes of the customer. Nibs are a subjective thing, and the opinions of either other pen makers or of pen users here, really count for nothing. The customer wants solid gold, so give her solid gold.

Secondly, we design and manufacture high end pen kits here, and any of the size 5 Bock nibs on our website, in a "kit compatible" housing, including the solid gold ones, will screw straight into our kits as a direct replacement, so that opens up the possibility of making your customer a custom pen from components that compete with the best on the world market, and fitting it with the nib of her choice. I'll even through in a trial pack of our own inks, to pass on to your customer.

Alternatively, if you choose to make a pen from components you obtain elsewhere, we have housings to fit a great many of the kits available on the international market, in both sizes 5 and 6.

http://www.beauforti...uk/mistral.html

http://www.beauforti...k/bocknibs.html

I hope that helps a bit, but feel free to get in touch if you'd like to chat about it

Phil, Thank you for responding. You're much faster than the website contact form, which I used earlier today to ask about white gold or platinum plated solid gold nibs to match the silver of an MK2 Shakespeare pen. I appreciate the sentiment of the customer and absolutely agree that this is the client's call, not mine. I respect that, but I also wanted to learn, for myself, whether there is a physical basis for said preference. I know that not all subjective preferences are rational...

At any rate, I often craft custom from Mistral and MK2 Shakespeare kits, both of which are (I believe) Bock feeds. I'd be interested to learn more about what nib options Beaufort provides for these pens specifically. 

PS. Dear god, I just finished this post to find your response to my website query!! Awesome.

 

JP


Edited by TheCrustyOne, 08 December 2017 - 01:16.


#10 Jamerelbe

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:03

Brian Gray of Edison Pens (who's also a wholesaler for JoWo nibs in the US via meisternibs.com) has an interesting article titled "In Praise of Steel Nibs", which outlines his philosophy of encouraging customers to try steel first ( That said, I hear what Phil from Beaufort Inks is saying about "The Customer is Always Right".  My one JoWo gold nib (custom adjusted to fit into a TWSBI Diamond 580) is a *very* different experience from the regular nibs, and was well worth the expense.  I also really like the added 'spring' provided by my 3 Bock titanium nibs - wish I could comment on (compare and contrast with) Bock gold nibs, but I don't own any...



#11 jar

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 12:59

It's unlikely that you can buy a flexible nib made today.  They just really are not out there regardless of advertising.  Your best course is to buy a nib from one of the half dozen or so folk that actually have a clue what a flexible nib is.


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#12 sidthecat

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 02:52

May I respectfully suggest you seek out an opportunity to try a few vintage pens with flexible nibs. Modern nibs of any material tend to be very similar in feel and expression, which I would define as the ability to produce line variation. A modern gold nib is more prestigious and expensive than a steel or plated nib, but for the most part the variations in behavior are small.

 

If that's not an issue with the client, you could get one from any of the above sources. If you want a really flex nib, then may God have mercy on your soul.



#13 AAAndrew

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 13:44

Flexibility is not the same as softness. As a matter of fact, they are actually antithetical. Gold nibs can only be flexible if they are alloyed with the right metals that allow it to spring back. It’s that return spring that makes a nib flexible, and Steel is much, much better at that then gold.

Flexible steel dip pens are worlds more flexible than any gold nib.

Almost all early fountain pen nibs were gold because of the concern with rusting steel nibs. I’m not familiar enough with he history of metallurgy to know if they had stainless steel which could be made flexible enough in he 20’s for a pen nib. We do now, think of Noodlers’ nibs, but for vintage, truly flexible fountain pen nibs, it’s got to be gold. As for modern nibs, you won’t find truly flexible.

I guess a real question would be to find out just how flexible they wanted the nib. Do they want a slight springiness or for the tines to actually separate and create modulated lines? (Thick and thin lines)
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