The fabled Old Corner Pen Shoppe.
Ohsi, your 400nn is either semi-flex or maxi-semi-flex with more chance it's semi-flex. More on that under.
When you use a ball point pen, it's like plowing the south forty with out the mule.
Gel pens are much better but you still need pressure to make the ball roll....like getting a mule.
Fountain pens float...skate like ice skating, no pressure at all is needed.
Somewhere about the '90's there had been a generation gap of fountain pen use, where ball point users came for the first time to fountain pens......( or came back) and were Ham Fisted. They bent the nibs.......no one told them to hold a fountain pen very lightly and behind the big index knuckle.
In the '50's-65 and before with German semi-flex nibs they were stub nibs....some few with a ball on top of the nib and a thicker point, for those who liked to hold a fountain pen like a pencil........but they were still flat and stubbish on the bottom. So you could hold the pen both ways....the K nibs, KF or KM. I have two KM pens from other companies.
After '82 to 97 Pelikans had a ball under the nib and were regular flex..........I'm not an expert but haven't noticed any K nibs from that era. (Never chased the Pelikans from '66-81)
After '97 they (outside the 200) all Pelikans had a ball top and bottom and a thicker tip....explained later.
OK, I use a 1/2 system of flex grading. 1/2 the pressure needed to mash a regular flex 3 X a light down stroke = semi-flex's 3 X max; half of that or 1/4th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex to 3x is what a maxi-semi-flex needs. (Helps to have any regular flex nibbed pen when hunting semi & maxi flex.....out side of Osmia, semi&maxi are not marked.)
Nails or manifold nibs, are 1X. There is no tine spread or bend. Great for folks coming 'in from the cold' of ball points..................very hard to bend.....but not the least impossible, as many a sad tale here will tell.
Parker has been mostly nails (Late Vac's &P-51) since the late '30s. Some Sheaffer's are that, some are regular flex and a few rare semi-flex can be had from Sheaffer. Some Esterbrook nibs also.
(Yes, in Pelikan if you look hard you can find a nail's nail the D nib....don't have an H nib but that is a hard nib. They are marked and are '50-65 era nibs.....are seldom.)
Semi-nail, with lots of pressure you get a 2X tine spread. Many of the US '70-80's pens can be had in that.....P-75 and certain Sheaffers, some Esterbrook nibs also.
By the mid-late '90's many to most pen companies have gone over to the nails and semi-nails as regular issue so they don't have to repair so many nibs.
Once many companies made what was then regular flex, in it was the normal issue.
Pelikan made in the '50's 120 school pen, the '82-97 and '85 to now 200's along with the '87-97??? '87-90 for sure....in that is the grand W.Germany nib.
A regular flex is a very nice springy regular flex nib. (Some folks using nails having heard of semi-flex, and think just because the nib's tines both spread and bend (heavy pressure in normal by many nail users) think the regular flex nib must be semi-flex......wrong.
Regular flex, semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex are in a max 3 X tine spread set. Don't try to press them to wider.
Regular flex...when well mashed will go 3 X a light down line.
is a basic nib to understand my system of understanding flex rating.....Esterbrook, some Sheaffer even Wearever made regular flex nibs. Most companies did. The modern 200 is that also.
From '82-97 the no piston cap ring M400, 381, Celebry pens and the then 200 were all regular flex. I'm not sure when the 800 became a nail....but think it was after '97.
They were 1/2 a size narrower than modern.
After '97 the 400/600 became fat and blobby semi-nail and the 800 lost its grand nib for a fat and blobby nail. That was so folks didn't bend the nib....and could hold it still like a ball point and write with it...(not so well as holding it like a fountain pen.....but that's another story.) It is my thought more folks buy a Pelikan ball point or roller ball than a fountain pen, and the company didn't want to scare them back to roller balls, so never put instructions on how to hold a fountain pen.
The 200 remained a nice springy regular flex....1/2 a width narrower than modern. A well balanced pen, when posted as are the standard sized 400& medium large 600's.
I'm going to leave out the '30-40's. In Pelikan I don't have an '30's...do have a couple '45-54 pens 100n & Ibis.
The '50-65 outside of the 120 school pen was a stubbed semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex era.
It takes half as much pressure to reach the safe max of 3 X of a semi-flex as it took to mash a regular flex to 3 X.
Maxi-semi-flex half of that or 1/4th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex to 3 X...(repeated but that's ok.) My first maxi that I recognized was . But I did feel the nib didn't want to go past 3X, so it wasn't superflex.
Osmia/Osmia-Faber-Castel is the only company I know, that marked a difference between it's semi-flex Diamond nib and it's Supra maxi-semi-flex nib. The rest is hunt and guess.
I have three Pelikans of my 16 maxi-semi-flex. One is an Ibis, one is a 500 and that one I'm sure was probably only made in maxi-semi-flex in it's a fancy rolled gold cap and piston cap pen. And a 400nn OF. I do know others have that in semi-flex. I have two 140's and 4 other ('50-54) 400's in semi-flex. (I'm quite sure there are other '50's 400's out there that are maxi, in I have a Ibis maxi.)
From my WAG some 1 in 5 might be maxi.
Of my 4 Geha 790/760's one is maxi.
Of my three '50's MB's one is maxi.
I have some 27 semi-flex nibbed pens, and 16 maxi's but a number of them are Osmia Supra nibs.
My first known semi-flex was a 140...that I'd read about here on the com. At the flea market, I tested the nib against my thumbnail, and suddenly knew what the fuss was about with out even inking it.
I mentioned being heavy handed or Ham Fisted..........I was even though I'd been back to fountain pens for a couple of years.....but I spent 4 decades plowing the south forty.
. I had that nib maxed giving me that fat wet line many noobies desire. It took me some three months to lighten my Hand, so I wasn't maxing the nib all the time. (Had I read Richard's article before I might have forced myself into a lighter Hand earlier.)
Semi-flex and maxi-semi-flex gives very nice line variation, with out doing a thing out side of writing.
No twisting of fingers, arm or hanging off of chandeliers needed.
Semi-flex will give you that old fashioned fountain pen flair. It is not a real fancy wirting nib.
How ever if you get a Calligraphy book, you can learn to draw an occasional fancy decender. Does take a bit of pressure.....
A maxi-semi-flex will give you a fancy letter or decender with half the work of a semi-flex. You can fancy up your writing by learning to properly draw the letters, but is not a nib for Spenserian.
Remember there is a 3 X max....and one should not press a nib always to it's max. Richard Binder has a very good article on metal fatigue. I call it 'how to spring your nib'. 100% need to read.
After reading that I took lots more care of when and how often I max a nib....even in Superflex. My 100n will go 5 X, but I strive to keep it at 4 X. I have a Waterman 52 that will if I sweat hard go XXF to BBB.....I strive to go no wider than BB.
If you want big fat letters, get an Ahab, and have the Pilot half moon modification made to it (grind with a round Swiss file or a Dremil two half moons in the sides of the nib) ....it will be the first stage of superflex; what I call Easy Full Flex.....and fun to use.
With out that mod the Ahab is a superflex nib with heavy pressure only.
Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 28 March 2018 - 21:17.