Dear all, I've found some time to wonder about flair in writing, usually called flex, which I concur with others here that is to be distinguished from the gargantuan difference in stroke width some people are after, and which I follow Bo Bo Olson in calling superflex.
I got a 1929-1930 Lady Duofold serviced in mid-June and at approximately the same time I found a cheap pre-2016 Parker IM which I got. Both pens have seen regular use since then and now I am confident that they have adjusted to me, or I to them more likely, or probably both with more of the latter. Both pens now are wetter than they were when I first got them, with the Duofold already having been on the wet side. The IM can still railroad a bit on fast written vertical downstrokes when the ink nears its end and it still gives me hard starts if left unused for two to two-and-a-half days. Maybe that's just the result of a longer section of the feed being exposed to the air compared to other Parkers with similar nib-feed assortments.
In the process of getting wetter, I noticed that the Duofold does give some wider downstrokes than a manifold nib, without effort other than regular writing on my part. Since I already knew that the Duofold nib does spread its tines without effort, but the IM doesn't do so, I decided to see if there are any noticeable differences between the two. There are, but they are not so pronounced. Here are follow some pictures. Apologies for the lack of focus; it's due to the mobile camera and that's rather old.
The Duofold was sold as Fine/Medium, which is an accurate description of appearances. To check for sure one has to remove the nib from the section. I haven't done that. Now it writes regularly as a medium almost always. It can write extra fine inverted. The IM came as an M.
Below are some samples. The paper is a regular ruled notebook of A4 size on which my Parkers behave from very well (IM) to excellent (IM and all others) without exception - I think they were designed to perform no-matter-what on cheap paper. The paper lines are about 1 cm apart from each other. The ink is Waterman Serenity Blue for both pens.
The first and third lines are the Duofold. As you can see, it gives some flair noticeable in the downstroke of the gamma (γ) in "Υγρό μελάνι", which is Greek for "wet ink" and in the vertical downstroke of the D in the bottom "Duofold". The verticals in lines 3 & 4 are after -still for comfortable for the wrist- pressure was applied. The Duofold appears to reach a 2.5x to 3x stroke thickness.
Below there is some flair in a calligraphic-style f -which I have learnt to use but don't. The Duofold is writing the top line. Pressure applied to both samples. The amount of pressure was enough to leave marks on the white page below the one I was writing on. Speed is a bit slower than I usually write.
Below is a sample of writing without any pressure applied to either sample. The sentence does not tell any facts about the paper, I just had to write something. The Duofold is at the top once more, giving obviously thinner lines in the final words. The speed is my normal relaxed one as when I'm not in a hurry to catch up with what I'm thinking...
-The Duofold with the springy gold nib is totally comparable to the manifold steel IM's nib in terms of actual output in my writing.
-Does the Duofold have a noticeable flair in the lines it leaves behind? Yes, which is a pleasant thing to behold when there's a body of text in front of you rather than a sentence or two.
-Does the IM lag behind in the aesthetics department in the stuff it produces? It's not possible to claim that -yes passionate flex affictionado, I'm looking at you!- even though the only "flair" it leaves behind is due to the ink spreading on the paper when you push or to the less ink being put down when you don't push.
-Does the Duofold require effort to produce this flair? Not at all. It happens automatically in regular writing with the natural higher pressure downstrokes usually receive when putting them on paper.
-Is this flair uniform or pronounced? As I handle the pen, it tends to be uniform.
By what you see here -which isn't perfect by a long shot- how would you characterise the Duofold's behaviour? Regular flex? Semi-flex? Illusion-of-flex?
I'd appreciate all of your thoughts on the topic.