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  1. I am always on the lookout for new fountain pens with italic/calligraphy nibs. I had recently bought two Graf von Faber-Castell pens and had their nibs ground to cursive italic by Mike Masuyama at the San Francisco Pen Show in August. I was enormously pleased with how these nibs performed. So, when I got an email from La Couronne du Comte in September announcing a new GvF-C Tamitio Calligraphy Fountain Pen set with 3 italic nibs, I didn’t hesitate to order. Actually, it turned out to be a pre-order. The pens had not yet been produced. Then there was a further delay due to production or quality control problems with one of the nibs. I finally received the pen and nib set yesterday. It was worth waiting for. Faber-Castell has two lines of pens, each with several models. Their more expensive series is called “Graf von Faber-Castell” and ranges from the famous “Pen of the Year” (POTY) luxury pens to the Tamitio at a much lower cost. The Tamitio is the only model in the GvF-C range with a steel nib; the other models have 18Kt gold nibs. It also has a different clip and is a shorter pen, although the “Classic” series pens are more slender. The Calligraphy set includes a black Tamitio pen and three italic nibs. The pen is also available with a single round nib in several widths. The barrel is enameled brass and feels substantially weighty. The cap and sections are plated - I have read they are plated with rhodium and elsewhere that the plating is platinum. The nibs are 1.1, 1.4 and 1.8 mm wide respectively. The pen and nibs seem to be of the same high quality as the other GvF-C pens I own. The nibs are rather stubbish, but do write with enough line variation for use in italic or gothic calligraphy. Of course, they can't be compared to the GvF-C gold nibs that were custom-ground for me by Michael Masuyama, but the whole set costs much less that either of the other pens. Most of the Graf von Faber-Castell pens have a form recalling the company’s origin as a maker of lead pencils. They have straight barrels and generally are smaller in diameter than most pens. This concerned me before my first purchases of this make, but I found the Intuition Platino very comfortable and the thinner Snakewood LE in the Classic model quite usable, albeit rather thinner than my personal ideal. The Tamitio’s diameter is between that of the Classic and Platino pens. It is missing the slight flair at the nib end and has a very short metal piece for the section. This makes for a mildly uncomfortable grip. In fact, I am not sure just how I will end up holding this pen. GvF-C pens for size comparison. L to R: Classic (Snakewood LE); Intuition Platino; Tamitio All in all, I am happy with this set. I expect I will accommodate to the ergonomics of the barrel. I’m thinking about getting another Tamitio, so I can use two of the italic nibs at once. David
  2. In the craze for flexible nibs there seems to me to be a blindspot that many new seekers overlook. Through sheer luck I have a few flexible nibs on normal pens (i.e. not dip pens). I enjoy them, but they take an awful lot of skill and control and require aeons of practice and discipline. Sometimes I can can get a half decent result but nothing that you might call beautiful or skilled, yet even writing normally and hoping for some line variation takes a certain skill and practice to be truly satisfying. The price of flexible nibs has become daft and there are so many fantastical claims made about manifold nibs that I haven't personally felt the need to chase the dragon on this one, wasting my time and money. The strange thing is that many who are relatively new to fountain pens almost always remark on the beautiful line variation and pleasing results when I write with my 'flexible nib' which is in fact either a stub nib or an italic nib. It's left me wondering if the old stubs and italics are being overlooked in the chase for flexible nibs. Of course you won't get the same results, you likely won't get much in the way of spring or bounce and - especially in regards to stubs - you can end up with not very much line variation, but might an awful lot of writers and fountain pen users not be better served with a stub or italic nib?
  3. I posted the method in the Esterbrook Forum. Here's a link: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/339597-new-estie/page-3?do=findComment&comment=4114185 David
  4. Note: The review of each of the three pens was written with the pen being reviewed. Citations A Comparative Review Of Italic Nibs: Custom Versus Stock Stipula Facetted Etruria In Champagne Celluloid With An Italic Nib Comments? David
  5. “William Mitchell” is a venerable name in calligraphy nibs. This British firm has been in the business of making steel dip nibs for almost 200 years. They remain the nib of choice for many present day calligraphers. I am always on the lookout for good quality inexpensive fountain pens with calligraphy nibs to recommend to beginning calligraphers or to those on limited budgets. So, when I recently learned that William Mitchell was selling calligraphy fountain pen sets, I wanted to see what they offered. William Mitchell’s web site shows several sets of their fountain pens, differing in the number of nibs, barrels and ink cartridges included. I found that, in the United States, these sets are not easy to find. They appear to be carried mostly by art-supply stores and occupy the same niche as the Manuscript calligraphy pen sets. The major national art/hobby supply chains do not have these products on their web sites, even though they are authorized dealers for them, according to William Mitchell. I ordered a “beginner’s” set on on ebay dot com with one pen, 3 nibs (1.2, 1.4 and 1.8 mm) and four international standard ink cartridges with a blue ink of indeterminant manufacturer. The first reference to the William Mitchell fountain pens I saw mentioned that the nibs were made in Germany. When I received mine, “Online” was engraved on the nibs. Now, Online is a German pen company. They make a variety of calligraphy sets under their own name with differing barrels, but all appear to use the same steel italic nibs as are found on the William Mitchell branded pens. The William Mitchell Calligraph fountain pen has a light-weight, matte black plastic barrel with a snap-on cap and a clip. Subjectively, both the barrel and the nibs feel more substantial that those of the inexpensive Manuscript sets. The pen is long enough to use comfortably without posting. It is light enough so that posting it does not change the balance appreciably. The end of the barrel has a smaller diameter than the rest, suggesting the pen is meant to be posted. Of note is that the barrel and section diameters are greater than those of the Manuscript pen, although still thinner than most fountain pens I use. I don’t believe it would be uncomfortable to use for extended writing sessions. Some of Mitchell sets come with converters as well as cartridges. Mine did not. From photos, the Mitchell converters appear to be the syringe (push/pull) type. I fitted a standard international-type screw piston converter to a Mitchell nib, and it fit well. I then inserted one of the supplied cartridges. Ink flowed well after a gentle squeeze of the cartridge. The 1.2mm nib was a bit dry, but might be wetter with a different ink. Writing on Rhodia grid paper, all the nibs were exceedingly smooth. They wrote with moderately good thick/thin line differentiation. The William Mitchell Italic Fountain Pen seems like a reasonable option for the beginning italic calligrapher with a limited budget. Happy writing! David
  6. I posted a review of this pen in the Pen Reviews forum. It may be of interest to those looking for an inexpensive pen with which to learn italic handwriting. Here's a linki: William Mitchell Italic Fp: A Nice Choice For Italic Learners Enjoy! David
  7. À propos of previous discussions regarding OMAS Italic nibs, note that both of these nibs are 18Kt gold without tipping material. The nibs are round nibs with the tipping cut off, then ground to very smooth cursive italics. They write very smoothly, with just a bit of feedback, even with a dry ink like Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black. The green pen was purchased from a European pen shop. The shop custom ordered the pen from the OMAS factory for me. I assume the italic nib was ground for my special order. A B nib was used. The Orange pen was ordered from a U.S. vendor who had stocked Ogiva Albas with "medium italic" nibs. These were obviously ground from M round nibs. The difference between the two nibs is small but discernible. The one ground from the B nib is perhaps 0.15 mm wider than the nib ground from the M nib. Otherwise, they are the same in smooth writing and degree of thick/thin line differentiation. They would be regarded as stubs rather than cursive italics by some, I am sure. In any case, I am happy with both of these pens. David
  8. This is not a pen review, strictly speaking. Rather, it is a review of nibs. More specifically, it is a comparison of 4 italic nibs installed on 4 high-end pens, reflecting my continuing quest for the very best fountain pen for writing italic text. A couple more distinctions seem in order: First, this is not about the cheapest italic pen, nor even the “best buy” italic pen. It is about the best italic nib. Second, it is not about italic nibs used to make ones Palmer-type cursive writing “more interesting.” It is about using italic nibs for writing italic script. Okay. That is (at least) enough for preliminaries. My accumulating/collecting fountain pens started with my resuming study of italic calligraphy about 3 years ago. I have used a rather wide variety of pens, including relatively inexpensive pens with stock italic nibs. Of these, the vintage Osmiroid italic nibs remain the best, particularly in the wider sizes. The wider Lamy nibs and steel nibs sold with Edison pens are rather good too. The narrower nibs that most would use for note taking, correspondence and so forth suffer from insufficient thick/thin line differentiation. On the other hand, 14 and 18 Kt gold stock nibs from higher end modern pens (Pelikan, Onoto, OMAS, Conway Stewart, Nakaya, etc.), custom-ground to crisp cursive italics by Richard Binder, John Mottishaw and Michael Masuyama have been excellent to heart stoppingly incredibly amazing. Most started as round nibs, except for the Conway Stewarts and a couple Pelikan M800 IB nibs. But, the question remained in my mind: Are there stock italic nibs out there that can come close to matching the wonderfulness of my custom-ground italic nibs? So far, the only one I have found that comes close is the Conway Stewart IB nib, which is pretty darn nice. Recently, I have acquired a couple new examples of stock italic nibs from lines that have good reputations for nib quality - A 14 Kt gold Stipula italic nib that is 1.1 mm wide and an 18 Kt gold Aurora italic nib that is 1.0 mm wide. This has prompted me to offer this comparison. The pen photos are primarily to show the sizes of the nibs and the pens on which they are installed. The Pelikan M800 and Pelikan M620 are more widely known pens of comparable length to the Stipula Erutria Tuscany Dreams and the Aurora Primavera, respectively. However, both the Stipula and Aurora pen barrels are of greater girth. The little bear up top is there to keep the pens from rolling. For this comparison, all four pens were loaded with Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black Ink. The Pelikan M800 is an example of a customized wide nib. The Nakaya is an example of a narrower nib. Both the Stipula and Aurora nibs are flawless in terms of quality of manufacturing. Neither has problems with skipping, failing to writing after a rest, outrageously dry or wet ink flow or any other “defect.” Both are single-tone, yellow gold. The writing sample demonstrates that, while the Stipula has quite reasonable line differentiation, it is not nearly as good as that of either the Pelikan M800 customized IB or the Nakaya customized BB nib. The Aurora nib has surprisingly poor differentiation, particularly since I had read that the Aurora italic nibs were especially good and quite crisp. What you can’t see is that the Stipula nib writes very smoothly. The Aurora nib is rather toothy - not to a problematic degree, though. Now, I am quite aware that one nib from a pen company is not sufficient grounds for any sweeping generalizations. But, based on this comparison, I will continue having nibs custom ground rather than thinking I would be satisfied with stock italic nibs “out of the box,” even from pen manufacturers with reputations for excellent quality. In fact, I would have to say that, in my opinion, the much less expensive nibs from Osmiroid, Lamy, and those made to Brian Gray’s specifications, for example, are better for italic script than these gold nibs, as they come from the high end pen makers. I suppose this should be no surprise. It speaks more to how fortunate we are to have folks like Binder, Mottishaw and Masuyama available to us than to the shortcomings of the stock nibs. I would be very pleased if others shared their experience and opinions of the italic pen/nib market. David Note: Since this is not really a pen review, if it fits better in another forum, I trust the moderators will inform me and move it.
  9. For those interested, I have posted A Comparative Review Of Italic Nibs: Custom Versus Stock in the Fountain Pen Reviews forum. Comments and personal experience to share would be appreciated. Happy writing! David

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