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  1. “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

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