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  1. Two Semi-Flex 3-42 G Nibs Montblanc Fountain Pens and Nib Flexibility ~ When I joined Fountain Pen Network several years ago, it was with the specific intent of learning from others in the Montblanc Forum. Their years of experience, detailed understanding, and keenly honed appreciation of fine distinctions regarding subtleties was impressive. Knowing essentially nothing about the lore, development and mechanics of fountain pens, I was attracted to the active knowledge base present in the many threads in the Montblanc Forum. Since then I’ve greatly benefited from hundreds of insightful posts by those who know best. Accordingly, there’s an aspect of fountain pens in general, and Montblanc pens in particular, which remains inchoate in my thinking, not because of the deficiencies of those who’ve discussed it, but my own lack of experience. It concerns nib flexibility, especially in Montblanc pens old and new. I’ve read a number of relevant threads in the Montblanc Forum, as well as detailed explanatory essays by respected fountain pen and nib specialists. All of them enlarged my understanding, clearing up misconceptions, laying out the salient factors in considering nib flexibility. While from time to time there may be small differences in nomenclature from author to author, what I’ve read has been helpful, comprehensive and germane. Had I not joined FPN and read threads in the Montblanc Forum, my utter ignorance of nib flexibility realities would’ve remained substantial. **************************************************************** There remain a number of points which are muddled in my thinking. I may very likely have misunderstood or altogether overlooked various considerations, resulting in needless confusion. In order to better grasp nib flexibility and Montblanc pens through the decades, I’ll restate below what I’ve gleaned from others, any glaring errors being solely my fault and responsibility, not theirs. Whatever is far from accurate, misleading or incomplete will certainly be corrected by the resident experts who regularly post in the Montblanc Forum. My hope is that this post will not seem fatuous, but might instead inspire more posts describing and/or showing Montblanc nibs which have any degree of flexibility. Why Flexibility? When I was in junior high school teachers emphasized that fountain pen tines shouldn’t be pressed downward. The ostensible reason was that doing so might exceed the tensile strength of the metal and thus spring the nib beyond usability. A number of posts scattered here and there in the Montblanc Forum question the need for meddling with nibs which have already been crafted to write strokes of clarity and distinction. There doesn’t appear to be consensus on the value of flexible nibs, whether softer nibs, springy nibs or ultra-wet noodles. Many are understandably satisfied with the writing performance of the Montblanc nibs they have. The advantages of flexible nibs emphasized in many posts are several, with increased individuality of handwriting being foremost. The expressive quality of decorative penmanship in past centuries shares certain visual qualities with the strokes, curves and lines from many flexible nibs. There’s charm and elegance in flowing lines of ink which ripple in and out of fullness despite originating from a single nib. The aesthetic value is considerable, which may nonetheless belie the months and years of disciplined practice needed to attain mastery of such handwriting. I’ve read several blunt warnings that mere possession of a flexible nib is no shortcut to quasi-Spencerian elegance. Which Pens Might Have Flexible Nibs? As far as non-Montblanc fountain pens, a number of posts recommend that those seeking dramatic line variation obtain and devote the time to mastering dip pens. For those less venturesome, a number of posts recommend such pens as Waterman 52, Namiki Falcon, Mabie Todd Swan and Simplo pens. In several posts respected authors strongly emphasized that used pens, especially more than half a century old, were the surest way for anyone to obtain and develop skills in using a flexible nib. Special praise was given to the Pelikan 400NN OF nib for versatility due to its exceptional flexibility. Concerning Montblanc fountain pens, what I’ve read from more than two dozen authors has comprised a variety of older models, each with advocates noting the strengths of the pen models they’ve owned and used. The most frequently mentioned Montblanc pen having nib flexibility were the 1950s celluloid 146 models, extolled for their line variation and smooth ink flow. Other Montblanc models specifically mentioned for sometimes having nib flexibility were the following, which makes no claim to be definitive: 206, 214, 221, 234, 234½, 342, 14C 585, 742, and 1960s to early 1980s 146 and 149. Having never used any of these, they’re listed due to the positive comments of those who know them well. I was surprised to see considerable caution expressed about seeking nib flexibility in fountain pens which weren’t explicitly designed for such functionality. Apparently in decades past there were factory-designed nibs which featured varying degrees of flexibility to accommodate variable writing styles. Several posts asserted that Montblanc was not one of the fountain pen manufacturers which did so. Therefore pushing a more recent Montblanc nib past its flexibility limit was a considerable risk for less experienced fountain pen writers. What are the Relative Levels of Nib Flexibility? In reading posts and essays about nib flexibility at times I felt uncertain about the nomenclature as different authors as well as different vendors sometimes used different descriptions. Just as fountain pen user nib preferences vary from individual to individual, there are similar but distinct approaches to expressing the relative levels of nib flexibility. Most descriptions are largely based on objective considerations with a few favoring sound but subjective impressions. Mindful that there are well-established conventions, yet certain unsettled terminology, these appear to be the relative levels, without daring to suggest that they’re definitive: • Very Flexible, or Wet Noodle • Flexible • Semi-Flex • Limited or No Flexibility, or Nail Yet if those are reasonably standard — and they may not be — where do these fit in? • Springy or Bouncy • Soft A few authors proposed a distinction between manufacturer intended, designed-in genuine flexibility, and the more incidental springy or bouncy nibs which weren’t designed to be marketed as flexible but were, due to both design and metallurgical considerations. Fully flexible nibs have been described as yielding line variation with minimal pressure. Semi-flex nibs, by contrast, yield less line variation despite greater pressure. Wet noodles have been characterized as being tough to handle as the slightest pressure from an inexperienced hand might result in a splattered mess. The nails generally yield reliable strokes with only limited line variation, if any. How do Physical and Mechanical Factors Influence Nib Flexibility? Nib flexibility is largely concerned with the degree of line variation and the amount of pressure placed by a hand on a nib. Among others, these were cited as being possible factors in nib flexibility, with varying degrees of significance: • 14K vs 18K Gold • Mono-tone vs Bi-tone Nibs • Alloy Metal Composition • Nib Thickness • Longer, Slender Tines • Precious Metal Tempering • Ink Feed Design Unlike an italic nib which produces line variation with set directionality, a flexible nib is typically a round tip yielding narrow or broad strokes in any direction, up or down, back or forth. There are two considerations with any given flexible nib — the tines bending up and down, and the tines spreading outward. Bending and spreading are separate actions which don’t require heavy hand pressure to occur in a flexible nib. The design physics is such that capillary action causes ink to flow without necessarily producing a wetter line. When tines are forcibly separated under pressure it may yield a wetter line, but it isn’t genuine nib flexibility. The ‘give’ when excessive pressure is applied risks exceeding the tensile strength flexibility limit of a nib, which damages the tines, resulting in a sprung nib. Several authors explained that contemporary fountain pen makers feel that most customers learned to write with ballpoint pens, hence apply excessive pressure to fountain pens, as well as often not realizing the optimal position for holding a fountain pen. If that’s the case, then such fountain pen users might mistakenly suppose that greatly increased pressure on a nib might result in enhanced line variation. As a university undergraduate with Sheaffer entry-level fountain pens, I did just that. There’s considerable risk in overstressing precious metal. For certain nibs, their design and composition tolerates a wide degree of flex. Other nibs are unable to retain their molecular tensile strength if subjected to medium to strong pressure. I read warnings to avoid purchasing a contemporary premium nib and then spring it to unusability with ill-considered excessive writing pressure. A vintage or older flexible nib often has longer tines with sloping shoulders. It’s designed to maintain a satisfactory ink flow while a degree of flex is present. The tines of a flexible nib may touch at rest, unlike regular nibs which have a slight gap separating tines at rest. The nearly unanimous conclusion of the authors I read was that contemporary Montblanc factory nibs were occasionally soft or bouncy, but not semi-flex or fully flexible. For that, they suggested consulting any of the internationally respected nibmeisters, or seriously considering pre-1955 Montblanc pens. As I was born in late 1953, it seems as though Montblanc pens from my birth era or before have the greatest possibility of having any flexibility. **************************************************************** Who Has Fine Examples of Montblanc Fountain Pens with Any Flexibility? Among my own Montblanc fountain pens, only the two 3-42 Gs, shown in the image at the top, have any degree of flexibility. Interestingly, they aren’t alone in producing attractive line variation as all three 149 OBBBs yield line variation with nearly any ink on any grade of paper. Do you write with any Montblanc semi-flex or flex pens? Please correct, amend or add to what I’ve written, as it’s no more than a summary of what I’ve read, rather than observations from experience. If it’s comfortable and convenient, a photograph of a pen, or nib, or a handwriting sample might be useful in adding to the overall understanding of Montblanc nib flexibility. Tom K.
  2. 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 protagonists 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... Overall: -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. Antonis.
  3. eytim

    Syahi Imperator

    Review: Syahi Imperator I attended the DC pen show last month as I have done for the past several years. I enjoyed it immensely, seeing and speaking with dealers that I have come to know and respect over the past 12 years. I sought and found several hard to find vintage pen parts for several pens that I am restoring and examined and wrote with many of the new pens on the market. My collection is 60 % vintage and 40% modern. My pen acquisition goals for this show, which I accomplished, was to acquire four specific modern fountain pens. Three Italians and one Japanese. I was also intent on acquiring a new pen that I would categorize as part of the genre of small manufacturers/ bespoke/custom that have grown over the past five years to the hobby’s and user’s great benefit that offer numerous choices for pen body materials,various filling mechanisms, attempts at development of flex nibs and most important for me interchangeability or use of screw in nib units such as JOWO. I was wowed by such craftsmen and companies such as Franklin Christoph, Kanilea, Jonathon Brooks, Herbert Pen Company, Heinz etc. They were all there and I told myself that I would definitely purchase such a fountain pen at the show and if overwhelmed by the plethora of choices then I would take the descriptive materials home and order one when I arrived home and could review my options. Once I had acquired my three Italian and one Japanese pens I set aside time to walk around and sample these custom/small manufacturer pens and speak to their creators. In the back of the smaller room of the show I passed by a small table for Syahi pens manufactured in India and manned by a young man. Syahi (“Ink” in Urdu-syahiindia.com) manufactures wood pens. I was not looking at the time for a wood pen but thought I would go for some of the great custom acrylics ( to be honest though I initially didn’t jump at the acrylics of some of the custom or small manufacturers because after a while they kind of looked alike and while I enjoy the interchangeability of the Jowo or Bock nibs they used there was nothing unique about the nibs). The Syahi pens were displayed beautifully and branded and packaged extremely well but I was prepared to pass them by. The young man who manned the table Sanay Shah (the co-owner and developer of Syahi) was an earnest and extremely articulate man passionate about pens in general and of course his Syahi pen in particular which he developed. He is an engineer by training. I sat down and he asked me what type of nib I was looking for? I told him that I was looking for a modern flex or semi flex and I had tried the Aurora and Wahl and FC and several others. My expectation of course was not that they would write like a vintage flex but wanted to explore this new category of modern flex that one sees advertised so much now in the marketplace. I took out a vintage Wahl Flex and a Waterman 54 flex that I had and wrote with it and Sanay enjoyed that and loved the flex. He then convinced me to try his Syahi with a steel semi-flex fine nib. Sanay explained the detailed thought and design that went into every aspect of Syahi pens and it became apparent to me how his engineering background contributed greatly to this pen. He had already modified the design of his pens several times and was very eager to receive feedback from people. He was clearly intent on developing his line of pens into a top tier pen company. Once I held this pen I realized that this was no kit pen and in my view was unique and even at this stage of its development (only several years old) should be considered at the top of this genre of small manufacturers/bespoke pens. Ø The pen is made from rich woods. I chose to try the Imperator model made of Wenge wood. The pen is coated in natural oils to prevent splitting and Sanay was familiar with the kiln dry process and choosing the highest quality woods. There are also pens that he carries made from Ipea and other luxury woods. Ø The fit, finish and tolerances of the pen are excellent. To my mind the pen is classy, rich and stunning. Ø This is a custom designed pen in every respect. The nibs are custom manufactured for Syahi and are screw in units complete with a housing. These proprietary nibs cannot be used in non Syahi pens. Ø The feed is custom designed and I understand an ebonite feed is in development. Ø The pen is nicely balanced and not heavy but not too light. Perfect for my taste. Ø Thought was given to the converter and a screw in converter is supplied as used in such pens as Cross Peerless and other high quality pens. Ø The furniture of the pen is available in 24K gold plated or brushed brass. Ø The pen comes in a luxurious leather pen sleeve with flap in a simple but silk material lined box. Ø The aspect of the pen that really hooked me on this pen was the imaginative design of the semi flex steel nib. The nib slit is cut almost the entire length of the nib. The semi flex nib is in my opinion the best currently available semi flex steel nib on the market that provides significant line variation and importantly very little if no railroading at all. The semi flex nib even affords significant “snap back” which is an attribute not common if found at all in modern steel production semi-flex nibs and even in most modern gold semi-flex nibs. The flow is excellent as well. Clearly it writes best with a converter and less so with a cartridge as most pens do. I was unable to try the Fine semi flex 14ct nib as Sanay sold them out at the show but I bought one and am eagerly awaiting it. I suspect the gold version of the nib will be even better than the steel version which says a lot. I tried at the show the Wahl Deco Band 18 ct Flex and Aurora 88 18ct Flex and they were both excellent writers ( a flex that uses other than cc fill will most times write better than a cc fill) though of course no comparison to vintage flex. These pens however are 900$ and 650$ respectively and to my mind if buying only for the flex cannot be justified. The Syahi can accommodate all of the proprietary nib units which can be purchased separately. I believe the Syahi proprietary steel semi flex nib writes nearly the same as those pens and as I said I am fairly confident that once I try the 14ct semi flex Syahi nib I will find that the Syahi writes the same or better than the Aurora and Wahl modern semi flex nibs. I can foresee the next iteration of the pen and future models being even better because of Syahi’s intent on innovation and improvement. Ø The price of Syahi pens offers tremendous value. The steel version is $ 159 and I paid $249 for the 14ct semi flex version. Overall though this pen got me excited because I could see what commitment and skill level Sanay brought to the development of Syahi pens and not just the pen body. The entire pe, its design and execution is of high quality. Thought and innovation are built into this pen line. Even the choice of luxurious woods is a novelty as to my mind there are not many luxury wood production fountain pens on the market. Though I can foresee purchasing an acrylic or celluloid type pen from some of the small manufacturers that I enjoyed viewing at the DC show I think perhaps my next acquisition in this category will be another Syahi. I cannot recommend it enough.Please note that when I communicated with Syahi after the show regarding the 14ct gold nib that I ordered I was told by Sanay that their website is not fully functioning yet and that my inquiries should be sent to info@syahiindia.com. All of my inquiries were promptly responded to.
  4. passer

    How Flexible

    Hello I consider ordering a custom nib fountain pen by Richard Binder (after looking at nakaya a bit, but Richard Binder seems way more competent and ready to address customer's specific questions). What I desire is a 4XF nib, a bit scratchy instead of the usual smoothness, since I feel a certain degree of resistance is vital in shaping letters, which may be due to the fact that until now, I have been writing with a simple steel dip pen (has it's drawbacks: need to dip every few instances…, whence my quest for a fountain pen). Richard Binder most kindly agreed to making a nib a somewhat toothy, as he calls it. Now, I also feel this nib should not be entirely rigid, but I'm uncertain whether to ask for a semi flex or maybe for some custom degree such as 1/4 flex? If you'd be so kind as to have a look at a little video clip I posted here: and give me your opinion? / edit : Maybe the amount of flexibility can actually be measured. In the image attached the thinner, pressureless (and horizontal) stroke seems to be about 0.15 mm wide, the one with pressure (and verticality) about twice as much. The nib bends about 1 mm, at a pressure widely around 15 g. In case it matters: The nib itself is 2 cm long. end edit / Thanks a lot
  5. Folks, I now have a Binder pen with a Fine semi-flex gold nib of his in place of the stock nib. My question: does one let the nib just (semi) flex naturally while writing, or is it flexed intentionally? I would also be grateful for any advice from more experienced members on using a true semi-flex for the first time. I do not plan to put this pen to paper until I learn a little more-I do not intend to ruin this nib by using it incorrectly! Thanks, all.
  6. I apologise if my question is somewhat frequent here but I am in need of advice. A couple of years ago I bought Lamy Studio as my first fountain pen and I am still very happy with it. However, it has a sturdy stainless steel nib producing lines with no width variation. My question therefore is: are the gold nibs fitted into common not-so-expensive pens (under or around $100) capable of any line variation or would I need to pay a rather hefty sum of money for such a feature? Just to be clear -- I am not talking about anything Spencerian-like, just a moderate line variation to add a little flair. If any such pens are commonly available, which would you recommend if:the pen would either have to have a piston-filling mechanism, or a converter would have to be available (I am not a fan of cartridges);size of the pen should be around that of Lamy Studio, i.e., length at least around 130 mm (capped; Studio: 140 mm), diameter ~13 mm; weight at most ~25 g (Studio: 30 g, but this can get a bit too much if one writes for a long period of time); andF or EF nib should be available. From what I have read online e.g. some Pelikans might be a good fit, but [a] I would like to be sure and I would like to know all my options before making a purchase. In case you need more information to make a recommendation, just ask and I will try my best to provide a comprehensive answer. TIA,nvx
  7. Hello! I'm a self-taught calligrapher from Russia and I specialize in dipping nibs. However, I want to find a pen for everyday usage (I'm a student and have to write a lot). I need your help as we don't have a large selection of fountain pens in Russia (only Parker and Waterman), so I cannot try other pens. I want a pen with flexible (or semi-flex) nib (something very near to copperplate) that is cheaper then 50$. Also it would be better if a pen would be made of metall, but this is not obligatory. Thanks for your help. PS Now I'm trying to modificate a cheap parker by changing standard nib with the dip one, but it is much more scratchy, then a good pen should be)

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