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Nib History


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Surfin'on the web for info about German made Degussa nibs, I ran into an interesting article. For the very well informed experts among you maybe an open door, but for me and maybe to others an eyopener to an essential part of the history of European fountain pen industry. Hence the link: http://www.thesouthernscribe.com/PenArticles/Nibs.htm


Question that might lead to a new tread or topic: If anyone has info about (specifically fountain pen) nib manufactory and nib manufacturers (worldwide) that can be shared, please do so! (specific brands, connections with well known FP brands, production processes, materials used, etc.)

I hope for response! :rolleyes:


May be there is already some related topic running on this huge forum, if so, I'd be glad to be informed :blush:


Photo: Degussa 14K 585 nib on a Dutch brand (Been - Premier) 1950 FP


Regards to you all,

Greetings from Rijswijk, the Netherlands





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Hi Lexaf check these two patents.


US Patent 1791776 "Device for Operating on Nibs" by John Estabrook Wahl, 2/10/1931.


US Patent 1867932 "Means for Making Pen Nibs" by John Estabrook Wahl and Carl W. Gronemann, 7/19/1932. [/url]


Also US Patent 2313778 is for cheap folded tines nibs. There are several more...

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Good morning Lexaf & Gang!

A while back I went in search of info on Degussa and was able to find a little bit on their history in Andy Lambrou's book, "Fountain Pens-Vintage And Modern" (pg. 149 & 153). Seems Degussa's history was tied to some big names back then like Parker(Germany), Osmia and Josef Lamy. I highly recommend Andy's book for a good historical look at a lot of companies instead of just being another "visual" reference book.

Here's some pics of a German pen called "GARANT-LUXUS" with a steel Degussa nib...piston filler with removeable blind cap, translucent ink-level window, black pointed cap jewel and a solid clip with a full arrow pattern w/feathers & arrow point. Solid pen...maybe some relation to Parker/Germany since it has some Vacumatic styling (or just another pen capitalizing on Parker's success)? Maybe somebody on FPN knows more about it and can expand on this theme.

The pen:









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Doc, I know nothing about Degussa but I looked at FPN, and found this interesting post by kaweco, which may give you some lead.


Also these are some patents from Degussa that are related to FPs.

I am on a 56K line :( some I can check them efficiently but I hope they provide decent leads.


Also this company appears to have some connection with FPs and Degussa.





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Thanks DocNib, for the reference to Lambrou's "Fountain Pens-Vintage And Modern" (pg. 149 & 153). I am a proud owner of Andy's other book "Fountain Pens of the World", where he gives additional information about the relationship between Lamy, Osmia, Kaweco and other pioneers of the Germa FP industry. (page 213 and further).

Nice pictures. Again according to Lambrou's last mentioned book I think the pen you show us might be Osmia made, as Osmia had quite a strong relationship with Parker in the late twenties (Parker practically owned Osmia in that period), but the influence of Parker you can still see in the design and styling of the pens they made in the late fourties to early fifties. (page 228, pen no 6). The piston filler is typically German of course and the steel nib indicates the fourties, where there still was a tremendous shortage of gold, just after WW II. Further, Osmia did not only make pens under it's own brand, but also made parts for numerous small firms and stationers that marketed their own brand names, among them quite a lot of local Dutch brands such as 'P.W.Akkerman' and 'Merlin'.


BTW, how do you manage to attach more than one picture to your posting? There seems to be a method through a picture hosting service but it is not totaly clear to me, so if you can help me with that, please do, thanks!


Antoniosz, thank you for the Patent References, very interesting, especially because they are so well illustrated. Regarding to the posting of Kaweco:

In another topic (New members - Hello from Rijswijk, The Netherlands) I wrote :

I just received a mail from Thomas Neureither (aka Kaweco) in wich he gives permission to translate and publish his article on the Heidelberg (Germany) nib industry. (Yes, Mholve I can read German too  )

As soon as I'm ready with the translation I will publish it in my 'nib history' topic.

The article is very 'gründlich' and in German. No problem for me to read (writing German is another thing...), but for most of you English will be a lot easier to read I think... :P

I hope I to have the translation ready for posting in the beginning of january. I want Thomas to read it first for verification.

Coming days I'll post one or more pictures of Osmia pens so you can see the similarity in style and design with Doc's pen.


That's it for now, I'm going to sleep (1.15 AM local time....)


Best regards to you all,


Lex van Galen aka Lexaf



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Hello Kaweco,


I admit my information was from 'hear-say', and I did not verify it. :doh:

And you're the expert on this subject! So Merlin was independant, ok, thanks for the correction, but who made the Akkerman pens? (below a pic. of the two I have in my collection).


Lex :meow:

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Hi Lex

No, no, Lex, your information is not from "hear- say", it stemmed from Lambrou, or better from Wallrafen. He wrote the part about German fps, exept Tropen. So it might be, that there was a translation or only a komma fault. Osmia produced for Akkermann but not for Merlin. So I read but I must confess that I have no further informationes about Merlin and Akkermann and I have`t found where Garant was located.

The style of pens during the history was more influenced by the times and not by the producer. Parker might have often been the "avant garde". But there had been several firms which used the big ball clip or later the arrow clip. Several used the ring top or the flat top style or later the stream line style.

Kind Regards


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Wow, Thomas, all that gold!!! :bunny1: :bunny1: :bunny1: :bunny1:

I am sure there will be a lot to discuss about in 2007! BTW, I'm working on the translation of your Osmia et all article right on this moment. Translating from German into English is more work than I thougt for a simple Dutchman...


Schöne Grüsse und Glückliches neues Jahr!!


Lex :eureka:

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BTW, how do you manage to attach more than one picture to your posting? There seems to be a method through a picture hosting service but it is not totaly clear to me, so if you can help me with that, please do, thanks!

The way I do it .. which doesn't mean it is correct, is to use the 'image' tab and enter the first address. I then copy and paste that and modify the file name for the second, third and others.



"Adventure is just bad planning." -- Roald Amundsen

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Hi all,


When I made the posting that opened this topic about the history of the nib industry I asked for expertise on the subject. Well I got it! Not long after this request I received a long personal mail from Thomas Neureither, in this group also known as 'Kaweco'. The main part of the mail was an extensive piece of history about the 'rise and fall' of the Heidelberg fountain pen industry but especially focussed on the nib production. But... it was in German language. As I already explained to Thomas: I can read and understand German, but my German writing is awfull. So we agreed that our correspondence would be biligual: he writes in German to me and I write in English to him. More important: he agreed with my proposal to translate the article and publish it in this forum topic.

So here it is. I consider this as an important piece of history and I hope you will not only enjoy the story, but will also find some answers to questions you maybe had about this subject.

I think Thomas will appreciate your comments, as the starter of this topic I certainly do!


Thank you so much Thomas, for sharing this knowledge with us.


Lex :eureka:




A short story of Kaweco


By Thomas Neureither


1). Morton - Kaweco


In 1883 the “Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik” (‘The Heidelberg Fountain Pen Factory’) was established. This was – next to Soennecken – the oldest company that produced writing equipment in Germany. Nibs were purchased from English companies as well as from the Morton company in New York.

In the year 1899 Heinrich Koch and Rudolph Weber took over the Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik. From the initials of the new company owners originated the name “KAWECO”. Next to Nibs with the print HF also nibs with the printing Kaweco were made.

In 1913 Kaweco bought machinery from Morton for producing gold nibs. Engineers and labourers from New York built up the machinery in the factory plant in Heidelberg en taught the local workers the techniques.

In 1914 the First World War broke out and before the beginning of 1915 all American workers had left Heidelberg. During this war period no import was possible but the internal German market for fountain pen nibs was served from here.


2). Osmia - Degussa


In 1919, two brothers, Georg und Hermann Böhler, left the Kaweco company and in the nearby place Dossenheim they set up their own new firm: “ Böhler und Cie. ”. With the obtained know how they could also produce their own gold nibs.

In the beginning of the twenties a patent for nib tips was obtained from Dr. Ernst Haagn from the Hereaus Firm in Hanau ( see http://v3.espacenet.com/textdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=DE437173&F=0 and http://www.heraeus.de/hh/eng/holding_home....zern_Geschichte ) In this process a metal alloy of about 80% of osmium, and a mix of platinum, rhodium and other metals from the platinum group were used. It is true that this alloy was tremendously expensive, but it was of a much better quality than the natural iridium that until then was imported from Tasmania. The analysis of old ‘natural iridium’ tipped nibs shows that a high percentage of the so called iridium had been contaminated with undesired metals with a lower nobility within the alloy, e.g nickel. These lower value metal components tended to disappear during the years. Seen throught the microscope we sometimes can see anib that looks like a dry and scratchy sponge. The new osmium alloy, invented by Dr. Haagn, were pellets, produced under vacuum and Böhler gave a lifetime guarantee on it.

The Böhlers took advantage of the competition gain and the company was renamed in “Osmia”.

In 1928 a joint venture with Parker was initiated, but after 2 years the Parker company withdrew, disappointed with the results. The Duofold fountain pens were considered very expensive in the German market and did not sell very good. Also the stiff American nibs were not very well suited for the German style of handwriting ( the so called “Sütterlin Schrift” ).

In the beginning of the thirties Osmia was on the edge of bankruptcy, because Parker demanded restitution of the investments they made. Even worse, the sales of fountain pens were decreasing as a result of the world wide economic crisis that was taking up in Europe.

The “ Deutsche Gold- und Silber- Scheideanstalt “ ( the German Gold- and Silver- Extracting Co. ) “DEGUSSA” had a plant in Pforzheim and this firm supplied the jewelry industry as well as the companies that produced writing instruments with the precious metals they needed. In 1932 Degussa bought the nib production department from Osmia. In Dossenheim they set up a new factory with a staff of about 80 people.

In that year the price of gold was rising so high that gold nibs could barely be produced for an acceptable price. But the steel nibs that were produced in that period were brittle and susceptible to corrosion. Gold plated nibs had never been a permanent solution to the corrosion problem. At the most vulnerable part of the nib, the middle cut (or slit) and the breather hole, there is lesser or no more gold plating. It is usually there where the bare steel will begin to corrode.

Glass nibs were also produced at that time, but a glass nib had never been a good alternative for someone who had ever written with a flex nib.

In 1934 Kaweco and Montblanc developed and a new patented nib that needed 75 % less gold to be produced. In 1936 the German government declared a total prohibition on the production of gold nibs. Degussa then developed an alloy from silver and palladium called ‘ Palliag ’, that was also used by Kaweco. Pelikan developed the ‘CN Feder’ (the CN nib). From 1938 the German authorities also banned the use of palladium. Until 1943 Degussa applied a stainless high quality alloy steel called V4A-Supra. The steel was ‘brüniert’ (coloured metallic-brown) to attain a bronze like colour. After that period – until the end of the War – still lower quality materials became available.

In 1938 Hermann Böhler left Osmia and established his own firm in Dossenheim. The nibs Hermann Böhler used for his fountain pens were bought from Degussa.

After the War Degussa resumed the production of high quality nibs and continued until 1970. Then the firm withdrew its nib production in Dossenheim. The company shares went to the branch department in Hanau and to Mutschler-Reform in Heidelberg.


3). Hebborn – Luxor


Heinrich Hebborn and Heinrich Schlicksupp left Kaweco in 1925 and set up the Luxor company in Köln (Cologne). After the first bankruptcy of Kaweco in 1929 they returned to the old Kaweco building in Heidelberg. The Köln plant was destroyed in WW II. The company also produced its own nibs. The Luxor nib imprint is an Egyptian pyramid. .

The firm was taken over in 1969 by the Parker branch in Baden-Baden.


4). Mutschler – Reform


Mutschler and some other employees left the Kaweco company in 1928 and set up their own factory in Heidelberg. Reform was never such a well known brand but on the other hand it produced in the same time 4 times as much pens as Lamy that was also established is Heidelberg.

In the nineties the business of pen sales was strongly decreasing as a result of the competition from the Far East. So Reform tried to focus on the production of high quality nibs. Originally nibs with the printing “Iridium Point Germany” came really from Heidelberg. After the 2nd bankruptcy of Reform the production machinery was sold abroad. Nowadays the so called ‘IPG’ nibs are from a hopelessly bad quality. E.g. an IPG nib in a Montblanc is a typical indicator of a total falsification.


5). Rupp


Peter Rupp founded a factory for gold nibs in Heidelberg after the first bankruptcy of Kaweco in 1929. Also Rupp belonged to the group of apprentices that were skilled by Morton. The nibs, carrying the printing of a lions head, were produced until 1975. Then Reform bought the Rupp company.


6). Bock


The Bock company was established in 1939. Details are given on the website of Jack Leone. ( see http://www.thesouthernscribe.com/PenArticles/Nibs.htm ) It is sure that the best nibs in the world are made here. Their customers are mainly the great brands of the world, but these brands seem not to eager to advertise the knowledge of their outsourcing.


7). Kaweco


After the bankruptcy in 1929 the Badische Federhalterfabrik Knust, Grube und Woringen, from Wiesloch nearby Heidelberg, took over the company name Kaweco . Until at least 1972 they still produced writing equipment and nibs that carried the eight sided logo with the letters Ka, We and Co in a three segmented star on the clip, and this logo as well as the letters ‘Ber-Contra’ on the nib. After

Knust, Grube und Woringen went bankrupt in 1996 H&M Gutberlet Gmbh in Nürnberg acquired all the rights on the Firm. ( see http://gutberlet.com/produkte/industrieteile/index.php )


Greetings from Heidelberg,

Thomas Neureither


Translated from German by Lex van Galen


All publication rights reserved by the Author



edited to correct some typos


Edited by Lexaf
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Hi all,


Some pics to add to Thomas' article from some of the brands mentioned.

I'm afraid I do not have pens of these brands in my collection of the earliest days, but I can show you some post WW II examples.


Hope you like them.



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Hi Lex

Thank you for the excellent translation. Alas my own poor knownledge of English / American language hasn`t enough words to explain what I mean :blush:

Thanks for posting the pics, I will add some close up pics of nibs.

Kind Regards


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Hi Thomas,


Thank you for your kind words.

Hope we can work together on a follow up!?


Best regards,



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  • 2 years later...

Hi all!


It has been quite a long time ago since I looked at the 'KaWeCo story' but when I was looking for more info about the nibs made by Peter Rupp in Heidelberg I found this article on the web, from Penexchange, Germany. For those who can read and understand German, an interesting article! Maybe when I have time, inspiration and courage I will try to translate it!


Best regards from Holland,


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