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Inexpensive Pen With Nib Capable Of Producing Variable-Width Lines


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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); and
  • F 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.
Edited by nvx
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Not entirely what you asked about, but the Noodler's Ahab is a flex pen with the following dimensions:


Length: 139 mm (capped) 170 mm (posted)

Diameter: 14 mm

Weight: 18 g



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Two major classes of variable-width lines : Flex nibs, not very useable until a lot of practice at writing Spencerian/Copperplate. The tines spread with a bit of pressure. Usually require a lot of bucks for a good one -- unless you buy dip pen nibs.


The other type of variable-width lines are from a chisel-shaped nib, a broad-nibbed, aka italic nib. You can buy an italic nib for your Lamy for a few dollars.




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I love the Noodler's pens. They have good flex and are quite comfortable to use. I have also found that the Pelikan m205 demonstrator has a certain amount of flex, though not as much as a Noodler's pen.

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Thank you all for your kind and prompt responses.


Judging by what Randal mentioned, a true flex nib is out of the question. It thus seems that I will need to visit a shop somewhere to test-drive a few of the nibs with a limited amount of flex in order to determine whether any such one would fit my needs. Another question then lends itself to this discussion: how much pressure does one need to (reasonably) flex a "semi-flex" nib compared to a "true flex" nib? That is, how much "stiffer" is the semi-flex? I am sure that there is a variation depending on the brand etc., but if a general conclusion can be made, please, enlighten me... ;)


As for italic nibs, this is an interesting idea. I will need to research more on this, especially on the differences between -- say -- Lamy F or EF nib and their 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9. Some information can be found e.g. on PenInkCillin (http://peninkcillin.blogspot.cz/2011/10/lamy-nibs-comparison-ef-vs-11mm-15mm.html), but from there it seems that the difference between 1.1 and 1.5 (or 1.5 and 1.9) is quite significant with no "middle ground" being available. In other words, either I would get something almost identical to an F nib (1.1), or a nib that produces very broad lines (1.5 and especially 1.9).




P.S.: The target end result is something like the Waterman sample in post #92 of the thread https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/47375-pelikan-blue-black/page-4 (I would not mind a slightly greater width variation if inevitable, but not too much of it).

Edited by nvx
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FWIW, a 1.1m nib is not going to be nearly the same thing as a round F nib. The difference will be noticeable in person (unless the F nib is meant for giants), I have no idea what's up with that blog entry unless maybe the scan didn't come through clearly. My <1mm Plumix nib is definitely wider than my F nibs, and so are my 1.1mm 78Gs.


That Waterman entry says that it's a semi-flex nib, which is about what the Noodler's pens are also. The Noodler's Creeper is a piston filler, and it's an easy way to get a semi-flex and see if you like it. Noodler's pens sometimes need tinkering, but my Creeper worked out of the box just fine.


If you want a low-commitment way to try out italics, Sheaffer calligraphy sets come with several nibs and are an easy way to try out different sizes. You get a pen, cartridges and 3 different sizes of nibs. Pilot also has the Plumix (,7-,9mm I think) and the 78G B (really a 1.1m italic, not a round B nib).

Edited by WirsPlm
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Ah, I see. Then I will definitely need to visit some shop to see the actual difference.


Anyway, thank you for the comment.



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A Geha 790 is semi-flex unless you get lucky with a 'flexi'. cost with out shipping €25 if lucky-35-40. On German Ebay.

Pelikan 140 semi-flex, €50-75; can be gotten if patient. They use to be ten cheaper; can be had for 10 more too, if in a hurry.


Either are great pens, the 140 is a medium-small that posts to standard size. Many pens were that size back then.

The 790 is a standard pen. The same size but not the same nib as the Geha School pen. The school pens nibs are luck of the draw. mostly nice vintage springy regular flex like the Pelikan 120 to some semi-flex or even flexi.


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I love the Noodler's pens. They have good flex and are quite comfortable to use. I have also found that the Pelikan m205 demonstrator has a certain amount of flex, though not as much as a Noodler's pen.

Hmmm..... Somebody called the Noodler's flexibility in another thread "Chuck Norris flex" and that's what it is.

A normal person will get hand cramps after a few lines flex writing with an unmodified pen.

I would not call any modern Pelikan nib flexible.

The 2xx pens are springy.

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"Chuck Norris flex" -- :D :D Now I nearly fell off my chair, but I guess it describes the situation well if people use it...


In any case, the more I read on this the more I think that -- apart from buying an older pen e.g. on eBay as Bo Bo Olson suggested -- there is no way I could get a pen for everyday writing with a reasonable semi-flex nib in the mentioned price range. Oh well, if eBay fails then I will have to resort to an italic nib or, alternatively, establish a private fountain pen fund with the desired pen purchase date defined as "when the fund grows large enough"... ;)



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You still can modify a Noodler's pen to ease its flex if you are not afraid to tinker around with it.

A FPR nib would be a similar to a Noodler's nib.


And you always can go vintage.


If you go for a italic nib, you can take a look at the Rotring Artpen for about 15 €, they have great italic nibs.

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I have found that if you want to test drive semi-flex nibs on a relatively low budget, look for the Waterman open nib pens from the 40's and 50's. This would be the likes of the Stalwart and it's variations. You should be able to find these for quite reasonable prices. The ones that I found all have different degrees of flex ranging from a near wet noodle to being able to produce 2 mm wide strokes with ease.

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The Platinum Cool is not flexible, it is pushed very hard in the video above (unrealistic in real usage).

If you look/listen carefully you can almost hear the cool begging for mercy as he is almost smashed by Brian.


See also this thread with a similar flex discussion with some posts regarding the Cool:


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Exactly as Pterodactylus says -- as far as my limited experience with fountain pens suggests, to get at least a small amount of line variation out of a stainless steel nib one must strain it a lot. This is not good either for the pen or for the hand, hence my desire to get a pen with semi-flex gold nib.


I have reconciled myself to the idea that with such a limited budget I can only get an older pen. Not that there is anything wrong with older pens, not in the least; there only is a rather uncertain waiting period until a viable pen appears on eBay/... plus the process itself is not as straightforward as going into a pen shop and simply making a purchase.



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(Pelikan 140 - OF ..... Montblanc Midnight Blue (old formula))

(Noodler´s Ahab EMF ..... Rohrer & Klingner Salix)

(Mabie Todd Swan 4660 Leverless ..... ESS Registrars Blue Black)

(TWSBI Mini - 1.5 CI ..... Noodler´s Navy)

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If you look/listen carefully you can almost hear the cool begging for mercy as he is almost smashed by Brian.


Good one.



And thanks for posting the link to the earlier thread, as well as taking the time and trouble to create and post your excellent examples -- *much* appreciated. Your handwriting is beautiful and an inspiration.


It's good to know what you pro flex users think about using pens such as the Cool for flex applications. I'm not ready to try out flex yet, but when the time comes I'll be sure to follow the excellent advice given in that earlier thread as well as other threads on FPN. And now I know not to try to torture my new Cool.



But ... I do think we should note, in Brian's defense, and even though he did say more than once in the video that the Cool isn't advertised as flex, that he may have been put up to it by Platinum:




(Scroll down to the text accompanying "PGB-3000A" -- the Cool's model number -- and see where they claim that "The nib is moderately flexible" ...)


-- Constance

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Line variation......


Noodler's Konrad will provide some flex, but can be used normally as well for as little as $20.

I have a 1.1 mm nib for my Lamy Al Star - cost me under $15. Even if you get the 1.1, 1.5 & 1.9 you are in no more than $45 - not sure but I think the ones available from Goulet are $13 each and will fit your CP1. Good way to experiment without dropping large amounts of money.


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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