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Flexible Nibs And Global Market Trend


strelnikoff
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I fall into the same category as AC12. When I want to write with a flexible nib, I use a dip pen. There are thousands of variations of nibs available for cheap. (I've only paid $2 for a nib when it was a very rare vintage nib from the 1860's, most of mine I buy in larger groups so I get for cents rather than dollars)

 

I have a nicely flexible vintage Waterman and a modern Pilot with a soft XF nib. The Waterman is nicely flexible and comparable to vintage "college" dip nibs, while the modern Pilot is more like a vintage "firm" dip nib. But neither will get you the thin and thick variation of a dip nib. I've yet to encounter a flexible fountain pen nib that is as sharp as a dip nib. This is because fountain pen nibs are tipped, while dip pens are not. There may be a rare exception, but every one I've tried, and seen, can only get so thin in the hairlines.

 

What most people who want to get that beautiful modulation in line you get from a flexible pen don't understand before they start, is just how slowly you have to write to get that modulation. The more modulation (difference between the thick and thin portions of the line), the slower you write. Even Spencerian writing is mostly monoline except in specific strokes. Copperplate has more modulations per word than traditional Spencerian, but it's not a fast hand, and the modulation is not as extreme as in Spencerian.

 

If you want the modulation in line, but still want to write quickly and smoothly, then do what they used to to do way back when, get a stub nib. In the days of dip pens, stubs were viewed as useful for those who needed to write copious amounts quickly. The trick to making it look more like a flexible pen is to hold the nib so that the edge of the stub is parallel to the line of writing, rather than the traditional 45-degrees needed for italic writing. A fine or medium, smooth-cornered stub held this way makes for beautiful writing without having to take the time and expense for writing with a flexible nib.

 

On the left is me copying an old letter using a stub nib, and on the write is from the same letter using a flexible steel pen. (both are dip nibs) Kind of hard to tell the difference unless you look carefully.

 

Just a thought to throw into the lively conversation.

 

fpn_1461765040__stub_pointed_comparison.

Edited by AAAndrew

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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I fall into the same category as AC12. When I want to write with a flexible nib, I use a dip pen. There are thousands of variations of nibs available for cheap. (I've only paid $2 for a nib when it was a very rare vintage nib from the 1860's, most of mine I buy in larger groups so I get for cents rather than dollars)

 

I have a nicely flexible vintage Waterman and a modern Pilot with a soft XF nib. The Waterman is nicely flexible and comparable to vintage "college" dip nibs, while the modern Pilot is more like a vintage "firm" dip nib. But neither will get you the thin and thick variation of a dip nib. I've yet to encounter a flexible fountain pen nib that is as sharp as a dip nib. This is because fountain pen nibs are tipped, while dip pens are not. There may be a rare exception, but every one I've tried, and seen, can only get so thin in the hairlines.

 

What most people who want to get that beautiful modulation in line you get from a flexible pen don't understand before they start, is just how slowly you have to write to get that modulation. The more modulation (difference between the thick and thin portions of the line), the slower you write. Even Spencerian writing is mostly monoline except in specific strokes. Copperplate has more modulations per word than traditional Spencerian, but it's not a fast hand, and the modulation is not as extreme as in Spencerian.

 

If you want the modulation in line, but still want to write quickly and smoothly, then do what they used to to do way back when, get a stub nib. In the days of dip pens, stubs were viewed as useful for those who needed to write copious amounts quickly. The trick to making it look more like a flexible pen is to hold the nib so that the edge of the stub is parallel to the line of writing, rather than the traditional 45-degrees needed for italic writing. A fine or medium, smooth-cornered stub held this way makes for beautiful writing without having to take the time and expense for writing with a flexible nib.

 

On the left is me copying an old letter using a stub nib, and on the write is from the same letter using a flexible steel pen. (both are dip nibs) Kind of hard to tell the difference unless you look carefully.

 

Just a thought to throw into the lively conversation.

 

fpn_1461765040__stub_pointed_comparison.

 

 

If I didn't know (i.e. read your explanation) I would say writing on the left is from a more flexible nib. However, letters do have more consistency in terms of thick lines width, so the right letter...

Great advice! I have two dip ... pens, and several dip nibs. I'm yet to figure out how to maintain sufficient amount of ink on a nib to write one complete letter or one word.

I may be (most probably) doing something wrong. And looking at my dip nibs, they are have needle sharp tips, without any tipping material.

 

I've tried them and gave up. Thus, fountain pen (vintage or non vintage) with flexible nib - it's the convenience of continuous line that makes me reach for the fountain pen first.

 

Any tips - how to keep more ink on the nib? And - any nibs to recommend ? Brand?

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If I didn't know (i.e. read your explanation) I would say writing on the left is from a more flexible nib. However, letters do have more consistency in terms of thick lines width, so the right letter...

Great advice! I have two dip ... pens, and several dip nibs. I'm yet to figure out how to maintain sufficient amount of ink on a nib to write one complete letter or one word.

I may be (most probably) doing something wrong. And looking at my dip nibs, they are have needle sharp tips, without any tipping material.

 

I've tried them and gave up. Thus, fountain pen (vintage or non vintage) with flexible nib - it's the convenience of continuous line that makes me reach for the fountain pen first.

 

Any tips - how to keep more ink on the nib? And - any nibs to recommend ? Brand?

 

 

Did you prep the dip nib before using?

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I remember seeing dip pens with feeds, years ago. I have a dip pen I am studying for modification. I do have a flexible fountain pen. Trying to do flexible writing with it is not even amusing.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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Did you prep the dip nib before using?

 

I've heard somewhere the nib should be either heated (flame from lighter - but carefully done so) or washed with detergent/soap, to remove some... coating which nib manufacturers tend to use.

Now, I did that, perhaps I haven't done it properly.

 

Is there any other "preparation" needed?

 

My issue is with amount of ink - i.e. lack of ink. Then again, it's something that's by design/default.

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I cannot afford to spring the montblanc flex that I got from my father, but I got a vintage flex (1937 Mabie Todd) the other day, so that I can enjoy the writing even in meeting (some of them are boring lol).

Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

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I've heard somewhere the nib should be either heated (flame from lighter - but carefully done so) or washed with detergent/soap, to remove some... coating which nib manufacturers tend to use.

Now, I did that, perhaps I haven't done it properly.

 

Is there any other "preparation" needed?

 

My issue is with amount of ink - i.e. lack of ink. Then again, it's something that's by design/default.

 

Also, don't touch the end after prepping. Hold it by the sides or far down towards the heel of the nib. Also, it helps to use the right kind of ink. IG inks tend to work quite well. Many, if not most, fountain pen inks tend to be too "wet" and slide right off the nib. Dip pens put down a much greater amount of ink with most lines, especially if there's any flex. That's one reason why they're not good for testing inks you will use in a fountain pen.

 

Sometimes, a fountain pen ink can be made dip-pen-friendly by cutting it with water. I've found Monteverde inks work beautifully once I cut them 1:1 with distilled water. It makes them, funnily enough, less "wet." Some do, some don't. My favorite inks for everyday writing are either a standard IG registrar's ink, or walnut ink made from powder you can get at any calligraphy supply shop. (I go with John Neal books because they're local)

 

But you do have to prep the nib, don't touch it (oils on your fingers disrupt the smooth flow of ink), and use the right ink. And if you do all this, then you may get 4 or 5 words from a single dip. Depending. Sometimes more, but mostly about that or much less if you are flexing a lot.

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

-Montaigne

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I prepare my dip nibs by using undiluted dishwashing liquid and rinsing it off. Only once did that not work: a Spencerian subway stub required me to use rubbing alcohol.

 

With a Zebra G nib I can write several lines before needing to dip, but I am doing relatively normal writing, as opposed to fancy calligraphy.

 

I also have a stub-nibbed fountain pen, but the one I have does not let me produce the hairlines I can get with a dip nib.

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Also, don't touch the end after prepping. Hold it by the sides or far down towards the heel of the nib. Also, it helps to use the right kind of ink. IG inks tend to work quite well. Many, if not most, fountain pen inks tend to be too "wet" and slide right off the nib. Dip pens put down a much greater amount of ink with most lines, especially if there's any flex. That's one reason why they're not good for testing inks you will use in a fountain pen.

 

Sometimes, a fountain pen ink can be made dip-pen-friendly by cutting it with water. I've found Monteverde inks work beautifully once I cut them 1:1 with distilled water. It makes them, funnily enough, less "wet." Some do, some don't. My favorite inks for everyday writing are either a standard IG registrar's ink, or walnut ink made from powder you can get at any calligraphy supply shop. (I go with John Neal books because they're local)

 

But you do have to prep the nib, don't touch it (oils on your fingers disrupt the smooth flow of ink), and use the right ink. And if you do all this, then you may get 4 or 5 words from a single dip. Depending. Sometimes more, but mostly about that or much less if you are flexing a lot.

 

 

Well, I have managed one continuous - albeit short - word from one dip. Thanks!

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Well, I have managed one continuous - albeit short - word from one dip. Thanks!

 

Keep at it, as AAAndrew suggested. Unless you are writing very broad strokes, you will get to the point where you are dipping infrequently enough that you don't really notice the motion. It becomes automatic, and allows you to focus on your writing.

ron

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