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New Life For Osmiroid Italic Nibs


dms525
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The middle of the 20th Century saw an italic handwriting and calligraphy renaissance in the U.K. and the U.S.A. Alfred Fairbank was the leading proponent in England of italic script as the best choice for handwriting. In the United States, Paul Standard (on the East Coast) and Lloyd Reynolds in Portland Oregon were leading advocates. In fact, the majority of professional calligraphers I have met on the West Coast to this day were students of Reynolds or students of his students.

The fountain pens that were most available for italic writing in that era, at least in the United States, were the Osmiroid models and those made by Platignum, both from England. Both of these companies went out of business in the late 1970’s, but Osmiroid pens and nibs remain quite available on internet auction sites. Complete sets - a pen and six nibs of different widths - are found fairly often, many never used.

Sets of Osmiroid italic nibs included the following widths: Fine, Medium, Broad, B2, B3 and B4. A “F inter M” width was also made. These sets came in Straight, Oblique and Left-handed versions. Osmiroid also made quite a variety of round-tipped nibs, but I am not going to discuss those. The most popular Osmiroid pens were the Model 65, a lever filler, and the Model 75, a thinner pen that was a small-capacity piston filler. Late in its life, Osmiroid produced a C/C filler with what they called “Easy change” nibs. These nibs came attached to a feed and section which screwed into the pen’s barrel. It used International Standard cartridges and converters. With the “Easy change” model, Osmiroid produced a series of shadow nibs of various widths, in addition to the round nib and italic nibs for which they were known.

An Osmiroid Italic Set. The pens are a Model 75 in back and a Model 65 in front.

Besides a pen and six nibs, the Osmiroid Italic sets also came with a product catalogue and a nice little instructional booklet for Foundational and Gothic lettering in some packages and for Italic in others.

Osmiroid nibs are 23 Kt plated steel. They are un-tipped. In my opinion, they are among the best writing italic nibs ever produced. Osmiroid pens were always inexpensive. I suspect they were meant primarily for the student market. They certainly were not meant to compete with Parker, Conway-Stewart, Onoto, Mabie-Todd, Waterman and the like. So, we had excellent writing nibs in cheap pens.

My very first fountain pen was an Osmiroid 65 I bought in the college bookstore my Freshman year. it came with the set of 6 italic nibs described above. I bought it to learn italic handwriting. Now, more than half a Century later, my taste in pens and my means are both quite different. I don’t recall exactly how I got the notion of having a pen made for me that accepted Osmiroid nibs, but I asked Shawn Newton to make me a piston filling pen with two sections - one that would accept Pelikan M800 nibs and the other that would accept Osmiroid nibs. This worked so well, I asked Shawn to make two more extra sections for Osmiroid nibs to fit two other pens of his in my collection.

Now, Osmiroid nibs for the Model 65 and 75 have a nipple on the end of the carrier, and they did make a converter in the day. It was a little push-pull device of mediocre quality. They are not easily found today. I have been unable to find another make of converter that fits on the Osmiroid nib without modification. The nibs work well in piston fillers. Shawn’s suggestion for a less expensive alternative was to attach a squeezable bladder to the section - essentially a bulb-filler. I thought we should give that a try. And it works just fine!

Close-up photo of the nibs, showing the carrier nipple, as described.

The two new sections that make it possible to use Osmiroid nibs on Newton Pens. One section is installed (on an Ebonite Bamboo Eastman) and the other un-installed, allowing a view of the attached ink sac (for an Ebonite Quapaw).

My old nibs now have a new life in rather upscale digs. They will be used a lot more than they had been in their original pens.

 

I know many FPN members (at least those of mature years) with interests in italic writing or calligraphy first learned using Osmiroid pens, as I did. Chances are, unless the pens have been restored, the more common Model 65s have seriously deteriorated sacs. I am delighted to have found a great way to keep these marvelous nibs in use. I am happy to share it.

Happy writing!

David

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I was able to get an Osmiroid set of 6 nibs from England for my Esterbrooks. I also have an Osmiroid sac pen. It's very cheap feeling. But if one don't have an Esterbrook, will do the nibs justice.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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As well as the Esterbrook they also fit in the Burnham B48 type pen

"One Ink-drop on a solitary thought hath moved the minds of millions" - P R Spencer

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As well as the Esterbrook they also fit in the Burnham B48 type pen

 

I was unaware of that. Thank you for the information!

 

David

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David - Thanks, that is interestng and comprehensive.

I am sure I have a set of Osmioids, and Platignums in the back of a drawer from the 70's or early 80's that I will have to put in a rotation or have available on my desk.

 

My handwriting was atrocious, so I (as usual) overcompensated by practicing italic and calligraphy.

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David - Thanks, that is interestng and comprehensive.

I am sure I have a set of Osmioids, and Platignums in the back of a drawer from the 70's or early 80's that I will have to put in a rotation or have available on my desk.

 

My handwriting was atrocious, so I (as usual) overcompensated by practicing italic and calligraphy.

 

I often joke that I took up italic handwriting as penance for 40 years of an illegible doctor's scrawl. But the truth is my "normal" handwriting was never good, and I started learning italic writing in college. In hindsight, I probably could have improved my Palmer-style cursive, if I had devoted the critical practice to it I devoted to learning italic.

 

David

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Oh, that's great, David. Now, about those Platignum nibs -- any chance of updating them? I have a fair number of new-old stock Platignum nib units, would love to put them into new cases ...

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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I was behind the curve and did not get my Osmiroid stuff (pens and nibs) ready to sell at the SF Pen Show.

Maybe next year.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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This fantastic post shows why Fountain Pen Network is such a valuable resource! What a rare combination of crispness, smoothness, and value these nibs have.

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

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Oh, that's great, David. Now, about those Platignum nibs -- any chance of updating them? I have a fair number of new-old stock Platignum nib units, would love to put them into new cases ...

 

Enjoy,

 

I have no personal experience with Platignum nibs. My recollection is they screw in. I bet you could find a pen maker that would be happy to make you a pen that would accept your nibs.

 

David

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Gorgeous pens, David! I'm not surprised Shawn was able to make these nib units work in his pens. Shawn is incredible and has a great attitude towards accepting new challenges.

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Gorgeous pens, David! I'm not surprised Shawn was able to make these nib units work in his pens. Shawn is incredible and has a great attitude towards accepting new challenges.

 

Thanks, Razi! Shawn is great to work with. Truly an inspired artist/craftsman.

 

David

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  • 3 weeks later...

David, thanks for the great discussion. I began calligraphy in 1979 with an Osmiroid set and still have it in addition to a new, unused set I just purchased. I love these pens, even though I also use Parallel and dip pens now. I am glad to know the nibs also fit other pens! It is sad that the company evidently went out of business.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a number of "easy change" pen units and without a double, as old as they are, they are still the gold standard in sharp italic nibs when using a fountain pen for italic calligraphy. I took tuition on an Osmiroid years ago and have never stopped using them.

 

Nice piece David.

 

 

Greg

"may our fingers remain ink stained"

Handwriting - one of life's pure pleasures

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I just got another Newton Pen with a section that takes Osmiroid nibs. I find I am using these more than any of my other pens recently. Maybe it's because they are my newest toys, but I don't know. They sure write nicely.

 

 

 

This is one of Shawn's facetted models - the "Prospector." It has a triangular cross section at the ends of both the barrel and the cap. However, towards the section, it is round. It is very comfortable to write with.

 

David

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  • 3 weeks later...

I search periodically to see if there are any modern bodies that take Osmiroid nibs, as I'd rather like to be able to put mine in something prettier!

 

Those are looking great. *makes note for possible future order*

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I search periodically to see if there are any modern bodies that take Osmiroid nibs, as I'd rather like to be able to put mine in something prettier!

 

Those are looking great. *makes note for possible future order*

 

I am not aware of any "modern" pens that take Esterbrook J or Osmiroid nibs, and I am not aware of any custom pen maker that will make an Osmiroid compatible pen other than Shawn. Shawn is a pleasure to work with, and his pens are wonderful.

 

David

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I remember when I was a freshman in college my first roommate (who was a sophomore) was taking calligraphy and using an Osmiroid pen. I couldn't wait to take the class the next year -- but it ended up being with a different instructor, and we had to use Speedball dip pens (mostly using C-6 and C-1 nibs) -- although we were taught to fill the nibs with an eyedropper rather than dipping the pens directly.

But not getting to use a fountain pen? I was SOOOOO disappointed....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you have a Pelikan, try putting the Osmiroid nib into it.

I read somewhere on FPN that you could put a M200 nib into an Esterbrook, though I have not verified it.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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If you have a Pelikan, try putting the Osmiroid nib into it.

I read somewhere on FPN that you could put a M200 nib into an Esterbrook, though I have not verified it.

 

I have tried both of these swaps. Neither worked for me.

 

David

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