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Pen Flexibility, Size/weight And Calligraphy



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I’ve noticed an appreciation of prices for all kinds of dip pens, gold and steel. Maybe I should stop singing their praises.

 

Steel dip pens suck, and gold dip pens are almost as bad.

 

There that should do it.

 

“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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Seriously, the gold dip pens are going for just as much as a Waterman 52!

 

I guess I'll just get one of those Desiderata pens that uses modern dip nibs and be done with it.

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I managed to buy a Leroy Fairchild for cheap the other day - it was mislabeled and nobody else noticed. You end up testing your knowledge base against the sellers and other bidders.

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I managed to buy a Leroy Fairchild for cheap the other day - it was mislabeled and nobody else noticed. You end up testing your knowledge base against the sellers and other bidders.

 

I finally snagged one, but it's a little hard to tell the condition from the pictures.

What do you think?

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mabie-Todd-amp-Co-14ct-Gold-amp-Mother-of-Pearl-Victorian-Dip-Pen-with-1-Nib-/292433214834?nma=true&si=0oG1Xp89SlDH1f%252BnvqbAv24T4Bk%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

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From what I can tell, there's not obvious flaws in the nib. The tines look straight and the tipping looks like it's still on there, but you'll only know when you get it in your hands.

 

this will be a very small nib. Be prepared. That doesn't mean anything except that if you're used to a fountain pen, this is going to feel very different.

 

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Andrew

 

“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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this will be a very small nib. Be prepared...this is going to feel very different.

They sure do. :D

Haven't used mine in awhile so I just pulled it out and dipped it again.

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From what I can tell, there's not obvious flaws in the nib. The tines look straight and the tipping looks like it's still on there, but you'll only know when you get it in your hands.

 

this will be a very small nib. Be prepared. That doesn't mean anything except that if you're used to a fountain pen, this is going to feel very different.

 

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Andrew

 

That's what I thought too. The nib seems to be in decent shape. I'm going to have to get out my old "Blue Pumpkin" and Nikko G's to remind my hand how dip nibs feel. I'm really looking forward to trying this gold dip nib, but hope I can also snag a larger nib, something awesome like a no. 4 haha.

 

Have you noticed the nib size affected flexibility at all?

 

 

They sure do. :D

Haven't used mine in awhile so I just pulled it out and dipped it again.

attachicon.gif IMG_0526.JPG

 

That is a gorgeous pen and nib!!! :puddle: :puddle:

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Size and flexibility do not have a definitive relationship. In my limited experience, you'll find more of the flexible gold nibs in the medium sizes, and fewer in the very large sizes. I've only tried out a few of the smaller ones and it seems they can go either way.

 

But that is based on a very small sample size. I'd be interested in hearing others who have much more experience with the gold dip nibs what they've noticed.

 

And even the stiffest gold nib I've tried would still be considered a flexible fountain pen nib.

 

“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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A #3 nib seems to fit fit very nicely into a fountain pen that accepts a #2 nib, which is the commonest size you’re likely to find in a vintage pen. The longer tines is the only real issue - you need a cap with sufficient headspace.

 

#2 dip nibs will live happily in the smaller Wahl ringtops - the ones with the #0 nibs. Mabie Todd and Salz Brothers (the Peter Pan line) also made little bitty pens that might work.

I have one little no-name oddity with the smallest Waterman nib I’ve ever seen, and a Peter Pan with a nib of similar dimensions...I should see if I have a #1 nib around here that would fit it.

 

Not to be an enabler or anything, but it’s nice to not have to take an ink bottle around with you.

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Size and flexibility do not have a definitive relationship. In my limited experience, you'll find more of the flexible gold nibs in the medium sizes, and fewer in the very large sizes. I've only tried out a few of the smaller ones and it seems they can go either way.

 

But that is based on a very small sample size. I'd be interested in hearing others who have much more experience with the gold dip nibs what they've noticed.

 

And even the stiffest gold nib I've tried would still be considered a flexible fountain pen nib.

 

I just came across your blog and got sucked into its vast pages of useful information. Great work and service to pen geeks everywhere!

I think I'll need to get out my steel dip pen stuff tomorrow and have at it after the inspiring material on your blog. :thumbup:

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I just came across your blog and got sucked into its vast pages of useful information. Great work and service to pen geeks everywhere!

I think I'll need to get out my steel dip pen stuff tomorrow and have at it after the inspiring material on your blog. :thumbup:

 

Thank you. I'm glad you found it interesting. I write it because I can't not. I just keep finding more and more info, and no one has really pulled any of it together, and so I figured I should probably put it out somewhere so that the few other people who might be interested can find it. It's not such serious scholarship but I find it fun and interesting. I'm glad others do as well.

 

I know it's a limited audience, but I've been pleased at how widespread the interest has been. Not too many people, but they come from many countries.

 

Welcome, and feel free to comment or suggest topics.

 

“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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The longer tines is the only real issue - you need a cap with sufficient headspace.

An interesting option has recently become available.

You can use this new Desiderata nib unit sleeve as an adapter to go from Jowo #6 to a number five-ish size.

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/331675-6-jowo-flex-nib-units-available/

 

Here is a Desiderata unit with a Creaper nib & a sanded down 6.3 mm ebonite FPR feed.

Works great.

post-135048-0-29159700-1518279693_thumb.jpg

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  • 2 months later...

Coming in possibly too late on this thread.

Have you looked at Ackerman Pump Pens? A fountain pen that can take steel nibs that are used on dip pens. I have two and they work very well.

 

If you are insisting on a full on standard fountain pen then may I suggest you keep an eye on Greg Minuskin's site. He sells a variety of pens and gives you pictures to see what they write like.

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Coming in possibly too late on this thread.

Have you looked at Ackerman Pump Pens? A fountain pen that can take steel nibs that are used on dip pens. I have two and they work very well.

 

If you are insisting on a full on standard fountain pen then may I suggest you keep an eye on Greg Minuskin's site. He sells a variety of pens and gives you pictures to see what they write like.

 

Thanks for the information!

 

I had looked at the Ackerman pens before, but forgotten about them. Glad to know that they work well!

 

I got my "wet noodle" from Greg but it's just a little wider than I had hoped (western EF when not flexed), so I hope to get a needlepoint wet noodle from him when I can justify the purchase with my wife haha.

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Inky.Fingers

I have never been satisfied with any flex fountain pen. Once you dip, you will never go back...

 

 

Thats not true for me...both world are fun to be in...

 

Don't chase the needle point flex fountain pen...it is pointless, vintage or not. Use a fountain pen for general writing. Use a dip pen for calligraphic writing.

 

Then again...if you can afford it...do the chase...lots of fun..lots of dissatisfactions.. lots of money spent...lots of hair splitting moments...lots of mending a pen...for God sake use a quill man!

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Thats not true for me...both world are fun to be in...

 

Don't chase the needle point flex fountain pen...it is pointless, vintage or not. Use a fountain pen for general writing. Use a dip pen for calligraphic writing.

 

Then again...if you can afford it...do the chase...lots of fun..lots of dissatisfactions.. lots of money spent...lots of hair splitting moments...lots of mending a pen...for God sake use a quill man!

 

All very true. Both are fun, and the bit about money spent - ouch.

 

From what I can tell, some of the masters can work with Jello-smeared sticks. The artist not the tool type of thing. In my inexperienced hands, however, no question the Desiderata/G yields better output than any fountain pen nib. Therefore, it depends whether I am trying to do calligraphy or just fooling around with pens and writing.

 

Guess it is usually the latter because what I use most is an Edison Menlo equipped with FPNibs semiflex Jowo (keyhole) nib, modded a bit for the breather tube. That's a lovely and comfortable pen/nib combo that can be carried normally (has clip) and can be used to write normally. It can also do the wet noodle dance when called upon so, as a package, it works for someone bored with normal nibs (me).

 

But when that Daedalus is flowing with the right ink and a decently fresh Zebra, even my chicken scratches start to look pretty good. Much harder to do that with the Edison/Jowo or a vintage setup.

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Comparing dip nibs with fountain pen nibs is maybe not quite as bad as apples and oranges, but more like oranges and tangerines (or mandarin oranges). They're similar but not the same beast, nor can they be used quite the same way.

 

The biggest difference between pointed, steel, dip pens and pointed fountain pens is not the feed or supply of ink, it's the tip, where most of the action happens.

 

Fountain pen nibs are tipped, mostly with a hard, smooth substance that can take the wear much better than gold or even steel. Even untipped fountain pen nibs, like the cheaper 3rd and 4th tier pens or the 15xx range of Esterbrook Renew-points, the tip is folded over to simulate tipping. This makes the nib much smoother and gives a certain level of slightly greater durability.

 

Steel dip pens are not tipped, and so they can be brought to a much sharper point. This sharpness is one of the top causes of frustration in new dip pen users. It requires a much lighter touch and experience to use them well. You have to learn how to vary your pressure between up and down strokes. But this sharpness also results in the extremely fine hairlines that are possible with steel dip pens.

 

A tipped pen, either a fountain pen nib, or even a gold dip pen, can not hope to achieve the level of fineness possible with a nicely made extra-fine dip pen. I have numerous flexible dip pens that can achieve lines of .2 mm at their hairline and yet exceed 3mm at their widest, with good spring and snap. That's not extraordinary. If someone ground their tipped nib down to that level of fineness, I'm not sure the tipping would stay on. There'd be so little surface connection between the two metals. (would love to see if someone could, there's a challenge for a nibmeister)

 

Gold dip nibs have the same issue with being able to get really fine. This is actually exacerbated by the fact that gold dip nibs are all vintage and the technology for tipping wasn't as dependable as today. You often find ads in old newspapers advertising re-tipping service for gold nibs. And you often find gold nibs with missing or damaged tips.

 

So, it depends on what you're looking for. Flex is one thing, wide range of modulation in the line is another. If you're looking for 7x+ flex, a steel dip pen is your best bet. You may find a vintage gold nib that can reach that ratio, but the hairline will be thicker, so the wide line will be so thick you can only write really largely with such a pen at that ratio. And except for a very small number of extraordinary nibs, most gold nibs pushed to that level will fail.

 

Flex is fun, flex is good, but the preoccupation to get wider and wider ratios of flex is not all that it's cracked up to be. There's a reason that master penmen, to this day, use steel dip pens for writing that requires great modulation in line.

 

If you don't know what you actually need or want to do with flex, if you're just playing around to see if you like it, then there's no better, or cheaper, way to do it than with dip nibs. You get the widest range of experience, from a firm pen with the barest hint of flex, like an Esterbrook 322 Inflexible (which, contrary to its name, does have some flex, unlike a Manifold nib), up to the super flex, super fine dream pens like the Gillott #1 Principality. Find what kind of writing you like, and then find a pen to match it.

 

Of course, the problem with this for some who have tried this approach, like myself, is that we just don't bother with flex fountain pens after we've gone down the steel pen route. They're just not the same.

 

“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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ReadyFireAim

If someone ground their tipped nib down to that level of fineness, I'm not sure the tipping would stay on.... (would love to see if someone could, there's a challenge for a nibmeister)

 

I've tried it a bunch of times with limited success.

My best results have come from a pyramidal point that will achieve hairlines in one or two stroke directions but not a true controlable hairline like pointed steel.

 

Mottishaw does that sort of thing using the Custom Pilot 912 FA but it's a gold nib that feel mushy.

Gold just feels to me like a compromise.

 

Someday, someone will make an non-tipped pointed, stainless nib that will be a game changer.

You will be able to leave in in a "hybrid" pen without pulling it every night and it will be fine until it wears out.

Possibly a month or 30 hours of use (I use a flex pen one hr/day)

post-135048-0-59926200-1524945493_thumb.jpg

Nemosine Singularity - Noodler's Ahab nib - FPR Ebonite feed - Parker 51 sac - Rohrer & Klingner Salix

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